Synopsis of a 400 Mile Scooter Ride
So H2Oi is over, and it’s been about a week of reality since. My body has finally recovered, for the most part at least..
Did we make it?
Yes. Yes we did. On just shy of two hours of sleep, we showed up casually late (4:15am) to the rendezvous point at a local 24 hour gas station before starting this endeavor. We were pretty stoked the couple days leading up to this point, as the weather was supposed to be around 80* and sunny. However we didn’t take into account what a dense 60* fog in the pitch black would do to the early part of our venture. In the couple miles we had ridden to get to this point, we were already soaking wet. It was not a great start. We pulled out of the gas station a minute shy of 4:30 with intentions of riding straight through until the New York border, 75 or so miles westbound. To save you the long-winded and graphic description of what sitting on a moped seat for 15 hours does to the backside of the human body, I’ll just give you the sparknotes by state:
CT: (left at) 4:30am
This was the most miserable part of the trip. We were absolutely soaked from the fog, as we all wore jeans instead of some water-resistant pants, which proved to be a powerful mistake. We got almost nothing for GoPro footage, as the water pouring off of the lenses made them pretty useless. We also learned that the far west part of CT is made up of drastic elevation changes and third-world quality pavement, and navigating this in the pitch black with dense fog was actually terrifying. A couple close calls happened in this first stretch. This was by far our least favorite part of the whole ride.
Once we crossed into New York, things started to improve. It was still foggy and cool at the beginning, but we could see now. That was a plus. Also the road conditions improved dramatically. We crossed over the Bear Mountain Bridge, which was probably the coolest 15 minutes of riding I have ever done. It was foggy on one side of the bridge, bright and sunny on the other, immediately followed by a long stretch of winding mountain roads, overlooking the Hudson valley shortly after sunrise. This was awesome, and I think all of us would gladly make the trek back out here to ride these sections again.
For being such an awful state, New Jersey was almost as beautiful to ride through as New York was. Our decision to stay west of Newark certainly paid off here. We had no traffic issues at all, and the backroads that we were riding were just awesome. A nice mix of suburbia and rural New Jersey. However, by the time we were about 2/3 of the way through New Jersey, that nice mix had faded. We became all too familiar with US-202, which is a strange lovechild of a full-blown interstate highway and an over-commercialized state road. I also didn’t realize how long we were going to be in New Jersey. For some reason, I had this idea that we were just passing through a corner of the state, but really we were stuck here for a full 60 miles, which translates to an eternity on a moped.
This 202 disaster continued into Pennsylvania. We found ourselves being directed off of 202, weaving through a maze of suburbia school bus stops (due to the time of day); just to end up back on 202 again. This was the most traffic we had experienced on the whole trip, which was drastically bringing down our average speed, and pushing out our arrival time. It also began to get hot. Up until this point, we were riding with jackets and had no issue with it, even in the direct sunlight. But eventually, the sun combined with the hours of stop-and-go traffic started wearing us down. This is about where Ben and I began experiencing CVT problems. His being an audible rotational squeal, mine being a tick, accompanied with a drastic decline of top speed, which would worsen from this point forward. More on this later. We made the decision not to pull off the CVT covers on the side of the road, not like there was anything we could do anyways. So we just kept riding.
Delaware was long. We bounced between Route 1 and Route 13 for the entire state of Delaware, northern tip to southern tip. This was literally 100 miles of full-throttle, on flat roads, lined with Jesus billboards, splitting hundred-acre corn fields. At first this was mind-numbing. We had been on the scooters for 12 hours at this point, and while the stop-and-go of PA was cumbersome, it kept us awake. By the time we were halfway through Delaware, we did get to see an awesome farm-country sunset over the fields. The temperature had come down a little and it began to be enjoyable again. We decided to forego our last planned stop and went 2.5 hours straight from our last fill up. We were falling asleep, but passing Rehoboth and Bethany Beach restored some excitement, as we were getting close.
We crossed the MD line as we rolled into Ocean City. MD barely counts as part of the journey, since you cross the DE/MD state line at 146th street in Ocean City. We literally just rode 99 blocks from the line to our condo, probably totaling less than a half hour. Thus the MD stretch was great, because it didn’t really exist.
47th St: 7:40pm
Although exhausted and sore, we were in better shape upon arrival than we initially anticipated. We also beat our estimated arrival by an hour, and we even beat our predicted fuel mileage by 10-15mpg. General rule of thumb with strange endeavors like this is that it’s going to take way longer than you anticipate, 100% of the time. I guess we broke that rule.
Nothing, really. However, both Ben and I suffered from self-inflicted inconveniences. His CVT squeal was caused because he used a small amount of grease to lube a variator component, which eventually flung some onto the belt. Audibly irritating, albeit no impact on performance. Mine was a bit worse. I replaced a cracked clutch shoe two days before we left on this trip, and like an idiot, I pushed the new shoes onto the pins, and never put the retaining clips back on. I then rode 400 miles with no hardware holding my clutch shoes to the clutch mechanism. It backed itself out a ways and caused a substantial drop in top speed, and eventually wore a good grove in my drive-face. A quick trip to Ace on 68th street and we were back in business, though this required some more work once we got home. Morgan also got a flat, but that was a bit different.
