A new phenomenon has hit our area and I have to share with you my feelings about it. At first, I dismissed this new sensation as a passing fad, but I see it has grown from strength to strength and now, much to my amazement, it has become a major part of my life and a rather enjoyable hobby. I’m talking about the influx of scooters into our community and the scooter club that has followed. I’ve always ridden motorcycles and have traveled to all parts of the world one.
I am a road trip biker. I don’t use a bike for my daily transportation. It’s purely a recreational thing. It allows me to be social, get out, explore and travel. Most of my trips have been specifically arranged road trips with my pals and families. The bikes I have owned have all been big heavy bikes, kitted out for long distance travel and I have developed rather personal relationships with all my iron horses. So you can imagine I was rather surprised when my younger son asked to get a scooter. I was almost disappointed. But then I thought back to my younger days and I realized, the scooter has always been a fantastic memory for me.
Back in 1983, in my early twenties, I backpacked through Europe, starting off in the Greek Isles. This was my introduction to the Vespa scooter. Everyone rode one on the islands. It was the primary mode of transportation, for the tourists, that is. The small islands were perfect for these little buzz bikes to take you from one end of the island to the other. At that stage, I don’t even think the words liability insurance had even been invented. For a few drachmas you could rent a vespa for the day and explore to your hearts content. You didn’t need a license or even prior riding experience. Just a quick lesson in broken English on the clutch control, explain the gear shift on the handles and you were free to ride rampant on the narrow roads of the Mediterranean paradise. One of the best days of my life was experiencing the sunset in Oia on the island of Santorini. It’s a twenty minute ride along the cliffs of the bull horned shaped island, through narrow streets along the white washed buildings to literally the end of the world. The exhilaration of experiencing the ride to see the world turn orange at sunset is forever etched into my memory bank.
From there I moved onto the homeland of the Vespa, Italy. I’m talking of Rome to be specific. This was a completely different story. This was a hubbub of activity. Narrow roads, filled with small cars, driving at rapid speeds, seemingly on whatever side of the road they wanted. But what blew my mind was the amount of scooters weaving in-between the mayhem. A traffic circle seemed like a free for all. I have no idea who knew who had the right of way, and I’m not even sure there was a right of way. All I know is that the cacophony of horns ruled the roost, and if the sound was headed toward you, you better move out the way quick. This seemed like watching movies in fast motion. After spending a couple of days in the “Eternal City”, ( I think it may be nicknamed that because the traffic is eternal), I decided I have to take on the challenge of the streets and set out look for a scooter to rent. My experience could not have been more different from the one in Greece. Luckily I was young and dumb, because no rational thinking adult would take on the task of riding a scooter around the Coliseum on his or her first ride out. It felt like I entered into the belly of a washing machine cycle. I was attacked from all sides. But in true gladiator spirit, and beginners luck, I made it through the obstacle course unscathed and a huge grin on my face.
So as you can see, there is a lot of fun to be had on the low powered cycle. They never took off as a mode of transportation for many years in the United States. But now with the combination of drastic increase in fuel prices, their affordability, coolness factor and simplicity of use, some clever marketing companies have turned the scooter around into a fun bike to own and ride. They have become extremely popular on college campuses and surrounding university neighborhoods. The variety available now is amazing. You can personalize it, to reflect your personality and they come in a variety of colors and sizes. They even have one that has two wheels in the front, for those who are not as secure with their balance.
I noticed their popularity growing in my neighborhood over the last few years when my youngest son asked to get one. As soon as he mentioned it, I began to notice them all over the place. I think the amount of females riding around on them, may have influenced his decision. After some extensive researching and designing, he chose one that suited his style. To be honest, it brought me a lot of joy to see my boy ride off with his latest acquisition, beaming with pride and ready to impress. And impress he did. Within weeks, a plethora of new friends began arriving at our house, sharing their stories and scooters. My son had fallen into a whole new counter culture I never knew existed. He started a local scooter club called “The Buzzzbey Babes”, and every weekend they arrange a new outing. They explore parks, beaches, arrange barbecues, bowling evenings, soccer matches and even charity events. Over memorial weekend, a scooter convention took place in Las Vegas. Scooter clubs from all over the country convened at the Hard Rock hotel to share their experiences and eye the latest and greatest that is now available in the scooter world. Of course, Las Vegas is too far of a distance to drive on a scooter, so my son arranged for a motorcycle shipping company to transport all of their bikes back and forth. The bulk rate made it really affordable for them. My son is having the time of his life right now. He has taken the responsibility of owning the scooter very seriously and as the leader of the Buzzzbey Babes, is very committed to meeting his responsibilities.
I’m not saying I’m ready to go out and buy myself a scooter and join a club, but I am saying that I love seeing how the younger community can embrace a culture and give it their own identity. These kids are safe, responsible, fun loving and ready to express themselves through a different medium. So keep your eyes peeled, you may see your own version of the Buzzzbey Babes in your neighborhood soon.