Yesterday, I was part of the Italjet Dragster London Run, the first ever automatic-only scooter rally in London.
We started from the legendary Ace Cafe, off the old North Circular. Becoming a notorious biker hangout soon after it opened, it was blitzed in WWII, rebuilt in 1949, closed in 1969 and reopened in 2001. It might look a little fake, with its 60s chunes on the jukebox and assorted memorabilia for sale, but it must be genuinely welcoming for bikers or there wouldn't be so many there. Harley boys, policemen, couriers...and yesterday, scoots.
Mostly Gilera Runners and Italjet Dragsters, the odds and sods consisting of one ET4, one X9 and me. Much metal and plastic gleaming in the sun, much blipping of little engines and smell of lawnmowers. Much admiration for the Granturismo, as most people hadn't seen one in the metal yet (though absolutely everyone felt compelled to point out the sticky green spot where my tarpaulin got melded to the hot exhaust - thanks guys). I got talking to a chap whose 'other scooter' was a 1200cc Bandit, and had a sticker to this effect on his numberplate (he claims he has one on the Bandit to say his other bike is a Runner).
It felt great to set out in convoy, around forty of us tootling our tiny horns and gunning it through Shepherds Bush. We negotiated Hyde Park Corner, drove up the Mall (Flags? For us? You shouldn't have!), were stopped by the fuzz, zipped past Big Ben, and south of the river the back ten or so, including me, irretrievably mislaid the rest at a red light.
We drove around having a mini-tour of our own for some time, checking in likely spots, but it seemed the rest of the parade had been swallowed up by the city. Our numbers gradually diminished as various of us got fed up or left behind, and in the end four little scooters made it back to the Ace around 3PM for a restorative cuppa and bacon butty. [note for spottedhyena: a butty is a sarnie :) ]
By four the rest of the troops still hadn't made it back and I decided to call it a day. I'll have to wait for the next issue of Twist & Go magazine to see what the main body got up to (and to see if you can see me in the group photos). I was absolutely whacked by the time I got in, so nuff respect for the bloke who had ridden a 125cc Runner 260 miles down from Liverpool and was about to ride it back.
We looked a pretty motley crew going along - I have to admit it wasn't quite the same effect as seeing a troupe of modded-up Lammies or hulking great Goldwings storm by - so I hope people did notice us and realise the point we were making. At any rate, we certainly had fun. Peep peep!