MC Dispatch
Reader-submitted rides, reviews and stories

Nevada Desert Ride

Hey, y'all,

Recently back from the Mountaineers MC 2012 Octoberfest desert ride in Nevada, this year about 40 miles Northwest of Lovelock, Nev., at an old mining site called Placeritas. And I gotta tell ya, I'm very glad to be back and very eager to forget the whole damn thing!

We had to drive about 26 miles of pretty good to pretty bumpy gravel road starting maybe 15 miles out of Lovelock. The smooth parts kind of lulled us into complacency, and Ray drove the motorhome fairly fast the whole 26 miles. When we got to camp, just at dark, we were startled and dismayed to find the right tire on the motorcycle trailer was blown and shredded; the three-leaf spring had broken clean through in front of the axle, and my poor little Honda was gone!

All that had occurred somewhere in that 26 miles and we had no idea where the hell my bike was. We had to quickly disconnect the trailer and drive the motorhome back about 5 miles before we found it in the middle of the road, where it had fallen at maybe 25 or 30mph. Even badly beat-up, that faithful, ol' Honda started when I tried it and then I had to ride it back to camp, badly-bent bars and all.

Bent-up honda 

Notice the back directional signal is gone, and the handlebars, license plate, and footpeg are badly bent. What you can't see are the broken headlight lens, front directional signal lens, and front brake lever.

I managed to bend the bars back enough in camp to be able to ride it the next 3 days, and I'm not sure that was the smartest thing I've ever done because the riding was a true bitch: rough, hot and dusty as hell, and we seemed to be continually lost and not able to find anything we were looking for. 

 Nevada ride 2 

This is a panoramic shot of our camp taken after a number of guys had left. The camp is on the center right, and a motorhome leaving, is kicking up a dust plume at the center left. That road, the last mile or so into camp, is the next picture ...

Nevada 3 

This is an example of what all-too-much of our riding was: talcum powder-fine dust maybe 4"-to-6" deep that provided little traction for steering but just enough, if you hit it wrong, to kick the front wheel out of your control and then, FLOP, down you'd go. Notice the disrupted area in the foreground of this shot; that's where one of our riders crashed coming back into camp. And I flopped in the same kind of stuff the day before and miles from camp and broke the clutch lever; I had to pull the just-replaced front brake lever off to use for the clutch, and then ride — carefully — without a front brake. And you can imagine the dust this stuff kicks up when a guy rides into it, on the gas, trying to power his way through it.

Nevada 4 

This, I'll admit, is the compensating positive of this desert ride: the great scenery without anything like a crowd to deal with. That's our old Scoutmaster, Frank Dickinson, staring back at you.

Nevada 5 

This is the completely appropriate shot to end this story: A gravesite. I want to bury the memory of this 'Fest just as finally and fully as these people were laid to rest. Notice, though, the site is given as "Barrel Springs"; trouble is, we thought we were at the site of Scossa, which is actually about 7 or 8 miles away. A good example of how turned-around we got out there, which is not good in the varied desert, with a hundred trails leading who-the-hell-knows-where, small dirt-bike gas tanks with limited range, and my GPS proving to be only marginally effective for a number of reasons.

Sights From the Humboldt Bay Classic Motorcycle Show

Contrary to popular belief, Northern California does not end at San Francisco. The roads into and out of Humboldt County, about five hours north of San Francisco, are lined with redwood trees and ocean, and the Humboldt Bay Classic motorcycle show, sponsored by North Coast Cycle of Eureka, Calif., takes pride in being the only vintage motorcycle show of its type in more than a 250-mile radius.

Humboldt Bay Classic 1
A 1950 BMW R25 with sidecar at the Humboldt Bay Classic motorcycle show, owned by Becky Fisher of Blue Lake, Calif. 

Held in the autumn each year — taking advantage of Humboldt County's best weather — the show pays homage to bikes of all makes, built in 1985-and-earlier. Some gems from the third annual event included a 1943 BMW R75 with sidecar owned by Stefan Fisher of Blue Lake, Calif., and Bruce Braly of Eureka's 1968 Yamaha DT1 and 1978 Yamaha XT500. Peter Dubaldi of Eureka took home gold medals for his 1981 Husqvarna 250XC and 1979 SWM RS250GS TF1, the latter of which also picked up the Promotor's Choice award. A 1966 Triton, owned by Karl Sperling of Arcata, Calif, took a gold medal in the Chopper/Bobber/Custom category. The Triton, built by North Coast Cycle, also took Best Cafe Racer at the 2012 Clubman's All-British Motorcycle Show in San Jose, Calif.

Humboldt Bay Classic 3
1968 Yamaha DT1, owned by Bruce Braly of Eureka, Calif.

