It was quite the day for "first times"... On that overcast spring day in 1997, I not only rode on my first vintage scooter but I also lost my rally virginity. My chariot was a stock Lambretta Golden Special in all its original glory. The occasion was the infamous Niagara Falls Rally. Back in the day, it was probably one of the biggest gatherings on the East Coast and surely one of the most popular in Canada (with the Victoria Rally). Of course, it pales in comparison with an Isle of Wight rally but it was still a weekend you marked on your calendar well in advance.
I was supposed to go on a brand new SIL Lambretta GP200. I had bought it a year earlier from Performance Scooters in Montreal and a bunch of problems prevented me from having it on time. Obviously I wasn't very happy with the situation, especially since I had been spending every weekend at the shop for months, helping out, without being paid. I had seen the Golden Special in the showroom and was seriously considering swapping my GP200 and just leave with the sixties vintage scooter. I eventually convinced Darren, the owner, to let me have it for the weekend.
My main concern was the papers. I was most probably riding with dealer plates and I didn't ask too many questions about the insurance on the bike. Plus, I was in the middle of finishing my motorcycle-driving course and since I was driving in another province, I wasn't sure about the legality of it all. Since Niagara Falls is right on the border between Ontario and New York State, I thought to myself: "If we don't cross the border to the US side, what are the chances I will be pulled over and asked for my papers?"
I was looking forward to my first ever group ride on that Saturday afternoon. We all left from that tacky motel the rally had taken over. Mind you, I have been riding motorcycles and quads since I was 14. My grand father had a 70s blue Honda Daz ST70 that I use to ride around the cottage. The thing is, my foot was used to do the shifting and not my wrist.
|Still some snow outside and I'm ready to ride my Honda Daz|
Five minutes into the ride, everything seemed to go according to plan when suddenly a side panel flew off in the middle of traffic. Luckily, it didn't cause an accident and no truck ran over it. I spent the rest of our stroll, straddling the side panels and holding them with my legs. I thought to myself: "As long as we don't cross the border, I'll be fine." Murphy's law #132,5: Be careful for what you don't wish for. Of course, this is exactly where the group was heading.
Nowhere to run by Martha and the Vandellas started playing in my head and my heart was following the beat. As we were lining up at the border crossing, I was looking for an escape route but couldn't find one. The border officer just waved us by. Crisis averted. Ah! The pre 9-11 days! How I miss you!
My piece of mind was short lived since I started worrying about entering back in my own country. So I can't tell you about the interesting scenery. My mind was too preoccupied. We were not racing but my mind was! In the end, the same scenario ended up repeating itself. *Sigh*
The day ended with your typical rally debauchery: loud music, lots of beer, good laughs and a few hours of sleep on a crappy motel floor. Good times!