Birds of a feather flock together, and this weekend, that flock is composed of Vespas, Lambrettas, Genuines and other motor scooters, new and old, rusted and cherry, darting down side streets and collecting outside local bars during the 10th annual Moving on Up Scooter Rally, hosted by the Peak Scooter Club.
"It's like a car show in some ways. Just cooler," said Peak Scooter Club president Jarrod Stuhlsatz, who owns a dozen scooters - the newest a 1979 model - and works as a mechanic and multiple-hat-wearer at Sportique Scooters on Tejon Street.
"I'm not saying we're cool," he joked. "Obviously, they're funny little bikes. It takes a certain type of people to like them ? You'll see the tattooed rockabilly guys. You'll see the Star Wars nerdy types. I guess it's just people who like something different."
Perhaps one of the most unusual and admired rides among participants this year was a fire-engine red 1955 Heinkel Tourist, made by the renown German aircraft manufacturing company and owned by Mike McWilliams. Along with wife Gretchen Whitworth, he has 12 scooters of various makes and calls himself "a curator for antique vehicles."
"They point. They laugh. They wonder how fast do they go, how much money are they saving," said McWilliams of riding around town in packs, watching people's heads turn. "It's not your everyday two-wheel object."
"I find the people really fascinating," admitted Lambretta enthusiast Jim Donoughe, who loves riding as well as learning to maintain and improve his bikes. "There is definitely a vintage feel to what we do, even how some people dress. And certainly there's all the tattoos."
Donoughe sometimes leads rides during the rally - there are usually at least three throughout the weekend - and also serves as one of the group leaders for the Pokenger Runt, a cross between a scavenger hunt and poker run where clues lead teams to caches of cards. This year's Runt circled town, with participants searching hiking trails in Sonderman Park, climbing the Old Scotchman rock formation in Garden of the Gods, drinking from the Ute Chief Spring in Manitou Springs, and seeking the out-of-the-way St. Jude's shrine near The Broadmoor.
The best hand at the end of the afternoon walked away with $64, the take from participants' fees, and respect, more valuable than money among some in the crowd.
The increasing popularity of scooters has drawn more participants to the rally. This year's attendance - the free-wheeling group doesn't keep strict count of registrants - hovered near 80, with some riders carting their scooters from Denver, Ft. Collins, New Mexico and Utah.
While Moving on Up is open to all comers, most Peak Scooter Club members will admit there is a difference, though perhaps not a tension, between vintage owners and riders of new models. Older bikes seem to carry more hipster street cred and connote genuine riding expertise, even if some appear held together with witty bumper stickers and magnets.
But most veterans realize that everyone starts somewhere and are happy to spread their passion for scooters to new riders - with a few warnings. No. 1, once you let scooters in your life, they tend to multiple in your garage, almost by themselves. And No. 2, according to Gretchen Whitworth: prepare for accessories.
"I have a tendency to buy bags that match my scooter or socks that match my scooter," she said, showing off her ice-mint green socks, which matched her ice-mint green Genuine Stella.