A WEEKEND GATHERING FOR BRITISH MOTORCYCLE ENTHUSIASTS
Every August near Toronto, Ohio, a large group of diehard British motorcycle owners get together for three days of fun at Cable’s Creek Campgrounds. The Ohio Valley BSA Owners Club Annual Rally is an AMA-sanctioned event that is as much about community and family as it is about the bikes. Preserving these old British machines may be the foundation, but what truly keeps attendees coming back are the friendships developed from this passion. Just a quick walk around the campground and you will feel this sense of camaraderie.
Alexa and I met up with Bud Kubena at this year’s rally. He is currently the vice president of the club but had previously served as the president for ten years. There’s no better way to highlight the family-oriented mood of the gathering better than Bud’s family. They all live for motorcycles, both riding and helping out over the course of the weekend. He showed us around, introducing us to the many friendly faces while discussing the activities and history of the club.
Everything got started in the late summer of 1982, when Clark Francy and Paul Atkinson established a British bike meet. For the next month, they printed some flyers and spread the word, which brought a total of thirty-five riders to their first rally in October of that year. With help from an article in a national motorcycle magazine, the second event drew nearly 150 attendees, and the number continued to increase over time. This grew to an average of approximately 800 riders annually and around 4,500 total registered members throughout the years.
Bud broke down the schedule for us, addressing the different organized rides that occur over the three days on the country back roads that surround the campground. This consists of breakfast and dinner runs, a vintage reliability run, guided road tours, and even a ride specifically for small bore models.
During the weekend, you’re likely to see quite an assortment of vintage BSAs, Triumphs, Nortons, Vincents, and other rare models from people all over the United States and Canada. For example, U.S. Hill Climb Champion Earl Bowlby is an honorary member and has attended the last six events. One rider, nicknamed Metal Flake Herb for obvious reasons, travels annually from Florida, trailering his vintage motorcycle on the back of another motorcycle. Even more notable is that he’s over eighty years old.
One of the most exciting elements are the trails competitions that take place along the creek. There’s eight trials sections, with four lines of difficulty on each. Bud explained, “The idea of trials is to ride over or through obstacles and never put your feet on the ground. If you touch the ground, you get a point. Points are counted one, two, three, and five being the maximum. The goal is to finish with the lowest number of points.”
You can learn more by searching the event online or visiting their website. There’s a full schedule showing a more detailed list of activities, including the swap meets, live music, parts auctions, and vintage bike show. Thirty-seven years is an impressive number for any occasion, but what makes the BSA Rally so special is the dedicated, passionate group that have helped it continue for decades.