Over the past week and a half, I have been going through almost 11 hours of GoPro footage from this trip. I am putting together a not-so-short video that covers our ride down and daily-driving Ruckuses for the week in OCMD. This video will better encompass the undertaking than any explanation that I could type up.
Expect to see this posted on Monday 10/16.
Moral of the story: You can take a 50cc Honda Ruckus from CT to Ocean City, MD, average over 100mpg, look cool as shit, and have a blast doing it. If this isn’t a testament to Honda reliability, I’m not sure what is.
We made it. Not sure how, but we made it.
Well, we’re in Ocean City. The scooters made it here under their own power, with some (hopefully) minor transmission issues along the way. It took us less time than we thought, which was a treat, doing 400 miles in 15 hours. I’ll update tomorrow with some real info. In the meantime I’m going to sleep for a good 18 hours.
Welp, Here We Go
And we’re off! Starting off with a quick fuel up at mile 2. 379 more to go! ?
Less Than Two Days..
We obviously have road limitations with our Rucks, the most obvious being highways. While we could argue that we’re allowed on them now since they’re wearing motorcycle plates, I doubt that the local and state police between CT and MD would agree with us. And to be totally honest, it would be genuinely dangerous to try and do this with a capped out flat-ground speed of 40-45 miles an hour. We started out with a simple Google Maps route, set to avoid highways, and adjusted it accordingly. Our final decision was to take the Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River, as every bridge south of there is an interstate highway. This would allow us to stay northwest of NYC and Newark, and ultimately west of the Delaware River. We will end up brushing against the outskirts of Philadelphia, but far enough outside the city to hopefully avoid too much congestions (pending what time we’re in this area of course). Once we hit Delaware, it’s pretty much a straight shot down RT13 and ultimately RT1 along the water straight into the north side of Ocean City. Our current route will put us through CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, & MD, and will cover 381 miles, estimated (by car) to take 10 hours and 45 minutes. We have been arguing back and forth trying to estimate how long this is going to take us. A good portion of these roads are higher speed state roads, with speed limits up to 55mph, so the almost 11 hour estimation is based upon traveling the speed limit, which we will not be able to do on some of these roads. Doing 381 miles in 10.75 hours would work out to a 35.4mph average over the entirety of the trip. Realistically, I doubt we will see over 30; probably closer to 25. 30mph average would give us 12.7 hours, 25mph would give us 15.2 hours. We also estimate 4 stops for fuel given our capacity is 1.1 gallons, and wound out with some additional weight on board, we will be lucky to see much over 85 miles per gallon. We will also probably have to make stops to keep our vertebrae moving correctly and our legs from falling off, though I’m not sure how frequently we will feel the need to do this, as none of us have ever done much over 3 hours on a scooter before. I think the vast majority of the details are going to be worked out as we go, since we aren’t really sure what to expect, aside from the obvious things like fuel and Gold Bond breaks.
What if something goes wrong?
Everyone keeps asking what our plan B is, so here’s the answer: we do not have one.
We were going to initially have a chase vehicle to follow us down, with all of our luggage and some spare tools & parts, but he is no longer willing to turn a 6 hour drive into a 16 hour drive, so we lost that bit of support. We have some of the other guys in the group that are leaving at different times on Wednesday, that we could always plan a rendezvous with when we cross paths, where ever that may be. But again, that isn’t really a fall back. Our ride home is being handled by our friend Chris who is pulling down my 16’ trailer sometime early Thursday, which we will use to haul the scooters back home on Sunday (no we are not doing the return trip). Absolute worst case, I suppose we could wait until Thursday somewhere for Chris to come save us with the trailer, but that’s not part of the plan. Once we leave the house on Wednesday morning, there’s no turning back. “Those who fail are those who have a plan B.” I forgot who said that, and I’m sure it wasn’t related to riding mopeds, but we’re going to apply that here. So no plan B allowed.
This is going to be miserable. In the meantime, here’s some pictures of us enjoying our scooters. Probably the last time we’ll be seen on them with such facial expressions..
So in preparation for this trip, we’ve done extensive maintenance and some modifications to make this trip less miserable. Here’s a brief overview of what we’ve been up to..
Colby took his entire scooter apart. And bought a Honda hoodie.
Pat made his less aerodynamic, and also added a backrest (which I’m highly fond of), and eventually some storage space which isn’t pictured..
Morgan also took his entire scooter apart, mainly to do street tires (the only one who’s riding down on street tires), underglow, and some drivetrain mods.
I added a USB charger, and spent way too much time building a completely overkill backrest which I will likely end up rage-removing halfway there and stuffing into a gas station garbage can, as well as some maintenance items..
And Ben washed his. Because it’s a Honda and that’s all the maintenance it will ever need.
