2016 VOCNA Spring Opener

Fishtails lined up after the ride

Fishtails lined up after the ride.  photos by Gil Loe

“It’s nineteen days until summer.”

“It is?”

“Yeah. I counted. I can’t go on a ride called the Spring Opener, nineteen days before summer. Isn’t the Spring Opener usually in March or April?”

“No. It’s always May”

“Well that’s just wrong. I won’t go on a Spring Opener in late May.”

All righty then. It’s the first time I’ve heard this reason for not attending the VOCNA May ride, The argument has it’s own philosophical stance, a position in the a struggle against all the dissonance and obfuscation of the Orwellian world we find ourselves in.

But further conversation weakened the philosophical implications of this person’s despair. He revealed that on the day of the VOCNA Spring Opener he was going on a different club ride somewhere in Marin.

And that was the reason many people had for not showing up at Casa Del Ray. There were rides, shows and other motorcycle events happening all over Northern California on this same weekend. However they missed out on a superlative romp through the hills of Napa county.

jeff jim romain tom ross at red barn.jpg

About twenty people met at the big red barn. Hearing the forecast for a late snow, Jack Saunders left the Tahoe area early to make the ride. Gil Loe and Dana Shatts as well as Tom and Zuma Ross traveled from the wilds of southern California. Jim Abbott came all the way from Arizona. Closer to the Bay area, Frank Brennan, Don Danmeier, John Ellis, Paul Adams and Dorothy, Lance Leavey, Jim Romain, George Shoblo and Sachi, Jeff Ward and Amy, Debbie and Niel Macdonald, Jeff Scott and myself.



red-hen-cantina.jpgFrom the big red barn we went down the hill for breakfast at the Red Hen Cantina. “Sea Daddy” Lance recognized a lost motorcyclist and directed him to the group. It was Frank Recoder on a BMW. He’d closed the garage and was ready to ride his Thruxton, when he heard some strange warning sounds. Although he quickly changed bikes, he arrived in Napa later than expected.

I too had suffered such disappointment. The night before the ride, Jeff determined that the magneto on my MAC had a fluttery intermittent yellow spark; I would be riding the Buell.

After this the ride was wonderfully incident free.   Down Dry Creek Road, up and over part of the Oakville Grade, along Silverado, past the reservoir to Pope Valley for another bit of story telling and tire kicking. Then over to Lake Berryessa. The most remarkable site was a club ride of Ferraris and new Austin Martin’s going the opposite direction. Although beautiful, they were taking it easy and not winding up the motors on these back roads. I was unable to hear much of the music of those powerful engines,. Instead, I had the unusual thought, “oh, wow, I’m having much more fun than they are.”




IMG_0541.jpgIn case anyone thinks the drought is over, we got an eyeful at Lake Berryessa. The water level is still very low. There are islands where there should be water and boating activities are not as popular as they once were at this manmade lake. This has the side-effect of less traffic and less business. Along this route, I only had to pass one four-wheeled vehicle, and slow down out of respect for one highway patrol officer. At Moskowite corner, the restaurant sign said “open” but if anyone was inside, they were hiding from us. Fortunately some people on the ride shared their snacks.



rest stop panorama.jpegNiel Macdonald did a wonderful job as chase truck driver, but it was time to say goodbye to him as Lance, Jeff S. and I broke off from the official route. Lance guided me on some back roads to his house where we admired his latest projects. You can’t miss the opportunity to see what people have in their garages! Then it was back up the hill for food, drinks and tall tales at the Rays.



lunch.jpegAs usual we ate a generous repast overlooking the five star view of the Napa Valley. Thanks to Sue Ray for organizing all this! Host John Ray handed out the awards.

Long- Distance Rider: Frank Recoder from El Sobrante on his BMW.

Shiniest Bike: Frank Brennan

Castor Oil Trophy: Gil Loe was the runner up for mosquito abatement. The winner was Jim Abbott for Ol Leaky.

Black Bulb for most pathetic electrics went to George Shoblo. If you don’t want this award, don’t demonstrate your lack of lights in front of the judge!

The dreaded and feared Rat Trap went to a car. Yes a four-wheeled vehicle! Debbie Macdonald’s Mini Cooper lost a drive belt on the way to Napa.

Apologies were later made to Jeff Ward & Amy who had ridden two up on a Velo from a town further away than El Sobrante. Who knows what b & b (bribery and blackmail) goes into the presentation of these awards.

What else could there possibly be to talk about on a ride with no crashes, no breakdowns, etc. ? It’s strange but I was left wishing I had more time. There were many conversations that I wish I’s made more attention to and had more time to develop. Even with this small group, I found myself later wishing I’d had more time.

Oh well, the rally is coming up very quickly. I’ll have to ask my calendar day counting friend just how soon. In the meantime, there is a magneto I need to replace…

As usual we ate a generous repast overlooking the five star view of the Napa Valley. Thanks to Sue Ray for organizing all this!






This entry was posted in Velocette & other British Motorcycles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 2016 VOCNA Spring Opener

  1. Robert Macdsonell says:

    Searching for silver/blue VMT 805C last known owner Guy Feeley of Oregon.

  2. lasse camenius says:

    Love the first photo with the fishtails!
    Greetings from Lasse in Sweden.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s