When we held our first Ride ‘Em, Don’t Hide ‘Em Getaway at Seven Springs Resort in Pennsylvania in 2016, we thought it’d be pretty amazing if even 20 readers thought it would be cool to join us for a weekend riding old bikes on back roads. Eighty-three of you showed up. And you came again in 2017. Apparently, we were on to something.
Our 3rd Annual Getaway was Aug. 10-12, 2018, and like the first two it was another great weekend of riding — mixed with occasional wrenching — and lots and lots of comradery, the glue that binds it all together. Old bikes need a little extra love, and we had our share of roadside adventures, including an electrical short that temporarily sidelined my ’73 BMW R75/5. Yet those unexpected challenges are part of the adventure, and the weekend played out like a vintage bike show on wheels, with 63 riders on 58 classic Nortons, BSAs, BMWs, Triumphs, Laverdas, Hondas, Suzukis and more — including our first-ever Vincent Rapide and a Bimota! — rolling down the fabulous blacktop roads that dominate Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands.
Two days prior, however, we wondered if it would even happen. The local forecast called for a 90 percent chance of rain Saturday and an 80 percent chance on Sunday, but the weather gods smiled on us and the rains moved out as we gathered Friday night at Festival Hall, introducing ourselves to one another and checking out each other’s bikes as the classic motorcycle movie On Any Sunday played on the big screen TV.
Saturday’s 123-mile ride took us north to Johnstown, famous for an epic 1889 flood that almost washed the once-dominant steel-producing town down the Conemaugh River, and a lunch stop at the top of the Johnstown Incline overlooking downtown Johnstown. Built in 1891 to encourage locals to build high above the river, the Johnstown Incline is the world’s steepest funicular, with two counter-weighted, cable-pulled cars riding on rails up a 70.9 percent grade rising 896.5 feet from the river below. As one car rides down, the other rides up, a 400 horsepower electric motor keeping them in check.
An excellent lunch at Asiago’s next door to the Incline was punctuated by a fascinating history lesson on the Johnstown Flood and the Incline, presented by David Casker of the Johnstown Area Heritage Association. David’s talk was followed by a ride on the Incline, which is a truly singular experience, the cars almost silent as they rise and descend, and the views of Johnstown and the old steel works below are just incredible.
This year’s special guest was acclaimed motorcycle journalist Alan Cathcart, who made the ride on a 1973 Yamaha TX750 plucked from RetroTours’ stable of classic Seventies bikes. Never available in the U.K., it’s one of the few bikes Cathcart had never ridden. Later, Cathcart enthralled our group during the Saturday banquet with stories from his decades-long career in the sport, one that’s seen him rub shoulders with just about every motorcycle engineer, racer and luminary you can possibly imagine.
Sunday morning saw us out on the road again, this time making a 60-mile loop, heading south into the Laurel Highlands and miles of scarcely travelled back roads before turning north in Ohiopyle, then back to Seven Springs to pack up and head home.
Special thanks to sponsors Bonhams, Spectro Oils, RetroTours, Pecard Leather and Federal Transportation for helping making it all happen, and look for details on our next Getaway, because we’re doing it again in 2019! MC