scooterlogo2[1]by Chris Orr

I can hardly believe it myself, but it’s true–a column in M.M.M. dedicated exclusively to motorscooters! That’s right, those smoky machines with the funny little wheels could soon putt their way off the endangered species list.

If you live in the Twin Cities you may have already noticed the recent surge in the number of vintage scooters you see zipping about. And those of you with a keen eye will have spotted scooters in many national TV commercials and print ads during the last year.

Why the sudden interest in scooters? I don’t know for sure but certainly the craze for all things Retro plays a large part. World-wide, scooters are one of the most popular and economical means of transportation available. Piaggio, the Italian company which produces the Vespa scooter, is the fourth largest manufacturer of two-wheeled vehicles in the world!

With scooters having been built in just about every industrial country in the world, there is definitely something for everyone out there. While my primary interest lies in vintage European motorscooters, I can appreciate them all. With this column we will explore all the different types of scooters past and present with equal enthusiasm.

There is a new Scooter club in the Twin Cities, The Regulars, and the following story will bring you up to date on our activities. The Club meets the first and third Sunday of every month at the Bryant Lake Bowl at 3:00 p.m. The scooter rally being reviewed took place on June 7, 1998.

BIG ASS SCOOTER RIDE!

After a week of cool temps, lots of rain and Ginger quitting the Spice Girls, Sunday dawned dry and sunny in Minneapolis. The scooter gods were smiling on the day’s first official meeting of The Regulars Vintage Scooter Club. After holding a few small runs in May with five to ten bikes, the time had come to let the Twin Cities and the global scootering community know that Minnesota is back on the scooter map!

That’s right. The town that brought you The Replacements, Husker-Du, that short purple guy and, most recently, Semisonic, is rebuilding its vintage scooter scene from the oil seals up. Sporting a new name, a new attitude and a healthy mix of veteran and rookie scooterists, The Regulars VSC is already poised to become the largest club of it’s kind in our zip code!

With 27 scooters showing up for our first BIG ASS SCOOTER RIDE, the stage was finally set for our coming out party. As anxious riders performed standard pre flight checks of their bikes, it was decided by senior club members that for maximum media exposure we should infiltrate the largest one day festival in Minnesota, Grand Old Day. The huge outdoor shindig in downtown St. Paul (rivaling Lumberjack Days in nearby Hayward, WI and approaching the stature of the Eel Pout Festival in Northern MN) featured a free concert by local band The Honeydogs.

But first there was a quick meeting where Chris Orr from The Scooter Lounge in St. Louis Park raffled off some door prizes, and veteran rallyist Tim Gartman explained the route. Then, at exactly 4:10 p.m. CST, it happened! The birth of a scooter club. The riders were given the signal to simultaneously fire up their engines. As the little motors screamed to life this writer experienced a two-stroke epiphany of sorts. A huge cloud of pungent oily smoke rose up and gently wrapped itself around me like a…well, like a huge cloud of smelly, oily smoke. My eyes burned; I coughed a lot, but I liked it! It was a special moment that I’ll remember as long as I can.

Then, looking every inch like the Roman cavalry preparing to charge, we rode in formation across the street to the gas station. It appeared that Orr, Gartman and local Scooter novelist Eric Dregni had not gassed up their damn scooters. Once under way, we soon lost our first mount. Jason Johnson’s beautifully turned out 1953 Hoffman Vespa was experiencing teething problems on its maiden voyage. In true gladiator style, we left him for dead and soldiered on. Soon enough we approached our target, Grand Old Day. Traffic was intense, so we tightened our formation.

Creating a scooter shield we stabbed towards the heart of the beast. Many drunk citizens shouting words of encouragement helped keep morale high, as we weaved our way through this sea of humanity. At one point, a nameless woman, having penetrated our defenses from behind, jumped on the back of Eric Youngberg’s 1964 Vespa GS at a stoplight. She joined us for a quick ride past the Governor’s mansion and then disappeared. The best part of that story was hearing young Eric say, “Oh my god! These things really do work.” Eric has since dubbed his scooter the Viagra GS 160.

In summary, our first BIG ASS SCOOTER RIDE was a great success. After buzzing through St. Paul and making our presence known, we split up and went our separate ways. We had a great time together; no one was injured, and we came up with an idea to make our next event on August 2 even better. That’s right. Were going to have a BIG ASS BBQ and SCOOTER RIDE!

Thank you to the Bryant Lake Bowl for allowing us to adorn the curb in front of their fine establishment. It was fantastic to have six female riders at the first event. Daphnae, Rebecca, Sam, Jessika, Ann and Rae again proved the point that scooting is not just a guy thing! For info on The Regulars VSC and the BIG ASS BBQ and SCOOTER RIDE! on Aug. 2 call 612.922.7333.

M.M.M.

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