The Allegheny Road Run
When you hear the name “Antique Motorcycle Club of America,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For most of us, the AMCA brings up images of swap meets filled with old motorcycle parts being sold by guys with even older beards. Unless you are a member, what you probably don’t realize is that the best-kept secret isn’t the swap meets, but the half dozen road runs the AMCA puts on each year across the US. These three-day events are always a great time, whether you come for the scenic roads, the camaraderie, or just the challenge of riding 1,000 miles on a vintage motorcycle in the span of a week. This year, I rode my ’64 for panhead up to Ligonier, PA, for the Allegheny Mountain Chapter of the AMCA’s National Road Run. As is always the case with old motorcycles, it was a bit more of an adventure than I expected.
Ligonier is about 50 miles southeast of Pittsburg, which is pretty convenient if you live in Pennsylvania, but not so much if you live in North Carolina. My ride was just over 400 miles, and of course, as soon as I was 20 miles away from home, it started raining. It wasn’t heavy rain, but the kind where you are continually wiping your glasses with the back of your glove and trying to avoid the spray from trucks as you squint at the lines on the road. As I pulled into the event “hotel” ready for some dry clothes and a hot meal, I quickly realized this was not your typical accommodations. Sure, the parking lot was filled with trucks, trailers, and hundreds of old motorcycles, but something was just a little bit off. First off, there were way too many paintings of Jesus hanging around the place. I don’t mean the typical long-haired American Jesus either, but those unsettling medieval drawings where the faces aren’t quite right, and you feel guilty every time you look at one for too long. It turns out this was the Eastern Orthodox Christian conference and retreat center for the US, complete with a chapel, biblical library, and even a summer camp out in the woods, so packing about two hundred old bikers into the place was probably a first for them.
After checking in, I headed to my room to change, and to my disappointment, instead of TV, there was a painting of Mary holding an 8 pound 6-ounce newborn infant Jesus eyeing me from across the room. They did have free wifi, but I felt like I was back in Catholic school hiding from the nun’s every time I logged into Instagram. Luckily, my buddies, Tim and Steve, showed up before too long, and that gave me an excuse to get back outside. After unloading their bikes, we headed downstairs to the dining hall for the welcome banquet. I was a little worried about what they might be serving for dinner, and the thoughts of robed men passing around baskets of loaves and fishes were definitely going through my mind as we walked in, but it turned out to be a somewhat more modern meal. I did make sure to try all three deserts before we were released back out into the parking lot. A couple of guys had brought along guitars, so we had live music to go along cold beers and last minute clutch adjustments.