The secret is out. Seattle CAN have great weather. Sunny, slight breeze, no humidity, and still only 75 degrees. What a glorious weekend.
The Hotel Deca, delivering its own artistic flair to the 25th annual Amerivespa event, providing a great spot to collect and stay in the heart of the University District just next to down town. At one point, 175 scooters stuffed the parking lot, poised for adventure wherever their master fancied.
For some, it was the grand opportunity to show their wares. For others, not caring about show room shine, it was for the people. Seeing old friends, raising a pint, sharing new stories from their last meeting, staying out too late, and waking up to a handful of ibuprofen. (Probably a good thing most scooters are not known for their loud pipes.)
Admittedly, this was my first time. I have tried for over a decade to attend and could never make it due to business travel and important family commitments. Why my nieces and nephews can’t figure out ANY other weekend to get married is beyond me.
But I HAD to go this year. Even with a house full of company, I just left. I bought my ticket WAY before their plans! After all, this is MY club, the Vespa Club of Seattle! (Even though I don’t do much with the club because attending an event is a 5-hour round-trip on a scooter.) But I was not going to be swayed… not when Amerivespa is in my back yard.
Like many attendees, my journey started days before. But mine had a dubious start… a roasted harness on Sid, a Rally 180… total kill. Then the back up; after a 16-hour marathon road trip to fetch ‘The Taxi’, decided to have the 2-stroke injector fail just days before Amerivespa opened. (Albeit, I may have had a small sewage treatment plant in my Batman boxers when the lock up happened at 50 miles an hour. But I clutched out of the fishtail, leaving my first-ever scooter-caused skid mark.)
So there I was... stuck traveling to the COOLEST scooter event on the calendar… driving a frickin’ Toyota… the Cage of Shame.
My day started early. Of course, I could not sleep. I woke an hour before the alarm. All I could think about was seeing (with my own eyes) the largest collection of scooters in the US, finally meeting people I’ve only Facebooked before, and doing my part by being a helpful clubmate and volunteering at the registration desk for several hours.
To beat the infamous Seattle traffic, I stepped outside my door at 5:12AM. Other than a quick stop to feed my (typical Seattle) coffee addiction, I rolled into Hotel Deca at 6:30 – record time, but that’s the reward when you get up at the ‘butt crack of dawn’. I had no problem filling my time for an hour waiting for the registration room to open. Selfies, New-Friendsies, and Groupies abounded. I even went Live for our friends at the Vespa Club of Israel. (President Oren says, “hi” BTW.)
A quick glance at my watch and an introduction to Josh and Jac at the door and we were rolling. T-shirts sorted by size, and goodies bags stuffed with care fed my inner OCD self. Jessica, and Jackie handled the brunt of the peeps and us JV’ers handed over shirts, patches, and bags. Brian made it just in time for the rush. People from all over steadily flowed and were greeted with a heart-felt kindredness that only scooter heads know. (As we all know, others (non-scooter-heads) just don’t get it.)
Like many, I rifled through my goodie bag at first glance… with the hum of registrants registering in the background… meanwhile, Josh and Jac wasting their lives away tearing the perforations of the countless sold raffle tickets.
You better believe when things got momentarily quiet I snuck outside and looked, clicked, and talked. What an amazing collection of weird bikes and cool people (I may or may not have that backwards – I’ll let you decide). The perfect mix of art and function; transportation and expression; with 2-stroke rattle and CVT whine. Blue smoke was the only interruption to the normally crisp and clean Seattle air; and what a fine smell it was.
My favorite part was the stories. EVERY scooter has a story. The ‘rats’ tell of a checkered past, forged by tough love. The ‘customs’ bask in their glory of countless painstaking hours of tender loving kindness. The ‘mods’ are still mod, cool in every sense of the word regardless of condition or age. Even the ‘moderns’ had a showing of decorative flair bringing forth scooting to the next generation.
Tom from Wisconsin, with his crowd-pleasing military-themed Allstate, gathered enough interest to repeat the evolution of his bike’s design… all the way down to distressing the ‘medic’ symbols. Every component offered its own adventure. It still amazing me how an owner can remember the origins… a treasure hunt for each piece.
Tom from Wisconsin, with his crowd-pleasing military-themed Allstate, gathered enough interest to repeat the evolution of his bike’s design… all the way down to distressing the ‘medic’ symbols. Every component offered itsown adventure. It still amazing me how an owner can remember the origins… a treasure hunt for each piece.
‘Penelope Pitstop’ from Cincinnati has been addicted to scooting for only a short time. She got her first taste right before Amerivespa Indianapolis… and rode there in pouring rain just three days after obtaining her endorsement… (the first step in dealing with your addiction is to admit it). Ms. ‘Pitstop’ appeared with full regalia – pink dress and white go-go boots, matching her pink GTS250ie. Even her Betsey Johnson ‘phone’ purse was an exquisitely matched accessory. (BTW, the Betsey Johnson was FULLY FUNCTIONAL, syncing to Penelope’s cell phone.)
With one chase-truck stickered with “Caution: Live Animals,” the universe is balanced out by another scooter, Odie’s, included a modified top box, customized to carry Odie safely yet retaining Odie’s keen sense of style: Tailored harness, helmet, and goggles fit his form and function. He anxiously waited for his chauffer to ride the ferry to Bainbridge Island. Many made last minute parking lot adjustments, not wanting to miss anything. Fine tuning, oil changes, and a relentless cry of, “Where’s Robot?” (I’m not sure if he considered this a vacation, or not.)
With several sanctioned rides to pick, and a few unsanctioned, they toured the surrounding areas offering a sanctified sampling when staying in Seattle. The QR codes in the event program made the route maps nearly fool proof (it is unclear if they ever found the fool).
Events scattered over the greater Seattle area and offered a full spectrum of the day and night life. (Scooters INSIDE the bar?... What happens at Amerivespa stays at Amerivespa!) Probably should shout out to Uber! More ibuprofen for the masses. Lots of espresso… this is Seattle after all.
But one of the rarest events ever for Amerivespa was the auction of 135 Vespa and Lambretta scooters from the personal collection of Victor Voris. With the fast-dealing kicking off at 1PM, one could just feel the bulging wallets desiring to be ‘relieved’. Publicized for months prior to Amerivespa, this had to be one of the largest sales of scooters EVER in the US. Recent and not-so-recent memory cannot think of another like it.
But, of course, none of this could be possible without the generous considerations from our sponsors. With major raffle offerings and goodie-bag fodder, sponsors are what make an event like this what it really is… an event to remember. You may want to remember to thank them by spending your money at their stores – be sure to check the VCOA website for the latest discounts.
The views expressed in this post are solely those of the author and not a direct representation of the Vespa Club of America, it's member base, it's Officers or Board.