The mountains of Virginia are one of the best places on earth to be in late June, especially on a Guzzi, and especially accompanied by nearly a hundred companions on their Guzzis! With that in mind, I loaded up three days worth of gear onto the Centauro, (no mean feat on that little "GT luggage rack"), and pointed the front BT-020 toward Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista (it's "Be-YOO-na VISS-ta", not "BWAY-na VEEZ-sta"; this ain't Spain, it's Virginia!) for the Annual Virginia Moto Guzzi Rally. For me, it was a short 60 mile jaunt over the Blue Ridge, and a swoop down into the park. For others it meant a trip of as much as 720 miles one way from New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, and all points in between, to foregather with friends, camp, ride, eat, and generally have a good time.
Looks like too many people were watching the Weather Channel, as attendance was down to 89 from the normal 130 or so, possibly on the "threat" of rain. But the joke was on them, as the weather turned out absolutely perfect for riding and outdoor living for three solid days; an object lesson to those who will trust Doppler radar technology over the smiling fortune of the Guzzi gods.
And the upshot was that all the hard work that our hosts Ron and Alice Komoroski put into preparing for and running this event resulted in a good time being had by all! Friday we started pulling in, registering, meeting old friends, looking over the club regalia for sale, the door prizes to be given away, and the always-intriguing metallic artwork laid out in front of Joe Kenny. Rally Central was a big 150' x 75' pavilion, complete with kitchens, restrooms, tables, and a stage (in case someone felt the need to "put on a show"!), just right for staying out of the sun, rain (had there been any), and parking Guzzis for the night, not to mention cooking a big pot of Alice's chili, Friday night's culinary highlight. For the sake of weaker stomachs (and there weren't many of those), this came in a two-part shot into your bowl - a big shot of Alice's chili (no hot peppers added, followed by as much of "Ron's Fire" (many HOT peppers) as you dare. Just don't get distracted and forget to mix it in; taking a spoonful of straight fire off the top will definitely light you up!
I did my duty in helping make sure that it all got eaten. Then came time to unpack the bike, find a good spot to set up the tent, fight the sleeping bag out of its stuff stack, and settle down to.. sleep? Nay, not here... instead, about four hours of Guzzi tech talk, mutual bike admiration, and highway war stories around various picnic tables and campsites until it was pretty obviously late and time to hit the sack.
Saturday morn I awoke with the singing birds and tootling CSX locomotives and followed my nose to the coffee pot. A short run into town for breakfast, and back to the rally to be sure I didn't miss a ride; poker run, winery run, guided run, or four self-guided tours through some of the prettiest countryside and smoothest, curviest roads anywhere on the continent. I and 11 others picked the guided ride behind Gary Cobb on his ancient road-warrior R90S (appropriate ride for an ancient road-warrior; thanks, Gary!) and rode over the mountains, down the Blue Ridge Parkway past the Peaks of Otter, then to Eagle Rock, through Iron Gate and down the Goshen Pass back to the rally.
By this time everyone had arrived, including MGNA reps John Jordan and Emily Banks, and MGNOC reps from three other states: Jack Arnold from Ohio, Tip Paul from Western Pennyslvania, and Mark Tenny and Barbara Nowell from North Carolina.
The range of bikes lined up at the pavilion was amazing; everything from vintage, perfectly restored V-700s to the latest '02 sportbikes and tourers. (Here I invoke Author's privilege in making special mention of Tip's, Emily's, and my Centauros, hottest looking bikes on the row!) It's great how Guzzi has been able to make the same motor work for everything from full highway dressers to road-racers to cruisers to cobby, knobbly dirt bikes. I'm guessing that 60 of the 70 or so bikes were Guzzis; the rest were "honorary Guzzis" for the day in the name of good fellowship, even if the tank badge DID say Harley, BMW, or Suzuki. "HD Goose", who had ridden up from Florida, tried out my Centauro up the road and back, and came back speechless. I prefer to think it was awe and wonder, but was probably more like "when is this guy going to get this thing tuned up?"
And now, it was, according to the Ride to Eat and Eat to Ride philosophy, time to eat again, and we tackled a catered spread of chicken, stuffed pasta, macaroni (can you say "carbo-loading"?), veggies, and an array of desserts. Delicious, and way more than we could eat, though I strove manfully.
It was Saturday evening now, and time for the prizes and awards. Adam Mellor's name has been showing up at every event on the East Coast as Youngest Rider, and you won't meet a more sociable, mature, and enthusiastic Guzzi fan of any age, let alone 18. His clean '84 small-block (ridden in from Philly PA) won "Best Rare Bird", too! Yours truly won a badly needed copy of Guzziology by guessing the number of words in it (hint - take whatever you think the right number is, double it, multiply it by four, and you'll be close).
Everyone at the rally won a door prize, ranging from touring jackets to pins and patches, and Pat Galbraith won a big 50-50 pot!. Long Distance - Guzzi and Long Distance - Open were won by Sergio De Sousa and Sergio Zimmerman respectively, each at 720 miles; now what are the chances of that? Other winners besides those already mentioned:
Long Distance Female - Guzzi: Emily Banks, 204 miles.
Long Distance 2-up - Guzzi: Terry/Maggie Whitaker, 410 miles.
Long Distance Female - Open: Brenda Morcom, 204 miles.
Long Distance 2-up - Open : Bob/David Komoroski, 321 miles.
Senior Rider - Charlie Parent.
Oldest Guzzi - Charlie Mullendere.
Best Loop Frame - Andy Green, '74 Eldorado.
Best Tonti Frame - Dennis Jones, '87 LeMans.
Best Spine Frame - Michael D. Hall, '00 V11 Sport.
Poker Run: Howard Rinehart - Three 6s Joe Brown - Pair of 9s Josh Brooks - A-Q.
Another late but restful Saturday night, and we were up all too soon on Sunday morning. Compensation was in the form of an "All-Guy" pancake breakfast; Alice was barred from the kitchen and actually had a chance to sit down and eat a rally meal.
After breakfast there was plenty of time to pack up, strap up, gear up, fire up, and wave goodbye, riding off into the sunset in a cloud of dust and 50 weight, until next time.
Mark your 2003 calendars right now for the last weekend in June in beautiful Buena Vista, Virginia; it's worth a ride from however many states away you live. Your Guzzi will enjoy the light exercise, and you'll enjoy meeting and socializing with your compatriots. See you there!