Ride to Work Profile: “Scooterriffic”

Today’s RTW Profile features another scooterist, another “Vesparado”.

She lives in Adelaide, Australia, and I became aware of her by the frequent posts she puts up on the Modern Vespa forum. The photo you see below is a larger copy of the image she uses as her “avatar” there.

“Scooterriffic” prefers that her real name remain a secret, so I cannot publish that here. In her Ride to Work essay, she uses a lot of Australian slang, which I will do my best to translate. My comments will be in italics.

If you have any questions about what you read here, please address them to the comments section.

The face that graces so many posts on the Modern Vespa forum.

“Scooterriffic” says:

My normal ride to work is too short to bother describing. About two kilometres through a few leafy terraces, with a one hour stop for two double shot long blacks and a browse of the national broadsheet on the way to the office.

For the next few weeks it’s a little different. I am house-sitting for a friend. Or more accurately, dog, cat and chook-sitting in a suburb by the sea to the north-west of Adelaide, increasing my commute to 40 plus k’s a day.

“chook” means chicken.

This is the first time since I bought the Vespa that I have had to visit a service station more than once a fortnight.

Semaphore and the Port Adelaide area is a great part of town. Old pubs that haven’t been turned into renovated meat markets selling boutique beers. No way! This place has a great sense of community and pride that comes from its working class roots, its footy team and its sense of its own history.

The journey begins here – typical working class cottage from the early
20th century. Timber and corrugated iron – now gentrified.

Two films have been shot down here; Bad Boy Bubby (in the 90s) and Look Both Ways (a few years ago.) Look them up to see more, but please don’t take Bubby as being representative of a typical Australian life.

While gentrification hasn’t passed the area by, it still hasn’t been invaded by yuppies in SUVs who want to turn it into the overpriced bourgeois enclave they just moved out of.

The new apartments being built on what was once industrial wasteland may change this. People crazy enough to pay more than a million for a penthouse that includes the Adelaide Brighton Cement Works in its vista will be fighting hard to increase the value of their investment.

My days out here start with a ritual – get Barbara the labrador outside and the cats inside so she doesn’t eat their food. Then head out the front and feed the chooks and check for eggs. Tell crying dog at side gate to shut up. She is currently working on a 1:20 scale replica of the Suez Canal in the backyard. I am ignoring it.

Then get the cats out, sometimes involving threats of physical violence if they decide to try and hide under the bed for the day.

Once this is all out of the way (and I have taken to washing my hair at night to make it all happen without having to get up at 5am) I push the Vespa out of the garage.

Barbara likes to go for drives, so it is not possible to exit the yard without her trying to work out how to join me on the scoot if I have the engine running.

I start her up in the back alley, known colloquially in Australia as “dunny lanes” because they were used by the night soil men to collect the ummm…waste products from houses in the days before plumbing.

I’ve just had a PM Tuning exhaust fitted, so hello neighbours!

Ever get the feeling they’re out to get you? The road to outer harbour, avec jaws.

I head straight onto a road that leads from Outer Harbour, Adelaide’s commercial port. The road is heavy with petrol tankers and B doubles, but it is a 60kph zone and vehicles are all well behaved. There are too many traffic lights and level crossings for those big beasts to build up any serious momentum.

Far as I can make out, a “B double” is what we typically call a semi-truck, or 18-wheeler.

A nice, gently curving road starts the journey, past a pub that actually had a horse grazing on the block next to it the first time I came down here. I am really only 15 minutes from the CBD, but it’s another world.

CBD = Central Business District.

My ride takes me along most of the length of Port Road, the major arterial to this part of town. Peak hour is a doddle. It is busy enough and fast enough that the cagers are generally well behaved. It is one of the few places considerate driving is still practiced – for the most part – with vehicles making allowances for those needing to change lanes. We’re all just trying to get to work.

Night time on this road is another story. But I might save that one for later.

