Saturday, October 25, 2014

2014 Pewter Run

The first Sunday in Oct. was the USCRA Pewter Run, a road rally for bikes nominally pre 1950, this year in a new location: Northfield, Ma.  I say nominally because recently a 1950-60 class was added, which my '53 Airone ran in, though I always thought it qualified as 'like design', Airones being substantially the same from 1947, when they went to an aluminum head with enclosed valve gear, to 1957, the last year they were made.  The day before, I hiked around the woods on some land I own with my siblings in W. Wardsboro, Vt. in the pouring rain, then stayed with some friends in Dummerston, Vt.  They told me about a bike shop in Brattleboro, Vintage Steele, and I stopped there on my way to Northfield.  Josh Steele does some interesting customs, mostly with Japanese bikes of the '80s, but has a very wide spectrum of bikes.
A couple of Moto Guzzi Airones, my '53 in the backround and Mike Peavey's ? in the foreground.
When I showed him the Airone and Zigolo in my van, the fuel tank on the Zigolo rang a bell with him.  After rummaging through a vast number of photos on his phone, he finally found the picture of the Stornello hulk at his house.  One of his friends had informed Josh of the Pewter Run that morning, but he couldn't get away as he was too busy.
The route ran north on the west side of the Connecticut River into Vermont and I realized it ran very close to Steele's shop, so I made a slight diversion to let him know that he could just go a couple of blocks to see the bikes go by.  In Brattleboro, the route crossed the Ct. River and ran south on the east side through Northfield proper, then west back over the river and a short ways north to the start point.  We're supposed to average quite a slow speed (24mph?), but I didn't pay any attention to that and just enjoyed a pleasant ride at an interesting pace and parked up just outside the finish area and smoozed with people until it was my time to clock in.  When the time got close, I suited up and ran through the finish and, but absolute dumb luck, clocked in right on the second, thereby 'winning' my class.  Not that we weren't all winners having a great ride on a gorgeous fall day on some beautiful roads with like minded friends.
I brought my Zigolo along to show Mitch Frazier, who had done some work on it and returned it to me the week before at the Moto Giro.  He thought he had fixed it, but when I had ridden it a couple of days before, it wouldn't start after I turned it off.  I pulled it out of my van and it started immediately and ran fine as we took turns around a field and up and down the road.  But, when I shut it off, it wouldn't start again, despite the fact that it had spark.  After sitting through lunch and awards (maybe an hour and a quarter), it started up.  The mystery continues.
Mark Turkingtons 1914 BSA
Tony Lockwood's 1913 Moto Sacoche 2C7 V-twin.  Tony and his bike won the oldest combined age prize again: 177years I believe.
A '51 plunger frame Norton International
Rich Hosely's '54 featherbed frame Norton International with an Indian four and Matchless G-80 behind it.
a NSU single
A Brace of Brough Superiors, above a OHV SS100 and below Mark Gibson's sidevalve SV680
Carlos Escudero's '28 Indian Scout.
The line up
Capping off a near perfect day, I bought a '68 TC 200 Suzuki on my way home in Bayside, Queens.  I happened to see the bike on Ebay and had looked at it earlier in the week and ridden it around the block.  The odometer says it has 226 miles on it.  I ended up being high bidder, though I didn't make reserve.  The owner and I then split the difference.  I can't help myself.

