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Doug Clark: Will the Cheesy Riders on their 49cc Honda Ruckus scooters make the county line?

COLUMNIST’S NOTE: Welcome to Part I of Cheesy Riders Redux, which will chronicle the five-year reunion saga of Spokane’s only outlaw motor scooter gang.

In the summer of 2009 two adult men who should’ve known better set off on a grandiose quest.

They decided to ride what amounted to sewing machines on wheels across Washington and, hey, maybe even all the way to Seattle.

Delusion is the strongest drug.

Seven hours over spine-jolting rabbit trails, jarring railroad tracks and dusty rutted farm roads later, Scott Cooper and I pulled our 49cc Honda Ruckus motor scooters into the bustling metropolis of …

Ritzville.

That’s right. We somehow managed to turn a 50-minute freeway jaunt by car into a seven-hour, 89-mile slog.

This is one of the drawbacks about Ruckus riding.

In an urban setting they are wonderful little scooters, deftly designed and sturdy as hell.

Twin headlights. Knobby tires. The stocky Ruckus can travel an amazing 100 miles on its 1.3-gallon gas tank.

Unlike most motor scooters, there’s nothing sissified or chic about a Ruckus.

As one online reviewer noted, “The Ruckus looks like it could withstand a nuclear blast and come out swinging.”

Until, that is, you consider its top speed is maybe 35 mph if you’re going downhill with the breeze at your derriere.

The Ruckus is decidedly slower if you’re carrying the extra suet that I am.

This is a tortoise, not a hare.

Which means that the scooter is simply not designed for the cross-country haul. Because of the aforementioned speed limitations, riders must avoid the fast highways and stick to side roads and gnarly goat paths.

Then there’s the shock absorber issue – or lack thereof.

This otherwise highly reliable 194-pound machine comes with one inefficient spring, which is no doubt greatly appreciated by the chiropractic industry.

Considering all the negatives, I thought it would be hilarious to defy all the drawbacks and write about our ride to at least Ellensburg.

Bruised and broken in Ritzville, however, Cooper and I raised the white flag of surrender.

We spent the night in a modest motel. Next day we rode a bus into downtown Spokane where we paid a cabbie to take us to Cooper’s South Hill home. Then I sat shotgun as Cooper drove his truck back to Ritzville to fetch our abandoned steeds.

What was supposed to be a modern example of fuel-efficiency left a carbon footprint larger than the Chinese steel industry.

“I’ll never do that again,” I vowed a few days later, when the feeling was beginning to return to my over-Ruckused rump.

And then five years passed, and …

“You know what?” I told Cooper the other day. “The Cheesy Riders should sail again.”

A couple of things contributed to this insane outburst.

First, Cooper sold me two cherry red, low-mileage 2009 Ruckus scooters a couple of years ago.

One for me. One for my lovely wife, Sherry.

I used mine to visit my ailing mom and fetch groceries for her.

Cooper, who operates South Hill Hauling, has sold 42 used Ruckuses (Rucki?) since 2004. That’s when he first spotted a teen hipster on a Ruckus and wisely viewed the cool-looking scooter as an upcoming and marketable trend.

Since that time the Ruckus cult has grown all over the globe.

Second, during a recent visit to Westside Motorsports, a service worker told Cooper and me a story that raised the hairs on the backs of our aged necks.

A lone rider, he said, had stopped recently at the shop on his journey from New York to Seattle.

He was riding a Ruckus.

Cooper and I stood gobsmacked as we absorbed the news.

East Coast to Washington’s West Side – on a Ruckus!

Who is this super hero?

An internet check reveals that there are a number of Ruckus distance loons out there.

And so an idea took shape: We would once again straddle our saddles, but this time with a slightly more attainable goal.

And that is to ride our Ruckuses north to my cabin at Black Lake near the Colville National Forest.

Cooper, as I figured, was all in. He’s the sort of true-blue pal who would not only help you move, but help you move a corpse.

Consulting an old road map that I unearthed from the glove box in my wife’s Camry, I believe the route we must take will amount to at least 100 meandering miles. Probably more if we get lost, which happened several times during our last outing.

We plan to stick to the secondary roads that will have us spreading Ruckus love through Colbert, Chattaroy, Elk, Camden, Diamond Lake and Newport. Then it’s on to Oldtown and north along the scenic Pend Oreille River, through Dalkena, Ione and Tiger.

We planned to leave at the crunch of dawn Monday, and in my next column I’ll write about what happens to us.

I also plan to beam some iPhone photos along the way to post online for the typical snarky ridicule and amusement of the web crowd.

When you think about it, what could possibly go wrong?

“Did you know the tab on your Ruckus has expired?” My wife spoke those words as she was going through our household bills Sunday.

Okay. So maybe we won’t be leaving quite at the crunch of dawn.

I’m not that big of a biker outlaw. First stop: the DOL.

COMING UP: Will our heroes make their destination? Will they wind up as roadkill thanks to an oncoming moose? Stay tuned for the next installment of Cheesy Riders Redux!

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or dougc@spokesman.com.


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