As we look towards the colder months with fall here already, the memories of summer rides come floating back. A busy travel schedule and too many deadlines kept me off a bike more than I would have liked this summer, but I did have one solid stretch of time on two wheels: our 4th Annual Ride ’Em, Don’t Hide ’Em Getaway weekend in August.
Thursday morning ad man Shane Powers and I met up with our friends and supporters Tom McKee and Adam Rexroad, piled into the rented SUV and ran the route they’d plotted for us. We run it first in a car so that we can easily work on finishing out our route sheets as we go. Friday morning we got on bikes and ran the route again, a terrific 125-mile loop with a perfect mix of small and medium sized roads full of elevation changes and every kind of curve you can imagine. It was a blast. Then on Saturday we led attendees; it was even more fun to share the day with all the readers who were able to join us this year.
Royal Enfield lent us an INT650 and a Continental GT650 to ride, and I spent Friday, Saturday and part of Sunday on those. Though I enjoyed the Enfields and just the chance to be on a bike, riding in the country for three days in a row, my ride of the summer was still yet to come.
The highlight of the trip was riding the 1967 Moto Guzzi V7 you see me grinning like an idiot next to below. Owned and restored by friend of the magazine Paul Harrison, it’s a bike I’ve drooled over since Paul finished it in 2017.
Bought on eBay as little more than a frame, an engine and a gearbox, Paul lovingly restored the bike. It’s perfect in its own way, mechanically rebuilt from the ground up, yet certain pieces show the patina of age with pride, like the amazing gas tank, which still wears its original paint.
Over lunch on Sunday, Paul offered to let me ride the bike back to the resort, and I’ll admit I was a little nervous. Paul’s bike is very dear to him, and I knew our group pace on the way back was going to be way faster than I wanted to go on a bike I wasn’t familiar with. I was right. Paul and I rode back at the rear of the pack, and when we'd returned, I asked Paul how much of the brakes he used during one surprise quick left turn in the route, as we were moving along a pretty solid clip. He replied, “all of them.”
To start the V7, you turn the key in the dash below the speedometer to the right until the engine fires, just like you do on the dash of my brother Phill’s 1962 Buick LeSabre. The bike lit immediately, settling into a loping idle.
Paul hopped on another bike and we took off down one of my favorite roads in the area, County Line Road, which runs to the nearby town of Champion. The V7's V-twin bark is distinctly Italian, and the engine pulled strong from low revs with plenty of torque, and cruises down the road with ease. What a ride. I'm smiling just thinking about it. Thanks again, Paul!
If you rode something cool this year, send me an email at email@example.com, and send a photo too. And next time a buddy offers to let you ride his bike, do it! Don’t be nervous, just be careful.