Time for action: Cambridge Scooter Club rally

FOR THE PAST eleven years the Cambridge Scooter Club has held a St George’s Day rally and ride-out. I went along to catch up with the mods and scooterists as they assembled in the car park of Cambridge United FC.

Scooterists gather in the carpark at Cambridge United FC.

The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, with a couple of road safety charity stalls and a long queue waiting for hamburgers from an outdoor griddle. Most people there looked like they might have been into the mod revival of the late 1970s, when songs like Secret Affair’s Time for Action and the Purple Hearts’ anthemic Millions Like Us made it into the charts. Some were younger and a few looked old enough to have kept the faith since the 1960s.

Scooter porn 1.

The people I spoke to reckoned there were around 300 scooters present. It was a mix of old and new Vespas plus some Lambrettas, a rare Heinkel Tourist and, looking out of place, a trike finished in metallic purple. A single Gilera Runner kept a low profile near the entrance, maybe ready to make a quick getaway if spotted. Not many things look as good as rows of mod scooters with gleaming chrome fittings and custom paint jobs.

Scooter porn 2.

Music played from a PA: Martha and the Vandellas’ Nowhere to Run, Wilson Pickett’s The Midnight Hour. Just before two o’clock an announcement told people to get ready for the ride-out. Two-stroke engines began to rattle and clouds of blueish exhaust drifted across the car park. I found a spot by the entrance to record the scooters as they made their way out onto Newmarket Road before cruising around Cambridge.

Scooter porn 3.

Cambridge is dominated by its university more completely than Oxford is, and a new workforce is being attracted towards science parks and a growing research sector. Thousands of flats have been built near the railway station in anticipation of commuters heading to and from the Google headquarters and Crick Institute at Kings Cross. Amongst all this the old town side is not being squeezed out so much as finding itself more and more forgotten. But it’s still there and it was good to see it parade that fact with style through the streets of Cambridge.