Approximately 350 Scooterists applied for and received, tickets for a scooter rally that was quite different to the normal type rally. It was situated at a pub near the German town of Voerde right on the banks of the river Rhine, which was dwarfed by a neighbouring power station. The venue was nowhere near the sea, but felt more like a seaside holiday with tables and parasols stood on tonnes of sand in a makeshift beach style setting.
There were glitterballs and flashing lights. both inside and outside of the pub. If any of this sounds random, you should have seen the place when the music was cranked up, but then there was a massive clue in the rallies’ title “DISCO SCOOTER RUN.”
A handful of Dutch scooterists mixed with an even split of German and English scooterists. All 350 of us dancing about to music I never thought I would hear on a rally and if I wasn’t a disco fan before, I certainly am now! I fully appreciate that for many scooterists northern soul, ska, Two Tone, mod, and indie sort of goes hand-in-hand with scooter rallies. But when the German “Reisegruppe goes Disco” you just have to join in with them. The smiles on people’s faces spelling out a much-needed breath of fresh air. If this event happens again, I’m in and feeling “Mighty Real.”
The York massive
My trip started with an offer to tag along to the rally with a pack of 25 nut job Lambretta riders collectively known as York Scooter Club (this isn’t the full club, just the ones that could take six days out of their lives for a trip to Germany). I’ve admired and looked up to this long-standing scooter club for all my riding years. If scooter rally organisers gave out a trophy for the best entertainers this lot would win hands down everytime in my opinion. An offer of a rally in their company is an absolute no-brainer.
The plan was to meet in Hull on Wednesday, get the overnight ferry crossing to Rotterdam then travel through Holland with an overnight stop in the Dutch town of Arnhem on Thursday. Sounds quite simple, except when you suddenly realise its 4 am on Friday morning and you’re wandering lost around a strange Dutch city. And you’ve already spent one night pissed on a boat, plus a full 12 hours drinking in a city where its local football hooligans have befriended you and invited you to go to the match with them. All under the watching eye of the town’s riot police. This isn’t my ideal plan for the two nights before a rally even starts (wisely we dodged the game) but going to bed for only five hours before we set off to the German border is neither big nor clever.
Luckily for us, our team leader (York’s Numero Uno – Andy ‘Sluice’ Kay) knew of a shortcut to Germany through some fruit farms and an orchard. And all though all of us felt we were going round and round in circles he assured us his way was right. I’m proud to admit I’m a Vespa fan through and through, but following a pack of multi-coloured and tuned Lambrettas through little Dutch and German towns to the rally venue was outstanding. The look of horror on locals faces as we cruised through, polluting the air with blue smoke was priceless, the exhaust noise only bettered by the scenery.
As you would imagine, the welcome at a German rally venue was kind and stereotypically efficient. Free schnapps galore! Buying tokens in exchange for drinks at the bar works well; thirsty riders never have to queue very long for refreshment, even the coffee and breakfasts ran very smoothly each morning.
My opening paragraphs describe the layout at this rally, but Friday night’s DJ set spun by Dave Lloyd was sublime. I go to rallies to meet people and see scooters. But when you come home and five days later you’re still buzzing songs around inside your head that you’ve not heard for years, someone is getting it very right on the decks.
Looking at the scooters, it was impressive to see such a very varied mix for a relatively low key rally. A 1954 wideframe old timer Vespa parked near to a pair of Lambrettas from the JB Tuning shop in Essex, sporting Casa Performance 265cc engines and then pretty much everything in-between those two polar opposites of scooter styles – as well as a smattering of large capacity auto scooters.
I didn’t catch all the trophy winners but furthest travelled was Teresa from the Speed Demons England on her matt black T5 Classic. And I think the York boys won two trophies for their pristine Lammies.
The chosen few
Saturday afternoon it all went very DISCO fancy dress – and then the evening got very messy as it had the night before. The Strandhaus Ahr venue looked after us very well with good clean facilities (with extras facilities brought in for the rally). My ticket confirmation said “Congratulations you are one of the chosen few.” I certainly felt that way all weekend. If the average UK rally no longer floats your boat, get on a boat to the continent, a Euro rally might just be the tonic you need…
A fairly eventful 150-mile trip back to the Rotterdam ferry on Sunday made me realise a couple of things; firstly I’m privileged to know, and hang about with, some great people. Our pack of riders was around 35 in total, with riders from York, Oldham, Mansfield, Bridlington, Leicester and Whitby.
Over the course of the weekend, they had suffered stator plate failures, cylinder head gaskets blown, Diesel fill-ups by mistake (Marc James), exhaust studs snapping at the barrel, exhaust studs snapping at the crankcase and tyre delamination. All problems dealt with and taken in good humour.
Travelling in a big pack slows journeys down, but everyone made it back to the ferry terminal safely and in good time. But here’s the funny thing right there – my standard Vespa PX125, nicknamed by some as the ‘SLUK Machine’, was the brunt of all the jokes for allegedly not keeping up with the big bikes. However, not only was it the first scooter back to the ferry, it was the first scooter back by 80 minutes over the 150-mile journey. I didn’t want to stress this point at the time because Rotterdam harbour looks quite deep and I don’t swim too well.
A massive thanks to the above mentioned 35 or so riders for being top quality company, and a from the heart “Danke schön” to Stefan Grothe and the Reisegruppe for hosting a superb rally.
A rally for next year’s diary make no mistake!
Ride safe Slukers, or as our German friends say “Fahrt Sicher Slukers”
Words and photos: Col
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