Re Scooting in Portugal - Suzuki Burgman Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-2016, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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Re Scooting in Portugal

Burgmanusa Portugal - So. We were on the Lisbon city tour bus in rush hour traffic and we can see these round fibre glass knobs whizzing by. These are the helmeted heads of death-defying lane-splitting motorcyclists of Lisboa. Many more scooter riders than motorcyclists. A lot of men and women riding in business attire. I cannot see myself lane-splitting like the locals who probably use the same routes to and from work daily and have memorized the locations of the pot-holes, trenches, ruts and crevices. Not knowing when these are coming up could easily turn skilled lane-splitting into spectacular fiascos involving many other fellow commuters.

Later in the evening when leaving a restaurant in a steady rain, the hundreds of scooters have been reduced to only two in a half hour of driving on streets that are shining wet, and strewn with puddles and pools. The Portuguese may be scooter enthusiasts but do not carry their enthusiasm to insanity.

I have been studying the traffic here closely - in case I should join those out there demonstrating the death-wish on roads frantic with home-bound traffic in a city of 3 million. It is scary for me. We in Canada are unfamiliar with the codes of the traffic circle, and vehicles often cut across several lanes in front or behind of other vehicles doing the same in order to get where they need to go. They do it well and with respect and courtesy and without honking. I really don't know how - I have yet to see an accident or anyone driving with a crumpled fender or broken tail light though there must be some out there. They all have seemed to have evolved a sixth sense that allows them to know who yields to whom where and when. I want to get out there on a motorbike but all they need Is some novice foreigner like me to screw up their neatly complex but well functioning system.

The small town and rural country, where I am now, is a whole other bag of considerations. The new and the modern co-exists right alongside the old and the decrepit, the ancient and the derelict. Many of the roads are narrow two-lane jobs without shoulders and not necessarily well-maintained. In some places people's drive-ways imply that they may back out (or otherwise exit) onto the road-way even in the middle of curves. This is designed to make riding quite nerve-wracking for non-locals who are not expecting to have to dodge a tractor while swerving into the oncoming lane.

But if your as skilled as Luke Skywalker, you can pick lemons and limes right off the trees as you cruise the Algarve.

And I spotted my first 650 Burgman parked outside Pedro's Bar on the ocean front drive in Amarcao de Pera. If you throw an empty beer bottle hard enough over the bar, you will hear it splash in the Atlantic.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-2016, 07:52 PM
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Pedro's Bar looks like my kind of place. I would be itching to get on that 650 and go for a ride. I only have a little two wheel experience out of the USA, but I find that a more aggressive approach seems to work sometimes and is totally acceptable. This especially holds true in Latin American cities. So maybe that would be the key, just get in there shoulder to shoulder boogie.

Have fun and keep the posts coming. Looks like a great time!
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-23-2016, 03:17 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by El Jefe View Post
Pedro's Bar looks like my kind of place. ... So maybe that would be the key, just get in there shoulder to shoulder boogie. ... Have fun and keep the posts coming. Looks like a great time!
Scooting in Portugal - Alrighty then.

So El Jefe, I took your advice and laid out 130 Euros for a week on a 125 Kymco Agility. I was going to go with the 50 cc bike but a woman here is driving an Aprillia Scarabeo 125 and it seems to do 120 KPH (70 MPH) quite readily. Not so the Kymco - a well-used rental. Oh, well.

The red line on the speedo starts at 80 kph but a lot of the roads here are marked at 70, so it is doing the job so far. When I went back to the shop because the open face helmets were cheap, and useless in the wind at anything over 40 (no windshield), I got two decent helmets with face shields. Not even one fits under the seat (I guess that's why they originally gave me the other half helmet cheapos). Also the replacement helmet drop-down face shields have a tendency to fog sometimes when I breathe; even so, I refuse to stop breathing.

So as I am pulling away from the rental agency, I hear the renter guy yelling after me. So I stop and he points out that I am riding with the kickstand still down! Yikes!

That's all I need - make a left turn and get vaulted across the street into a row of parked cars. That would never happen on my Burgman, of course, because the engine won't even start with the side stand down.

I made a promise to myself then and there that I would not even put the key in the ignition until the stand was up. I don't want the Portuguese people reading a story about me over their morning coffee: CANADIAN TOURIST SNUFFED IN MOTO ACCIDENT. The next day they would be using me to wrap fish or to line the parakeet cage.

Let's face it compared to my 650 Executive - this bike is crap. But on it's own merits, it will go up some steep Portuguese inclines with no probs. Starts easily, no stalls, sufficient get up and go from a stop sign. The mirrors rods are too short so I see the passing lane and a lot of my shirt (I was wearing my fat shirt that day). But I can see none of the traffic immediately behind me, except on curves. That means vehicles can sneak up and scare the be-jesus out of me when they pass. The back tire is pretty much used up but the front is better.

Being out there on the road, though, is quite glorious. Mother Nature's air conditioning at mid-day here is fabulously refreshing and it can be claustrophobically humid as well. In one spot between villages, the fresh smell of oranges coming off a road-side grove was the treat of the day. The bombardment of various aromas i am treated to as I cruise the countryside sure beats walking through the cosmetic section at Sears.

A full tank of petrol from empty cost me 5.95 Euros yesterday.

My magic carpet ride by moto continues.

P.S. - The photo is the view behind Pedro's Bar.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-23-2016, 10:56 AM
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Outstanding! Keep the reports coming. Great stuff. I wonder how many square inches of road rash are accumulated the world over each day on tourist rental scooters. Be careful out there! I had a Kymco People 150 for a while, a very reliable bike. Upgraded to the Burgman and never looked back.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-25-2016, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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All things must pass ...

