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A peaceable kingdom

June 5, 2011
The Shanty Tavern

The starting, and ending point (Orin O'Neill photos)

Someone in the Cretins or Los Gatos Gordos must have the ability to order weather. A winter that just wouldn’t quit gave way to bright sunshine, cloudless blue skies, and western Washington’s first high temperatures over 70 degrees, as if a switch was thrown. The 2011 edition of Mods vs Rockers would be run under ideal conditions.

I rode unaccompanied from the ‘Ham, my intention to try a new short cut: instead of continuing straight south from Farm to Market Road, hang a left at WA 20, immediately get off at WA 536 and swing through Mount Vernon on the way to Conway, via the frontage road that parallels I-5. (Have a look at the Maps page to see what I’m talking about)

It was nice to see some new sights; this route shows a very different version than the strip-mall route east of the freeway. I forgot to check, but I think it saved some time.

It was also kind of nice riding by myself for a change. Not that I don’t enjoy company, but having to keep track of fellow riders can add stress and slow you down.

There were only a few other bikes (and no scooters) when I arrived at the Shanty Tavern, the ride’s starting point. I wasn’t surprised—it was well before 1:00 pm, and the ride wouldn’t actually leave until 2. Hey, for some folks making an entrance counts for a lot.

A very full parking lot

Mods vs. Rockers rides happen just about anyplace there’s sizable scooter and motorcycle club scene. Unlike the 1964 riots in Brighton, England, there was no rumble in Lake City. Just the most eclectic gathering of 2-wheeled vehicles you’re going to find during rally season. As you can see, the place filled up pretty quickly.


There were mopeds.

Cafe Racer

Cafe racers are popular these days, and there were a bunch in the group. And of course, scooters and motorcycles of just about every type. There were lots of new Ducatis and Triumphs, many of the latter without tachometers.

Scooters and motorcycles

It was a huge group. The ride leaders told everyone not to worry about keeping the whole group together, that there would be Cretins throughout who would take the lead if the group got separated by red lights or texting idiot cagers.

While traffic coming down was light, in Seattle there’s a tendency for people to react to the occasional sunny Saturday by thinking “OMG! It’s SUNNY! WE NEED TO GO DO SOMETHING!” I wondered just how bad the traffic would be, and how this enormous group would navigate through it.

The last time I went on this ride (and, ahem, won the Best-Dressed Mod trophy) it was on the PX. Our friend Chuck and I were talking about how one time he took his 1964 GL and the noise was so loud he couldn’t hear the engine, and therefore when to change gears. (I had discovered when the PX hit max RPM the buzzing of the seat stopped, so I changed gears by the, uh, seat of my pants).

Ah, but this time I had the GTS. No gears to change, it barely broke a sweat, even in the most intense moments. Thanks again, Sooty!

At one point, I recalled a German study that concluded vehicular traffic displayed the same behavior as molecules of any gas you’d care to think of (e.g., hydrogen, nitrogen, etc.). Yep, that’s about it, I thought as we snaked around Sand Point and past the UDub, where everything came to a stop.

Stopped at UDub

The Montlake Bridge had opened for boat traffic. Once it closed, the swarm flowed around the car traffic. I realized it was my first time on bridge grating since leaving Portland.

Stopped on Montlake Blvd

The gas was under even higher pressure as we passed through the Arboretum. The road is narrow and very twisty, with curbs on either side. One must be precise in choosing a line through a corner. From there, it was onto Lake Washington Boulevard, where bicyclists made occasional single-file riding necessary. It always amazes me that there aren’t at least a few serious wrecks on these rides, but that never happens.

The ride ended at the Cretins clubhouse, with food (yummy hot dogs with cream cheese and grilled onions) and drink on offer. Eventually, it was time for the return trip to the Shanty.

Looking north on 4th Avenue

A much smaller group headed north on 4th Avenue, through downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, the U District and eventually, Lake City.

The routes we took were familiar, frequent group-ride routes in Seattle. It had been quite a while since I had ridden these roads, and it was nice to be back on them.

Back at the Shanty, I decided to pass on the ride-ending party. It was late in the afternoon, and I wanted to get back to Bellingham before it got dark. I can’t wait for Mods vs Rockers 2012!

I really wish I could’ve shot video, especially considering some of the epic moves I made during the ride! 😉 Luckily, someone else did, and you can see it here.

One Comment
  1. June 6, 2011 6:22 pm

    I have come to love my tacho-less Bonneville but I still want a P200. I am pathetic

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