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The Rise of the Cachuma Lake Phoenix

| 28 May 2015 5:21 pm

Vintage British Bike Rally
Live Oak Campground

Story and Photos by Karen Gould/Checkered Flag Photography
CACHUMA LAKE, CA, MAY 22-25, 2015

After making the long trek from just south of Lake Tahoe to the Cachuma Lake Live Oak Campground, this journalist was pleased to finally arrive at the Vintage British Bike Rally at Cachuma Lake, located north of Santa Barbara. After an eight-year hiatus, like a phoenix (as so well phrased by metal sculptor Cozmic Joe), the rally rose once again to be a weekend of greatness. With some 150 or so participants aboard bikes of many ages, old and new, everyone had a wonderful time enjoying the Memorial Day Weekend celebration.

Fourteen T-shirts commemorate 14 rallies, past and present.

Fourteen T-shirts commemorate 14 rallies, past and present.

In attendance to open the event on Saturday morning along with Eddie Mulder was longtime event organizer Donna Mulrean, who read the poem “In Flander’s Field” in deep appreciation for the veterans through the years who have given so much of themselves for all to enjoy the freedom of life and weekends like this in the United States and elsewhere.

Parking in front of the mess hall.

Parking in front of the mess hall.

Kimberly Gould sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” while Eddie Mulder raised the Stars and Stripes on the flag pole, and in remembrance everyone wore red poppies that had been donated by the Veterans Association to commemorate the men and women who have lost their lives serving in the military, inspired by the World War I poem read by Donna. The meaning of the red poppy is recognized in the United States as well as parts of the former British Empire – the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Kimberly Gould sang the national anthem as Eddie Mulder raised the flag.

Kimberly Gould sang the national anthem as Eddie Mulder raised the flag.

Veterans were honored with red poppies handed out to the participants.

Veterans were honored with red poppies handed out to the participants.

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Also joining in the day’s events were longtime West Coast Dirt Track Series and now Cachuma Lake event sponsors Mark and Susan Zimmerman and Randy and Lynne Zimmerman of Specialty Fabrications; John and Susan Healy of the Coventry Spares and the original founder of the rally in 1989; Digger Helm; Terry and Nancy Otton of Ramspur Winery; Jason and Matt from British Customs, the builders of the Eddie Mulder Pikes Peak Triumph; and Bob Raber of Raber’s Parts Mart. Raber and a group of about 10 riders rode in from San Jose, California, aboard their bikes.

Jason of British Customs (left) and Eddie Mulder (right) with the BC Customs Eddie Mulder Pikes Peak replica Triumph.

Jason of British Customs (left) and Eddie Mulder (right) with the BC Customs Eddie Mulder Pikes Peak replica Triumph.

Motion Pro, another longtime WCDTS supporter, also offered sponsorship for the Cachuma Lake Rally and provided gifts that were handed out during the evening’s events. The BSA Nor Cal Club was represented at the rally by Don Danmeier.

This table was filled with gifts that were donated for the rally.

This table was filled with gifts that were donated for the rally.

The campground, which is dotted with beautiful oaks and is usually carpeted with beautiful green grass, was lacking any grass, due to the ongoing water shortage in California.

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Bill and Marla Getty of JRC Engineering chalked the course and organized games on motorcycles called a “field meet.” One-up or two-up, the competition was fierce as riders maneuvered around weighted-down cans for the slalom course, collected the straws in the bottles, tossed bean bags into a tire, participated in a spoon race while carrying a whiffle ball the entire length the course on a spoon without letting it fall off, and competed in an exciting “slow race” with a $200 purse. The only rules were that the rider could not put a foot down on the ground during their challenge to avoid elimination. Points were gathered throughout the competition that would be tallied for the evening’s award program.

One-up and two-up, participants accepted the challenges of the course.

One-up and two-up, participants accepted the challenges of the course.

James Banke carries his spoon and egg in his mouth to the other end of the course.

James Banke carries his spoon and egg in his mouth to the other end of the course.

The start of the slow race.

The start of the slow race.

Sometimes the challenge was just getting to the other end.

Sometimes the challenge was just getting to the other end.

Beautiful motorcycles adorned many camp spots, including many that dated back to the very early 1900s and had been ridden from destinations far north and south to join in the rally.

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On Saturday afternoon, many enjoyed riding their iron horses on one of the four self-guided rides, with maps provided courtesy of Ride Central coordinator “Cozmic Joe” Filardi. The tours were mapped out to allow the riders to see the sights around the area.

Saturday evening, everyone joined together for a meal of barbecued tri-tip, beans, salad, corn on the cob, cupcakes, and all the other goodies of a great meal prepared and catered by the Los Padres Outfitters. The Outfitters prepared three delicious meals each day for the group.

Jodi Mulder shows off the delicious plate prepared by the Los Padres Outfitters.

Jodi Mulder shows off the delicious plate prepared by the Los Padres Outfitters.

