Tuesday, September 16, 2014


There’s a group of folks who take three weeks out of each year to tour some part of the world on motorcycles.  What do these folks have in common?  They all own and ride fifty-year-old Moto Guzzi Falcones.

Manufactured in Mandello del Lario, near Lake Como, from 1950 until 1967, the Falcone carries a half-liter displacement single cylinder four-stroke motor set in a duplex cradle frame.  A big motorcycle for its day, the bike was favored by the military and traffic police, as well as riders wanting a powerful sporting ride.  Dressed primarily in red on the fenders and tanks and accented with chrome where possible, these motorcycles provide further evidence that Italians are masters at marrying function with form.  They are gorgeous.  And at five-plus decades of age, they’re still running.

Annually, this group picks some place on the planet, packs their beloved Guzzis into a shipping container and heads out for the better part of a month. 

This year’s tour was slated for California.  The Church of the Open Road was called upon to offer route suggestions for the northern part of the state.  (Apparently somebody reads this blog.  Shouldn’t they have something better to do with their time?) 

The group’s travels began in the Bay Area.  They headed north along the Marin and Sonoma Coast turning inland to experience the Dry Creek Valley wine region.  From there, they would wind through the Coast Range, scoot across the Sacramento Valley and explore the Gold Country foothills of the Sierra Nevada.  Yosemite, Sequoia and Death Valley rounded out much of the itinerary.

The “church” was privileged to join the group for some wine tasting at the Fritz Winery on Dutcher Creek Road near Cloverdale.  Fritz hosts Jeremy and Melissa kindly reserved parking for the squadron of fiery red Italian motorcycles which arrived fashionably about 20 minutes before closing.   

The staff graciously stayed late pouring outstanding examples of Dry Creek appellation wines to an eager and grateful crowd.

Later, up the road a short piece, while many rested in the spa or with a beer, unwinding from a 150-mile day, a seventy-five year-old Italian participant performed maintenance and repairs; loosening the bead on a flat tire by hand, repairing the tube without removing the wheel and putting the whole thing in readiness for the next day’s ride.  (Regrettably, the patch failed, but oh well.) 

Next he diagnosed a problem with a magneto prompting me to wonder how many modern mechanics even know what a magneto is. This is the guy you want on your next cross-country tour.

The following evening found the group dining on smoked tri-tip and ranch style baked beans in “the church’s” back yard.  In the gathering dusk, discussions around the day’s adventure crossing the Coast Range and the Sacramento Valley were accompanied by broad grins and gliding hand gestures.  The evening ended with handshakes, hugs and even kisses from a couple of the Italian wives who’d accompanied their husbands.

The love of the open road and laughter, it seems, sounds the same whether expressed in English or Italian.


Reference:  The absolute bible on the Moto Guzzi motorcycle heritage and line up is Mario Colombo’s Moto Guzzi – the Complete History from 1921.  Giorgio Nada Editore. 2007.  $65.00.  Nicely illustrated and easily referenced.  Order from your local bookseller.

Note:  Check out the Fritz Winery when in the Dry Creek / Cloverdale area: http://www.fritzwinery.com/ Tell ‘em the Church of the Open Road sent you, okay?

© 2014
Church of the Open Road

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great time! Pretty cool that they found you.