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Scooter rally review: Motor City Shakedown Cloud 9

The second weekend in August is when the Detroit and Windsor, Canada-based Rovers Vintage Scooter Club traditionally host around 100 guests at their annual rally, the Motor City Shakedown. For nine years, it's been an oasis of uniquely Detroit activities including outstanding venues, music, riding and excellent food and drink. This years rally was no exception, attracting over 70 scooters and over 120 attendees. This year was based in Ferndale, but ranged as far as White Lake Township to the northwest and to midtown of Detroit to the south. The reviews were excellent and the parting on Sunday was a tear-jerker for some. Here's a review of the activities that happened last weekend.

The faithful gather early at the Stonehouse Bar in Detroit
Detroit Scooter Examiner
This year's rally patch
Detroit Scooter Examiner

The rally kicked off with the Friday welcome party. It was at The Stonehouse, part of Detroit's history. Since the 1860's, this Victorian edifice has hosted, many, many good times, including during prohibition, when it was rumored to be the northern outpost of Detroit's notorious Purple Gang. This time it was a gang of a different sort, with some of the midwest's, Pittsburgh's and yes, Canada's finest scooter enthusiasts out to have a good time. Within minutes, dozens of scooters of all descriptions parked out front and the place was crawling with scooterists. Pizza was ordered in (several times) and the libations were flying. The bar was in the process of changing suppliers and they actually ran out of beer at one point. This is the Stonehouse, a biker-bar. They do not run out of beer. But on this night they did, at least for a few minutes. Score one for the scooterists!

After the Stonehouse, the crowd made their way down to the original Theater Bizarre site for a chill event around a crackling fire. Well, around the fire and next to a physics experiment that used Thermite to attempt to bend a Vespa crankshaft! Despite warnings not to look at the event, some did and reportedly saw the blazing Thermite for several hours, even with eyes closed. No one suffered permanent eye damage, but be careful out there, kids. The evening at Theater Bizarre featured a sort-of hypnotic jug band, and outdoor versions of ping pong and table shuffleboard amongst the ruins of the site (the city made them tear down the giant stage that was there previously.) Fantastic beer from Greenbush Brewing was available, but water was hard to find (a note for next year), but everyone was very relaxed and chatting until the early hours before heading to their accommodations for a few hours of sleep.

Saturday morning found the bleary-eyed scooterists parking in front of the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale, and then parking in line to destroy the traditional Rovers breakfast buffet put on by club members Sally and Charlie. No one left unsatisfied. Pristine Maico Mobil and Terrot scooters graced the space near the buffet so everyone had something to ogle as they noshed. Shopping at the Rust Belt followed and many attendees partook of Speedcult's cut metal work. The newly renovated Rust Belt was a fantastic venue and one that many attendees said that they would be back to.

Breakfast was followed by the main ride - the 20 Lakes Ride. Scooters left Ferndale with the traditional police escort and were happily cruising the famous Woodward Ave. when suddenly they ran into the last of the road work before the upcoming Dream Cruise. The Michigan Department of Transportation (or Traffic, as some say) was busy installing the crosswalk markings and had reduced the usually freely moving three northbound lanes to one, unmoving lane. Scooterists persevered and practiced their slow riding and letting people in with a smile. After that delay, it was full speed ahead and onto the rest of the 70-mile total ride through sweepers, elevation changes and tree-canopied two lane roads until they got to the mid-ride destination - The White Lake Inn. Delicious pizzas were scarfed down and refreshments of all sorts were consumed on the deck by the Tiki bar and inside out of the sun. One hour later, the scooterists were rounded up and were heading back on a different route close to lakes and the beautiful homes of Bloomfield. The ride wound up at One-Eyed Betty's in Ferndale where scooterists again enjoyed unique fare and a lot of water.

After a few hours rest, the rally would up at the fascinating “Jam Handy” building on East Grand Blvd in Detroit. In this once-abandoned film studio, there was plenty of space, funky lighting and smoke to go with the two DJs spinning Motown classics, deep Northern Soul and the Power-pop classics from the 1960s. A bonfire outside helped warm the attendees as much as the sneek-sip brew from Ambassador Brewing and wine from California Wine Grape Company did for those on the inside. Just after midnight, rally goers clutched their raffle tickets (of which a portion of the proceeds went to Home Furever pet shelter) for a chance to win prize bags or the big prize - a 1966 Sears Blue Badge Vespa 150!

Sunday morning and afternoon found the rally survivors clustered around tables speaking quietly at The Imperial on Woodward Ave in Ferndale. Everyone sampled the great food and delicious drinks, not to mention the view of classic scooters on Woodward Ave. Goodbyes were said and the feedback came in about this classic Detroit gem - the Motor City Shakedown - "a winner." As they left, scooterists were reminded to go to all of the rallys and mark their calendar for August 1-3 for Motor City Shakedown X!

What's next: Fine alterations for the scooterist, Royal Oak-style

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