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Reciprocity in Action

Keith Kizer | Published on 8/14/2022

Travel Exchange



In my “Ignition Switch” column in the May/June issue, entitled “Transatlantic Motorcycle Reciprocation”, I introduced a new program between our British counterpart, Vintage Motor Cycle Club in the UK and the AMCA. A travel program if you will. The concept was that AMCA members in good standing have the opportunity to travel to the UK and borrow one of their club motorcycles to tour the UK. In kind, we as AMCA members would reciprocate by offering up a personal motorcycle and possibly guest rooms to a visiting VMCC member.   

No sooner was the ink dry on that issue before I get an email from AMCA member, Dave Leveille in Minnesota wanting to take the VMCC up on their offer. This wasn’t a “Hey I might be interested” inquiry, this was a “I’ve looked at their website and I want to attend their Weymouth event coming up in Two Weeks!


After a couple of phone calls and Zoom calls with the VMCC brass to work out some details, Dave was on a plane heading towards London. Within a couple of hours of hitting the tarmac at Heathrow, Dave was aboard a vintage FJ1200 Yamaha, yes by even our standards, a 1987 FJ is a full-blown antique motorcycle, and on his way to one of the planned stops over the next two weeks. He rode the fast-moving motorway 150 miles to the Village of Street where he spent his first night at the quaint Bear Inn. Yes, England uses “miles” as their distance-of-measure which makes it easy for us Americans. Dave ended the day with a pint at the Street Inn while visiting with Conner, the friendly bartender.    


Day 2, Saturday, May 13th. The temperature was cool the next morning during the short ride from Street Inn to Pitney/Langport to participate in the “Chairman’s Ride” sponsored by the VMCC Somerset Section. Dave was greeted by Ruth Pope, the Chairperson. It was a perfect day for a vintage bike ride. “Vintage” for the VMCC includes bikes such as a 1924 AJS (A.J. Stevens) model E1 Deluxe to a 1936 BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) model G14 1000cc. The ride was on narrow lanes through the beautiful countryside. The group stopped to visit a local chap who has a collection of most every year of Velocette’s (about 50 bikes) and a few Moto Guzzi’s. They finished out the day under warm, blue skies at the Pitney playing fields with locally sourced beef and hotdogs. Dave said, “The ladies in the kitchen prepared wonderful food and incredible desserts.” He said that was second only to the wonderful VMCC member’s hospitality. 


Group stop at fellow VMCC members farm.
Dave with Rod Hann on Day 2 ride.

After having tea with Ruth and Bryan Pope (Ruth’s husband) Dave rode to the seaside town of Weymouth in Dorset, on the English Channel coast of England. By the end of the day, Dave had another 150 miles on the FJ.

Day 3, Sunday, May 14th was another perfect day with temperatures between 20° to 22° C (68° to 71° F for us Yanks). The task of the day was to participate in the first day’s ride of Weymouth Week, which is a Section (chapter) hosted event that is similar to what we would call a road run. The difference is that this is spread out over five days. This event was hosted by the South Dorset Section. Three members of the Dorset Section, Dave Atterbury, Colin Bentham, and Richard Gray, joined Dave on this day. 

The Weymouth event was hosted by Rod and Carol Hann who put in an unimaginable amount of time to organize the event. 



Richard Gray, incoming Chairman VMCC Somerset Section with Dave
Downtown Weymouth





Lunch stop at Rod and Carol Hann Residence


As you know when you borrow a motorcycle from anyone, it is best to expect the unexpected. VMCC Chair, Mario Costa-Sa urged Dave to bring his own motorcycle toolkit to be on the safe side. A good piece of advice that Dave forgot in his rush to cross the pond.  David Atterbury and Collin Bentham, of the Dorset Section came to the rescue and helped Dave dial-in the FJ by helping him wrap some bare wires with electrical tape. Bryan Pope, also of the Dorset Section had put together a small tool set for Dave for the remainder of his trip. You have to be prepared for potential water issues as rain in the UK is the almost a guaranteed expectation.  Weymouth Week included at least two days of rain; fun riding, nonetheless.
Tool kit provided by Bryan Pope


