Finding characters at the Guzzi rally

Buena Vista, Virginia

Frank rolled in a little late Thursday evening, and started to set up his tent in our “neighborhood.” I could tell right away, Frank was someone I wanted to talk with.


At age 75, Frank rode from his home in the other Buena Vista—Buena Vista, Colorado—to the rally, riding through Kansas with the  temperature at 107 degrees. Even the youngest of riders hesitate in those kind of temperatures. But, here was Frank, safely arrived, telling stories and setting up his tent in the twilight of evening.

The next morning, I grabbed Frank’s attention and invited him to our table. The others didn’t seem interested in our conversation, preferring chats about horsepower and legendary rides, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Frank’s legendary stories.

He bought his first Moto Guzzi in 1967. “That’s when they came out with this new V-twin engine sitting sideways. I thought it interesting and took a chance on it. I’ve been riding Guzzis ever since.” An engineer, he decided that first Guzzi needed better carburetors and fitted a pair of carbs off a Honda 450. After years of working at various institutions, including M.I.T., he retired from Boeing, and eventually settled in Buena Vista, Colorado—a place I have been to many times, including four rafting trips down the Arkansas River.

Frank said he rides about 20,000 miles a year and attends several rallies. But, he never wins the “oldest rider” award. He says there’s always someone local who rolls their Motto Guzzi out of the moth balls to ride to the rally, a couple of miles away, and win the oldest rider award. “We ought to have some kind of formula taking age and miles into consideration.” Sooner or later, I think Frank is going to win.

Out of 316 attendees at the Guzzi rally, why did I choose to write about Frank? Well, he was interesting. And, maybe it’s my own age that notices younger men and women tend not to pay attention to seniors—in Frank’s case, dismissing him as an old man on a motorcycle. But, under that façade is a lifetime of experience. Having conducted dozens of interviews with seniors—many of them WWII Veterans—I have found some fascinating stories. Frank was a joy to meet and talk with, and I hope to meet up with him again. Maybe at another Guzzi rally? Maybe in Colorado.

Coming up next: an interview with Melissa Holbrook Pierson, author of The Perfect Vehicle and the Man Who Would Stop at Nothing.


3 Replies to “Finding characters at the Guzzi rally”

  1. Your eyes and ears are antennas and magnets for natural resources like Frank. That in itself is a gift. Thanks again for being there to help expose and celebrate the human condition.

  2. Nice story, Brent. A most impressive man is Frank. At the age of 75, being willing to camp with all of the setting up and taking down that requires at the end of a long day in the saddle brings new meaning to the word “resilience”. I’m 74 years old, and a 300 mile day with an air conditioned motel room at the end of it is about all I’m willing to manage. 100 degree days? Forget it!

  3. I like looking at Frank. I love the beauty of his face. He’d never be “Just another old man” at my campfire.
    Gosh, you find the good ones to interview. Thank you for introducing me to this man.
    You’ve a good eye and ear for such interviews.

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