by Jeremy Wilker
SKOOTER DU 3: METAL CIRCUS REPORT
The Regulars’ third annual scooter rally was, by all reports, a nice success with 84 scooters and about 100 people in attendance during the three day event. Participants came from as far away as New Orleans and Arizona and one crazy fellow (Rob Hodge) actually rode his Lambretta all the way from Chicago &emdash; on a freshly rebuilt engine! It took him almost twelve hours, but he arrived Friday night before most of the locals. All types of people and scooters were present and much fun was had shooting the breeze, drinking, singing, bowling, eating, and of course, riding scooters. Thanks to our amazing sponsors we also had a ton of great prizes to give away and most people went home with some schwag.
The weeks leading up to the rally were more tense than usual as so many club members had prior obligations and it felt like things weren’t getting done soon enough. This was then compounded when our Saturday night venue decided to back out on our plans and we were left without a place to gather and we had to cancel the five bands we had lined up to play. Much panic. Everything came together in the end and things all worked for the best. Thankfully. Whew!
Friday night saw rally registration begin down at The Triple Rock Bar. As I mentioned, the guy who rode from Chicago arrived before most everybody else. Gotta give him credit for that feat. Although the wisdom of attempting such a ride on an engine that was just installed the day before is questionable. Hodge’s throttle hand was a bit swollen after his journey as Lambrettas tend to vibrate more than most scooters.
Folks we haven’t seen all year showed up and fresh faces walked into the bar as the night went on. Tall 40-oz bottles of Colt 45 were consumed (why? I ask), punk rock was listened to (loudly), Salted Nut Rolls and circus peanuts were nibbled, and somebody involved in organizing provided a whole box of ass-grabbing animal puppets which led to several people letting down their proverbial hair via proxy. Nice excuse: “Hey, it wasn’t me, it was the trash-talking lion!” A very drunk punk with an English accent apparently thought it necessary to attack our female members with insults and threats. When he grabbed a pool cue in hand (he wasn’t playing), he was quickly ousted from the establishment. Our highly anticipated Midnight Ride took off with over 20 scooters ’round about, well, midnight. A fun little jaunt through the city on a route not necessarily meant for scooters. Ooh, the illicit thrill! Things continued on into the night…
Saturday morning we regrouped at the beautiful Como Park Pavilion (which I am amazed remains largely unknown to locals who have lived in town for years). Scooters just kept arriving! Not only vintage Vespas and Lambrettas but a handful of Yamaha Vinos, a Malaguti, several Bajaj, Kymco and Hondas, including a couple of the huge Silverwings. The sight warmed the cockles of my heart (whatever those are). The Black Bear Cafe was serving up breakfasty goodness while the masses prepared to ride. For some reason, I’m usually given the task of addressing the horde with a megaphone, which I did, and then we were off on our 50+ mile jaunt around the northeast part of the Cities (White Bear Lake, etc).
We couldn’t have asked for a nicer ride. The weather was perfect, bright and warm, and the route was scenic and fun. With that many scooters on a ride, chances are there will be breakdowns of some vintage bikes but we only suffered a single broken cable which was quickly repaired by the support crew! At the halfway point, club member and rally sponsor Michael Daugherty bought all the gas of anybody needing to top off their tank. Thanks, Michael.
Our food was provided by the guys down at the Scooterville shop (Thanks, Bob and Derrick!) and upon arrival we were treated to BBQ’d burgers, dogs, veggie burgers, potato salad, and all the other trappings of a summer cookout. The food and drinks were quickly devoured and the gymkhana, one of the highlights of any rally, was commenced.
The gymkhana this year contained three events: the obstacle course, the slow ride, and the pile-on. This year’s pile-on event was won by the team able to put eight (yes, 8) riders on a single scooter and ride the required distance of about thirty feet. The most I’ve ever heard of in modern rallies was eleven riders on a scooter and I’d have payed money to see that! The slow ride is a process of elimination to see who can ride down, make a tight turn, and ride back to the start while going the slowest. Any foot contact with the ground is immediate elimination. Due to the big differences in automatic versus manual scooters this event is segregated into two categories, but we always pit the two winners against each other for fun.
