This story begins almost thirty years ago. I was a young man in my early 20's and about to buy my first brand new motorcycle after owning a couple of clunkers. This was a big move for me. I had never in my life contemplated spending so much money in one place. To spend most of what I had on a motorcycle when the car I was driving had seen better days seemed foolhardy to some, but not to me. However, I still had to be somewhat responsible in my expenditure. I had always wanted a 500cc Triumph, and now I could actually have it! One problem though: my buddy's new Honda 450 was nice. As a matter of fact, riding it was what made me realize my bike was so old. The Honda cost $1,250 and the "Trumpet" was only $25 more, so the money wasn't an issue. The problem lied in the attributes you could write down on paper. The Honda was faster. It had a disc brake and could stop quicker. It had electric start. It had this and could do that and on and on and on. Practicality got the better of me and I chose the Honda.
Where does the Moto Guzzi fit in? The Honda dealer was also a Guzzi dealer. On several visits while waiting for salesmen, paperwork, etc. I spent all my time over in the Moto Guzzi corner of the showroom drooling over the Eldorado. I looked and poked and admired. I took in all the sales hype about grade 8 hex head bolts, driveshafts, police and military uses and whatever else the salesman told me. I loved that fine machine without ever riding it, but there was no way I could buy it. Maybe someday I'd be able to own a machine like this. I couldn't justify it then, and I was too young to realize that not everything in life had to be justified.
After many years and a succession of ever-larger Hondas, I started riding less and less. Kids, convertibles, boats, business, etc. all seemed to compete with riding time. Then one year, I only rode twice. Once to get the bike out of winter storage, and once to put it back in the barn. I sold it to a friend who would use it. After about a year it dawned on me that being bikeless was not how I wanted to go through life. I remembered that Triumph I had always wanted and didn't buy even though I actually could have. I figured if I wasn't going to ride much anyway, a classic would be the way to go. Besides, I never got out of my mind an old editorial I read and totally understood. It likened a Honda to a "faithful servant" always doing what it was told to do, flawlessly, but with no compassion or feeling. A Norton (insert Guzzi, Triumph, etc.) was more like a "good drinking buddy". I opted for the drinking buddy and bought a 1970 650cc Triumph TR6C out of an acquaintance's barn. Although it had gotten pigeonized for 15 years it cleaned up well and has been a load of fun.
Recently I've started riding more. My wife or daughters come along now and then also. I got so I wanted a few things like turn signals, electric start, and more comfortable two-up riding. I realized that I needed a second bike. I wondered what I should buy and then the light bulb came on. The Moto Guzzi I had coveted and knew I just couldn't have those many years ago came back into my mind. I studied and looked and figured out what I should buy. A few months ago, while there was a little riding time left in the season, I bought a beautiful 1990 California III from another member and joined the MGNOC. That thirty year old dream finally came true. I've thoroughly enjoyed the few short jaunts I got in before the snow came. I can't wait to take it on a little trip. I've already got one planned for August, and I hope to see many of you at the New York/National MGNOC rally.