The Vespa World Days, organised by the Vespa World Club (used to be FIV) and a local team, are the annual highlight of the official Vespa event calendar. This year they were supposed to take place in London and everybody was looking forward to a mega event in a metropolis. As one of the main sponsors, we had to be present of course. In high spirits the SIP team started towards London with 2 vans, 10 members of staff, 10 Vespa scooters and many parts. The organisers had recently announced that the location had changed at the last minute and the event was now to be staged at the O2 arena (which is located on a peninsula close to the the Docklands).
The muddle began, as soon as we arrived. 2 strokers were not allowed to enter the event site and we had to leave our scooters on a parking area, about 2km distant from the Vespa village. The visitors instantly disappeared on the gigantic O2 area and we soon realised that it would have been wise to bring our walking boots for this weekend. There were some more problems with registrations and tickets. A Belgian group turned on their heels and rode right back home friday night. The organising team was obviously overstrained by the last minute change of location and the gerneral size of the event.
At least the weather was much better than predicted. The saturday morning rideout, which was supposed to take us to the beautiful English countryside was a little different than we had expected, though. It started with 20km on the motorway. Kind of problematic for the 50cc's, because it was a) illegal and b) simply impossible speed-wise. So the big group quickly split up and everybody was following someone else only to find out that the ones in the front also didn't have a clue where they were riding. Personally I consider a rideout one of the highlights of an event. To direct it on a motorway was a new concept for me, though. The only remaining point on the day's agenda was the gala dinner. Unfortunately the O2 arena doesn't tolerate people drinking alcohol or smoking. So the guests of the gala dinner were served mineral water. At 11pm the lights were turned off and the evening was officially over. Puzzled guests were trying to come up with alternative plans and invaded the city in groups, trying to make the best of what had remained of the night. Thanks god, London offers a lot of nice options to do so... At least that made the Vespas a visible part of the cityscape for a while.
You would think that events like the Eurovespa, or - as it is recently called - the Vespa World days, are a 'nowed meadow'. For years now, 2000+ visitors from all over Europe have been willing to pay exagerated ticket prices without complaining and all that the organising club has to do is provide a suitable area for the crowd to mix and mingle. A nice rideout through the city, where you can get a sandwich and a drink and everybody will return with bright eyes. A dinner for everyone and that should be it, as the momentum of the crowd will do the rest.
Unfortunately this was not quite the case in London, mainly because splitting up parking area and event site proved to be a bad idea. People don't like to travel for hundreds of miles on their most precious treasures, just to leave them on an empty parking area and go for a hike through a tent city.
What a waste of money for every single visitor. Paying entry fees like that, we believe, people have a right to at least a minimum of entertainment. London 2012 definitely didn't manage to provide that. Everybody made the best out of the time there and enjoyed the stay in the UK. Not because, but despite of the event.
2013 the World Days will take place in Belgium. I met the guys who'll organise them in London. Easygoing, funny, nice. I'm positive the next VWDs will rock.
Here are the pictures that we took in London:
Jun 19 2012, 09:04