Scoot on Over

I love to read the Los Angeles Times. When I’m on the road and things seem askew, I know the cockeyed feeling is a direct result of the morning not having begun with a slow, satisfying perusal of my favorite newspaper. Sure, the news is hardly ever good, but when washed down by a fine cup of steaming-hot coffee, the world’s troubles seem palatable when I read them in the Times, and my day starts out well.

That said, I awoke not long ago at Lake Piru, about 50 miles north of my home in West L.A., and I figured I’d track down a Times

to indulge in my morning reading/sipping ritual. But I wandered from the simple campground down the hill to the marina, then to the entrance gate, then to the snack bar, unable to locate a paper, my withdrawal symptoms becoming more acute with each step.

Don’t get me wrong. Lake Piru does a fine job being a lake, delivering acres of aquatic recreation, more than 200 campsites and boat rentals. Boating and water-skiing are best in the early morning, since the wind invariably picks up well before noon. Swimming is allowed at the swim beach near the large picnic area, and the fishing for largemouth bass,
trout, crappie and sunfish can be quite good. What Lake Piru does not do well, however, is cater to word-junkies addicted to the Times.

Inconvenienced but determined, I decided I’d have an adventure while solving my dilemma. Sure, I could have disconnected the RV and driven the six-or-so miles down the hill to the small town of Piru, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I pulled the Go-Ped out of the back of my old-but-adequate rig, yanked on the starter cord and fired the scooter up.

I could provide all the specs of the GSR25, listing the features that make this compact, lightweight peppy machine the perfect mode of casual, affordable transport for RVers looking to tool around campgrounds. But I’m guessing that phrases such as “Komatsu Zenoah engine,” “Mad Dog Disc Brake System” and “10 TT Tires” may clarify as little for you as they do for me. Suffice to say that the GSR25 is neither a toy nor a Harley. RVers looking to cover vast distances or haul cargo will find that a more substantial scooter such as a Vespa will better suit their needs. But travelers looking to have fun and not wanting to mount a carrying rack on the back of their rig should be pleased with one of the numerous Go-Ped models. Some people may prefer an electric version such as the ESR750, since it’s quieter and doesn’t require the mixing of gasoline with two-stroke oil. But I like to boondock in the middle of nowhere, and would prefer not to wait for an electric Go-Ped to recharge once I had run it down, so I went with a gas model. All Go-Ped models serve as effective weapons with which to battle the high price of fuel. The model I was about to take for a test run is said to get about 200 miles per gallon.

The GSR25 can be outfitted with a seat and a rack, but mine didn’t have these options, so I’d be standing for the 12-plus miles my errand would require. I figured I’d better tool around the road that lines the lake to see how the new machine fared before I committed to my word-gathering mission. I strapped on a helmet, kicked up the kickstand, put my right
foot on the wooden platform, thumbed the throttle, pushed off with my left foot, then zipped away. Easy as pie, I thought as I scooted across the blacktop, glancing toward the lake on occasion when I felt comfortable and safe enough to do so. All was going fine until I had to head back up the small hills I’d just descended.

THE GO-PED STALLED. IT STARTED right back up, but it stalled again on the next uphill slope. Again, it started on the first pull, but I was concerned because the hill I had to go down and come up to complete my mission was far, far longer. Most everyone else would have put the scooter away at this point and disconnected the RV. But I was seeking adventure (and nothing says adventure like mishap), so I figured the worst-case scenario would be that I’d have to walk uphill in the hot summer sun over miles and miles of blacktop. I’ve done stupider. So, wearing a backpack and armed with a full supply of hope (or delusion), I directed the Go-Ped past the front gate.

I hugged the edge of the road, which was in far worse shape than the blacktop in the campground. But those 10-inch TT Tires provided a smooth enough ride that — once I had chewed up a mile or so without injury — I soon sought the rough patches, just for kicks. The farm laborers lounging in the shade and the road-construction crew toiling in the sun gave me odd looks as I zipped past. My hands began to tingle, and my feet felt like they were being tickled by a squadron of
millipedes. The uphill sections slowed me to a crawl, but I kicked my left leg as I did on a skateboard as a kid, and I crested the summits.

I bought a paper at the 7-Eleven in town, treated myself to a Gatorade and let the feeling return to my hands and feet before firing the engine back up. On the return trip, the Go-Ped never once conked out on the big hills, aided occasionally by my one-footed propulsion. This time, two road workers gave me the thumbs-up as I passed. The little
engine that could and I pulled into the shade of the campground snack bar about 25 minutes later. While eating a Piru Burger, one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten, I opened the Los Angeles Times, then slowly, lovingly read each section.

Lake Piru Recreation Area, (805) 521-1500; Go-Ped Scooters, www.goped.com.

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