(Our home away from home)
Many years ago, 1980 to be exact, in the time of the original Abbot Motorcycle Club. One member, Jon Kanaar, went on a pilgrimage across Europe to take his Moto Guzzi back to it's birthplace in Italy. On route he took time to attend a moto concentration (motorcycle rally) being held, by the local moto club, Moto Club Mithra, in the Gorge de l'Ardeche, just outside a little town in the south of France called Bourg St. Andeol.
From what he can remember a good time was had by all. So he continued on his pilgrimage into Italy, to Mandello del Lario. Unfortunately his reception at the Moto Guzzi factory turned out to be less than welcoming. Nobody seemed very interested in a lone Englishman who had ridden across Europe to see the factory.
Crestfallen he wandered. Eventually finding himself back in Bourg St. Andeol, where he fell in with some members of the local moto club who recognised him from the concentration. They took him into their home, fed him, showed him the sights, got him drunk and refused to let him pay for anything.
On leaving, when he finally managed to get out of the bar, Jon left a note of thanks with his name and address and a donation to their welfare fund. One member of the group, Denis Pont, kept in touch.
In 1981 Denis, his girlfriend, Paco and some other friends came to England. To the one and only Abbot Rally, The Kite Rally, and for a week of sightseeing.
Over the next three years Jon, accompanied by one or two other friends, returned to l'Ardeche. Then in 1985 Denis and Paco returned to England. Threats were made, "If my friends, especially Jon, Tubbs and Willy, from England don't come to our concentration in France next year there will be trouble."
And so in October 1986 Jon, Willy, Glob, Mark and myself (Tubbs) headed south. We had a terrific two weeks with to many adventures to mention here, but safe to say we made many new friends, ate, drank and made merry.
In the years since then groups of varying size and shape have made the trip south. All returning with tails of great riding, beautiful scenery, over eating, over drinking, but most of all great friendship.
The last two trips south (1997 & 1998) saw Jon and Tubbs joined by some new members, Anna, Jane, Veg, Jut and Andy, who had only heard stories before. Now they're converted too. Both trips took in other parts of France as well, from the Camargue, to the high Alps around Mont Blanc and Val d'Isere, all of which are stunning. But it's to l'Ardeche that we seem to return year after year.
© Copyright Abbot MCC 2006.