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Barbara 03-14-2009 04:00 PM

My first "long distance" ride.....
Hi Folks,

I thought that since I'm hanging around, I might as well share the pain. It was decades ago, and the world was young, as was I. I had an old Lambretta 125cc scooter, 1959 vintage. I was living with my parents in Salt Lake City and decided to blow my tax return (all $50.00 of it) on a trip to Los Angeles to visit my Grandmother. Across the desert. On a 45 mph on-a-good-day scooter.

I packed. Then I packed some more. Then I added tools, and a spare cylinder and piston, because by then that bike and I were old friends and I thought it might be useful---and it was.

Off I went, headed for southern Utah, and this was before Hwy 15, so I hit every little town between Salt Lake and St. George. It took two days to get to St. George, and I was getting a healthy dose of reality. My face was getting red, my hands were getting red, and it was *hot*!! I crossed the line into Nevada with the poor little engine of the bike way too hot to even get near, let alone touch. Getting to Las Vegas was grueling, and I added a bit more oil to the gasoline mixture. (This was way before auto-lube for two-stroke engines) I camped in a schoolyard on the outskirts of 'Vegas, and felt very bohemian and daring while doing it. South of Las Vegas, it was largely nothing. Just flat, hot, and not much else. It became an endurance contest to get from gas stop to the next gas stop, and I rapidly went through my water. Meanwhile that heroic little Lambretta LD just kept on plugging along at between 35 and 40 mph, across a seemingly endless desert. Just before the turn-off to Needles, I stopped at a long-gone cafe for food and drink, and to rest the engine, and met an old (well, old to me) guy who looked like a desert rat. I remember to this day, his name was Roy McCoy, and he had a pick-up truck and offered to put my bike in the back and take me to L.A.

Would I do it now? Never! Did I do it then? Yup. I had a few visions of them never finding my body in the desert, but he turned out to be a great guy! We talked about motorcycles and traveling and such all the way to L.A., where his wife insisted that I eat a healthy lunch and call my Grandmother from their house. Late that afternoon I rolled into my worried Gramma's house, much to her relief.

Mine too, by then!

After a visit of several days, and a little rebuild of the top end of the bike--remember the spare cylinder and piston--I was off. My Gramma had insisted that I have a hat, so my hair was kept out of my eyes by a turned-down Navy-style cap. No helmets in those days, and no sunscreen, either. Cocoa butter didn't really help, and the inside of my ears burned, my cheeks burned and my nose burned, peeled and burned again! Then, on the north side of Las Vegas on the way back, the capricious Nevada weather turned bad, and I rode for a time in snow!! Did I have cold-weather gear? (Are you kidding? Of course not, I was 17!)

I actually eventually made it home, and promptly found a "big" bike--a CA-95 150cc Honda twin that seemed terribly powerful after my scooter. That was the bike I took to Seattle, but that's another story.....

So that is the short version of my very first long bike ride. Slow, hot, sunburned, and I did it all for $60.00--which I had because my mother insisted on giving me an extra $10.00, "just in case".

Oh, and yes---I had an absolutely fantastic time, and have been touring on bikes ever since, except when my son was quite young.

Anybody know of an LD Lambretta for sale? In one's later years, one can gracefully yield to nostalgia.....

Not a bad first trip!


pushrod 03-15-2009 06:26 PM


Great stuff!

It's often said that you don't remember the 'easy' rides...

mscuddy 03-16-2009 01:14 PM

Wow, I thought riding my '56 Lambretta from Los Angeles to Duarte was tough. That's some trek, quite a testimate to the mighty Vespa. Thanks for the good words!

Kenneth_Moore 03-16-2009 01:28 PM

Long will the children sing of this day.

Seriously...great write up...I'm grinning just thinking of you buzzing across the desert on that darn scooter. Let's do it again!

pplassm 03-17-2009 05:18 AM

What an adventure!

Thanks for the story.

Barbara 03-17-2009 02:42 PM

Hi Guys,

Thanks for the interest. I didn't think anyone would think much of my little prehistoric adventure, but it certainly drew me into touring on bikes, and it's continued to this day.

I'd love to find an LD Lambretta and do it again, except that portions of the road I went over are now freeway (Hwy 15), and as mscuddy will testify, a Lambretta is nothing on which to ride a freeway!

I wish I still had it, but I left it with my parents when I took off for Seattle on my nice big 150cc Honda, and eventually my brother sort of broke it....big-time! Then came the YDS-3 Yammie, and a loop from SLC to Seattle and down the coast to LA, and back. Lots of fun. By then I was almost old enough to vote....

....and now Gramma Barb gets worried if I don't hear from my son every couple of days. Funny how that happens!

But it's all good!


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