There are a million reasons to love retired United States Representative Gabby Giffords, most of which center on her heroic recovery from an assassination attempt in 2011. But last week, she celebrated Throwback Thursday, with a great photo from her college days, astride a Lambretta motorscooter.
“#TBT to my college days, when I zipped around Scripps College on my Vespa,” she wrote. In actuality, the scooter is a Lambretta, which was Vespa's biggest competition in the 1960s.
Our Italian scooter encyclopedia pal Jay Holdash pointed out that it looks like this wasn't just any ordinary Lambretta, either. Judging by the aluminum trim on the sidecovers, it looks like it's a Lambretta SX200. With 11hp and a 66 mile per hour top speed, it was like the Hemi 'Cuda of two-stroke Italian hairdryers.
But Gabrielle Giffords wasn't content to just ride scooters. From her college days to her time in Congress, Giffords fought for motorcyclists. When she was in college, Giffords raced a two-stroke Yamaha race bike.
Later in her life, she purchased a 1972 BMW R75/5, which she said that she eventually wanted to ride to Argentina someday.
Just 46 days on the job as the U.S. Representative for Arizona's 8th District, she went on a trip to Iraq with a four-person delegation led by Arizona U.S. Senator John Kyl to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Malaki and U.S. Lt. Gen. David Petraeus. “I’m just jumping right in,” Giffords told the Tucson Citizen in 2007. “My attitude is in life you have to do your best to be careful."
Throughout her career in Congress, she was an advocate for motorcyclists. Her bio noted that “Gabrielle also is an avid motorcycle rider and a member of the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus. She hopes to ride her bike to Argentina one day, but for now she opts for Highway 83 between Tucson and Patagonia.” In a story for RideApart, Wes Siler wrote that "Giffords sponsored House Resolution 269, supporting the goals of establishing May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and officially recognizing the important contribution motorcycles make to American transportation... Have you ever heard our government make that much sense before?"
Just a week into her third term on January 8, 2011, Giffords was the victim of an an assassination attempt. She was critically wounded by a gunshot to the head. Thirteen others were injured, and six people were killed in the incident, among them a federal judge named John Roll.
Due to the challenges of her rehabilitation, Giffords had to give up her seat in the House of Representatives in 2012. Years later, she still has speech and physical therapy. She has some difficulty speaking and walking, and her right arm is paralyzed.
But it hasn't kept her from challenging herself. To mark the third anniversary of the shooting, she went skydiving. In the history of cool ladies, Gabby Giffords might top the list.