Day 4, Monday, May 15th the group for Weymouth Week grew to about two dozen bikes with everyone breaking out into groups of 4-6. They rode the back roads and through some lovely, very narrow lanes to Lulworth Cove. Dave said this was a beautiful geological area. Although it rained a bit, but as Dave says, “A poor day on a motorcycle is better than the best day anywhere else.” Dave could have gone home happy after such a great weekend, but he was only four days into a two-week adventure. On day five Dave took the opportunity to take a solo ride and spend some time cleaning and adjusting the clutch and gear-shift levers to fit his riding preference.  


Even from four thousand miles away, I was able to keep up with daily reports from Dave through the WhatsApp that Mario turned us all onto. It allowed instant communication between Dave and a group of VMCC officers. It also gave the group a GPS locator on Dave in case of any issues. This kind of communication also allowed for the VMCC members who were assisting with logistics of getting bikes to Dave. Mario chimed in that he picked up the 1963 BSA at the home office, The Allen House in Burton on the Trent for Dave to ride. He invited Dave to his house to take a test spin. 
 
With this type of constant communication, Dave and the VMCC team were already planning departure strategies; where to drop the bike, collection of a Covid kit from Martin Marmoy, VMCC’s Events and Overseas Director, lunch plans, etc. With so much daily communication the topic of the day was Oxford or Windsor when it came to which castle to visit. Then, what restaurant to meet up at. 

On top of the many tourist options being offered to Dave, Mario was regularly sending him links to scenic routes, restaurants, hotels and tourist destinations. 

Fortunately for Dave, these were rare choices to make. As the riding itself was the true reason for making the trip leaving little time for the mundane tourism. The most Dave rode in one day was 180 miles, mostly on B Roads. Which is the U.K. equivalent to our two-lane backroads but less openness with slower, tighter twisties lined with hedgerows and stone walls. Dave said he underestimated the amount of time to travel from village to village in England. He said “riding the English countryside is a slower pace as compared to American highways; so, plan accordingly”


As Weymouth Week continued, Rod and Carol Hann led the group westward along the coast and absorbed the beautiful scenery followed by a stop at Felicity’s Coffee Shop in Morcombelake, Bridport in the South end of the UK . Dave enjoyed a cappuccino and what he thought was a buttermilk biscuit. As it turns out it was a delicious scone. Don’t get me started on the culinary difference but basically scones are dry and sweet because they usually contain fruit. Dave’s new friends were horrified that he ate his without cream and jam. When in Rome Dave, When in Rome…

They made their way up to Windwhistle Inn in Cricket St. Thomas for lunch. Are you beginning to see a trend? Much like Americans, rides in the UK are simply destinations to more food. Here Dave met club member Simon who rode an Italian Laverda. He retired two years ago as an aircraft mechanic on large aircraft. 

The last stop of the day was in West Bay. “A regular stop for motorcyclist,” Dave said. At this stop another rider on a Harley Deluxe let a child sit on his bike while he revved the engine. Dave said that poor mother has no idea about the seed she planted in her son’s mind. As the ride continued, he said the sweeping roads were like none he had ridden before.  


One week into the trip Dave was encouraged to ride the B4009 Ridgeway. Britain’s oldest road. Instead, because of the comradery and new friendships, he decided to continue riding with the South Dorset section in the Weymouth area where it all started. Spending the week with the group allowed time for extended conversations with VMCC members Tony & Jan Arnold, Nigel & Helen Gardner and many others. 
Look Downton Abbey! Not really. But a nice facsimile in South Dorset


On Saturday he rode with the Isle of Wight and the Bournemouth and New Forest Section members in the New Forest area. He was hosted by Ron Wallis and David Bowmers. They enjoyed warm weather and great lunch at Carlo’s Café and Ice Cream Shop. Who could resist ice cream made on site from cream provided by a local farmer? The proprietor himself was engaging and welcoming to the unexpected large group of riders. 