Humboldt Bay Classic 2
Judges mull over Peter Dubaldi's 1979 SWM RS250GS TF1, which won a gold medal in the Dirt Racer category, and took the Promotor's Choice ribbon. 

Bikes shown in the Humboldt Bay Classic are judged based on their own merits — for example: originality, quality of workmanship, rideability — as opposed to being judged against each other. As a result, a single category may have multiple gold medals, or none at all.

Humboldt Bay Classic 6
This 1966 Triton, owned by Karl Sperling of Arcata, Calif. took home a gold medal. 

Set right on the picturesque Humboldt Bay and surrounded by historic Woodley Island Marina, the 2012 Classic drew fans of vintage motorcycles, good music, and delicious local microbrews. Proceeds from this year's event benefited North Star Quest Camp, a non-profit summer camp for middle school-aged girls.

Aside from motorcycle-only swap booths, local food vendors, and microbrews from Lost Coast Brewery, Six Rivers Brewery and Mad River Brewing Company, the Humboldt Bay Classic offered live music from local bands Gunsafe and Slingshot, and music of all genres by DJ Gabe Pressure.

The Humboldt Bay Classic will return in September of 2013 with more show bikes, music, vendors and entertainment.

Photos by Debbie Topping and Greg O'Leary.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012

Some things go well together. Spaghetti and meatballs. Spoked wheels and trailbikes. Early mornings and coffee. Some things do not go well together. Like Ducati concours events and rain. I was pondering this as I listened to the storm outside give no signs of abating anytime soon, and drifted off to sleep, set on the idea of there not being a big turnout at the 2012 New South Wales Ducati Club Concours event the next day. My fears will ill-founded though; the sun beckoning me out to spend a morning amongst the singles, desmos, the bevels and the belt drives.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

Daylight savings always throws me out. I can never adjust to waking up earlier, but the thought of good Italian coffee spurns me on. Along the way I come across a Honda CB750/4 and a Kawasaki Z900, I ask the owners if they are heading to the Ducati day, but they tell me they are headed elsewhere. Which gives me an idea. But that’s a story for another time. Continuing on, cursing my own stubbornness when it comes to buying a GPS and using a 1997 UBD, I make it to Silverwater Park.

Started 35 years ago, today the Ducati Owners Club of New South Wales is 400 members strong. This Australian Ducati concours event is run annually, with all profits made going to the Royal Rehabilitation Hospital at Ryde. This is sort of fitting, as I have no doubt that the hospital has had to care for a few motorcyclists during it’s time. This year has been a bit more of a challenge in planning than usual, with a change in venue and the unfortunate passing of the stalwart planner of the concours event, Steve Chew. For all the changes though, just looking around it looks like everything is running nicely. The day has only just begun, but even just these earlybird bikes scattered across the oval would be enough to write an article on. I fall into conversation with Michael Berry, a Ducati specialist from the Desmo Clinic in Ryde. His military green 1979 GTS900 catches my eye, and he is more than happy to share the specs of this unique machine.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

This olive green thoroughbred is motivated by a blueprinted, crank-balanced powerplant, with 2mm overdrive desmo heads. 88mm Hi-comp pistons are fed by Keihin 39mm flatslide carbs. Four pots up front make sure this bike stops as well as it goes forward. I am struck by how open and friendly these Ducatisti are with their machines. If I owned bikes as beautiful as this, I would be scared to bring them to a show where people could get this close.

I move on, dodging Ducati club members waving hammers, who I assume are still setting up for the day. Bikes start to arrive in larger numbers now, the unmistakeable sound of ducati horsepower fills the air as riders filter through the already parked bikes. I get lost in the little touches that these bikes have been blessed with, little details that show attention has been given to these machines, both aesthetically and in an engineering capacity. For instance, look at the horns on any 1960s/70s Ducati. They are just plain pretty. I move from bike to bike, taking numerous pictures of each, never getting bored, always noticing different aspects to admire. The timeline of these these bikes ranges from the 1940s right through to today, with Fraser’s Motorcycles setting up a stand with a few of their new bikes on demo to paw at and sit on. Fraser’s and the NSW Ducati club have a rather good relationship, with Fraser’s sponsoring the club for different events over course of the year.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

The ‘other Italian makes’ section is filling fast as well. A Moto Guzzi half-truck contraption takes center stage in the display, a 350 single mounted in its tray. New and old MV Agustas park side by side, showing how far this company, as well as bike design, has come over the past 60 years. I see my dream Italian mount, an orange Laverda Jota 1000, with headlight fairing and 2-into-1 exhaust. Today just keeps getting better and better.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

The morning flies by. I take up position by the front gate to get personal time with the interesting bikes before they go in and are swamped by showgoers. An orange 450 Desmo single rolls in; I am in awe of its beauty. The owner even jumps off the bike for no reason than for me to get a good pic. Gosh these Ducati guys are too helpful. I check out the carpark, it is filled with bikes that should be in the show, being judged and most probably winning ribbons.

