This year's Ontario rally was held in the Anchor Bay Campground, on Pigeon Lake near Peterborough, the same place as last year, but on different dates. We had it a little earlier this year, July 23-25, in the hope of attracting a few more riders. Last year's rally was enjoyed by everyone who attended, so we kept the same format this year, just added things like door prizes and awards.
Local guy Jack Elliott, with his immaculate California II, was the first person to arrive on Friday to help me wait for the teeming masses, followed thereafter shortly by new Guzzi owner Lionel Richer from Hamilton and his New York buddy Leon Karlak. Keith Smith, western New York rep., rolled in a little later on his black 1100 Sport, closely followed by several others, including two more New Yorkers, Paul Oleshak and Scott Breese.
Others followed and Friday afternoon was the usual - setting up camp, greeting old friends, meeting new ones, admiring machinery and swapping tales of the trip. As the evening was approaching, so were some dark clouds in the sky. We were all getting a little hungry by this time so we rode off in search of a local restaurant. The riverside restaurant in Buckhorn where we ate Friday supper last year was a little crowded this year, as it was earlier in the tourist season, so we headed one hundred yards down the road to the Cody Inn, a large turn-of-the-century house which has been converted into a nice restaurant. The raindrops started to fall just as we hurried inside. We spent a great couple of hours in one of the many small rooms, waited on by a charming waitress who good-naturedly put up with lots of jovial banter. By the end of the evening we even had her standing on a chair singing the dessert menu! I didn't get her name, but she'll definitely be missed if she's not there next year.
The rain apparently came down quite heavily during our meal/entertainment, but it stopped before we left, so we were able to get back to camp without getting soaked. Don Hennessy had arrived from Maine in our absence with tales of woe about rain and traffic.
After riding to Buckhorn again for Saturday morning breakfast, I went back to the campsite to welcome new arrivals and the others went off riding, exploring the local countryside. Geoff Francis was intending to lead a group around some of the great twisty roads that he discovered while at the rally last year, but at the last minute some sort of nasty ear infection meant he had to cancel his plans. We missed his jovial company. We certainly hope he'll make it for the 2000 rally.
Percy Adler was the next guy to show up. I had been talking to and emailing him for several months, but never met him. Earlier this year I put him in touch with a '77 LeMans, which he hurriedly restored at great expense, restored to original condition after it had been modified by a previous owner with questionable taste. He done a great job and is really in love with the bike. When you talk to him about it he sounds like a teenager who just discovered girls!
Dependable Ontario club member Klaus Schulz was among the Saturday morning arrivals, this time without Rose and his 850T. (He was on his BMW again.) Dale Coodine rolled in on his beautifully restored '71 Ambassador, with his lovely wife Anne beside him in the sidecar, while Chris Beggs also rode in from Toronto and kept us all entertained with stories of his overland trip to Chile on his '76 850 T3. Kerry Harmon showed up on his clean V7 Sport with a couple of friends, and several other Guzzi owners dropped by to say hello.
The most eagerly awaited arrival did not show up until fairly late on the Saturday afternoon. John Porter, president of Moto Guzzi North America, flew in from California but was detained in Detroit for 24 hours because of the weather. Apparently there were some really bad storms all over the north-east that weekend. At the rally site we could see some interesting cloud formations flitting by in the distance, and a few people arrived with tales of getting rained on in transit, but we didn't see any rain at the rally until Saturday evening; then it was only a brief shower. John arrived with lots of goodies for door prizes, but the best goody he had for us was the news that Moto Guzzi will be selling bikes in Canada in the year 2000. They have not been sold here for at least 16 years, but every year at the Toronto Spring Bike Show people come up and ask where they can buy a Moto Guzzi. This year I'll have good news for them!
After John arrived with his good news, we decided to have the traditional Saturday night barbecue outside among the bikes and tents. Several people had expressed concern about my cooking skills last year when they saw my barbecued sausages. I couldn't convince them that I like my sausages really well done, but this year I tried pork chops instead. John said his was very tasty, even if it did make a brief trip to the grass during cooking! Just as I was eating my last mouthful of pork, the rain started, so we hurried to the shelter where we had our door prize and awards ceremony.
Long Distance Guy this year was Don Hennessy, who not only rode all the way from Saco, Maine, he went the long way around Lake Ontario!
There was no Long Distance Gal this year, but the Long Distance Couple went to Dale and Anne Coodine, from Corbyville, Ontario.
People's Choice award was well deserved by winner Percy Adler for all the work he did on his lovely Mk. 1 LeMans.
I have been trying to get my buddy Mike Lamartina to come to our rally for the past couple of years, and I was determined that, if he did come, he wouldn't go home without an award. Mike's LeMans III is a work of art, although it sometimes leaves a bit to be desired in the reliability area. I figured that if we had a People's Choice award and a "Best Hard Luck Story" award, if he didn't get one, he'd be certain to get the other. Well, Mike didn't come, so his award went to Keith Smith, although I'm not sure what he told his wife about it, so I can't say why he got it!
After the awards and door prizes were given out, there was a beautiful double rainbow in the sky that had everyone scrambling for cameras, then there was the usual Saturday night bonfire, beer drinking and story telling.
On Sunday morning some left early as they had a long way to go; others rode back to town for breakfast before saying their good-byes. When the rally was history, I went for a nice, peaceful ride and got caught in one of those storms I mentioned earlier. The rain was coming down so hard, one car was swept right off the road in front of me. I didn't have windshield wipers, but at least I kept the bike on the road! Luckily my AeroStich kept me dry, and upon returning to the campsite I learned they hadn't seen any rain!
Next year's rally is going to be in the same place, 21-23 July. I've put in a special request for good weather and we'll have all the usual stuff, more awards and door prizes, an observation run and who knows what else. Moto Guzzi North America will be represented, and I'm trying to persuade them to bring some bikes for us to ride, but they won't commit to that just yet.
Thanks to all our sponsors, including:
I would like to say a very special thank you to John Porter for taking time out of his busy schedule to come and give us some good news. We really appreciate it and we wish you and Kristina Snyder (Canadian Sales and Marketing Manager) every success.