Monday, September 29, 2014

2014 Fall Moto Giro

My art director, Bill Burke, arranged this portrait.  Bill Burke photo
This past weekend I went to the USCRA's Fall Giro, based in Tannersville, Pa. in the Poconos.  I ran my '53 Moto Guzzi Airone Sport which, once again, seemed to be the oldest bike in the event.  My friend Laurence Deguillme came with me an rode a Honda CA77 Dream.
We had a spot of bother getting there when my van died 11 miles short of the Delaware Water Gap in N.J.  It seemed like the same symptoms as 5 days and 235 miles before when the van fuel pump failed on the way back from NJMP.  We had the van towed to a service station in Bartonville, Pa., the town next to Tannersville and my brother and sister-in-law came and picked us up.
Sat. morning after the rider's meeting, I rode to the service station to meet the proprietor and explained the history of the van and get them started.  I got back to HQ a little after my start time and started incurring penalty points.  It was a beautiful day and combined quite brilliant fall colors with warm temperatures and a clear sky.  What's not to like?  We had a very good ride to the first check point where I called the service station and found that the fuel pump hadn't died this time, but a hose was kinked which presumable cause the pressure to rise and blow off another hose in the tank.  They were replacing the kinked hose and putting the other hose back on and should have it done before they closed at 1p.
Lunch stop was back at the base hotel and, after checking in and running the agility test, I rode the 6.5 miles down to the service station, loaded the bike in the van and headed back to the hotel to start the afternoon section.  However, I only got a couple of miles when the van died again.  I called the service station back and luckily they hadn't left yet.  The sent a flat bed and towed it back to the shop where the pulled the gas tank out again and found the hose had blown off again.  This time they clamped the press fit hose on, but said they couldn't guarantee it.
All this meant the I didn't ride the afternoon section.  Laurence had bike trouble almost immediately in the morning section and returned to the hotel  He got it fixed enough that he was able to do the afternoon section so, between the two of us, we got the whole day's ride in.
Triumph Cub
Sunday proved to be even warmer (in the 80's), but it seemed like it took longer to warm up.  We had a very good route in the morning, although we took a wrong turn and added 14 miles to the 83 mile morning section.  This mistake was on a really nice road, at least.  I found the afternoon section a bit tedious as in was mostly on State Highways with a lot of traffic and little opportunity for passing.  But, apparently this was because the route had to be changed at the last minute because of police activity in the manhunt for the accuse cop killer.  The Airone didn't miss a beat over the event, though it did spew quite a lot of oil.  Laurence's Ca77 however died again and he came in on the 'sag wagon'.  We loaded  up and headed home with our fingers crossed, but the hose clamp fix seemed to work and we made it back no problem.
Sunday morning pit stop with Bill Burke's NSU Max Special and my Moto Guzzi Airone Sport and Scott Rikert on the right.
Another view of the pit stop with Gino's Cl175 Sloper and Scott's 250 Jawa California
A Yetman CB77, a pretty rare item
A Puch Twingle
John Cooper's trick 250 Motobi with Ceriani road race forks and a 210mm Fontana 4LS front brake
This was the overall winners mount.  Each year he comes with a different tank badge.  It's been Matchless and Ariel, and this year it was Puch.
A 250 Benelli Barracuda 
A mid '60s Moto Morini 150
A beautiful 98cc Gilera

Thursday, September 25, 2014

NJMP Lightning


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2014 Quebec GP

5 September, I drove up to Autodrome St. Eustache just west  of Montreal to once again race the '72 TR3 Yamaha of Len Fitch.  Len brought his stable of three solos and a sidecar to sponsor a bunch of us.  Showers started in the afternoon, so the 1/8 mile drag races were canceled Fri. night.  As promised, we awoke Sat. morning to rain.  I don't recall ever riding the St. Eustache road race course in the wet and I spent the two practice session feeling out the traction.  It seemed quite rideable to me and I was surprised by the number of riders who elected not to ride in the Saturday heat races.  Sunday was forecast to be fine, but still, why pass up another chance to crash one's bike?
My first 8 lap heat was for the Period 2 Heavyweight/Middleweight Production race.  I motored past early leader Bill Quail on his SR 500 Yamaha on the back straight and led over all.  On the 3rd or 4th lap, I had quite a slide out of the last corner and that cooled my jets a good deal.  On the last lap, Brian Henderson came by on his CB 500 Honda.  I motored by him on the back straight, but Brian rode around the outside in the last corner and took the overall win with me 2nd O.A. and 1st P2 HW.  Brian rode really well, especially considering that he had started from the pit lane having arrived late for the warmup lap.
Brian Henderson's CB 500 Honda
By the time of my second heat, the 2nd to last race of the day, it had stopped raining a the track had largely dried, though there were still puddles around.  This was the GP race for factory built two stroke race bikes.  It's divided into Modern GP Lightweight (125) and Middleweight (250) and Vintage GP, up to 1989 Lightweight (125 watercooled & 250 aircooled), Middleweight (350), and Heavyweight (351 and above).  Eddy Burnett on his 2002 Honda RS 250 disappeared.  I motored by the modern 125 on the first lap but a couple of laps into it, Paul Gagnon on his '89 RS 125 Honda came by and that's how we finished, the first three winning their respective classes.
Sat. eve, Joe Bar Team, local Quebecois racers and friends, provided food, beer and musical entertainment while the stock car races went on on the oval, which the road race course uses part of.
Sunday was a beautiful day.  The TR3 wouldn't start for the first practice.  Apparently, the fuel tap leaks and the crankcases loaded up with gas over night.  By the time we got it cleared out and new spark plugs installed, we missed the practice session.  I made a point of being first out for the second round of practice and had a good session.
Pregrid for the P2 HW/MW Prod with Bill Quail #711 on my left and Brian Henderson #93 behind me.  Michel Martin Photo

