When it comes to zipping around town, two wheels are better than four if you ask the founding members of the Scooter Sirens, Columbia’s only motor scooter club.
Laurie Spate-Smith and Elizabeth Marino, both veteran English teachers at Jefferson Junior High School, started the club in the spring of 2006.
They were inspired by the book, “The Bush Survival Bible: 250 Ways to Make it Through the Next Four Years Without Misunderestimating the Dangers Ahead, and other Subliminable Strategeries,” written by Gene Stone.
“The book gave recommendations to people who were feeling a little depressed about the times, and one of them was to contribute something to the environment. So, in order to be nicer to the environment, we decided that we would buy less fossil fuel, and scooters are so fuel efficient,” says Spate-Smith.
She estimates her Genuine Stella scooter gets 85 miles to the gallon, while Marino’s Genuine Buddy scooter gets 100 miles to the gallon.
Weather permitting, they ride them whenever possible, including to and from Jefferson Junior High.
“Oh, (the students are) jealous. They want to belong to our scooter club,” says Spate-Smith. “We had to tell them, nobody under 18.”
“Some of the teachers think it’s kind of fun that we ride around on our scooters, and other teachers think it’s a little bit dangerous,” Marino says, “but we are very careful when we scoot.” In fact, they call themselves “careful risk takers.”
Being a careful risk taker means always wearing their helmets, checking weather reports and taking back roads whenever possible.
Being nicer to the environment is the main reason they started riding their scooters, but having fun is a big part of the experience as well.
During the summer months, when they have a break from teaching, the women participate in their own version of the Ironman Triathlon called the Ironfemme, which culminates with poolside cocktails at the home of Spate-Smith’s father.
“A couple of times a week we do what’s called the Ironfemme, and that’s a three-part scooter event. We scoot out to the pool, we swim a couple of laps and then we enjoy a tasty beverage. To be effective teachers, we have to be relaxed and happy in the summer,” Marino says with a smile.
Attracting more members means sharing the good times on the open road. Spate-Smith and Marino will sing their siren song to try to tempt new members (men welcome, as well) with their first scooter rally that will meet 11 a.m. Oct. 13 at Flat Branch Park, followed by a ride to Rocheport and lunch at Abigail’s, 206 Central St.