I bypass the city. There is a real bottle neck through the northern end of Adelaide’s square-mile CBD at the moment, as the tramline (our only tramline, from Glenelg Beach to the south west of the city) is extended along North Terrace. Lanes are closed down, right hand turns are limited. It’s not anything I’m interested in before my vital heart-starter dose of caffeine.

The city bypass takes me around the outside edge of Adelaide’s parklands. As I just mentioned in passing, our CBD was designed as a square mile, surrounded by parklands. A very civilised concept. Some public buildings have been built on this protected strip, but any attempts at further clawing back of public land are fought off tenaciously.

Big house, big palm tree. Not mine!

I am about to head through some of our wealthiest suburbs, in stark contrast to what I have just left behind.

Medindie is a postage stamp-sized locale full of very large houses. Very, very large. And palm trees, for some reason. A little flamboyant for such an old-money kind of place, I would have thought.

My journey around the parklands soon takes me past Adelaide’s most exclusive boy’s school. St. Peter’s College is the size of a whole suburb. The doctors and lawyers of tomorrow are all in there.

From a traffic point of view, you don’t have to slow down for children in the area, none of them walk to school. You just avoid the left lane because 99.9% of European cars will be turning in to the school gates.

To my right is the Botanical Gardens’ “Glass Pasty” and the Adelaide Wine Centre, a piece of architecture that divides people. I belong on the “love it” team. And the plonk inside is alright, too.

Okay, I’m stumped too… What, exactly, is this “plonk” of which you speak?

This, I guess, is the “glass pasty” she is talking about. Nice scooter, btw…=gc=

If I’ve managed to set off before 7.30am, I will get a pretty clear run without much traffic. I will have made it to this point by about 8am (and dontcha just love the way so many people seem to head out of their driveways at 8am on the dot?) – I’ve got time for my coffee ritual!!

Up the Norwood Parade to Buongiorno, where they understand I drink coffee like a wog, not a skippy, so when I say strong I really mean it.

Both “wog” and “skippy” are a bit ambiguous in web definitions. Please elaborate?

They know my name, they know what I order. Except for the depths of winter, I sit outside, adjacent to a table full of old Greek guys who meet up every morning to take the piss out of each other. Sometimes one or other of them will bring me a rose. I love all of this stuff. Why would you go to Starbucks?

Actually, in Adelaide, you can’t. They haven’t invaded here yet!

On the way home…feeling peckish? No it’s not a soprano in a coffin, it’s a wog in a box.

A quick read of The Australian and a bit of a chat with some of the other locals, and I’m off. Work is only a few minutes away from here, and I’ve had a great ride to start my day.

I once heard someone describe the difference between driving and riding to work; driving to work, your work day starts when you get in the car, but your time on
two wheels is your own.

I agree completely.

20 Responses to “Ride to Work Profile: “Scooterriffic””

  1. conchscooter Says:

    Very vivid, and knowing a little about scooteriffic if she says the plonk is okay then you know its probably worth tasting. If you knew that plonk was slang for (usually cheap) wine. Its a way of not sounding snobby as you swish the stuff. I’m pretty sure scooteriffic doesn’t swish around her palate. Or sound snobby.

  2. Dick Aal Says:

    This reminds me of my first time in Australia. I was saying HUH? What? all the time when they talked. After a while I got it and could converse quite well with the Aussies. But it takes some practice to have An “ear” for their accent and words. At least I’m not a puffter.

  3. Scooteriffic Says:

    Ha ha! Thanks for posting this.


    plonk = wine

    wog = name for Australiians of Italian descent or birth

    skippy = what the wogs call us!

    (and I can only call wogs wogs out loud because I am an honorary wog)

  4. Scooteriffic Says:

    oh, and a B double is a semi with a double trailer

  5. Billy Boneyard Says:

    Well done Scooteriffic! You paint such a vivid picture of my former-town, for a second there it was like I was home again. Beautiful description of a truly lovely part of Australia.

    Crank up that PM exhaust and let the world know you’re there ;-)

  6. Hudson GT Says:

    Loved the feeling of the whole piece. What a great window into a life thousands of miles (kilometers) away from me. Well done.

