Saturday, April 3, 2010

Girlie Helmet & Crew Takes Shape (3/18/10)

Ara poses with new helmet, MP3 and Emmett
Ara poses with new helmet, MP3 and Emmett

Today the Girlie Helmet* arrived!
(*Its official name is the Shark S650 Ikebana.)
I think it actually looks pretty cool, but there will be no doubt that a girl is wearing it.

I was nervous that the size I had ordered would be too small, as I did not have one available to try on. Fortunately, the owner's manual explained how to choose your size:
  1. "The helmet should feel very snug all around your head and fairly tight on the cheek pads. If not, it is too big for you; select a smaller size." Check!
  2. "You should feel the skin of your head and face being pulled as you move the helmet. If not, the helmet is too big for you; select a smaller size." Check!
Reading the manual went on and on in this same fashion. What a relief, because they won't exchange a helmet.

yep, those are flowers
yep, those are flowers

Not only did the helmet finally arrive, but I am beginning to amass quite a support crew for my project. I've already written about how my husband, Michael, supports me here, but the last couple of days have brought some new and familiar faces into the fold:

Yesterday, Michael and I met with Mike Huspen, the owner of Fab-N-Weld, in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Mike designed a custom rack for the back of my Chevy Tahoe that would allow me to pack up my scooter and take it somewhere else to ride—without any help from anyone. I'm ecstatic. I've never felt so free. The scooter is very exciting, but if I'm limited to only a one or so hour radius from my house.... Well, let's just say it will be a lot more exciting to be able to pack up and take that hour anywhere my Tahoe can go, with no fatigue acquired en route. It truly is over-the-top exhilarating.

Huspen standing on steel rails of our home, ca. 2008
Huspen standing on steel rails of our home, ca. 2008
Mike is drawing up the plans for a pivoting platform that I would drive the scooter on (with bumpers to stop me from overshooting the end). Then, I would just set the parking brake and walk off of it. There are other features, but that is just a tidbit to give you an idea of what is in the works.

Then I met with Greg Allee of Thunder Allee Motorcycles in Bridgman. Greg might be able to assist in getting the various racks on the bike that will be needed to hold the metal panniers. I'm interested in the ones made by, if I can find a rack that will hold them along with my emergency tent and sleeping bag.

Aaron Sandy is a passionate Piaggio/Vespa expert who lives up near Holland, Michigan. He has agreed to make any necessary mechanical adjustments, including changing the weight and balance for all the touring luggage, and rigging the GPS unit and any mounted cameras. He also promised to give me a basic mechanical course, so I can begin to know this machine I'm driving around.

When I drove over to see Mike and Greg yesterday, I have to say I became more comfortable with her, this being now Day 2. I think the two of us are going to get on just fine, and we won't need much longer. My biggest struggle has been parking and moving her around at very slow speeds (starting from a stop and such). Michael and I devised a plan for how I could park her when I got home yesterday, and I'm happy to say, I spun her right around into her assigned parking spot up against the concrete wall -- just as we had hoped I would work up to being able to do. She is pointed toward the road and ready to go.

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