Rent, Buy, Ship? Countdown to Euro Launch. Summer 2019, Cambridge, MA.

Garage is looking full these days.

You may have already heard, but I’m officially letting the cat out of the bag: I’m going to Europe with my Vespa!

I knew I wanted to ride, but in considering whether to rent, buy, or ship my own bike, I looked at what I wanted to do. I intended to work as I went, so I wanted the comfort and reliability of a larger, modern bike. To carry my mobile studio, I wanted the security of shockproof, waterproof, locking storage. I was also leaning towards something I was already familiar with, so that if anything happened I had plenty energy left to explore new places and still hand in work.

Mobile studio setup, on a ferry!
Less glamorous, more realistic pop-up studio setup in Freebird’s conference room, while Fred’s kitchen floors were being refinished. I still appreciate.

I realized with some sheepishness that what I wanted was my own GTS.

Looking into rentals for over a month turned out to be expensive, and Vespa rentals were typically only 150cc (motorcycle rentals were well out of my budget). I looked into the second-hand market for GTSes in Spain, and while prices were reasonable, it would be a headache to register locally without Spanish residency and risky to buy sight unseen and register in the US. I also already owned 4 bikes, all in one place. The idea of adding another to the stable seemed too outrageous.

Fred took a ‘family photo’ with all 4 of my bikes in one place.
From left: 2005-ish ‘Wasted’ Franken-PX200 (??k); 2009 GTS 250 (~76k); 1983 BMW R65 (~44.5k); 2009 BMW G650 XCountry (~5.6k).

Meanwhile, the Fly and Ride program with Motorcycle Express was $1250 USD for one-way from Canada to Europe, turnkey service. I’d also need green card insurance to ride a foreign-plated vehicle in the EU, and MotoCamp Bulgaria would set me up for 100 Euro/2 months. My IDP was still valid for the rest of 2019, and accommodations, traveler’s insurance, and the rest could be sorted out once I picked a date.

My PX wasn’t worth shipping anywhere, my R65 had no luggage whatsoever, and the XCountry had basic luggage but was uncomfortable for touring.

My GTS was comfortable, had storage for days, and was tried and true. After all was said and done, the most affordable and practical solution for my needs would be to ship Serenity to Europe!

At least that’s what I convinced myself, because I also quietly delighted in the absurdity of ‘repatriotizing’ my 76k+ mile Vespa to Italy someday, and getting on the continent was a first step.

Of course, once I decided to ship I noticed fuel economy issues.
Borrowing Fred’s lift at the Lodge of Bodge Annex. Thanks, guys!
Let’s consult the manual… (thanks, Justin!)
A valve adjustment seemed to be the ticket (much gratitude to Rouso Rousseau for his expertise), and a few other things were addressed. Fred even hit my muffler with some high-temp paint and polished the guard at the Lodge of Bodge Annex! My high-temp heart might have melted.

It was decided. Serenity would make a one-way journey to Europe. I heard there was a community for remote workers in Lisbon, and the closest I could get on a direct flight from Toronto was Barcelona. So I guess we’re starting in Spain and Portugal!

Serenity goes to one last Tutto Italiano at Larz Anderson Auto Museum.

Thing is, even though I knew I wanted to take myself and my bike off-continent for some time now, I kept putting it off. Serenity and I had been through so much in North America, much more than I could have dreamed. The corn fields, the glaciers, the flash floods, outrunning tornadoes, lonely rest stops in the desert… It was difficult to think we may never experience them together again. Okay, I’ll take a pass on another round of floods and tornadoes, but for many years my bike was my one steady, my one constant against an ever changing backdrop of people, places, situations, and landscapes. I mean, my bike and I have even outlasted boyfriends. There was a finality to flying her offshore that made me hesitate.

As cheesy as it sounds, my Vespa had become my spiritual home. Basing her in Europe would mean moving away from Fred. It would mean having a piece of home on a new continent. Although it was only 5-6 timezones away, it represented a mental shift. It was exciting, for sure, but as I counted down the days until I left the familiar and comfortable behind again I worried that I would feel untethered.

Cleaning my air filter, just in case Fievel made a winter home there while I was away. Fred drops in with “spirit”-ual support.

The weeks feel much shorter when you know there’s a limited number of them before takeoff. Even as I deliberately moved pieces into place – documents, accommodations, tickets – over and over I asked myself, “Why can’t I just be normal, like my friends?”

I tried to lay across all my bikes. I have too many, ugh what a fortunate problem to have.

I guess it’s not an option, just gotta live your truth. Sometimes it feels unstoppable, try to mash it down and it bubbles back up in mortifying places (maybe that moose had it coming?). In the past I’ve called it “The Roar.”

Anyway, the blog has been too quiet lately. Let’s start a new chapter across the pond!

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