God save the king!

VOCNA snubs coronation!

...and goes quail hunting instead!

Jean-Philippe Defaut
King Charles reliving his youth! Artwork by JP Defaut

“Ideas lose themselves as quickly as quail, and one must wing them the minute they rise out of the grass, or they are gone.” Thomas F Kennedy

Most of you probably know about The Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel-By-The-Sea. A prestigious affair of jaw dropping, unique motorcycles displayed on the putting green, with posh food, silverware and fine linens for those with high standards. Even the porta potties have mahogany wash basins with brass handles and potpourri scented paper… I digress, but you get the picture. This year, I had a difficult decision to make as to where to be on the 6th of May: the toss-up was either flying to London and attending the much awaited coronation of King Charles the turd, or flying the VOCNA flag in Carmel and promoting the club. Tough call, but guess where I ended up…

JP hanging VOCNA laundry at the Quail in Carmel © Arnaud Goethals

Hosted annually at the swanky Quail Golf Club in May, focusing mostly on vintage, rare and custom motorcycles, this two wheeler chin dig is also MC’d by our very own (now chairman) Paul D’Orleans, aka PDO. He dragged me there kicking and screaming some years ago and I’ve been drinking the cool-aid ever since. One thing has always alluded me however: I’ve rarely seen Velocettes displayed there, much less the club. Why aren’t we a regular fixture? Previous chairman John Ray confirmed he held court a few years ago, but it was a lot of hard work and did not bear fruit for the club. Fair enough. I thought perhaps the Quail Hunters are more interested in the obvious classics: vintage Harleys, Indians, early 1900s bikes, Italian and BMWs tend to be very popular. Don’t get me wrong, British motorcycles are more than fairly represented, but Triumphs and Vincents are ten a penny at the Quail. Maybe it was time to celebrate Hall Green’s finest and have another go. Since the rally is in it’s 40th year, and no Velo required to attend, I thought it would be an opportunity to give the club some exposure and hopefully recruit some new members. I reached out to PDO, and through discussions with the Quail administration, we managed a 50% discount for an official club slot. The full rate is normally $1500! We both decided to further sweeten the deal by contributing a third of the rate each, thus reducing the club’s financial commitment to only $250! Anything to keep the treasurer happy. 

Peter Schildhausse moping oil from the grass & Arnaud Goethals erecting our new tent. © JP Defaut

I recruited a couple of members, Arnaud Goethals and Peter Schildhausse to fill the wagon and help set up at dawn. As for hard work, JR wasn’t kidding, but we enjoyed every second. Relieved of their Royal duties, Arnaud and Peter were first class VOCNA ambassadors and talked a good talk to all who came and admired the goods on display. We had my ‘55 MAC (previously Mick Felder's), my KSS racer (previously John Ray's) and the cherry on the cake was PDO’s 1929 KTT. All 3 machines were a huge crowd puller and talking point.

The 3 stooges: '47 KSS racer, '29 KTT and '55 MAC holding court. © JP Defaut
Unsuspecting VOCNA prospect dreaming of an oil stained garage... © JP Defaut

We sold some vintage VOCNA t shirts ($100 for the club), gave away FTWs, pins and stickers to keep the swag hunters happy. I also displayed some pieces from my archive, namely some framed classic motorcycle posters, books and various bits and pieces, PDO even bought my 70’s racer jacket.

Handsome clothes horse! For bookings please contact: ©JP Defaut

The Quail crew were most impressed, and complemented us on bringing “ART” to the Quail! Perhaps they’ll have us back next year. We were parked along side the Norton Club. A great bunch of chaps who were very keen on both our 1000 mile rally and the Melo Velo ride in October. There may be a collaboration in the future…

"Get your VOCNA merch here! © JP Defaut

The learning from all the interest and conversations we had at the Quail is that people want events and rides. This year’s rally might be a tall order for some, including some of our existing members, but we can put on more rides throughout the year. Day rides or overnight/weekenders are very easy to organize, and would bring new members to the club. If they get the welcome I received when I joined the club, the bug may bite and Velocettes will be exchanged for silver, extending the VOCNA family. At this stage, I believe we’ve had 9 new sign ups since the Quail. Additionally, Cory Padula our President in British Columbia flew the VOCNA flag in Canada at a vintage motorcycle event and generated much interest also. A small and steady start. Just think if we all do our bit… 

As for Charles, his mum left quite a legacy and the bar is high. Motorcycles are scarce these days in the royal household. His boys were ardent Triumph motorcyclists, before becoming parents. But good luck Chuck, you’ll need every drop. For now though, fuck history. Motorcycles for the win. 

See you all at the rally…. 🏍💨💨💨

VOCNA/Quail after party at Clint Eastwood's ranch.

Jean-Philippe Defaut