2012 VOCNA Spring Opener

Fred and Jeff are ready to go

Fred and Jeff are ready to go


As usual, I started the day with great riding partners, Fred Mork and Jeff Scott, and good intentions to report the adventure. Fred and Jeff were properly mounted on Velocettes, the marque of the day. I rode my Buell Blast – I love that electric start!

This was the 25th Anniversary of the Velocette Owner’s Club of North America Spring Opener, hosted by John and Sue Ray. The May ride celebrates the beginning of the road-riding season in central California and the weather almost always cooperates.

View of the starting point

View of the starting point


Bikes in front of the barn

Bikes in front of the barn

This year followed the usual pattern. We enthusiasts gathered at the Casa del Ray nestled in the Napa hills. Those of us that are local, greeted old friends from as far away as Canada. In addition we met new friends and prepared for the ride. This year the group was smaller than in previous years, with about 17 Velocettes and 1 non-Velocette on the ride (mine). For a short period of time a Royal Enfield was also present.

Riders' Meeting

Riders’ Meeting


John Ray handed out maps and kept the Riders’ Meeting brief. This group recognizes that when you are riding, you are alone on that bike. You are free to ride as fast or slow as you want, and even to get lost. Anyway, it’s good to have your own map. Typically if there is a problem with one of these old bikes, others will stop and make sure both rider and bike are able to complete the ride.

Then it was down the hill, and east on 121 towards Lake Berryessa. Except for a spell behind a fire truck, the road was open and welcoming. We stopped at the crossroads of 121 and 128. This store/café has served us well in the past but was closed and for sale on this trip. Still it gives everyone a break from riding and a chance to adjust bits.

At the first stop, riders check their bikes

At the first stop, riders check their bikes


Then we rode north on 128, along one side of Lake Berryessa, and across rolling countryside to Pope Valley. Instead of buying drinks or snacks at the new store, I hung out at the old Pope Valley Store, and became too caught up in conversation with Brad Kirkpatrick to take photos. Or even be too surprised at the arrival of Paul d’Orleans. Paul managed to get inside and get some great photos which he posted on his blog, The Vintagent
Pope Valley Store

Pope Valley Store


This is a fascinating place! As the Stage Coach stop and included the post office, general store, saloon, hotel, garage and even Prohibition-era brewery. At times it was a gas station and the old dispensers are still present. Now it is an active Towing Company. Pete Young knew something about the group who posted this plaque, the Clampers. For more discussion about the Clampers and some great photos from the ride see Pete’s blog, Occhio Lungo

Our route back took us past Lake Hennessey City Recreation Area, along the Silverado Trail, up the Oakville Grade and back to Casa Del Ray.

line up of Velocettes after the ride

line up of Velocettes after the ride


This short ride raised our appetites and as usual there was plenty of food and libations back at Casa del Ray. There was also lots of time to play.
Siri practices driving the gator

Siri practices driving the gator


Thanks to John and Sue for organizing a wonderful day!

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