The Three Mile Island SC “Meltdown” scooter rally has been an annual event in central Pennsylvania since 2004. This year’s rally was a special one, since it commemorated the 40th anniversary of the near-catastrophe at the nearby Three Mile Island Nuclear Reactor. In 1979 a pressure valve in the TMI Unit 2 reactor failed to close. Following that occurrence, a chain of operator errors led to the reactor core overheating, which led to a near-meltdown event.
For this year’s rally, ninety-five east coast adventurers, from as far away as Florida, made the trip to Fred’s Campground on the beautiful Conodoguinet Creek in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Riders began arriving on Friday afternoon and pitched their tents along the bank of the creek.
After two years in which the Meltdown rallies were subjected to torrential rainstorms, this year’s event was blessed with near-perfect weather all week-end. A Friday night Meet & Greet at the campground featured the 1982 B-movie bombshell “Class of Nuke'em High”. This was followed by a night ride around the State Capital, located across the Susquehanna River, in Harrisburg.
Saturday’s activities began with three rides: one for 125 cc and larger scooters; a second for small displacement scooters and mopeds; and a third ride for vintage and other manual-shift scooters. On average, the rides took about an hour to get to their lunch stops; and an hour back to the campground.
Scootering in this part of of Pennsylvania is exceptionally nice. A great many of our secondary roads started out as animal trails and Indian footpaths; and since we are in the foothills of the Appalachians, the roads that were developed from them tend to be the kind of winding and twisty lanes that make for the very best kind of scooter riding.
All three rides went off without a hitch; no accidents or breakdowns. Lunches were provided to all riders, and the scooterists were back at the campground, safe and sound, by mid-afternoon. At that time, a keg was tapped, an ice cream truck opened it doors, and the catastrophe-themed gymkhana was under way.
Gymkhana participants were required to ride to the “reactor”, replace fuel rods, clean up nuclear waste, and end up in a decontamination area where they were hosed down for safety’s sake. Midway through the course, a challenging ride through the famous “Flaming Wall of Death” was, once again, a favorite of the onlookers. A race to haul heavy water on a scooter-towed sled, along with a blind-fold slow race provided additional entertainment for the crowd.
A BBQ dinner, provided by the Keystone Smokehouse, was followed by a raffle. As darkness descended, music and the (sometimes) naked slip-and-slide into the creek, rounded out the evening.
The rally ended with a Sunday ride to view the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor. After the ride returned, tents were folded, scooters were packed, hands were shaken, and we all said goodbye to Meltdown #16.