Nothing against golf, but lush green lawns look significantly better decorated with fantastic machinery than by a bunch of white plastic balls.
The fourth annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering at the Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley, California, matured this year, with a larger crowd than ever, a broader, bigger selection of machinery and a better-than-ever overall feel.
The “Evolution of the Motorcycle” was the theme, with a display of Indians at its core. Stars of the show included Marty Dickerson’s “Blue Bike,” a 1948 Vincent Rapide Racer now owned by noted collector Herb Harris, the new 2012 Crocker in its bare-sheetmetal glory and a wonderfully overwhelming mostly red sea of 32 MV Agustas owned by Gary Kohs.
In fact, it was a bit of an overall MV overdose (is there such a thing?) with Best in Show going to the 1974 MV Agusta 750 S owned (and ridden regularly) by Simon Graham. Builder Shinya Kimura of Chabott Engineering took two awards with his customized ’74 MV 750 S, one for Custom/Modified the other the Cycle World Elegance in Action award. “If I’d known, I would have polished more, but this is my daily rider!” he said.
Kimura was eligible for the CW award by joining nearly 100 other participants the previous day on the Quail Ride, an awesome tour through the countryside around Carmel Valley and Salinas, highlight being a few exuberant “parade” laps at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (personal highlight: Headshake through the Corkscrew on my ’74 Norton Commando). The collection of bikes on the road was fabulous, from Gurney Alligators to classic American and British iron to Craig Vetter and his band of merry high-fuel-mileage seekers to a painfully original Ducati “green frame” 750SS, among other sweet Italian exotics. Riders also attended a dinner that night, with Wayne Rainey, Mert Lawwill, Eddie Lawson, Vetter and other stars joining in.
Gone this year was Bonhams and its auction. Sales at past events hadn’t been strong enough to support its return. It’s somewhat unfortunate because the auction was always great entertainment and expanded the dimension of bikes on display, but the mood on the field seemed a bit more relaxed without the rush to finish the “Gathering” and head right into commerce.
Overall, though, The Quail Motorcycle Gathering’s focus on the enthusiast is what has given the event its strength. As Kevin Cameron said in his dinner speech, even though it’s about the love of the motorcycle, it’s the people who own, build, create and ride who bring so much meaning to a gathering.