“Wow you’ve racked up quite a few kilometres!” I am back at Motos Girona for my post 2000km check up, though in actual fact I have racked up nearly 3000. “You’ve been using it a lot, I see.”
All is in fine working order, even the little wheels that have repeatedly clunked down from pavement to road, been nipped by numerous unforeseen potholes and have had to go like stink when spat out unexpectedly onto the motorway leaving Barcelona. A 125cc moped such as my wee Vespa is legally allowed on the motorway; a 50cc, for example, is not. However, it is a pretty scary experience. All a bit too fast and too furious for me and I am quite certain that without my bulbous helmet and protective jacket I would have blown away.
Months of circling the city have opened my (now slightly less rabbit-caught-in-the-headlights) eyes to the immense amount of multitasking on the roads and the dangers from other drivers. There is the maintaining fag/cigar in mouth, texting, taking business calls on phones that are somehow inside people’s helmets, not to mention all the weaving through tiny gaps between four-wheeled vehicles! Vespa in Italian means ‘wasp’ and I am reminded of this most days from the squeezing through the traffic approach: follow the swarm.
I have also discovered that people transport all sorts on their mopeds, from suitcases, toolboxes and dogs in wicker baskets wedged between their legs; to guitars, double basses and surf boards strapped to their backs. My favourite was a walking stick stuffed down the back of a jacket and that was poking out the top of the driver’s collar. And of course, people carry other people. The old, young and the absolutely tiny!
In terms of carrying other people, it is recommended that the heavier person drives. Why? Because if not, all co-ordination and grace mastered over the months of mopedding immediately goes out the window. Having said that, driving any tall male friends or your father around Barcelona is still doable – just make sure that they have got a decent helmet and protective gloves on too!
Helmet and gloves: Totmoto (Carrer de Còrsega, 380)
Photography: Sally Stevens