26th Annual All-British Motorcycle Weekend, San Jose, California
You have to give those Brit-bike lovers a big hand; they are an incredibly enthusiastic bunch of enthusiasts, putting up with aged machines that were none too reliable when new…by current standards. I rode British motorcycles all through the Sixties, when they were the hot item—and regular maintenance meant getting out the tool kit (large) and going over all the many nuts, bolts, and screws once a week, every day if I was traveling. And those Limey bikes had a lot of fasteners holding everything together, as well as a lot of grease fittings that needed attention.
Now there are clubs supporting just about every marque that those English factories turned out, from the popular Ariel to the lesser known Rudge. And many of these clubs give good support to the BSA Owners Club of Northern California, which has been putting on this extravaganza since 1988. Organizing a show like this requires a lot of work, and money—renting the venue, paying for insurance, advertising, et cetera. The event takes place at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds
And, weather being kind, they get a great turn-out. Well over 2,000 people paid the nominal five bucks to get in the door, where more than 130 immaculately turned-out machines were on the floor—including some 40 HRD/Vincent models, from a ’37 Comet to the last of the line, the ’55 D Series. Every year the event has a featured marque, and this year it was the Vincent—Phil Vincent bought the HRD company in 1927 and used those initials until 1949 when American dealers complained that they were getting confused with Harley-Davidson.
For a lousy buck you could buy a raffle ticket and hope to win the ’79 Triumph 140E—the odds on that were considerably better than hoping to win the lottery. All around were the vendors, selling Burman gearboxes, Lucas magnetos and rusty Whitworth tools—as well as complete bikes. Outside, a scrambles track had been set up, with two-strokes and four-strokes bouncing over the man-made hills.
If you didn’t have enough action on Saturday, 45 Brit bikes showed up on Sunday for the 100-mile ride. Leader Don D. said that not a single bike broke down, and the dust and dirt on the back roads he took them on was calmed by the oil dripping from the crankcases.
Next year, if you have your own private Gulfstream, or live within riding distance of San Jose, plan to attend the 27th.