One of the newer players to the game is Todd of the Vamos! Lion Chariot. You probably have seen him riding around campus or downtown honking his bike horn and waving hello at just about everyone.
Todd, a Penn State grad who studied Meteorology and Spanish (which partly explains the Vamos! name), just began his chariot business last spring and has been making a name for himself in State College ever since.
When asked what prompted him to begin this rickshaw/buggy/chariot gig, Todd simply said, “Why not, right? It’s fun, it’s different!”
I obviously could only agree with him because I probably would have fun riding around on a bike just “shooting the breeze” all day. Todd is a biker in the first place, but he’s “just a hacker…not someone that dresses up in the tights and rides.”
This is pretty much what your view is like on Vamos!
Todd likes riding bikes, is a people person, and initially wanted to start this business because he was in between jobs. Did he just buy a bike and a wagon and just start riding?
Uh, NO, you pea-brain! There is quite a bit of “legal crap” that goes along with trying to start your own chariot business, which I will not go into detail about because it is quite boring. Essentially, PennDOT was all, “What the heck is this thing?!” and acted like a bunch of miserly fun-suckers and said “No way!”
This obviously was sorted out because now Todd carts our drunk asses all over downtown. He really loves the night crowd because they are the friendliest and most likely to hop on the chariot. Some of his favorite places to frequent are fratland but also a bunch of bars, such as Café, Indigo, Duo, G-Man, The Den, Inferno, Levels and, of course, the Gaff.
“The drunks in front of the Gaff are good because they can be very spirited but they also can be bad because they can be rowdy.” Not not true.
Even so, Todd does not want Vamos! to turn into a drunk bus.
“I want the chariot to not just be transportation, but transporTAINment.” Whata hoot!
Todd wants to put more emphasis on daytime and “special event” rides. Vamos! can be seen pedaling around campus during football weekends, when there are events going on at the BJC and also during the week when students are walking to class. (Recently, a bunch of students have sent out surveys about the Vamos! experience to help figure out if Penn State students would be willing to take Vamos! to class.)
“The problem with the daytime is, everyone is in ‘business mode’ and not as willing to get on,” says Todd. “Special event” rides though, are something Todd really enjoys and hopes do to more of them this year.
If you go on the Vamos! Lion Chariot website you’ll see that ‘Date Rides’ is featured. (Don’t let the website scare you by the way, I told him to get rid of the Cosmic Sans font ASAP) Todd speaks fondly of his first ever date ride that he provided.
The night started on Park ave, where Todd picked the lucky couple up and gave them a tour around campus. The first stop was at the fountain by Forum where they threw a coin in and made a wish. Then he took them to the Lion Shrine where they took photos and finally to Zola’s for dinner. After about an hour, Todd came back to pick them up, rode through campus past Old Main and the Alumni gardens, winding up back to Park ave so they could stop at the Arboretum. Todd left the couple alone to enjoy the beauty of the fountain and then returned about ten minutes later to drop them back off.
Isn’t that just magical? I KNOW. Todd really enjoys doing it and hopes that maybe around Valentine’s Day, it will really become popular.
So what is the Vamos! experience like? WELL, fellow Onward State staffer Ellie Skrzat and I hopped on yesterday and here’s what happened:
Obviously, it was one of my favorite moments ever at Penn State and I can’t wait to get back on. But be warned! As of right now, rides are free (tips are encouraged) but eventually, there will probably be a charge. Well worth it, if you ask me!
Maggie McGlinchy is a junior Print Journalism major who hopes to find and uncover every quirky State College personality there is. She realizes she has her work cut out for her.