Scooting in Portugal II - Well the good news is I did not kill myself or wipe out like I did in Cuba on a semi-paved gravel infested road. I took the Kymco back today and chalked it all up as a positive experience with much confidence gained.

I kept my promise to myself except on two occasions when the motor was running and I heard the side-stand scraping as I backed out. Whew! All the Kymco bikes they have above the 125 displacement have automatic kickstand shut-off. I certainly will lay out the extra cash next time.

The round-abouts are actually quite a good system and they take the right angles out of intersections - which I think is a good thing. I missed a few off-shoots and got totally lost on a couple of occasions but not to any ill adventure. At first I was deferring to every driver but as my confidence increased I started to assert myself and it went well. The back tire gave a few scares on some damp corners but this is the result of not being at the central rental site to go over the actual bikes and pick one out. The agent I went to had to truck one in from 40 miles away based on my choosing a picture off a chart. NOT THE BEST WAY TO RENT A BIKE. It feels a lot like "take it or leave it" once the guy shows up.

The way people drive and park here would get you fined where I come from, and since they often park on both sides of the street and not all cars on one side have to face one direction, it is possible to be driving down a street assuming it is a one-way because of the way people have left their cars parked. I made this mistake a number of times and lucked-out each time.

I got myself up a very steep hill in the castle city of Silves and it was so steep I was afraid to come back down on the polished tiles - cars were doing it but they had a 4-wheel platform to sustain them up-right. Of course the old city and the old streets pre-date the automobile by at least a couple of centuries and they have adapted these goat paths to current modes of transport. It was white knuckle driving for me though.

So I am happy that I gave it a shot and even happier to have survived abrasion-and-fracture-free. All the same, I look forward to getting back to familiar roads and road culture and to my very own 650 Scooter.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2016, 02:00 AM
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Thanks for the travelogue!

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-27-2016, 04:03 AM
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Nice reading. Keep going.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-30-2016, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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Scooting Portugal - Addendum

Alrighty then.

I am back in Lisbon getting ready to wrap up my vacation.

We got a ride to the train station in a small two door Mercedes driven by the chick who rides Aprillia 125 Scarabeo. It was a hair-raising experience as we were under the illusion that we were going to be late for the train. I was so glad to be in the car as opposed to being on the road on my scooter trying to stay out of her way! She was doing highway speeds in residential neighbourhoods and I was fearful for cyclists and pedestrians, cats and dogs. I expected more respect from an auto pilot who also drives her own scooter. Google needs a worldwide alert program that tells when drivers like her are on the road - then any motorcyclist riding in the vicinity gets a warning and can stop for coffee until the whirlwind has passed.

The train ride to Lisbon goes through cork tree plantations where they paint numbers on the trees to let them know how many seasons have passed until the trees are ready to be de-barked again. I also was surprised to see rice fields growing along the tracks; near a river from which the fields are irrigated/flooded at the appropriate times of the year. Who knows that they grow rice in Portugal!? I guess this country IS semi-tropical with palm trees common in the south at least.

Back in the frenetic traffic of Lisbon, the lane-splitting by scooterists is going down fast and furious!

I get that these scooter geeks get home a little earlier than the cagers they are "riding through" in rush hour traffic (as opposed to "riding with") but the risk seems to me to be more than the possible time saving can be worth. I guess, though, it is a huge adrenalin rush for them, while I myself have tempered my need for speed in correlation to the fragility of tissue and bone that comes with age and pro-longed recovery/healing times.

In Lisbon, they have a magnificently architectured train station with levels both above and below ground. I do hope they built it to earthquake resistant standards because the city is on a fault line (the massive quake in 1755 was the most destructive of at least 3 mentioned in a quick search). Hercules, together with Samson and Schwarzenegger, could never hold up even a short section of one of the massive concrete beams if it ever came down.

For motorcyclists (and I guess for a few others) they built the Vasco da Gama bridge across the Tagus River (Rio Teju) and it is 18 kms long! This is no piddly river - you wouldn't want to swim it on a bet unless Michael Phelps was your stand-in and you could phone in sick. Even he, as a short distance swimmer, would probably be unequal to the task and end up in the Atlantic well before getting to the opposite shore.

Sorry that I haven't got pics of this mighty river and spectacular bridge. At night you can see the 18 kms of lighted bridge like a pearl necklace spanning the dark black expanse of water.

In summary, if you like to travel, and if you like to scoot on your travels, and if you are up for a challenge - you could do a lot worse than a trip to Portugal. Did I mention it hit 30 degrees today - in the Northern Hemisphere - in late October? What's that in Fahrenheit? 90? What the heck - you could Google it.

Let me ride 'til I croak.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-31-2016, 04:54 AM
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Ducati - your travelogue has made me laugh! I live in Spain anmd we have everything you have mentioned and more! I have dashcams in my cars just so that if a lunatic moped rider decides to become a bonnet ornament, I have some evidence that it (probably!) wasn't my fault!

I am in Granada Province, on the coast and we ARE in a 'tropical' zone. One of the names for the area is Costa Tropical, as they grow mangoes and other exotic stuff here. We are also very close to The Alhambra, Cordoba and a couple of hours from Gibraltar - fantastic.

But best of all, there are Burgies EVERYWHERE! Being macho Spain, the 650s seem to be favourite, but there are lots of other models around too.

Here we are at Hollowen and as you say, air temp is 30ish and yesterday diving the water was 22! Fantastic!!
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-31-2016, 11:24 AM
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Well done, a treat to read!
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