Friday's Amerivespa 2012 day two started too early for some, with long faces and pallid complexions giving way to the rejuvenating effects of breakfasts both complimentary and from some of the great breakfast joints in Lake Geneva. Another shorter ride for the 50cc crowd departed Midwest Action Cycle at 11:00AM, followed by the opening of the epicenter of the event, the "Scooter Only Parking" reserved on a closed street on the Lake Geneva lakefront at Flat Iron park. This was the hotspot of the whole rally, where a small selection of vendors (including Cheeky Seats, Corazzo, Motorsport Scooters/Scooterwest and others) for both days and a lone ice cream cart and gelato truck on the second day. Surely a missed opportunity for anyone hoping to either make a sales connection with a varied audience approaching 800 scooter devotees or someone wanting to sell some truck food and drink to the hungry, thirsty masses. Maybe a hint for next years planning crew? Even the odd carnival ride would add to the, well, carnival atmosphere as folks walked around the scoots and shared stories by the beautiful lake and downtown.
At 1:00 PM, the big ride left from the park. It was a longish route of some 51 miles that included a quick stop at The Marina at Silver Lake for some needed liquids. The route encompassed 10 lakes, although some were mere glimpses through the trees. All in all, it was a superbly organized and beautiful ride in outstanding weather and was almost incident-free (a few scoots took an "agricultural" line through some turns, but no drops or crashes that I heard of). Just a few minutes past 4:00 PM the probably 200 scooters on the ride arrived back at the park.
After a few more stories, everyone departed back to their hotels to get ready for the Genuine Scooters-sponsored "Genuine Reggae Party" at the beautifully-landscaped Geneva Ridge resort. It was a class affair and some of us did our best part to liven up the activities with various costumes tangentially related to reggae. Regardless, the party was a huge success, with a sumptuous buffet and a truly killer reggae band from Chicago - Gizzae. Although the crowd essentially sat on their hands (and butts) for the first set, by the time the second set rolled around (after a wonderfully short welcome by Genuine president Philip McCaleb and Vespa Club Of America president Mike Bobadilla) the crowd got into it a bit more. It could have something to do with drinking the pool bar out of three of the five taps that they had, but I'm not sure about that.
Saturday was the day for the crowning event of Amerivespa 2012. The VCOA and Scoot Jockeys organized what they hoped would be the world record for the largest scooter parade, and they almost got the record. There were hundreds of registered scooters, mopeds and two and three wheeled vehicles of various descriptions stacked up three-wide for more than a mile at the start. With a escort from the Lake Geneva Police Department and the Walworth County Sheriffs Department, the entire parade made a two-mile loop almost without putting a foot down. Crowds of waving fans lined the streets and it was a neat feeling hitting the horns for the crowds eagerly willing us on to the finish. At the end, the folks who had to leave on Friday, or those who choose to not ride were missed, but even if they had ridden, the 800-something scooters required to break the record didn't show up. Still, the crowd celebrated a North American scooter parade record of 660 verified riders and that isn't half bad. We all wound up at Flat Iron park, squeezing the scooters into the reserved area where the curious Lake Genevans could get a better look at them.
The Scooter Concourse d'Elegance took place in the park and the eye candy was spectacular. From vintage to modern and everything in between, if you were a fan of scoots, there was something for you there. Late in the afternoon, people faded away to pool bars and hotel rooms to prepare for yet another event, the VCOA Diner and Awards banquet.
Scooterists made their way to the Grand Geneva (originally the first Playboy Resort), for the banquet where a "street food" buffet and excellent bar service awaited. Despite the world's weakest public address system, the banquet went off well, and the happy owners of the scoots and the clubs recognized were in fine spirits as the evening ended. The Rovers, our local Detroit vintage scooter club, had two runner-up awards for members Darren and Aaron's drop-dead gorgeous SS 180 and Rally Vespas. Back in town, the streets were literally buzzing with the sounds of scooters all weekend long, but after three days they sounded even better. We had arrived, conquered the town and had become beloved. More than a few ideas of scooter ownership were created for the residents and visitors to Lake Geneva last weekend.
Sunday was a day for packing up and heading home for many of us, but those whose schedules allowed made tracks to MAC for the gymkhana-cross and slow ride events. The famous VCOA raffle was also completed at this time, and for those who remained it was a good one. Among the raffle items were four scooters (one each from Vespa, Genuine, Kymco and Scooterworks), a ton of Corazzo gear and a huge selection of stuff from the other sponsors. After the event followed yet another ride, complete with a stop at a custard shop and ending at the rally closing party at Champs in Lake Geneva. What a wild four days! Sadly, by that time I was well on the way back to Detroit, courtesy of the SS Badger and the Lake Michigan Carferry company.
On a sad note, the first fatality at an Amerivespa happened on Friday afternoon. Corbett Elliot, 72, the president of the Gem City Rollers scooter club in Dayton, Ohio, passed away after completing a 400-mile ride to Amerivespa. He was a giant in the Midwest scooter community and will be sorely missed. Tributes to him were heard throughout the event - expressed with feelings of sorrow, but also with respect for the way he went - doing something that he loved so much. Condolences to his family and friends and Godspeed to Vespa heaven, Corbett.
Next year's Amerivespa is going to be in San Diego, and based on the reaction of the attendees at this years rally, will be a highly successful event as well. I'm already scheming on borrowing a scoot for the rally, so I might just see you there.
What's next: More local scooter shops of Detroit