Alice’s Restaurant sits at the intersection of State Routes 35 and 84, on a ridge above Woodside, California. To be fair, calling those country roads “highways” is a little deceiving.
When you ride up to the place, you are faced with two choices: park at Alice’s, where you can eat inside or out on the deck; or, park across the street at the Boulevard Café, where the asphalt is more accommodating since it’s actually horizontal and a lot more spacious (but the Café won’t be open until late in the day).
On weekends, hundreds of riders converge at this crossroads location, and when the “Morning After” riders trooped in on a recent sunny Sunday morning, it created sort of a bow wave of attention as the old bikes rumbled and rattled by and came to rest at the north end of the Boulevard lot. This was the first stop in what was actually the second act of the late March attraction for British bike riders up and down the West Coast, the Clubman’s All-British Weekend.
It all begins with the show on Saturday, and it includes not only bike displays but also a lively swap meet for those not necessarily reliant on eBay. When a former chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America folded years ago, it left a void in the show/swap meet scene in the San Francisco Bay area, because its annual event fell from the calendar. Guys in the newly formed BSA Owners Club of Northern California thought, “Hey, we could do that! We should do that.” They did do that, but at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose, rather than in Alameda County where the AMCA event had run.
From the beginning, three concepts have underpinned this event: it would be limited exclusively to British bikes, parts and paraphernalia to create a theme and set it apart from the other vintage shows; it would engage all the British one-make clubs as participants by providing them exhibition space free of charge; and it would encourage diversity in the display by running two judging divisions, one based on originality and another for modified machines. Other refinements soon appeared: a Featured Marque display each year; the offering of a bike raffle; and the addition of a ride on the Sunday following the sensory overdose of glittering bikes on Saturday (hence the “Morning After” moniker). This year’s display of AJS and Matchless machines was exemplary, including 43 military, off-road, roadrace and street bikes. The raffle bikes have always been a hit with the crowd and, as usual, they are restored from the crankshaft up if need be—this year’s 1970 Triumph Daytona was no exception. The show has also become quite a social event, where folks meet people who have been friends for years. Attending this year, you might have also met Dick Mann, Brad Lackey, Jody Nicholas, Jim Rice, Ted Simon (author of Jupiter’s Travels), or even Clement Salvadori. And the ride on Sunday has become something of an “opener” to the riding season.
Yes, that ride. Here’s where a fistful of horsepower is not a necessity; an old British thumper does just fine, flicking through the redwoods in the canyons below Alice’s. Lean her over, point and squirt, baby. Just listen to that honking “silencer” as it torques its way up to the pass. Great fun. Highway 1, down along the coast, gave those new Norton 961s a chance to air themselves out, and after turning off in Bonny Doon, there were still byways including Ice Cream Grade and Zyante Road to navigate before arriving back in Los Gatos for lunch.
When was the last time you saw a Scott? Or a four-valve 500cc Rudge? This show isn’t just a party for the BSA/Triumph/Norton crowd, although those bikes predominate. Dan Smith entered his 500cc Velocette “Roarer,” a home-built replica of the supercharged Velo roadrace bike that never went into production. Other machines of note included a BSA trials sidecar outfit that one attendee claimed was “worth the price of admission all by itself,” and makes such as Ariel, Brough-Superior, Greeves, James, Royal Enfield, Sunbeam and Vincent. Pre-war bikes seem to be gaining in popularity, as well as contemporary Triumphs and, for the first time this year, the new Norton 961. Proving that custom bikes are hot with the younger set, the People’s Choice trophy was awarded to a stunning Triumph bobber, and more than 45 awards went to bikes in other classes. Next year, the show will feature British Triples. Would you like to meet Mr. Vetter?
The 2016 Clubman’s All-British Weekend will be held April 2-3.