Some love it, some hate it but for many the Isle of Wight epitomises everything about our chosen way of life.
Thousands of scooters, sunshine, a ferry journey, a variety of entertainment and an island with enough small towns that you can easily change the dynamics of the event by stopping somewhere different if you fancy a change.
We sent our Sena Prism competition winner, Darren Miles over to the island to report on his version of events…
We’d also like to thank Simon Plant Photography & Marie Louise Photography for our Rallery images.
Summertime is festival time on the Isle of Wight, and the Isle of Wight Scooter Rally features large on the calendar as 5000 scooters descend on the island.
I set off at 9am on Friday, on my ’63 Li175 for the 140-mile trip, looking forward to the ride and the rally…
When I finally rode onto the ferry at 9pm, with the scooter running badly and my sense of humour missing, I reflected that I must have had worse days but I can’t remember when. Riding off the ferry with a rough scooter, intermittent lights and only a vague idea where the campsite was, the engine finally ground to a halt somewhere close to Ryde.
My pillion climbed off and was close to tears when a shiny new car stopped, and a couple asked if they could help. They didn’t look like scooter mechanics, but the car was a definite asset. Would they take the luggage and my pillion to Smallbrook, while I get the scooter there somehow? Of course they would. This was Trev and Victoria, who turned out to be our Isle of Wight Guardian Angels.
The scooter went about a hundred yards and died again. Trev offered to help push it up the hill while Victoria woke a friend nearby. I left the scoot at this strangers massive pile of a house and accepted the lift to Smallbrook. We arrived by car, staggered to a vacant spot in the field and set up camp.
Smallbrook Stadium is a speedway track located about a mile south of Ryde, and it’s a great set up for a rally – a huge traders area, bar marquees, three entertainment venues and two big fields for the campers. And of course there’s the speedway track to ride around, just in case that was on your bucket list.
When we arrived, Orange Street were playing in the main room; a massive aircraft hangar of a building, which was pretty well filled. The whole site was buzzing and full of people. I eventually fell asleep listening to our neighbours discussing the merits of drinking Jameson’s and cream soda.
Saturday morning arrived early thanks to some wag playing an Islamic call to prayer and wishing Allahu Akbar to passers by. I woke to the realisation that we were on the Isle of Wight, and so was my scooter, somewhere.
Trev and Victoria were as good as their word and picked me up (at 8am!) to reunite me with my scoot; which was a relief. I followed them back to the site with the scoot spluttering and coughing. How do you thank that much kindness? We arranged to meet them for a drink or few on Sunday.
Saturday also saw the arrival of two Austrians (“We are not Australians!”) who had an epic tale of breaking down in Belgium, having parts couriered out to them to fix the scooter and arriving at 4am on Saturday morning. We could either help them put their tent up by torchlight, or give them whisky and beer… It was quite a while before their tent was pitched.
The day was spent replacing my scooter’s head, which I discovered had been helicoiled. I’d have happily lobbed the thing as far as I could if there hadn’t been the chance of hitting one of a couple of thousand scooterists. With the generous help of Jamie, it was restored to running condition.
We chilled out on the site for the rest of the day, enjoying the music and the sheer volume of scooters before making our way to the Custom Show.
“Did you push it or ride it?”
The Lambretta Chopper Owners Club dominated one end of the hall, and a scooter hearse complete with a target-covered coffin possibly signified something.
Start Me Up was breathtaking, as was Dazzle, but some of the more subtle ones caught the eye such as the tidy red and white SX200 and a lovely green LD. Dazzle won at least one award as I saw the owner looking like a Crackerjack contestant, juggling armfuls of Tucano Urbano goodies back to his tent.
Saturday evening was spent drinking and dancing. I caught a bit of the Dream Factory, and even danced in the clubhouse. A coach ran all night down into Ryde; which was very popular, unless you were stuck behind it. There was always the feeling that there’s something going on, with Ryde buzzing all weekend.
Sunday was ride out day. The buzz on the seafront was tangible with the full spectra of tastes and fashions on show.
I spoke to a couple over for the day on their PX125. They’d visited the island last year for a festival, saw the rideout and went home and bought a Vespa. Now here they are in the middle of it. So many people come to watch it – I’ve never been a tourist attraction before.
As we rode along the sea front, we spotted Trev and Victoria, they’d come to see if the scooter did actually go…
Darren tries out his Sena Prism on the ride out
I thoroughly enjoyed the ride out. We stopped briefly to watch it pass, and a local resident asked if it was true the event was moving to Brighton instead.
“We love having you here!”
And it’s true – all along the route were kids and couples watching us go by waving and holding out their hands to be high-fived as we passed. Easier done on a twist and go, I found out. The rideout appeared to be marshalled by a motorbike club, so thanks to them for giving up their Sunday to help it go so smoothly.
Afterwards, we met up with our Guardian Angels in The Castle (renovated after burning to the ground during a post-wedding unlicensed fireworks display) to buy them dinner to say thanks.
They’d one-upped us by presenting us with a framed photo of us taken on the ride out. Who are these diamonds in human form?
“We want you to have good memories of visiting the Island”, said Trev.
Victoria commented that they’d stopped to help as her daughter Lily had a scooter, “Years ago my father was one of only a few pub landlords that served scooterists on the island, so we were used to them. When she was about ten, Lily told one of them how she wanted a scooter. The scooterist gave her a pound and said, ‘There you go, there’s the first pound towards your first scooter’, and then that was all she wanted. When she turned 16, she bought one”.
So that’s how you get young blood into scootering – you pay them, I mean, inspire them with money.
Monday dawned as Mondays do and it was time to head back to the West Country. The Isle of Wight scooter rally is a great event with its near constant crackle and pop of two stroke engines. It’s massive for a start, and there’s loads of variety, from drinking in Ryde, to riding round seeing the island to dressing up and showing off your scooter. If you have a scooter you definitely should go at least once. See you next year.
Words, photos and video: Darren Miles
Simon Plant Photography
Marie Louise Photography
Isle of Wight custom show results
Class Sponsor Winner
First time entrant Crusader Promotions Eloise, Vespa chop
Mod accessories Photography UK PX 125 – Y412 FVW
Vintage Lambretta – pre ’65 LCGB D150 – TAS 347
Custom Lambretta Rob Pettinger memorial Dazzle
Restored Lambretta Lambretta Chopper Owners Rallymaster – 68 UYS
Classic non Vespa/Lambretta Donald Hughes Black Bogey
Best ridden Gary Cordon memorial Bass Racer
Street racer Oddballs Scooter Rally Nexx Carbon GP
Mural Lexham Insurance Dazzle
Vinyl/graphics Lambretta Art Bedrock
Best auto GTS – HF59 EKZ
Engraving SIP Dazzle
Club display Colchester DVLC Lambretta Chopper Owners
Champion of Champions Modfather Clothing Start Me Up
Individual display PEG 519G
Vintage Vespa pre ’72 GS 150 – 667 ADF
Custom Vespa Northumbria Scooter Services For Valour
Restored Vespa VCB Rally 180 – UTK 496 L
Best original scooter Mike Phoenix Scooters Rally 200 – MGU 57P
Best chop Scooter Center Cry No More
Best oddity Karen’s Badges Lamzuki
Best cutdown Halifax Eite SC GP TS230 – HHW 401G
Best paintwork SWSC Twisted Attraction
Best hybrid Steve Bywater memorial Trick Lammy twin
Best engineering Putoline Lamzuki
Best plating Mansfield Monsters SC Dazzle
Exhibitors choice Warrior clothing Dazzle
Punters choice Another Man’s Cause