Biker Gang Lite
A local scooter tribe maxes out their good-times mileage.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Traditionally, the face that best fit the alien-oval rearview mirrors on the Vespa scooter belonged to the debonair, designer-suit sophisticate that would cruise down to Brighton beach on a bank holiday armed with flick knive.
This is a different face: that of a 40-year-old American man in jeans sipping a grande coffee from Starbucks. Maybe that makes sense—Monterey is a ways away from 1960s London, and the roving scooter gang “The Mods” has long since faded into pop-culture history.
But today a bunch of middle-aged men (and two women) still work to keep two-stroke scooter love alive as members of the four-month-old Vespa Club of Monterey (VCOM). Instead of going to Brighton Beach, they navigate the roads behind the Monterey airport or along the coast.
Roger Vandevert, founding president of VCOM, says he once owned only motorcycles, but after a 10-year hiatus from two-wheelers, he discovered the world of scooters in 2002.
Vandevert says the sleek design and “ping-ding lawnmower” sounds of Vespas drew him and the eight other charter members of the group together at the Del Rey Oaks Starbucks to engage in scooter talks.
The club they founded now conducts semi-weekly meetings—Tuesday nights for business and Saturday mornings for improvised rides—that have attracted up to 15 scooterists at one time.
Meetings involve more than just talking and scooting. Vandevert says the club also addresses the lack of parking spaces available to scooters and works to raise awareness of gas economy and air quality benefits associated with scooters. They’ve already penned letters to the California Air Resources Board and TAMC which point out that scooters typically get an average of 72 miles to the gallon (some get up to 100).
In short, this gang is looking to change laws rather than outrun them.
“It’s always some alcohol-related thing with clubs like this,” Vandevert says. “We just drink our caffeine and get on the road.”
For more about Vespa Club of Monterey, visit born2scoot.org or call 236-4812.