More than 200 motorcycle enthusiasts with a British bent pulled into Nelson over the weekend to cruise area highways and strengthen bonds of friendship.
The tenth annual RAT Raid brought together Triumph motorcycle owners from across British Columbia, the Canadian West and the Pacific Northwest.
“This is more than just motorcycles, we’re all buddies,” said Oakesdale, Washington Triumph owner Bill Auvil, or “Wild Bill” as those gathered around him Sunday morning referred to him.
Auvil is one of seven riders at this year’s event that has been to all 10 Nelson-hosted events. Though official attendance is not kept, Auvil figured the weekend RAT (Riders Association of Triumph) Raid was the largest to date.
“It’s not about the highways for me personally,” said Auvil. “This is a social event. I come here to have a good time and you meet the best people here.”
The RAT Raid is one of two major events on Triumph owner’s calendars in this part of North America. The other takes place in September in Baker City, Oregon.
Though the veteran Triumph owner is more into cementing more memories, one of the rookie riders in this year’s event couldn’t say enough about the terrain.
“These are easily the best roads in British Columbia,” said 19-year-old Ben Lawton, who brought his 2008 Bonneville T100 to Nelson from North Vancouver.
Lawton won the youngest rider award at Saturday night’s banquet at the New Grand Hotel. He figures it will be a title he will hold onto for a few years since most of his friends are not into the classic look and classic feel of Triumph.
The Triumph brand stretches back to 1885 and today the British manufacturer blends old and new with an array of models that have a huge and loyal following.
“It’s the only motorcycle that has any soul left,” said Auvil.
The newest brand-disciple agrees.
“The vintage look and heritage behind it are important,” said Lawton. “All Triumph owners are Triumph owners… it’s a pretty cool crowd to be around.”
After spending the weekend cruising the highways around Nelson — the most popular route being the road to Kaslo, across to New Denver and down the Slocan Valley — most riders packed up Sunday morning and hit the highway home on their cherished rides.