Sunday, April 1, 2012
Rockers vs. Mods stormed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge on Saturday
Vintage scooters and motorcycles rendezvous for annual event in Dallas.
DALLAS If you were anywhere near downtown Dallas over the weekend, you likely heard the sound of Triumphs and Vespas revving in the distance as the sixth rendition of Rockers Vs. Mods, the annual scooter/motorcycle rally in Dallas, was underway.
Dedicated to the art and appreciation of vintage motorcycles and scooters, Rockers Vs. Mods was inspired by the Mods vs. Rockers conflicts of England in the 1960s. The modern-day match-ups are more about pride in your machine and an appreciation for punk and retro music -- "a rock show and bike rally all rolled into one," according to co-founder Mark Roberts. Similar events take place in cities around the country.
On Saturday, the two groups gathered -- scooters at Vespa Dallas on Greenville Avenue, motorcycles at RPM Cycle -- with the intent to rendezvous and ride over the Margaret Hunt Hill/Calatrava Bridge. Once over, they'd party at 331 Singleton Boulevard, home of the Trinity Groves complex; on Saturday night, they moved to nearby Chicken Scratch/Foundry for another set of bands. Sunday ended with brunch and then another party at the Dubliner on Greenville Avenue.
Over the bridge
Saturday's ride across the bridge was scheduled for 2 p.m., but scooters were already at Vespa Dallas by 11 a.m. Owner Randy Campbell had a DJ and food truck with free tacos and ice cream bars. Riders lined up their Vespas, Lambrettas, Piaggios, and Stellas in front of the store to showcase their add-ons including headlights, chrome badges, rearview mirrors, stickers, band paraphernalia, and other scooter bling.
Carlos Cardoza's lime-green scooter had multiple headlights plus blue plastic domes that looked like little jewels.
"That's inspired by the movie Quadrophenia," he said.
The group included riders like Rocio Ildemaro, whose gold scooter and helmet have made her a local scooter legend, and veterans like Sean McKee, who'd attended rallies in years past.
"It's hard to find the time to ride regularly, but I always try to show up for this," he said.
Amanda Gannaway arrived on a pink Vespa with a matching pink-and-white-striped helmet, in heels -- no small feat. "I have to have my heels," she said.
Having a personalized one-of-a-kind scooter scored extra points, like the unique matte finish on Kevin Hahn's black scooter -- though he said with a heavy sigh that it was becoming less so.
"The models with this paint finish are in very limited supply -- there's only a couple of them in each city," said Hahn, who'd attached a tiny camera to the top of his helmet so he could document the ride. "I keep telling Randy, 'Don't sell any more of them!'"
At 1:35 p.m., Mark Roberts announced that the group would depart, warning riders to "hold their lanes" -- no racing or crazy moves. He outlined the route down Greenville to Live Oak and over to the American Airlines Center, where the meetup with the motorcycles was slated to take place.
Helmets were strapped on, and more than 100 scooters moved en masse, their pastel and primary color paint jobs creating an eye-catching mobile patchwork. As the group headed down Greenville Avenue, a couple of riders ran interference, standing guard at intersections to ensure smooth transit for the group. This was one of the most fun parts of the trip -- when the long string of scooters formed a low, rumbling parade. Before the event, Roberts said that the task of leading a large group of scooters gave him a rush of power, but there was something equally thrilling about being part of the pack, about moving in tandem with 100+ other vehicles.
Except for that one rider who didn't get his vehicle tuned and subjected those behind him to a noxious plume of gray smoke -- him, not so much.
At Pearl and Ross, the procession was halted by a parade of a different kind: a funeral, escorted by three police officers on motorcycles. The scooters camped at Pearl and Ross, waiting it out. As the funeral wound down, one of the motorcycle officers gestured "come on" to the scooters, who quickly joined the back of the funeral procession and soaked up its traffic-stopping mojo.
The actual ride over the bridge was a bit anticlimactic. The scooter-motorcycle rendezvous never quite coalesced, leaving the plucky scooter posse to cross the bridge on its own. The scale of the bridge was so oversized that it made riding a scooter on it feel oh-so small. Nonetheless, at least half a dozen photographers waited on top to document the sight of Vespas whizzing by.
At 331 Singleton Boulevard, a stage was set up, with food trucks forming a ring around the circumference of the field. Led by co-founder Michael Cook, the motorcycle group was there already.
Triumphs, Ducatis, BMWs, and BSAs were lined in rows in the center of the field, and riders roamed among them, surveying each other's gear. As Texas Mod Crushers performed, people took photos, bought merchandise, and tried to avoid sunburn. McKee recognized a Triumph rider he'd talked to last year, this time with a new jacket and new ride. "I expect I'll see him next year," he said.
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