Detroit’s Rovers vintage scooter club reached a milestone on August 1, 2014. The achievement? They were celebrating 10 consecutive years of hosting a standout rally in the Midwestern scooting scene. Ten years of putting on a three-day scooter rally is a true achievement and it shows a dedication and stick-with-it-ness that few clubs can aspire to.
The rally started on Friday with a reception at Ferndale's New Way Bar. Hard on the famed Woodward Ave., the New Way was a gracious host, offering dedicated scooter parking, additional staffing and plenty of ice cold refreshments. DJ Grover filled the space with hits and rarities from the 60’s and spun mod, R&B, soul and even a little rock. The crowd moved from the sidewalk to the bar and back again, time after time. Eventually, the 80+ attendees faded away into the night to rest up for the weekend’s further scooting activities.
Saturday arrived and soon so did the scooterists. They converged on M-Brew on Vester Street in Ferndale. This multi-faceted, new establishment catered a full breakfast for the Rovers and their guests while still serving the locals with their great coffee and selection of breakfast foods, including some tasty-looking breakfast pizzas. Soon enough, the call was given for the “gas-up” as stations were widely spread on the ride. And soon, the ride departed, with 60 vintage and modern scooters and motorcycles headed out on a 50 mile tour of Detroit.
The ride took rally attendees from Ferndale into the east side and by the Coleman A. Young International Airport, and all the way, riders were greeted with questions, thumbs-up and waving from the residents along the way. It’s quite a sight to see 60 blue-smoke powered vintage scooters, some looking shiny new and some with a fine patine of age, unexpectedly come through your neighborhood. The ride made it’s way past the Conner Ave. Assembly factory and the yin and yang of beautifully cared-for residences and some of the same, sadly returning to their base elements. A mid-way stop at an abandoned marina gave folks a change to stretch their legs and then it was onto the west side, the site of old Tiger’s Stadium and lunch at St. CeCe’s Pub in Corktown. After that stop and a few minutes of rest in their garden area, the ride continued onto the Michigan Central Station where a camera drone and fixed ground cams recorded the now 40-some odd scooterists circulating in from of the massive station. After a few laps and a thumbs up from the crew, the ride headed out “the long way” back up through the west side neighborhoods before an impromptu stop at the famed Stonehouse bar near State Fair. Then, like leaves in the wind, the riders and pillions scatted to their accommodations in Ferndale, Royal Oak and Warren to prepare for the evenings events.
The weather, which had mostly cooperated in the previous years of the Shakedown, soon threw a wrench into the works of the rally. With torrential rain, wild, gusting winds and two separate bouts of hail, the suburbs were pounded. No matter, the stalwart scooterists mostly stayed out of harms way at local dining establishments or resting in anticipation of the evenings festivities.
The Tangent Gallery in midtown was the site of the evening event on Saturday. Tangent is a multipurpose space that hosts art events and parties year-round. It features a huge performance/gallery space, a large bar area and a landscaped outdoors area with a fire pit and space for a small food operation. Everything was in full swing on Saturday night, and a parade of entertainment was put on for rally attendees and the general public. First off was the "Briscoe County Vultures", a "cow-punk" group that is effectively the Rovers house band with club leader Robert “Jacko” Jackson on the bass. BCV blazed through a set that included songs from their recently released, eponymous EP to the crowds delight. After a quick load out, the second event of the evening happened, as Russell A. Taylor’s art experience “Sartori Circus” took over the space. Sartori Circus is performance art and consists of set-pieces of well-performed live singing, accompanied by an outstanding soundtrack. Various videos also form part of the performance, with the Sartori Circus main player often taking part of the performance into and through the audience. Although it was a new and different experience for most rally attendees, it was well received, with rapt attention being paid being paid by those in the gallery area. Finally, and headlining the night was “The Pressure” from Pittsburgh. Playing a mix of rocksteady beats to an enthusiastic crowd, the Pressure pleased with a tight set of relaxing yet invigorating sounds that had the crowd moving. The Rovers have a connection with the Pressure as well, with former club leader Eric Mazurak playing the Hammond organ and sharing lead vocals with the dynamic Mz. Annie M. Because of the late start due to the weather, the schedule conspired to rob the crowd of an extended set. Mutiny was avoided due to the late hour and the need to present the rally awards and raffle off the prize bags and the rally scooter, this time a 1965 Lambretta Li125. Tickets were drawn and happy winners approached the stage to claim their winnings. If there was a pause as someone searched for the tiny numbers on their tickets, the crowd yelled “burn it!” to encourage the drawing to go on with a new ticket. The awards were then handed out and the anticipation began to grow for the scooter drawing. But first, three new Rovers were inducted into the group, with smiles all around.
Finally, the raffle scooter drawing was at hand. At this point, the Rovers in attendance turned to their non-rovers friends and acquaintances to hand over their tickets - they can’t win the scooter. One ticket was drawn and a diminutive character who rode the rally ride on a tweaked Honda Ruckus came forward as the winner. Randy Postlewait was understandably excited and posed triumphantly with his new ride. “I feel like I’m stealing a bike from the club” said the visibly shaken Postlewait. He continued, “I promise to go on every ride, and as far as I’m concerned I’m a member!” He wasn’t the only winner on the night, as proceeds from the raffle will go to a Detroit charity.
With one eye on the clock, the crowd faded away from Tangent, some to after parties, but many to their accommodations for some well-deserved rest from a good day’s worth of scooter excitement.
Sunday arrived late for many, but eventually, a sizable crowd made it out to Bosco in Ferndale for the goodbye breakfast. Another year of Shakedown memories are in the book and the vans, trucks and scoots were packed for departure. They departed for Ohio, Canada, Pennsylvania, New York and to other nearby areas. Many of them will be back, along with some new faces, for Motor City Shakedown 11 in early August, 2015.
What's next: Rally rundown: Bandcamp 2014