It’s the end of the scooting season for many people in the north, but it sure was a good one. Around Detroit there were many rides and fun meet-ups for rides and dining. We had rallies, both the official Motor City Shakedown (number 9) and unofficial, where friends from out-of-town show up for a bit of a party with some rides downtown or out to the suburbs thrown in for good measure. All things considered, it was a great riding season.
It’s toward the end of the season that the riding seems to get particularly good. Although the salt is down now (it’s the plastic scoots from here on out for some of us), and the cold wind is blowing, we had a great end to the riding season. First, there was a bit of an impromptu “Mods and Rockers” meet-up at the New Way Bar. Rover Jack’s band (The Briscoe County Vultures) was booked to play an evening gig and someone had the great idea to see who would come out to play on bikes and scooters. The word was passed and a significant number of scooterists and motorcyclists came out to go for a ride (led by Rover Greg) up Woodward and around Cranbrook in the late fall chill. Members of the Metro Triumph Riders showed up, went on the ride and wound up staying to listen to the cow-billy sounds. Although I arrived late to the fun, by the time I got there it was still a bunch of scoots out front and some loud music within the warm confines of the New Way.
There were other rides as well. Small meetings of fellow scooterists at the Royal Oak Brewery, The Salty Dog or the magnificent Stonehouse Bar. These meet-ups happen when someone throws out an invitation on the club’s Facebook page and then heads out. It’s no big deal if you can’t make it, but the invitation is there. When the time is right (with shopping, shuttling kids to school and after school activities, family time, cooking time, decorating time, etc., you get the picture,) you know it. Slip on the jacket, find the heavy gloves, grab your scarf and helmet and head out. Sometimes you're the only one who shows up, and that's OK too.
Being the first one at one of these meet-ups is a bit like being the lone wolf. You can’t possibly estimate how many parking spots you need, so you try to park where someone else can get in. You walk in, helmet in hand, ruddy from the ride and temps and wait for your eyes to adjust and/or your glasses to de-fog. Saunter up to the bar and let them know that for now, it’s just you. Spend a quiet moment thinking about the ride up, a great, warm summer ride, or maybe the next ride. Perhaps you are thinking of this one being the last one for a while. And then, in the distance, you hear the distinctive exhaust note of a bike. It could be a motorcycle, but not a big one. Wait, no it’s definitely a small one, a two-stroke. Look up and see you friend wheel into the space, shake off the cold and check out you scoot. Then he walks in and pleasantries are exchanged. Then another one shows up. Sometimes someone drive an actual car up. Good natured ribbing ensues. Perhaps after a short beer, a ride is proposed. Then it’s moving in reverse, pay up, dress up and walk out for the ride. It doesn’t matter where we go, our small band of brothers. Down to 8 Mile, up to Berkley. Everyone is in sync and suddenly we are at a burger joint. Then it’s back on the scoots, heading south or west, wherever the roads take us. As the light fades, everyone is aware that the ride is over. A wave and a honk signals the end, that or shouted “see you later” at the last red light. Until next time.
The meet-ups dwindle in number and attendance as the holiday season takes hold. Work needs either increase or trail off. Suddenly there is 3, then 5, then 8 inches of snow on the ground and you realize that for now, the riding season is over.
Running the scoots in the garage only stokes the fire. On the first rainy day you see the snow melting, turning to slush that clogs up the sewer grates. On the second rainy day, you form a plan. On the third rainy day, it’s too much to resist. Despite the ice storm warnings, you warm up a scoot and get the gear on. It’s only around the block, or down to Ferndale and back, but you are back on the scoot. It is, of course, fantastic.
What’s next: Winter riding so far