Classics in Carmel - 2012 Quail Motorcycle Gathering

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The Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel has been on my agenda ever since I heard about it three years ago. Year after year other commitments have taken its place but this has only made it more of an anticipated event. This year, I attended the event for the first time and what better way to debut than with a collaboration of The Mighty Motor with Iron & Air Magazine.

Beyond the beaches of Monterey, over the hills and into the valley of Carmel sits the Quail Lodge Resort, the venue for the 2012 Quail Motorcycle Gathering. The event drew people from all over the world. Some just to enjoy the show, but mainly a mix of enthusiasts, builders and collectors sharing a day dedicated to the motorcycle.

Sporadic sounds of motors revving separated from the voices of the crowd. Familiar custom builds were identified from hours spent online. Blessed with great weather, every paint job and shiny metal part was sparkling under the clear California sky. Not begging for attention, but almost demurely hiding as each glare caught my eye across the lawn.

Every once in a while the voice of the Paul d'Orleans (The Vintagent) would boom out over the loudspeaker as he made his way around the showgrounds to feature the day's events. He sat with Marty Dickerson as they talked about his 1947  Vincent Rapide Series B racer that is known popularly as the "Blue Bike". Dickerson told the story of how he rode into Arizona for the first time.

Also featured that day was the first built British-engined Magni. Giovanni Magni, from Italy, introduced the 930cc BSA triple racing engine to the crowd's delight. As a lifetime collector and enthusiast of MV Agustas, Gary Kohs' collection at the show was impeccable. It demanded its own section of the lawn to stable all his Italian pedigrees. The highlight was definitely his Isle of Man TT winner, a 1953/54 MV Agusta ex-works 125 Grand Prix racer.

As the afternoon moved on, ribbons started to appear and winners lined their bikes closer to the center stage. One by one names were called and trophies were given. The cream of the crop and best of the best was now official. We all congratulated Simon Graham with his Best in Show winner 1974 MV Agusta 750S.

The event was winding down as fast as it had started. Almost too fast. What do you expect from a bunch of motorcycle enthusiasts surrounded by endless miles of the the most picturesque California coastal roads? The collective yearning to get out and ride was almost palpable.

This event was one for the books. Rubbing elbows with legends of the motorcycle world did make the whole experience surreal. I was humbled and exhilarated to have had conversations with greats like Wayne Rainey. I still remember learning the ropes as a 10 year old on a replica 80cc Marlboro Yamaha. I was also surprised to learn how approachable and humble the bike builders were, like master builder Shinya Kimura and his wife Ayu (also the recipient of two awards for his MV Agusta). They were accommodating and happy to talk about their passion over and over again.

All and all credit has to be given to the organizers as they made the day so relaxed and enjoyable. The Quail Motorcycle Gathering is now not only something I can check off my list but also something to look forward to attending year after year. The Quail Ride is now my goal. Hope to see you all there next year. -SR

Many thanks to Shaik Ridzwan of The Mighty Motor for this contribution - I&A