During my freshman year of college I decided to use some of my student loan money to buy a vintage Vespa. I’m pretty sure that’s what the government wanted me to use these funds for. My friend and I jumped in his pickup truck and headed to Baltimore to pick up the scooters. It was a great weekend full of adventure and many firsts (first road trip, first time trying sushi and my first Vespa). The scooter, a 1976 125TS, was in pretty good condition aside from the engine being covered in road grime. We loaded the bikes into the pickup and headed back to East Lansing, MI.
I wouldn’t see my scooter again for four years.
This was not really anyone’s fault but my own. My uncle was an avid motorcyclist and he took the bike back home to fix it up. He got it running but it remained in Holland, MI throughout the duration of my college years for several reasons; I didn’t have a place to store it, I didn’t have the time or money to get my motorcycle endorsement and I was a lazy college student with no way of getting it back to East Lansing.
After graduation, my husband brought the bike back to Ferndale and we met the Detroit Rovers Vespa Club. The Rovers are a scooter club dedicated to the riding, restoration, preservation and celebration of vintage scooters. After passing the rigorous membership process and being hazed in ways I’d rather not share on this blog, we became official Rovers and have been hanging out with the club ever since.
Being a Rover has been a central part of our lives for the past 5 years. We have made friends with fellow scooterists near and far. We have even traveled to exotic places like Columbus, OH for scooter rallies! A rally is a scooter-centric event thrown in cities across the country. It’s a big weekend-long party that attracts scooterists from all over the US and sometimes international guests. We’ve witnessed fellow Rovers get married and have even made a trip to Las Vegas to witness a Rover couple’s holy union. We’ve gained baby Rovers and have sadly lost dear friends. All of these things and more have brought us together not only as a club, but as a family
Vintage scooters are not the most reliable form of transportation. I’ve broken down numerous times and I’m still in awe of the talent and assistance willingly given by my scooter family. There are regularly scheduled “wrench nights” to help get bikes running and on the road, and we have weekly meet-ups, usually at an area bar, to make sure we all remain in contact throughout the year.
Each year we throw our own scooter rally called Motor City Shakedown. It happens every first weekend of August. We host events at various Detroit and metro-Detroit locations, lead a 60 mile tour of beautiful southeast Michigan, and raffle off a vintage scooter that the club has restored over the course of the year. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s the best (only) scooter rally in Detroit and it’s open to the public! So, if you’ve been interested in scooters, love the mod culture, or just want to grab a beer and talk with some of the friendliest and knowledgeable scooterists around – check out MCSD 6 this year!
Video from Motor City Shakedown 2005 – YouTube has removed the sound, so feel free to provide your own background music!
As “THE DIFF Rover”, I’m sure there will be more scooter related posts in my future. Once the bikes are running again (a common bane of the Rover existence) I hope to commute from my home in Ferndale to our current office in Livonia and to our new location in downtown Detroit! I’m sure I’ll have plenty of stories to tell.