Just days away from the United States biggest scooter meeting, Amerivespa, the international Vespa event was held last weekend in London, United Kingdom. Things are surely hopping in London, with the recent Queen's Silver Jubilee and the upcoming Summer Olympics. Placed nicely in between, Vespa World Days London was a large international scooting show, and drew scooterists from around the world. I asked my friend Alice Dryden, to tell us about her experience at the Vespa World Days. And now, as midwesterners and those from further away get ready for this weeks Amerivespa in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Alice Dryden will catch us up on the happenings last week in London. Here's her report:
After Italy, England is probably the country most closely associated with the Vespa. So it's fitting that Vespa World Days 2012 was hosted by London, under the aegis of the Vespa Club of Britain.
Holders of a ticket to the full four-day shebang enjoyed a gala dinner on Saturday night and a rideout to the country lanes and woodland around Epping Forest. There were other informal rideouts around London and beyond, giving our European visitors a chance to experience the traffic jams, draconican parking regulations and selfish or downright homicidal drivers our great capital city does best.
I attended on Sunday, the last day of the long weekend, as goodbyes were being said and scooters prepared for the journey home.
The car park at the O2 (Millennium) Dome was buzzing with two- and four-stroke engines as trad and modern Vespas of all engine sizes arrived and departed. Piaggio is the parent company of both Gilera and Vespa (and Aprilia), but I still felt like an interloper on my Gilera GP800. At least it’s a scooter...well, I think of it as a scooter, though some purists would disagree.
Some scoots were piled high with luggage with foreign number plates speaking of journeys from France, Italy, Germany or the Netherlands. Of the 2,500 tickets sold, only about two hundred went to British purchasers. That’s a lot of international travelers, with Vespa fans arriving from the United States, Sweden and Yugoslavia, to name but a few. For those riding from home, there was a chance to pick up a long distance award by collecting stamps at dealers along the way. Others chose to have their scooters transported overland by lorry, or hired a scooter on arrival.
There were stretched Vespas, Vespas with sidecars, and one with a wonderful wicker transporter bed; Vespas lovingly restored to their original condition and colour scheme, and Vespas equally lovingly given paint jobs the manufacturer would never have dreamed of.
With all this spectacle for free, what did the show itself have to offer? Due to the British location, the focus of the small museum marquee was on the Douglas Vespa, manufactured under licence from Piaggio at the Douglas motorcycle manufacturing plant in Bristol during the 1950s and 1960s. Some lovely advertising signs and other ephemera were also on display.
The latest Vespa models were showcased outside, while English and Italian merchants vied with each other to sell T-shirts, clocks, bags and other official Vespa goodies. Parts for classic Vespas and custom accessories for both new and old machines were also on sale, plus stickers for your scoot and patches for your parka.
The main focus of the gathering, though, was to meet friends old and new, socialise, inspect each other’s scooters, and just hang out. The best parties always end up in the kitchen, and much of the Vespa World Days action seemed to be taking place in the car park.
The next Vespa World Days will take place in Belgium on June 20th - 23rd 2013.
Thanks very much, Alice. And now, to the garage to pack up for our very own international Vespa event, Amerivespa this weekend. Will I see you there?
What's next: Another local scooter shop of metro Detroit