A wonderful awards presentation took place following the meal. John Healy of the Coventry Spares and the publisher of the Vintage Bike magazine traveled with his wife, Susan, from Massachusetts to join the rally, and he and Eddie Mulder led the presentation. Many gifts that had been donated by Raber’s Parts Mart, Coventry Spares, JRC Engineering, Triumph of North America, Barnett and Motion Pro were given to the rally participants.

Eddie Mulder and John Healy try to read the numbers on the raffle tickets.

Eddie Mulder and John Healy try to read the numbers on the raffle tickets.

By Sunday evening, almost everyone had received a gift, from parts, autographed event T-shirts and other T-shirts to cups, water bottles, books and so much more. Winners of the morning field meets for both the adults and the children were recognized individually with medals, along with some ribbing from Eddie, John, and the other participants. This being a family affair, the children ran the same course challenges on their bicycles that the adults did on motorcycles.

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A vintage-appearing picture of vintage bikes in front of the Vintage Motorcycle Museum in Solvang, California.

A vintage-appearing picture of vintage bikes in front of the Vintage Motorcycle Museum in Solvang, California.

After a pancake breakfast on Sunday morning, a group of 97 motorcycle riders headed out on a ride into Solvang – a lovely, small Danish town – to visit the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum, which houses some outstanding two-wheel motorcycles and a world of motorcycle history. Each bike is displayed with a placard of information relative to that machine and its history. Included were several custom, one-of-a-kind prototypes and first-edition motorcycles from the United States, Europe, Japan and other countries. This is a building full of exceptional equipment built for transportation, competition, dirt tracks, ice racing, road racing and much more – eye candy for those who have a passion for motorcycles and their history.

Some of the magnificent machinery on display in the museum.

Some of the magnificent machinery on display in the museum.

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Back at the campground, John Healy was orchestrating the placement of bikes around and under the oak trees for the upcoming afternoon bike show. Judging would be done in several categories including Competition, Unit Construction, Pre-Unit Construction, Custom, Committee’s Choice, Best of Show, and People’s Choice.

The bike show under the oak trees.

The bike show under the oak trees.

Again, after dinner, another awards presentation was held to honor the winners of the bike show. The People’s Choice award, chosen by all of the rally participants, was awarded to Nathan Matteson for his 1950 Triumph 6T Thunderbird.

Best of Show was awarded to Ralph Nevarez for a 1939 Ariel Square 4; this winning bike had belonged to Ralph’s father for many years and was then handed down to an uncle and, many years later, handed down to Ralph, who was awarded with a custom-made, hand-sculpted, one-of-a-kind work of art created by Cozmic Joe.

This Ariel was named Best of Show.

This Ariel was named Best of Show.

The award for Best of show was this sculpture.

The award for Best of show was this sculpture.

The Unit Construction award went to Alexia Dunlavey for a 1967 Triumph TR6.

Alexia Dunlavey (left) accepts the Unit Construction plaque for the 1967 TR6 Triumph.

Alexia Dunlavey (left) accepts the Unit Construction plaque for the 1967 TR6 Triumph.

The Pre-Unit Construction prize was awarded to Craig Fontaine for a 1956 BSA.

The Competition award went to Greg McBride for a 1949 Vincent Black Shadow.

The Custom award was presented to Bob Ferry for a 1960 BSA Gold Star, and the Committee’s Choice winner was a 1963 Matchless G12, awarded to its owner Chris Smith.

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Cozmic Joe also created a 3-foot sculpture with the initials “J.B.” and “Cubman,” formed from motorcycle parts and chain, to honor the efforts of Johnny Brown, who was a scrambles rider when he was young. As the result of an accident at the age of 18, Brown was paralyzed from the waist down; however, that didn’t slow him down much. He owns more than 200 Triumph Cubs and was the initiator of the 2015 Vintage British Motorcycle Rally, obtaining the permit and enlisting the help of Eddie and Jodi Mulder and others to make it happen. Brown has never missed a rally at Lake Cachuma.

Cozmic Joe (left) presents Johnny Brown (right) with the Cubman sculpture.

Cozmic Joe (left) presents Johnny Brown (right) with the Cubman sculpture.

(From left to right) Cozmic Joe also presented sculptures on wood to Eddie Mulder (a “number 12”) and Digger Helm (a “number 57”), as Jodi Mulder looks on with approval.

(From left to right) Cozmic Joe also presented sculptures on wood to Eddie Mulder (a “number 12”) and Digger Helm (a “number 57”), as Jodi Mulder looks on with approval.

Bob Raber (center) accepts his award from Eddie Mulder (left) and Jodi Mulder (right).

Bob Raber (center) accepts his award from Eddie Mulder (left) and Jodi Mulder (right).

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At the end of the night on Sunday, the group was asked if they would like to do this again in 2016. A unanimous “Yes!” echoed from the crowd and the call was made at the start of the day when business resumed on Tuesday to request a reservation for the 2016 Vintage British Bike Rally. As of this writing, that request had not yet been answered.

Smiles abounded all around.

Smiles abounded all around.

A standing ovation of appreciation for the efforts to bring the rally back after eight years!

A standing ovation of appreciation for the efforts to bring the rally back after eight years!

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