Monday, June 02, 2008

The Fellowship of the Two-Cycle Fumes

This story starts 30 years ago. While I was away at grad school my dad and brother, Mark, went to Muskegon and bought Mark's first moped. Over the years my little brother has accumulated quite a stash of mopeds. The total number of mopeds he owns is classified.

And a couple years ago he ran into the Ghost Riders.

Then Mark turned me onto my Honda Metro II scooter a couple of months ago. I figure he didn't think I was ready for a moped. Between then and now, every Monday has either been cold or rainy or busy. Tonight was busy, too, but a meeting got canceled. So, I called my brother.

"Where you at?" I asked. Not much for phone etiquette, I know.

"In my garage," Mark answered. He's cool with the lack of phone etiquette.

"I can be there in the time it takes to get my scooter from my house to yours. You going to Founders?"

"Sure. Come on over."

I got to Mark's house on the other side of town then the two of us drove to Founders microbrewery downtown. I got there and saw about 30 mopeds parked, but only about three scooters. And my 2nd-cousin Lee was there who I hadn't seen in 25 years. He was riding the orange Motobecaine Mark helped him find last year. I looked over the various mopeds parked there. It was a cool sight.

I figure that although I like my scoot, I'll probably be riding my wife's "pink Puch" to subsequent Ghost Riders meetings. I'm buying the pink Puch as soon as Mark gets it running. It's not pink, really, sort of a champaign color. The people have about a half-dozen old guys like me and Mark, but mostly a bunch of kids in their 20s.

After a few minutes of introductions to Mark's friends in the Ghost Riders, we all took off on a ride. My little Honda has this gentle, purring, 4-cycle engine that would never disturb anyone's sleep and its exhaust emissions have a bouquet not dissimilar to rose-water, in my unbiased opinion. This is in contrast to the sound and fury of over two dozen 2-cycle engines. These brethren of the chain-saw engine were belching so much smoke that I could sense Rachel Carlson spinning in her grave. Spotted Owls, no doubt, quaked in their nests this night.

I was unfamiliar with the protocol. The first stop on our ride was to the gas station, where we all bragged about our mileage. A fitting start as we extended a two-wheeled, two-cycle, 100mpg middle finger to the foreign despots who've doubled the price of gasoline of late.

My brother brought his dog in the bike trailer he's modified for canine transport. It's a chick magnet (which would work better if he was more than two years younger than me), but it means he tends to stay near the back of the pack. Since I was the new guy, I kept with him.

However, since I was running flat-out most of the time and sometimes felt a need for more power on hills or catching up, I figure I'll be doing some performance mods on my scooter.

Other guys have some very fast rides. Oddly, these guys would stay near the back then zoom to the front whenever we came upon a red light, where they'd stay in the middle of the intersection until everyone had gotten through. They would act as sheep dogs keeping the herd together. I wonder if the police would approve.

It was great fun to course through the streets of Grand Rapids in a roaring horde of mopeds. A mobile cloud of two-cycle exhaust fumes. After the ride, Mark and I went back to his house and we hung out for a while before I scootered home well after 11:00pm.

I've heard that scooters and mopeds are a fad. Maybe so, but I had a great time with my brother tonight.

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