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  • Bob LoCicero

The Long Farewell - The story of the Bennington Triumph Bash

Updated: May 23, 2019

A grassroots motorcycle rally grows in Bennington Vermont

Robin - Bonnie Girl - Andrews
Robin - Bonnie Girl - Andrews

The Bennington Triumph Bash is the longest running farewell party on record. The party is now four years old and growing.

It all started when Robin "Bonnie Girl" Andrews, a Bonneville rider and owner of the South Street Café in Bennington Vermont, fell in love with fellow Triumph enthusiast, Paul Hoffman of Birmingham Alabama.

The two met online in the TriumphRAT forum. When Paul and Robin engaged to marry, she decided to move to Alabama to be with Paul.  Robin's riding buddies John, Mark Bock and Tito Sanabria - the "Rat Pack" - were sad to see her go and threw her a going-away party: The Bennington Bash.

Seventy people showed up. "We were smoking cigars and we had a keg. It was a real party," Tito said.

The party is now an annual event, the first weekend in June in Bennington Vermont. Organizers bill the party as, "a grassroots, independent annual rally for Triumph motorcycle owners, by Triumph motorcycle owners."

Connecticut Rocker
Connecticut Rocker

TruipmhRAT forum members organize the event. Tito handles PR and sponsorship; Robin manages the relationship with the town and Chamber of Commerce; Mark organizes the Saturday night awards dinner; Paula "Triumph Goddess" Doherty negotiates lodging discounts; and, Seth Kaplan and the Connecticut Rockers manage traffic control.

Their hope is to double this year's turn out of one-hundred riders and attract support from corporate Triumph.

The Bash begins on Friday afternoon with a meet-and-greet. This is reunion time. Old friends embrace, back slap and checkout bike-mods made over the winter. Newcomers are welcomed.

The bikes include cruisers, dual-sports, sport tourers, standards and sportbikes:  Rockets, Tigers, Daytonas, Speed Triples, Thruxtons and Bonnevilles.

The meet-and-greet is followed by a "parade-style" cross-state ride from Bennington to Curtis's BBQ in Putney VT.

This year, fifty-five bikes were in the procession. The Connecticut Rockers, dressed in 60's era British motorcycle garb roared through the line to block intersections, allowing the parade to pass.

At mid-ride, the group stops at the Hogback Mountain overlook in Wilmington VT. After the photo-op, the ride guns down to Putney for a dinner of ribs, pulled pork, corn bread and coleslaw.

Hogback Mountain Rest Stop
Hogback Mountain Rest Stop

Bennington Bennington is an ideal town for the Bash. The Paradise Inn, where most Bash-goers stay, is an easy walk to the Madison Brewery Company and Carmody's Irish Pub where the group mixes on Friday night. Madison's brews their beer on site. My favorites are the Rum Spiced Porter and Old 76 Strong Ale, a rich dark amber.

Saturday begins with breakfast at Full Bellies Deli, followed by another meet-and-greet at Hemmings Motor News, across the street from the Paradise Inn.

New faces show up at the morning meet-and-greet. This is a day for riding. There are five group rides to choose from including a 300-mile Adirondack tour, 100-mile leisurely loop and a full-on sportbike ride. Some form smaller groups to explore on their own.

For my ride, I chose the sportbike ride: an enthusiastically paced  ride through the Vermont twisties.

Saturday night is the group dinner at Bennington Station. The menu offers a choice of Sirloin of Beef or Stuffed Haddock with vegetables, potato and dessert.

Every attendee at the group dinner gets a Twisted Throttle prize bag and a door prize. Gloves, motorcycle covers, heated liners, and tools are some of the prizes donated by sponsors.

The Bash is good for Bennington businesses. Bash-goers rent rooms and buy meals and drinks.

The local business people are appreciative. The owner of the Paradise Inn used his pickup to transport door prizes from the Inn to Bennington Station for the awards dinner. "Phillip has been very helpful to us," said Tito.

To thank the community for their support, the Bash selects a charity each year and donates proceeds from a 50/50 raffle. This year, the donation went to the Red Cross Vermont Flood Relief Fund.

If you missed this year's Bash, you can join in next year. The 2012 Bennington Bash is June 1-3. The party is not over. I expect it never will be.

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