My annual high on two-stroke

Frogs ride out at Ryde.
Frogs ride out at Ryde.
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The world’s largest annual scooter rally took place last weekend on the Isle of Wight attracting people from all over the country and mainland Europe.

Being a fair-weather rider I’d watched the weekend forecast and Sunday, the only day I could go, looked favourably dry.

One of the immaculate scooters on parade at Ryde.

One of the immaculate scooters on parade at Ryde.

Sunday was also the day for the mass scooter ride-out around the island.

Largely based around Ryde and the Smallbrook speedway stadium, the rally runs from Friday to bank holiday Monday.

Camp sites and bars host bands, DJs play music from down the decades and shops embrace the event too, decorating their stores with union flags, vintage cloths and related souvenirs.

The stadium hosts a dealers’ fair selling complete scooters, new and vintage parts, music, clothing and other scooter-related products and services.

Some of the thousands of scooters gathered for the Ryde rally.

Some of the thousands of scooters gathered for the Ryde rally.

Ryde ice rink hosts a custom show where prizes are awarded for categories including best original and customised scooter and a prize in the ‘farthest-travelled-so-no-trophy-for-me’ class.

In 2012 this was awarded to Italian Giacomo Vespedda Salici who rode alone from Sardinia to Italy, France and England, enjoying England so much he stayed for the Olympics and attended scooter rallies around the country. He must have been there on Sunday as I saw his distinctive red scooter on the seafront.

I had given both my Lambrettas a maintenance check and ensured all standard spares were in the toolbox. We caught the 8.30am ferry from Portsmouth and the distinctive sound and smell of two-stroke scooter engines permeated the air as soon as we disembarked. For the rest of the day we didn’t travel more than a few hundred yards without being passed in the opposite direction by scooterists.

The ride-out has become a huge spectacle and thousands lined the route with some residents and pubs holding garden parties. There must have been several thousand scooters gathered at the start.

From fully restored to original and rusty, customised graphic paintwork to scooter-choppers, a wider variety you are unlikely to see in one place. Many riders dress for the occasion in army parkas, flight jackets, smart suits and boating blazers and I was even passed by a couple dressed as frogs.

After the ride-out our group caught the 4pm ferry just as grey clouds rolled in. Onboard we met five German scooterists who had ridden from Hamburg.

We were impressed.

However, their shoulders sank when they discovered we had only ridden from Portsmouth.