Scooting around town
by Claire Miglionico
On a cold rainy day, it may seem a little odd to find Vespas out and about. But for members of the Apocalypse Scooter
Club of Calgary, riding scooters all-year round is something they do regularly.
Four of the club’s members were seated comfortably in Ricky’s All Day Grill having a Sunday brunch get-together after having braved a chilly ride on their scooters to get there.
The unpleasant weather allowed only a small number of members to gather but all four were nevertheless delighted to share their infallible knowledge of the scooter lifestyle.
“As long as the roads are good, [we ride],” said Phil Wyles, a long-time devotee of the Apocalypse Scooter Club.
Wyles said he even rides in the wintertime if the icy roads clear up in the afternoon.
The Apocalypse Scooter Club has about 55 to 65 members of all ages, genders and backgrounds.
Nick Jeffrey — a member of the club — said the scooter lifestyle brings all sorts of people together. Doctors, professors, bankers, students, blue-collar workers and even the unemployed can be found within the club.
Their ages range from 18 to 70 and Wyles joked that the eldest and most experienced member — Murray — is “the Vespa God”.
Despite the wide age-gap, Jeffrey explained that everyone in the club gets along because “we all have an interest in common.”
The Apocalypse Scooter Club was brought to life by Calgary Vespa aficionado Noel Ainsley in 2005 — a year after Vespas made their re-entry into Canada.
Ainsley’s initiative to re-introduce scooter lifestyle to the Alberta scene was a big step forward considering that “scooters were somewhat unheard of in Alberta,” Jeffrey said.
While he did not make the cold ride out to the Sunday brunch at Ricky’s, Ainsley is still an active member of the club to this day.
According to Jeffrey, and confirmed by motorscooterguide.net, Vespas exited North America in 1983 because of emission regulations set by the government.
But in 2001, Vespas came back to the United States and followed three years later in Canada, re-entering the Canadian market in 2004.
Scooter fans meet up for a group ride every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Caff Beano on 17th Avenue year-round — weather permitting of course.
Russ Pinchbeck, also a club member, explained that Tuesday’s meetings are not restricted to members of the club and that anyone can come and enjoy the group rides.
“We encourage new riders to show up and they’re quite welcome,” he mentioned during Sunday’s brunch.
On average, 26 scooters show up to the group rides. Naturally, there are fewer riders when the weather gets colder.
Members Wyles, Jeffrey, Pinchbeck, and Todd Swayze all agreed that group rides are a great way to discover the city. They explained that group rides are also very accommodating of every type of scooter. Therefore, highways are often avoided, as some scooters cannot match the speed of other scooters.
On Sundays however, meet-ups are for members only.
“[When the weather is unfit to ride scooters], we just meet as a group of friends and have breakfast,” Wyles shared happily.
Becoming a member costs a small yearly fee of $15.
“Membership goes towards the website, funding the rallies and hosting events,” Jeffrey explained.
Every May-long weekend, the Apocalypse Scooter Club meets up for a rally in Victoria, B.C. with other scooter clubs in Canada.
Wyles is one of the few who has done long distance trips with his scooter, all the way to Halifax, N.S.
While Wyles was able to travel the not everyone can carry out long trips with their scooters, which is why a big trailer is used to carry scooters to B.C.
When asked whether or not riding a scooter was a good way to save money, Swayze ironically answered with a “no.”
“Instead of spending money on car parts, we spend it all on scooter parts,” he said with a laugh.
Despite the cost of scooter parts, Jeffrey said that he thinks riding a scooter does come out to be quite a bit cheaper than a car.
Unlike Wyles, Pinchbeck, and Swayze, Jeffrey does not own a car. When the weather conditions are bad, he simply takes the train to get around and to get to work.
Pinchbeck said that it roughly costs five dollars to fill up his scooter tank and lasts for about 200 km.
He remarked that, unlike cars, pocket change is just enough to run a scooter.
Breakfast being over, all four riders decided to take their scooters for a spin to the Wild Rose Brewery at the Curry Barracks.
On Crowchild Trail, Jeffrey’s Vespa broke down and all three riders pulled over to help out.
Camaraderie is obviously present among the four riders. Wyles, who said they commonly help each other out, explained that the Apocalypse Scooter Club is more than just a simple club — it’s a support group for those with a for the scooter lifestyle.