The obstacle course this year consisted of a large teeter-totter followed by a small jump which led to a circus barrel. Upon the barrel were two rings made out of old tires which the rider had to pick up (both or singly) and then ride past a large pole and toss the rings onto the pole. Immediately following was a mini-slalom course with two gates and finally a huge ladder constructed out of metal pipes and wood sides. The large diameter pipes were set at obtuse angles and going too slow meant you’d probably get hung up. The points for this event were five for each item and ten for the ladder but making contact with the ground cost you negative ten points! Three judges also scored riders on perceived speed, skill & technique and riding with style (ie: crowd pleasing). The winner this year was Rob Hodge who did the entire course standing up.
Saturday night was hosted by the good people at Stardust Lanes Bowling Alley and this turned out to be a fun evening of karaoke, bowling, dancing, and drinking. A massive quantity of Pizza Luce pizza was brought in to feed the hungry scooterists. The big raffle/giveaway is always well attended and we gave out over $1500 worth of awesome schwag from our sponsors. The highest score of the evening in bowling was awarded a bowling trophy along with a $50 gift certificate from Scooterworks. Awards for all the rally events, including scooter judging, were presented with certificates and honest-to-goodness engraved trophies.
Karaoke doesn’t much appeal to me as I can’t carry a tune to save my life, but give a gang of scooterists some beer and a microphone and the night isn’t long enough. Grover did a ripping hip hop rendition and the crowd favorite was probably Rob Louden performing Prince’s “Kiss”–including falsetto vocals and funky dancing! Even the locals at the bar were on their feet cheering and laughing! Thankfully I captured that little display on video.
Much partying and mayhem ensued during the night. One thing we’ve learned is that if a group of guys from the Chicago area ever mention a hot-tub party around closing time, don’t believe them for a second. A steaming hot shower left running does not make a hot-tub party, no matter how many naked people are around. A party (of sorts)… well, I suppose. I would guess they may get asked to stay at a hotel next year.
Staggering half-awake into McGovern’s Upstairs on Sunday morning is usually a tough affair, what with little sleep the prior two days and large quantities of partying the night before. They serve up a great breakfast, though, and soon enough foosball games were in swing and stories of the night before were revealed. The St. Paul SOB’s traditionally award the SOB Cup to the club from furthest away with the most members in attendance and once again the “award” went to the Rockford boys and girls. I hesitate to call it an award as the cup is filled with liquor and the club members have to down it. This year it was filled up with Wild Turkey. Ack. The special treat after breakfast was the afore mentioned video of Rob’s karaoke, which was viewed on the big screen with much pleasure. Rob didn’t know it was taped and his reaction was priceless.
The SOB’s led us on a Sunday afternoon ride around St. Paul and we stopped over at the historic Highland Water Tower which was open for tours. Very cool! We painstakingly climbed the stairs to the top and were rewarded with an amazing view of the entire metro area. Go see it, it is quite impressive. Pictures of all sorts were taken and somebody got the idea to get most people down on the lawn below and form a word with their bodies. Heh, guess we’ll do most anything to get published. Through the use of technology (a few cell phones) we spelled out VESPA! in human bodies on the grassy hill below the tower. Passersby were greatly amused. Those still left at this point ended up riding down to Grumpy’s in downtown Minneapolis to sit in air-conditioned comfort and relax a bit.
And thus ended our 2002 rally weekend. Everyone was exhausted from the events but all had a great time and we invite you to join us next year! Special thanks must be given to our venues and sponsors who made the event possible: Bajaj USA, Vespa MN, Scooterville, Simple Shoes, Stardust Lanes, Pizza Luce, Triple Rock Bar, McGovern’s, Grumpy’s, Scooterworks, Supersonic Scooters, Casa Lambretta, Paul Frank, Chank, Shag, East Hill CD, Susstones, Pearson’s Candy, Extreme Noise, Patina, Everyday People, Let It Be Records, Tatters, Scootermonkey.com, Tee Squared Screenprinting, Michael Daugherty, 2 Stroke Buzz, Premium Parts and The Scooter Lab. THANKS! And thanks to all who attended–we were glad to host you and hope to see you at a rally somewhere soon.
Until next time, ride safe and ride often–preferably en masse! Oh, and pictures and video clips from the rally are online at our website.
The Twin Cities’ Vintage Scooter Club, The Regulars, meets on the first and third Sundays of each month at Pizza Luce in Uptown Minneapolis (32nd and Lyndale Ave) at 2:00 pm for socializing and riding — as long as weather permits. Join us! The website is located at http://www.minnescoota.com or send me a message – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com