by Jacques Gordon
“What makes it so much fun?”
When my wife asked that question, I tried to answer by pointing out all the good stuff. Although it was late September in the Allegheny mountains, the weather was perfect; crisp in the morning and warm enough to shed a second layer by the afternoon gas stop. Two bikes broke down (compliments of Lucas), but one rider had asked his wife to follow in the pickup: maybe he suspected his would be one of the casualties. While the mere presence of a chase vehicle dulled the edge a bit, we appreciated being able to continue the ride without delay (we bought her dinner). Some had ridden two days to get there, just so they could ride some more before riding home again. One rode 1500 miles there-and-back on a 441cc BSA single that’s older than he is. How cool is that? The only other couple in the group was visiting from England. She’s been riding behind him for 41 of her 70 years and wasn’t about to give up that tiny Royal Enfield pillion for the armchair she was offered on a Gold Wing (one of three modern machines in the group). Among a crowd of antique Brit bike aficionados, overcoming inconvenience, discomfort and doubt are part of the experience, part of the fun.
“But what else did you do?”
Besides ride vintage motorcycles on winding back roads amid fall foliage? Well, afterwards we gathered in the motel parking lot to drink beer, evaluate oil leaks, tinker with flickering tail lights and generally debrief the day’s ride. We saw some deer, a lot of hawks and blessedly few of the loud-pipe crowd. The roads were well chosen, the leader’s group management and speeds were perfect, and the scenic overlook where we took the group photo was truly breath-taking. When we finally ready to eat at the steak house behind the motel, we rearranged the tables so we could all sit together. After dinner it was nightcaps-and-cigars among the crickets, cheering when Bob finally banished the prince of darkness from the ignition system and the ol’ Norton roared to life again.
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