In this neck of the woods, winter cannot leave soon enough. It has a habit in many years of throwing some kind of last gasp in April, making it a very unpredictable month. While many of us have been able to sneak out a few times inbetween snow storms, the riding has been scarce. Riding a vintage bike was even scarcer. However, no matter what the winter has been like, everyone looks forward to the “season opener”. The event that causes everyone to brave roads still strewn with gravel and dotted with the craters that we call potholes. To brave the fickle weather patterns of April for a chance to fire up old faithful or trot out the completed winter project. That event around here is the Gathering of Nortons which takes place in Washington Crossing, PA (yes GW slept here) on the banks of the Delaware river.
Although we have to thank the Delaware Valley Norton Riders for the event (as I do every year), and they turn out in impressive numbers with their machines, it has grown into an all-marque gathering of vintage iron. I discovered this event years ago when I was a paid up member and Norton owner. That is no longer the case, but at least once a year, I look at the beautiful examples and almost long for the days of shifting with the wrong foot. Delightful Dominators and elegant ES2s and commanding Commandos were all clustered into a feast. I am not sure why all Nortons look like the perfectly proportioned standard to me, but they do. In case the Nortons are not enough for the anglophiliac, you can cast your gaze upon the voluptuous Velocette with its aquatic exhaust, or one of several Vincents in attendance. British, but less exotic you say ? Well how about Triumphs of all stripes. Bonnevilles, T110/120s, Tridents, and a lovely TRW. Or perhaps something from the good folks at Birmingham Small Arms. They offered a few Lightnings, and a Thunderbolt, down in number this year but then again I was not there for the entire day. I have figured out that I do not so much lust for a BSA, as I lust for a chrome tank with that bejeweled red emblem on it. If only they were cheap enough to be garage art... And speaking of english jewels, what could be more British than a Royal Enfield made in India with no British parts ? What what.
If you were not a great fan of the products of old blighty, all was not lost. Plenty of motociclo Italiano were present as well. They included a nice MV Agusta America, a pair of beautiful Moto Guzzi Eldorados, and a nicely done bugeyed Laverda 750. Not to be outdone, the land of the rising sun featured a Honda VFR400 in Rothmans livery, and a Suzuki RG500 Gamma in Walter Wolf livery. Very nice examples. They were joined by the dirt track styled Yamaha mentioned in the Winter Break post, and many small bore Hondas including a perfectly restored 305. Of course, BMWs were sprinkled throughout with K75s, /5s and just a couple of /2s this year. A cool Ural with sidecar sat off to one side, but drew an admiring crowd, as did a very nice Indian. Beyond the main showfield are an increasingly large number of bikes of all stripes and years. Harleys and modern sportbikes and more BMWs and Ducatis. They were not vintage for the most part, but their owners may have something that they are planning to bring next year, or perhaps they just agree that this is the best reason to get out and start riding again. Spring is sprung.