They are all currently back together, and with the exception of a couple last minute things, they are good to go. We took a ride last night for a shake down, and so far so good. The successful 10 mile round trip ride is definitely enough to ensure a flawless 400 mile journey.
We still have to iron out some route discrepancies, riding gear, and some minor logistical details.
six more days..
H2Oi is Cancelled and it Really Doesn’t Change Much
It was announced yesterday that H2Oi is officially “postponed” until 2018. Due to poor last-minute communication from the organizers, it appears that pretty much everyone is still going, as the hotels are booked and everyone has already put in for the time off, so I don’t imagine it will be much different than normal. With that being said, we are still riding down.
Now that that is out of the way, here’s a quick update on our situation. The technicalities were the first subject that we had to conquer. State-to-state laws vary greatly when it comes to mopeds. The state of Connecticut pretty much requires nothing at all. You can ride them with a regular driver’s license, foregoing registration or insurance due to the engine size (amongst several other criteria which they sort-of meet). However, most of the states that we are going to travel through are not nearly as lax about scooters. Most require them to be registered and insured, and some even require motorcycle licenses. 4 of the 5 of us had licenses going in, but 0 of the 5 had registration or insurance. Not a huge deal; the one guy in the group was able to get in to the 3 day motorcycle endorsement course here in CT, and passed without issue; and most insurance companies will actually insure the scooters easily and very affordably. The slightly complex part is the registration..
Because you don’t need to register anything “under 50cc” in CT, there’s an irritating list of hoops you have to jump through if you want to end up with CT plates on your scooter. In fact, most DMV employees will decline the request since there’s some conflicting information regarding the legality. However, with the help of a motorcycle forum, we discovered that the state of Vermont is more than happy to take your money to register your anything, regardless of where you live, the engine size of the moped, or if you even have all the proper paperwork. Now the real kicker about Vermont is that you can do this all by mail. Send in an envelope with your paperwork and a check and in two weeks they mail you a registration and a license plate. It’s glorious. The only odd part is that some of ours got processed as MDC (motor-driven cycle) plates and some as motorcycle plates, but we aren’t hugely concerned because they’re required to be legally registered, which they are.
What we’re still working on is finalizing our route, and some modifications to make this 16ish hour trip semi-manageable. Expect some more updates by the beginning of next week. It’s about to get interesting..
Meet the Scooter Squad
Welp, we are at T-minus 2 weeks. And I’d like to regretfully inform you that this trip is actually happening. I know I said it was happening last time, but a little part of me (the vast majority of my being) was hoping that this would fall apart and I could take a comfortable car ride down with lumbar support and climate control and satellite radio. But that’s not the case, because we have to ride mopeds through 6 states instead.
So it’s probably time that I briefly introduce the group…
Colby. Colby was the instigator. The one who proposed this insane idea. Strangely enough, the only one without motorcycle experience.
Morgan. Morgan is the peer pressure king. Once he got word of the idea, no one was allowed to bail because it was happening, whether you liked it or not.
Pat. Often referred to as Project Put, Pat is the planner. He’s the one behind the modifications to make this manageable.
Ben. Sometimes known as Engineer Bahn. Ben says the Ruckus is a Honda product, so zero preparation or maintenance is required and everything will be fine.
Me, Mike. I’m the realist (pessimist). Full of FOMO, thus unable to bail, but 100% aware of the misery that we are all about to endure.
RIP to the squad.
OCMD or Bust… on Top of 50ccs
So I’m roughly 100% sure that every single person out there has heard of H2Oi, the car show that happens every Fall in Ocean City, MD. And those of you who just recently learned about it, probably did from the Jalopnik’s coverage of last year’s event, mocking it as ‘the most ticketed show in America’ or something of the like. Not that they were at all wrong with their title of choice.
Well the show originated as a VW/Audi show, which it still technically is, and that’s why we all started going. We went down with a large group of VAG cars 10 years ago, and have gone back ever since. However very few of us (if any, actually) still have VW-based vehicles, as we have grown wise with age. So after a few beers, one of the H2O-goers of the group said “we should ride our Ruckuses down this year”. And the idea was born.
Now really, this is exactly where the idea should have died as well. This is a 380 mile trip (avoiding highways) from central CT, to OCMD. Traveling through 5 states, every one of those states with different scooter laws. Turning what should be a 6.5 hour car ride into a 16 hour moped ride.
Needless to say, we’re riding our Honda Ruckus mopeds from CT to OCMD.
..yes they’re all registered and insured as motorcycles, and we all have valid motorcycle licenses. So regardless of the chaos of state-to-state moped laws, this should supersede them all.
..yes we will probably die on the way down.
..yes it will be 38* and raining for the entirety of this journey, because it wouldn’t be an H2Oi adventure without 8 inches of rainfall and 60mph winds.
..and yes, we will be thoroughly documenting it, with our assortment of 6 GoPros and a dozen portable USB chargers. We’re ironing out the details currently, but I’ll update as I see fit. Because this could actually be interesting to follow, if you like indulging in others’ misery.