The Virago Star Owners Club
Someone once said that it's a small world... well how come it still takes seven hours to fly from Manchester, England to Chicago, USA? This was the start of the first leg of a truly amazing biking holiday that had been completely organised using the Internet and made possible by the universal companionship that bikers display toward each other.
Bob Haigh Centre Rep for Centre 5 and I had taken the last nine months arranging to meet up with our counterparts in the States - Bob & Rain Nietzold in Chicago and Joe Beautz in California. First contact was done via the Internet by explaining that we were planning to visit their respective areas and would look forward to try and meet up with the Virago Owners Club members there. Not only were we able to arrange this but also had the very kind invitation to stay with each party.
So, here we both were, on a plane to O'Hare airport, Chicago with only an inkling of generous hospitality and adventure that lay ahead. This was immediately evidenced by the stretch limousine that met us outside the Arrivals terminal, compliments of the Chicago Cruisers, the area's representation of the V.O.C. This took us to The Boulevard, a bar and grill-house that the Centre uses as their regular watering hole, where the members had just arrived after a long (and rather damp) return from their Rally weekend. Smiles and beer greeted us, we knew straight away this was going to be like a home from home.
The following Tuesday Joe took us on a ride with a group of biker friends comically known as the Seasoned Citizens And Motorbike Riders Old Farts (SCAMROF) Club. This ride was awesome, through mountain passes, across the desert and back along the foothills. Again it was extremely hot, so much so that Joe's Venture Star started to sink into the tarmac of a garage forecourt that we had stopped at! This ride was yet another tale of how well our hosts looked after us, trying to include as much as was possible in the limited timescale that we had. Our return to Joe's home involved a quick hose down and polish for the trusty Triumph before its return to the shop. Grins were aplenty.
Again, the time to leave was upon us before we knew it and were back with American Airlines for the eleven-hour flight home. And what greeted us when we arrived?... pouring rain and the sodding petrol crisis. Welcome home... NOT! I would just like to thank all of the people who made this trip possible (in true Oscar ceremony style!) and to everyone who made us so welcome. It demonstrates that the V.O.C. itself has a global presence, with its members being part of a biking community that offers a great deal of friendship, wherever you are.