I have to duck out for a bit, and when I return it’s presentation time. The club president, Craig, hands a 5000 dollar cheque to the head doctor at the Rehabilitation Hospital, then it’s on to the awards. The coveted prize this year is the inaugural Steve Chew ‘People’s Choice’ award, which goes to an incredibly neat Ducati 748R. Even though I am generally a fan of older Ducatis, this one is amazingly clean, looking like it has never turned a wheel since leaving the factory.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

All in all, it’s been a good day. Ninety-seven bikes have turned up and entered in the show, it has been sunny, and the soundtrack is desmodromic. Ducatis are bikes built by passionate people for passionate riders to ride, or passionate people to admire. I think it was said best when Ian Fulsom said: “People don’t get Ducatis; then they see them.” Ducatis are completely beautiful, they are art.

Report from the New South Wales Ducati Owners Club Concours 2012 

I would like to thank everyone in the New South Wales Ducati Club who took time out of their busy day to talk to me and answer my questions. 

The Laverda Whisky Run – Oldies on Tour

Bladnoch 16-year-old single malt Scotch whiskey 
The inspiration: Bladnoch Distillery 16-year-old single malt Scotch. 

It was the middle of probably the worst winter for years. I was sitting in front of a roaring open fire, the Laverda safely wrapped up warm in her garage, a glass of a suitable chilled Bordeaux Blanc in hand when I was jolted back to reality remembering an email I had received earlier in the day. 

It was from one of my oldest friends (yes, I do have more than one) and we go back nearly 50 years. He was suggesting a ride to Scotland in late May when the weather would be good. It was such a long way off that without hesitation I sent my reply in the affirmative.  

The ride was to visit Bladnoch Distillery, a tiny distillery in Wigtown, South West Scotland. My usual tipple is good wine and good ale. It seems that my old friend David Minton has acquired a taste for Lowland whiskies, in particular Bladnoch whisky. The initial plan was for me to meet David and four of his friends from Herefordshire at the Kendall services on the M6. I believe the combined age of the gathered oldies would have been in excess of 400 years, hence the sub title. 

Over the next four months, four of the six dropped out, leaving David on his 3CL and me on my RGS. So now it was a Laverda run. 

Bladnoch run, Laverdas resting 
The motivation: A fine pair of Laverdas, in 180- and 120-degree versions. 

Now that it was only the two of us, Dave suggested that on the return from Wigtown we call in to visit Cyril Ayton in Carlisle and his sister in Rookhope, Weardale. 

The end of May arrived all too quickly (something to do with getting old – time goes by so quickly), the weather was good and the RGS had been fettled. 

I left at 8 a.m. on a Monday morning to meet David at the agreed services on the M6 at 10:30 a.m. A quick chat was necessary as I had not seen Dave since Malvern the previous year. We rejoined the M6, but as soon as practical went onto the A6. This is a super, relatively unused road that swoops up and over Shap. Just before Shap village my gear linkage lost a bolt. A short stop, tools out and a suitable replacement nut and bolt fitted and we were on our way again through Penrith to Carlisle. Here we joined first the A74 then the A75 to Newton Stewart, where we turned onto the A714 to Wigtown, our destination. 

We booked into the Bladnoch Inn, and changed into civilian clothes for a tour of the Bladnoch Distillery. This was a most interesting hour or so spent in the capable hands of a pretty museum guide who enthused us with the intricacies of whisky distilling and the history of the distillery, followed of course by a tot of the special stuff.  

We returned to the hotel where we enjoyed a pint or two sat outside in the early evening sunshine, followed by a very satisfying meal. As we later sat in the bar, a guy popped in on his way home from his office, having seen the two Laverdas outside. He introduced himself as Robbie Murphie, who lived locally and had a Jota. His Jota is looked after by Keith Nairn, the Glasgow Laverda ace. It was Keith who had rebuilt my RGS earlier this year and I had mentioned to him our Scottish trip. Typical Keith, he had said “oh, I will pop down for a pint and a chat.”  

Bladnoch run, chatting at the pub 
Chatting at the pub (from left): David Davies, Robbie Murphie, Keith Nairn and David Minton. 

Robbie left and quite frankly we were both relaxed and probably ready for sleep. Not so; Robbie returned about an hour later and said he had telephoned Keith, who was now on his way down. What followed was a really great evening of mainly motorcycle chat, beer, and more chat such that Robbie sorted out a bed for Keith to rest his head. Thanks to our accommodating host we eventually retired after midnight. 

The following morning it was another fine day. At breakfast we were joined by Keith, and more chat before he was off back to Glasgow. There were Laverdas to be fettled. 

