On the long return journey to Detroit from Amerivespa - the annual national scooter meeting - I had a chance to reflect on just what had happened over the past four days. Amerivespa, now in its 20th year, is a meeting of like-minded individuals, and not all of them on Vespas. It's a place where it's OK to be a "scooter dork", someone who cares only about the ride, or someone fully immersed into the community. Amerivespa is about creating a community, having a blast, and then disbursing that community back into the corners of the world from whence the inhabitants came. It's a place for love and maybe some disappointment from those who have never organized a rally, but one thing that Amerivespa isn't is boring.
The Vespa Club of America and local Lake Geneva, Wisconsin scoot club, the Scoot Jockeys planned this event for more than a year, and it showed. If you've ever undertaken even a small scooter rally then you know what it's like. The work is never ending and the thanks are scant, but the feeling of accomplishment is very real. The VCOA and Scoot Jockeys combined to create a series of unforgettable events, stringing them together to make just a few days seem like much more time in a sort of scooter heaven. They, and the sponsors, created fun events, rides and the reason for being there, but the attendees also came together to take over the local hotels, bars, restaurants and yes, parking lots to make Lake Geneva theirs if only for a few days.
The swag flowed fast and furious at Amerivespa, especially if you showed up on a Genuine Scooter. They had a bonus program involving a big pin and a punch card that netted lucky Genuine owners the best swag of the show "Scooter DORK" t-shirt, plus pens, can coozies, keychains and stickers. The shirts were a big hit and many disappointed Vespa owners looked on enviously. As they might, because Piaggio USA (the company that makes Vespa, Piaggio and Aprilia products, and the U.S. importer) was again a no-show at their namesake rally. Sure, they were a sponsor (like Genuine, they were there, Corazzo, they were there, Scooterworks, they were there, Vespa Motorsport, they were there, Scoot Club, they were there and Kymco (were they there?). It hard to understand Piaggios marketing angle, but all the rest of the sponsors that I spoke with expressed real satisfaction with the event and the level of fanaticism of these prototypical scooter fans. Note to potential sponsors next year - prepare for a level of user excitement that you're probably not used to.
Of course, the Amerivespa goodie bags were full of wonderful things, including two very nice t-shirts (Amerivespa and RMS Classic scooter parts), a poster, key chains, a can coozie and probably 15 various stickers and patches (thanks, Twisted Throttle), all in a nice custom printed bag. Corazzo was handing out their innovative scooter coffee holders and I think that everyone came away with something from the rally. Besides a hangover and a sunburn, that is.
It all kicked off on Thursday, June 21st, with a four-hour ride departing at noon. The ride started from rally HQ and sponsor Midwest Action Cycle and took in miles of the local "Rustic Roads". These roads featured little to no traffic, rolling hills, challenging corners and picturesque canopies of trees overhead. MAC provided lunch at a mid-ride state park and the return to HQ was more of the same. At the same time, a 50cc ride departed for a journey around Lake Geneva, Williams Bay and Fontana, and the reviews were the same. Between the air of excitement in MAC's spacious showroom and their commodious parking lot, (packed with scooters of every make and model), everyone was buzzing with a feeling of celebration for all things scooter. Later that evening, a "Summer Solstice Swing Party" was held at the stunning Maxwell Mansion just a few blocks away from the downtown action. Drinks were swizzled and hors d'oeuvres were devoured as scooterists from across the country met old friends and made new ones. Scooters rode off into the night and restaurants and parking lots were soon packed with more meet and greets and parking lot parties.
What's next: Amerivespa 2012 - part two