About 7 years ago, I owned a Norton and became aware of an annual meeting of Nortons not too far away in Washington Crossing, PA. The Gathering takes place in April and is dubbed as the “season opener”. Over the years it has grown into an event that attracts hundreds of interesting machines of all types. Although the official start time is 10am, there is a steady stream of bikes coming and going starting after 9am and continuing throughout the event. With great scenic river roads and country backroads nearby, it has become a favorite destination for people who just like old iron. Weather is unpredictable, but this year was sunny and clear but cold. There was a high in the mid 50s, but in the nicely shaded Washington Crossing State Park, it probably didn’t get there untill late afternoon.
This is an event for the Norton faithful, so we have to begin there. My friend Rich came along. I met him at his house along the way, and as he worked in vain to kick his 750 Commando into life, I was reminded of one of the reasons that Norton ownership is an acquired taste. I reminded him that Norton spelled backwards is NotRun if they had not mispelled it. He gave me the finger. I motioned for him to continue kicking. Exhausted, he decided to ride his Triumph Bonneville which started on the first kick. I rode my R1100S BCR which always starts and kicks butt. I’m not sure how many Nortons showed up this year, but I stopped counting at 27. Very cool Commandos were a dime a dozen, but they were accompanied by Atlases, Dominators, and an ES2. Then there were a couple of Tritons, and a chopper. The only thing missing was a new 961 incarnation. I had hoped to see one in the flesh. If this was just a Norton show it would have been worth the trip. But that’s what you’d expect from the host marque, right ?
Tritons naturally segue to Triumphs, and there were more present than any other marque. Old Bonnevilles, new Bonnevilles and inbetween Bonnevilles were sprinkled liberally everywhere. And then there were the newer Triumphs including Tigers and Sprints and some Thruxtons and a couple of nice Speed Triples (a bike on my desirables short list). A well worn Tribsa was in the outer parking area, which provides a segue to the BSAs. These bikes look great to me in all forms, and the Gathering had a healthy contingent. Favorites were a beautiful Rocket3, a Victor, and a military single. Cool stuff. But cooler still were 4 Vincents on hand. When last did you see 4 Vincents ridden to an event ?Vincents are like great paintings for me, and I always need time to fully appreciate all of the details. I can almost see why some of these bikes end up in living rooms. Almost. If this was just a Brit Bike show, it would have been worth the trip.
But wait, there’s more…When it comes to proudly exposing your jugs to the elements (gratuitous titillation), two marques have carried the torch since before WWII. BMW and Moto Guzzi. The Guzzi clan was present with a few V variants and a nice California. Several R1100S BCRs were on hand as well as some GSs, RSs, some R75/5s, and a nice R50 with sidecar. I intended to track down owners, but ran out of time as usual. Partially because fellow car/bike guy Bill Foster showed up with his R65LS. Seeing an LS out and about is a pretty rare thing, and his bike is beautifully done in silver. If this was just a BMW/Guzzi show it would have been worth the trip.
And if you order now we will throw in……A very nice Benelli 250 2C, a number of Honda 200s, 350s, 550s, 750s, and a Transalp, a few early Kawasaki Ninjas, A Suzuki GS500, A Yamaha 400 2 stroke, A Desmosedici, an MV Agusta F4 Senna, a stunning Ducati 1198S, and a herd of Harleys. I’m sure I missed a few.
As far as I know, every bike present was ridden to the event. Not a trailer in sight. If this was just a gathering of a a few cool bikes, it would have been worth the trip. But its not. Its simply one of the coolest gatherings of old iron anywhere, and its timing after the winter hibernation is perfect. For this we need to thank the DVNR.