Posted by: scootswla | 06June'10

Rally Report: Amerivespa 2010, San Antonio TX

Amerivespa is the United States’ largest scooter rally. Scooterists from coast to coast, and even a handful of international participants, gathered in San Antonio, Texas this year.

I arrived in San Antonio on Thursday afternoon and enjoyed a short nap in the cool, air conditioned bliss of my room before meeting up with L and Ed who had scooted in the previous day, and Ron and Lindsay who arrived shortly after me. There had been, from what I hear, a very long ride earlier in the day and tubeing on the Guadalupe River. The group of us made our way to Vespa Alamo Heights for an early bird meet and greet. Charlie, Gay, and the rest of the Sunday Punchers of Houston pulled in right behind us. John Jay Hutchinson and Catherine were there, as was Fire J from Pensacola. It’s always nice to see familiar faces, and to meet fellow scooterist whom you have not met before as well. After the meet and greet, SCGT and I hit the town. L had lived in San Antonio a few years ago and knew his way around. 

Friday morning I got up and out a little early to make sure my Vespa was all in order. She fired up nicely and I zipped around the parking lot a little then waited for the rest of the gang. Everything was looking brilliant until we started to head out to the El Tropicano Hotel for registration, and my scooter died. A little of the kick and cuss game  and a new sparky and she roared back to life. At the Tropicano we received our name badges,  Amerivespa T-shirts and oversized rally packs full of scooter goodies. I ran into the crew from New Orleans Scooter Co-op and it was great to see all of them again.  An official police escort ride to to the Alamo for photographs, the presentation of a proclamation, and keys to the city  were the first order of the day.  Our scooters were parked near the Alamo and a selection were even allowed in front of the mission for a group photo. The Alamo is somewhat of a shrine in Texas, and as it’s actually a burial ground, we were asked to kill our engines and walk our scoots onto the premises.

FireJ and I took a little extra time to examine the Alamo before returning to the hotel for the multiple city rides starting that afternoon. L and I chose the Museum ride first. It took us past the SAMA, Brackenridge Park, the Quarry and then we stopped at Cootey’s Tavern for a link on a bun and drinks.

There’s one at every rally, some poor schmuck who’s scooter is perpetually  broken down and seems to be a total lost cause. Evidently it was my turn to be that poor schmuck. Trying to leave Cootey’s, the Red Vespa would not start. It didn’t take long to figure that it was the spark plug again, only this time there was no spare in my glove box. I had used it.  The locals called around to each other and no one seemed to have a plug that would fit. We even had a hard time locating one at a parts house, but thanks to much persistence Wayne from San Antonio found a few and brought them back for me. New plug installed and she started first kick. Super big thanks to Wayne!!  At this point L and I broke from the pack and headed to Las Nieves for some refreshment, watermelon raspas.

Rejoining the rest of SCGT at the hotel we made our way to Blue Star Arts Complex for music and bar-be-que. Having insatiable appetites, Ed, L and I then ventured across town to Ilsong for a little Korean food. This was my first time to eat Korean. I love Thai and Vietnamese food, and certainly was not disappointed with the fare at Ilsong. The pork bulgogi was very good and I really enjoyed the cucumber kimche.

Friday morning opened the Concours d’Elegance and a vendors trade show. The first 50 people to the GoGo Gear booth received a free pair of riding gloves and Scooterworks was handing out t-shirts. Scooter Mercato (my favorite scooter shop) had a couple of tables covered with great rally-only deals. The Concours d’Elegance is what those of us with less culture would call a shine and show. Classics like handle bar Vespas and Lambretta LDs, oddities such as a Zundapp Bella, a Triump Tessy, and a Heinkle as well as custom bikes and one-offs were judged in various catagories, including peoples choice.
  Several pick up rides left throughout the day, but with my scoot’s performance of late, I chose to stick around the Tropicano and chat with other scooterists. I met Karen Glezyng, editor of the scooter zine “Bumpstart,” visited with Steve Guzman of the ScooterScoop, and chatted for quite a while with Christian Zarm of Hamburg, Germany who’s currently writing what I believe will be the definitive journal of Vespa handle bar bikes. Just to drop a few names. 

Having seen the Alamo, the other big attraction in San Antonio that I had to see was the riverwalk. The river walk in S.A. is unlike any I’ve ever been on before, not a board walk, but concrete sidewalks below street level beside the river. Water taxis convey people from landing to landing stairways poke up to street level every few blocks.

The Amerivespa banquet was held Saturday night. Lifetime achievment awards were presented to Mr. Randolph Garner, Mr. Fred Trott, Mr. Gary Fisher, and in memorium to Mr. Pat Rutlidge.  Awards were presented to the winners of the Concours d’Elegance and everyone headed out to various after parties. The final anouncement of the night was the official word that next year Amerivespa will be held in New Orleans! Dixieland music played and the New Orleans crew threw beads as they made their way to the stage. Of course this had been one of the poorest kept secrets, having been unofficially announced at BEW3, but it was exciting all the same.

 Supper had been a little light so it was off to Rosarios for SCGT, on the way I had my final breakdown of Amerivespa 2010. The curbs in San Antonio seem like they’re a foot tall, at least when your trying to get out of traffic to change a spark plug they do. 

Sunday morning I loaded the Red Vespa into my Element and trucked it over to brunch at the Tropicano and then to the gymkhana. The Gymkhana was held at the spacious Back Street Live Club.I don’t know how many attended the rally but heard numbers ranging from four to six hundred. It would be hard to really count with people filtering in and out over the five day event, but I know there were certainly a bunch of us. The gymkhana was an incredibly tight course with no real ramp, as we were on pavement, but dizzying turns, circles and starting with a pass over a concrete feature that couldn’t have been even eight inches wide. And, of course it had to be done wearing a dress, though I’m not sure why.The slow race was performed in “heats” and exhibited the unique skill of a certain ET4 rider who ultimately didn’t win but deserved an A for effort. Four scooters were raffled off, one going to Wayne (due to the good karma of helping find a spark plug) and FireJ took home a Kymco Like. Tons of other scooter swag was raffled and some of it simply passed out in the interest of time. There would be more merriment into the evening and a ride to Austin on Monday but this was the end of the rally for me. Already I’m looking forward to seeing you all again at Amerivespa 2011 in NOLA.

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