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2012 Velocette Spring Opener

May 21, 2012

May in AltaCalifornia is a busy time and place for the old bike crowd.  There are multiple rides, shows, and events each weekend to choose from.  But the one that we never miss is the Velo club’s Spring Opener.  100 miles of quick riding through the quiet backroads, dicing with the Thruxtons, KSS’s and occasionally KTT’s.  (Not much dicing is done by the family sidecar, but we do our best and always wave as the faster bikes fly past us).  The event features at least three John’s each year, sometimes four.  And we always get three Pauls.  This year we were joined by a half-dozen hot air balloons that lifted off from the bottom of the hill.  They were even slower than the sidecar!hot air balloons above Partrick Road


No flat tires this year at our first stop, and then a quick blast along Lake Berryessa up to Pope Valley to drink some juice and kick tires.downtown Pope Valley


Kent and his MAC

Kent and his MAC.   He has recently got the bike on the road, and had no troubles all day.  He enjoyed riding at the comfortable pace that we were subjected to via the sidecar.


Pope Valley Garage 1915

Pope Valley Garage


e clampus vitus

Here is a closeup of the plaque.  The small print at the bottom of reads “E. Clampus Vitus”.  That is the pig latin motto of the The Clampers, who are a group that is hard to describe.  From their own website: 

“It is claimed ECV is a historical drinking society; others claim it to be a drinking historical society. The debate continues; it has never been solved.”


They place plaques like this one at places all over California and Nevada.  Sometimes they are pretty straightforward like this one.  Other times they are placed in random locations such as on a rock next to an official State of CA plaque, or by the door of an old store, or glued to the sidewalk in San Francisco’s Barbary Coast, with somewhat fictional text printed on the plaque.  So the plaque might honor a real place or event, or it might be completely made up, but tells a good story.  From what I can gather, it is a bit of a joke, but a bit serious too.    Check their website if you have a few minutes to read some stuff. 

Volcano CA

We spotted this Clampers plaque in Volcano last fall after the 2011 Girder Fork Ride.


Rambling back to our story, here is a pic of the usual suspects telling lies outside the old Pope general store:



colorful velocettes

Not all Velos are black and gold.  Red, blue, white and green bikes also show up…

  John and mk7

John Ray.   Velocette rider, racer, general enthusiast and long time club Chairman.  Here is his mk7 KTT, with more photos here.


Rambling a bit further, Kim and I went up into the hills on Sunday and scouted for hotels and roads for the 2013 Velocette Summer Rally.  Mark your calendars, 3rd week of July.  Places like Mt. Lassen, Nevada City, Rough-and-Ready and maybe even Smartsville.  To finish the weekend, we spied the solar eclipse from Spanko’s Rancheria.



Yes, a terrible photo.   That’s an annular solar elipse as photographed through a welding helmet.  Google for better pics.


Next time we’ll get back to 100 year old junk and maybe finally post some more of the How-To articles on the rebuild of the 1913 Veloce…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. carl permalink
    May 21, 2012 12:07 pm

    looks like a great place to be,with some very nice bikes,as soon as i get six numbers up i shall move to socal, uk weather.. rain rain hail rain wind more rain snow rain

    • May 23, 2012 9:23 am

      Hi Carl. You should come back to the USA for another Velo summer rally. 2013 is up in Gold Country of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We’ll find you a Velo to borrow and you’ll have some fun…

  2. May 21, 2012 8:22 pm

    Great photos! Three Pauls, three Johns and no George, except in spirit. Fun day!!


  1. 2012 VOCNA Spring Opener | bees, bikes and books

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