  7. Bill Sommers Says:

    Now I have to figure out if I’m a “Wog” or a “Skippy.” I”m guessing that if I like coffee that pours like pine tar, I must be a Wog.

    Introducing Scooterific to your loyal crew Gary, is like bringing a friend around to kick tires and tell stories. I’m glad you did.

    Have fun,

  8. vincenzo Says:

    Scooterific, I’ve fully enjoyed your blog piece! I think I prefer the ‘gentrified’ cottage to the palm tree mansion – but that’s just my working class background barking.

    Saw Perth many years ago as the us navy thought we should stop by and say “Hi”. Freemantle was a blast, and Perth is very much like San Diego – without Los Angeles on the doorstep.

  9. stuart Says:

    B-Double is a truck with 2 trailers. :)

  10. pdxvespa Says:

    A charming & evocative account of your daily rituals– well done, ST! 8)

  11. Steve Williams Says:

    Kudos Gary and Scooterriffic for this great post. Scooterriffic for writing it and Gary for seeking it out.

    I think this is one of the first times I have read about urban travel on two-wheels that makes it sound exotic and romantic and just a pretty cool time.

    How many roses have you collected so far?

    The only thing that was missing (for me) as I read was some pictures of the water. Once a port is mentioned my mind goes to the ocean…

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  12. irondad Says:

    Star Trek had the Universal Translator. We have the same thing. It just has two wheels and isn’t so easy to put into a pouch on our belts. I just read the post over Sunday morning coffee. Thanks for the awesome way to start the day.

  13. Nathan Says:

    Actually, Starbucks has started the Adelaide invasion. There’s one in Rundle Mall, and one down at Glenelg in the redeveloped plaza area.


  14. Molovoch Says:

    I was born in Miami, have been across the south, live in Las Vegas, and that is the biggest frickin’ palm tree I’ve seen!

  15. Scooteriffic Says:

    Thanks for your lovely comments. A few responses:

    Steve W – the rose collection is not huge. And I think they steal them from the neighbours!! They really are hilarious old blokes. The water down at the Port is pretty yucky for the most part. I was so cold and so pushed for time while I was down there that I didn’t really take that many photos. I haven’t had a camera for long, so taking the camera with me all the time and snapping away is not second nature to me yet.

    Nathan – I’m sorry to hear that. I thought we were safe.

  16. Cliff (newscooter) Says:

    Great stuff Scooterific. Enjoyed the read. I love Adelaide. Would move there in a flash. If I was allowed. Keep the stories coming. Didn’t need a translator but I have to ask ‘what is the glass pastie?’


  17. seagullplayer Says:

    Great read, great pics.

    I have yet to make it to Oz, but it sounds like I would sure enjoy the people there.

  18. Jim C. Says:

    Plonk is a British term for low-priced wine. I didn’t know it was an Aussie term as well. In France, its called vin de table. I think the US equivalent would be two-buck Chuck.
    Wog is also a Brit term.
    As far as B double, those of us that lived in Wisconsin a number of years ago remember that the wife of the then-governor, Patrick Lucy, campaigned heavily to outlaw double-bottom trucks on Wisconsin highways. Few people took her seriously.
    CBD is an interesting term and a new one to me. My mother, who lived in Chicago for many years, took to calling the downtown business district of any city “the Loop”. She is the only one I know who did this, although I can imagine other Chicagoans doing it as well (not me, though).

  19. RickRussellTX Says:

    “The only thing that was missing (for me) as I read was some pictures of the water.”

    Hmm, maybe I should tell you about Vista Del Mar avenue here in Los Angeles, that runs between Manhattan Beach and Playa Del Rey. Water on one side, dunes on the other forming the end of the LAX runways. At night, kids are down in the state park region of the beach, right below the road, gathered around campfires.


  20. Dancing Bob Says:

    Folks in England (and, for some reason, I am connecting that to the Oz), call the local pub red wine “plonk”. They also think the plonk is better in France (imagine that).

    I don’t know any etamalogical stuff. Just that. Thought I’d share.