In the P2 HW/MW Prod final, I got a great start and led flag to flag and turned the fastest lap of the race.
Leading in Turn #1 with #560 Peter Hurst Rickman Triumph and #95 Brad Monk XS 650/750 Yamaha following. Michel Martin Photo

The 10 lap GP final was the last race of the day.  Again, Eddy Burnett disappeared.  Chris Hurst, who didn't run the heat race, came by on his Nikko Baker framed TZ 350 Yamaha.  Then, Patrick Gagnon on his RS 125 came by pursuing Chris.  On the penultimate lap, Chris' TZ died and on the last lap, Eddy Burnett lapped me and Patrick, i.e. the whole field.  Eddy is a superb ride with a very fast bike.  His fastest lap was just over 7 seconds faster than my fastest, this with a lap time of under 50 seconds.  I'm not used to getting lapped in a race where I win my class.
Eddy Burnett changing the tires on his 2002 Rs 250 Honda.
Tucking in on Len Fitch's 1972 TR3 Yamaha.  Michel Martin Photo
I love this Michel Martin Photo of the last turn with the sparks coming off the washers that I 'Shoe-Goo' onto my boots.
Some bike one doesn't see too ofter at the races:
A Ural sidecar outfit
A Honda NS 400R three cylinder 2 stroke
A nice original 250 Bultaco Metrella

Another fun and successful weekend in Quebec.  My thanks to Len for letting me ride his well fettled, fast TR3.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bonneville Vintage GP


I had three races in a row later in the day.  Race #8 was my 'bump-up' race of 500 Premiere; race #9 was the Class C foot shift race for the Velo, and race #10 the 350GP.  The six entries in the 500 Premiere Class were gridded in front of the 500GP class in the first wave, with Sportsman 750, Heavyweight novice Production and Sound of Singles 3 in the second wave.  In addition to Walt and myself, were two Minovation Seeley G-50s fetteled by NYC Norton with class point leader Helmi Niederer on one and his friend and mentor Lee Acree on the other.  Lee was a top AMA pro in the late '90s and '00s and is an instructor at the Kevin Schwantz School, which is where he and Helmi met.  This was Lee's first race on a vintage bike.  Ron Melton was on a 500 Manx Norton and Jeff Elings was on a light weight G-50 Matchless.  Ron got the holeshot from the front row with Lee getting to Turn #1 from the second row in front of me.  Lee made a pass on Ron before the end of the first lap and I started dogging Ron.  Ron's bike seemed to be all over the place and, on the third lap, we made contact as I went around him on the outside.  Once I got by him, I'm told that Ron dropped back quickly, clearly dealing with a problem.  Lee pulled steadily ahead and I finished a distant 2nd.  Walt had stopped on the side of the track with a broken shift linkage.  At the end of the cool off lap, I had trouble down shifting, and I mentioned this to Mike as I asked him to check the tire pressures and we moved the transponder to the Velo.