Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's Not a Gang! It's a Club!

I couldn't wait to get to Mass this morning so I could tell Father Mike that I had been to my first scooter rally yesterday.  I knew he'd chuckle and bust my butt a little.  Father Mike is a biker and it amuses him to my own delight that he gets a kick out of seeing big, ol' me coming to church on Sunday mornings on the BV, so I knew that the news of my having been to a scooter rally would score me a playful ribbing.

Now, to be honest, according to the organizers, by definition it wasn't a rally because the official name of the event was, "THE NOT A RALLY, RALLY." Being a purist when it comes to semantics, I had to dig... According to, one of the definitions of "rally" is "a large gathering of people for a common purpose."  Technically, I suppose I can't argue with "not a rally, rally," because we weren't a large gathering by any stretch of the imagination, though we were "rally-like" in having been gathered for a common purpose.

The name of the scooter group is DIS - Disorganized Individual Scooterists.  The title of this post comes from an episode of Saturday Night Live in the 70s, back when SNL was still funny.  I won't pretend to remember the gist of the skit, but the members of a street gang were being harassed for being a gang, to which they kept reiterating, "It's not a gang.  It's a club!"  Well, DIS is definitely not a gang, and I know this for a fact because I felt right at home though I just met the other members yesterday morning for the first time.  And I don't know that Carl, the de facto leader of DIS would even call it a club being that we're "individual" scooterists.  Whatever DIS isn't, I know it was a lot of fun being part of the gang, er, I mean club, um, I mean associating with other disorganized, individual scooterists.

My elder daughter was visiting for the weekend and asked if she could accompany me to the not a rally, rally though she has no love of scooters.  She was the one who nearly ran from the scooter crying when I took her for a single spin around the parking lot of a nearby supermarket on the FLY50 a few years ago.  I graciously allowed her to follow me in her car to Moyer's Grove in Wapwallopen fully laden with her veritable arsenal of photo gear.  

The plan was, originally, that we'd drive out to the grove and hang out with the DIS crew until they were to leave on a ride to an amusement park.  I'd make the acquaintance of the other scooterists, and she would fart around taking nature shots in and around the campground.  While she did putz around a lot with the camera, it wasn't long before she was talking it up with others just as much as I was, and when it came time for the group to leave for the ride to the park she talked me into riding with them while she'd follow us all with her car.  All in all, I was glad she came with me 'cause she talked me into having a lot more fun than I'd have had if I hadn't taken the ride to Elysburg to Knoebel's Amusement Resort.

It felt awfully good not being the oldest guy there which I'd thought I'd be.  Now I'm not going to guess ages, but I think at least two of the other guys might have had a few years on me.

I was amazed that one of the gentlemen rode out to join us from Ohio!  Another was heading home to Harrisburg  to work, but would be returning afterwards, around midnight.  And I thought I was putting a lot of miles on the BV just coming up from the valley.  Sheesh!

I enjoyed seeing all the scooters lined up just like the bigger bikes had been in Johnstown a few weeks ago.  As I thought it would be, my BV250 was somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of size and power.

The real excitement began when we all mounted up and started our engines for the ride to Knoebel's.  I'd never ridden in a pack (Oh, my!  Dare I use that word?) before but was looking forward to it since my daughter talked me into doing it.  Oh, yeah...  My shirt doesn't match the others because the biggest of the official DIS shirts would have made me look like the proverbial ten pounds of manure in a five pound bag, but I digress.  We waited for the last official announcement from Carl's awesome, electronic megaphone, and we were off!

I've written much in the past about how being in the saddle of the scooter in motion makes me deliriously introspective.  On the group ride, I wasn't all that sufficiently carefree so as to do my usual mental gymnastics - at least not as we were starting out.  I was concerned when Carl announced that we were going to ride in staggered formation.  Although he explained that we wouldn't be side by side, to me it still meant that I was going to be limited to half a lane, and after being accustomed to having a whole lane to myself to play around with the centrifugal and centripetal forces involved in swinging two wheels through a curve, I was a bit apprehensive about making a fool out of myself, or worse, infringing dangerously on somebody else's space.  I was very tense for the first few miles, but then grew more relaxed as we continued to ride though I never did get to the point where I'd start to dig into my own brain to ponder the vicissitudes of being.

By the time we got to the park I was wishing that the ride itself would go on longer in spite of my being a little sore in the saddle.  I can't explain the feeling that riding with others provided, but it was uniquely good.  Even though we couldn't talk to each other on the ride, and our actual interactions short of pacing ourselves with the others was minimal, there was a feeling of being connected with the other riders that was totally neat.

Admittedly, it was more of a thrill than it should have been to park the BV next to the big dogs in the motorcycle only parking area!  Once again I was reminded of the rows of bikes at Thunder in the Valley, except this time my own bike was right there in the bunch!  Surprisingly, it didn't look all that puny next to the other cycles.

My daughter and I had to be back in the valley to join my aunt for her birthday dinner so we grabbed a quick lunch at the park and left before the rest of the DIS group headed back to the campground.  I had had a great time, though, and met some wonderful people who I sure hope to see again.  My thanks to Carl and the rest of the "gang" for making me feel so welcome.

A special thanks to the sponsors of our first not a rally, rally:
Team Effort Cycle, Classic Pizza, Gino's Shoe Store
Octagon Family Restaurant, Marsh Motors, DMC Graphics

Most photos in this post were taken by my daughter, Angela.


Doug said...

I've ridden my wife's Honda Helix to a couple of scooter rallies and found scooterists to be a slightly eccentric lot. I think you'll fit in with the not-a-club-or-gang group better than you might suspect, Joe. And I mean that in the nicest way! I hope you ride more with them this summer.

EzTravler said...

Joe, it was a pleasure meeting you and your daughter at the DIS Rally I was DISappointed that you could not hang around for the ride back and scooter games they had later in the day. For that being the first DIS rally, (not a rally) it went very well. I hope to see you again.

There are scooter rallies almost every weekend some where, like anything else they come is all different shapes and sizes and flavors. Some cater to a certain vintage, make, or type, some are national rallies as in the ameriavespa rally; others are influenced by the age group, location or personal taste. We have the Maxi scooterest, the classic not plastic group, the mopeds, the 2 strokers, and many more varieties of scooters. I agree that a lot of scooterest are from the slightly eccentric lot.

There are three "local" rallies coming up is Ithaca, NY, younger crowd, a little more moped group, The Cradle of Liberty Rally in Philly, it is also a campground rally and has a nice mix of riders and scooters. The Meltdown Rally in Harrisburg by Three Mile Island scooter club. This one rocks. Here is the best source for rally information

My wife and I each have Honda a Helix, an 86 and 87 and my daily rider is a Burgman 650 and my wife rides a Harley. Scootering is a great cost effective way of transportation. Don’t knock it till you have tried it.

kmrcst said...

glad you enjoyed your first scooter rally; I am attending my first one this weekend in Camp Hill, PA (outside Harrisburg) hosted by the Three Mile Island Scooter Club called Meltdown 2011 (this year's theme is called 'Duck and Cover'); I also want to attend the Mid-Atlantic Scooter Rally in New Holland, PA (slightly outside Lancaster) next month; I hope to make it a regular activity as time goes on;

Joe said...

Some of the folks from DIS will be at the TMI rally. I believe they're heading down tomorrow. I've yet to take a ride of that magnitude.