After an 80-mile ride with the group on mostly very narrow and entertaining lanes, Dave proceeded to the village of Newbury, just west of London to prepare for his next couple days of riding. 

Group stop at Isle of Wight on the New Forrest Ride

Sunday, after washing the bike, again, Dave met up with Director Martin Marmoy for lunch at the Red House Pub and Restaurant. According to Dave this was a farm manor in the middle of nowhere that required reservations. He said this was commonplace in the U.K.  Dave had the traditional English pork roast with red potatoes and brown gravy.  “it was perfectly prepared and delicious” he said. 



Dave, Wencke and Martin
Dave kicked back at the Marmoy home.

After lunch they went on a “brisk” ride around the villages of Marlborough and Swindon. They ended the afternoon at Martin’s home where he kicked back and visited with Martin, his wife Wencke and their dog, Bessy. The time at the Marmoy home also gave opportunity for a simple repair to a fork-seal on the Yamaha.







In a WhatsApp post after Dave’s departure, Martin said, “David, you were the perfect guest, always appreciative and interested which made our role easy and rewarding. Let’s hope we’ve put the Boston Tea Party behind us and can consider our two nations good friends again.” Followed by a laughing emoji and a grinning emoji with a cowboy hat. 

After a few days riding around the Newbury area, it was off for a final ride through the Chilterns on to Mario’s to drop off the bike. While Dave was going to be riding in the High Wycombe area, he took time to swing by a Land Rover dealer and pick up a carb kit for one of the members. He was becoming one of the regular blokes to the club. I’m not sure they wanted him to go home. We may have to start thinking about an annual Member Swap program next year. 

While at Mario’s, Dave had the opportunity to finally ride a 1963 BSA while Mario rode a 1952 Triumph, both bikes of which were scheduled to ride in the next week’s Queen’s Jubilee in London where 100 riders on vintage motorcycles would be a key part the parade. 


Dave was impressed with the torque of the BSA and the sound of the Triumph. He admitted it took extra effort to overcome his muscle memory to brake with the left foot and shift with the right. After the ride, he joined in with Mario to spend a good part of two hours shining up the bikes for the parade. Dave wanted to spend more time to make it perfect, but Mario’s wife, Louise had prepared a delicious Carbonara pasta dinner that easily changed his mind. 

VMCC Chair, Mario Costa-Sa himself was the man behind the genius of the VMCC / AMCA Travel Exchange idea. He rolled out the red carpet for Dave but please don't expect this kind of royal treatment for everyone. They went above and beyond to test the waters. 

At the close of the trip as Dave boarded his flight back to Minnesota, he said, “My UK adventure has safely been completed and it was nothing short of phenomenal!” He was appreciative of the club members throughout the journey. He ended up riding with four VMCC Sections, visited countless members and had the time of his life. 

It goes without saying that the first test of the VMCC/AMCA Reciprocation Program came off without a hitch and was a resounding success. Now, I don’t want to misguide anyone into thinking all visits will be royal treatments as Dave enjoyed and I would not expect the top brass of the club to be hands-on for every occasion, but you have to admit it’s a pretty sweet deal.

The VMCC owns about a dozen motorcycles which are maintained, licensed and insured for use to known active members in good standing. For those AMCA members who are interested in attending one of many popular VMCC club events, visit www.VMCC.net 

Several AMCA members have already committed to participate in this program on our shores. Would you be willing to help? If so, write to me personally at Kizer@AntiqueMotorcycle.org simply saying, “I’m interested in working with VMCC”, and we will keep you informed as we finalize plans. If you fancy yourself as a world travel and willing to monitor a Facebook page which is dedicated to this program, we would love to hear from you.


Our neighbors across the pond, did their part, now it’s our turn. Here's the bike Dave has waiting for the first VMCC member to reciprocate. If you are a AMCA member and would be interested in participating in our travel exchange, please email me at Kizer@AntiqueMotorcycle.org. 


Click here to read our original news story about the VMCC Loaner Bike Program

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