I’ve never immersed myself in the scooter scene.
I wouldn’t know a Vespa from a Lambretta (were it not helpfully written on the side). I don’t own a green Parka and I found Quadrophenia no more than mildly diverting. I like the thing they do with the wing mirrors and enjoy a spot of Northern Soul, but beyond that, it’s not for me.
I certainly never imagined I would spend a Sunday morning being swept along, lung deep in two-stroke engine fumes, within the main peloton of a scooter rally.
I, of course, was pedalling.
I joined the throng as I swooped out from a junction at the moment they appeared around a bend. Heading, no doubt, for nearby Morecambe; run-down seaside resort and natural home of tatty-vintage.
It was a complimentary nod to my winter form and a damning critique of the power to weight ratio of your average scooter that on flat stretches of road my new friends would eke a way past me, but when traffic (or uphill gradient) intervened I would catch them. Thus I yo-yoed between front and back of this pack of retro oddities.
We clocked up several kilometres in this way and I began to feel like one of the gang; although, in my undoubtedly natty winter cycling kit, I was no Phil Daniels. Shame I wasn’t wearing something Mod-related from Velobici.
They were all chequerboard stylings, coats with big hoods, and, oddly, what looked to me like racoon tails hanging from their scooters and wafting in the wind.
Did I imagine this?
Is the racoon tail a Mod thing?
Sure, I’d been pushing hard on the bike for a couple of hours, but didn’t think I’d quite reached the hallucinatory-racoon-tail stage of calorie deficit.
Generally, particularly on Sundays, I like to ride my bike for the peace and quiet of it. I like a country lane and a spot of birdsong. But I couldn’t help feeling a bit of a buzz as me and the gang marauded through villages, engines at a high pitched fuzz, while old-folks on the way to church scowled and muttered.
Being gently rebellious.
It was also a cold day – in the minuses – and the combined warmth of a couple of dozen overworked underpowered engines was palpable. Packed into this peloton life was cosy. I even got a fist bump, at one point, from a big lad on a yellow machine.
Clearly the stylings of my Pearson Cycles winter jacket had caught his eye.
Finally, on a long stretch of favourable terrain, this rabble of Mods pulled away and left me to my solitude. Pete Townshend’s power chords ringing in my ears. A petrol taste in my mouth. And a mental note to check the Castelli website for cycling specific decorative racoon tails.