The previous evening when we were discussing our return journey, Robbie had advised us to avoid the A75 and take the A712 out of Newton Stewart through New Galloway to rejoin the A75 at Crocketford. 

What a fantastic road the A712 is, through beautiful scenery with dips, crests and curves. The 180 and 120 Laverdas were really on song. Both David and I agreed later that it was the best 50 miles or so we had traversed in a long time. Thanks, Robbie. 

We arrived in Carlisle at 12:30 p.m. to meet with Cyril Ayton, who was the editor of that illustrious monthly Motor Cycle Sport through the 1960s into the 1980s. David had been a regular contributor to MCS during that time. Cyril is now in his 80s, but still rides the three motorcycles in his garage. What an interesting guy to listen and talk to, so much information and history about motorcycles and motorcycling in his head. It is worth mentioning he even owned a Laverda at one time. We could easily have stayed longer, but after three hours or so we had to leave to continue our journey. 

Bladnoch run, resting  in Weardale 
The two Laverdas pause to rest near Weardale on the B6278. 

We left Carlisle on the A69 with the idea of branching south onto the A689 to Alston. However, we were enjoying the ride in spite of the traffic so eventually turned south at Hexham onto some super roads to Blanchland then to our destination at Rookhope. I must say that we found other traffic on the A69 in particular very courteous to our two Laverdas. One courtesy remembered was a trucker coming towards us who flashed his spotlights on his cab roof. A sign? There was a camera van parked in a lay-by just a couple of miles further on. Thank you to that trucker, surely a fellow motorcyclist. 

We arrived at Trish and Peters house about at about 5:30 p.m., again changed into civilian clothes and relaxed with a nice cup of tea (it was too early …). Peter had thankfully booked a table at a nearby hostelry to which we later adjourned for, apart from the food and the alcohol, more reminiscing. Another full and interesting day. 

Wednesday dawned overcast but dry, and following a delicious breakfast prepared by our hosts, David and I headed south to Middleton-in-Teesdale. Here we parted company, David heading towards Brough and the M6/A6 south to Herefordshire, and I heading towards Barnard Castle, Scotch Corner then south on the A1 to my home near Wakefield. The final part of my ride remained dry, but David encountered heavy rain through Cheshire. 

My ride finished about midday with the RGS parked again in her garage. I was buzzing when I went indoors; my dear wife and her daughter, who was staying with us, do not understand the pleasure we get from just riding motorcycles. Five hundred twenty miles, nearly three days, and 41 mpg. It had been a really great ride with a great friend, something I do not do enough of these days. 

Bladnoch run, David Davies' Laverda RGS 
David Davies' Laverda RGS looks as a Laverda should; ridden! 


Les Trois Musee de Saint Louis

Motorcycle Classics readers should be aware that, in addition to the well-known motorcycle museums like the incomparable Barber, Harley-Davidson and AMA, there is a trio of very thorough and highly interesting collections all conveniently located in the home city of the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. The museums are The Moto Museum, Classic Motorcycles Museum and Donelson Motorcycle Museum

There is a wide range of motorcycles on display in these three motorcycle museums, from rare lightweight German street bikes to the most complete collection of off-road competition bikes (trials, scrambles/motocross, ISDE and flat track) I have seen anywhere in the world. This is explainable when one realizes the knowledge and backgrounds of the museums’ curators. 

The Classic Motorcycles Museum 
There are many fine Husky's at the Classic Motorcycles Museum founded by the late, great Dave Mungenast. 

The late Dave Mungenast, founder of the Classic Motorcycle Museum, had a long career of ISDE rides in addition to being a card-carrying Hollywood film stunt rider.  

The Donelson Museum 
The Donelson Museum features many thundering, dirt-slinging flat-trackers. 

Carl Donelson is familiar to most off-road enthusiasts as the founder of the landmark Donelson Cycles and himself an accomplished rider.

The Moto Museum 
All der kinder can ride to kirche un der Moto Museum Böhmerland. 

An added attraction to the Moto Museum is that it’s adjacent to the Triumph grill. This upscale bistro/restaurant is entirely appointed in motorcycle-related décor by architect and owner Steve Smith, an accomplished competition motorcyclist and collector. You pass from museum into the restaurant, which then leads to a beautiful new dealership (Moto Europa) offering Ducati, KTM and Trumph motorcycles, and then into the stunningly modern Hotel Ignacio. This complex has to be seen to be believed. When traveling through the “Gateway City,” pop these museum names into your Garmin and follow the arrow to great motorcycle viewing.

Knock On Wood

Patrick Parziale's 1982 Honda CB900C 

Knock on wood…

One should always preface a story about a vintage motorcycle with this expression. For all the praise I plan to bestow, I want to protect myself from the superstitious jinx that could afflict my old Honda, which I refer to as Ole' Blue. And believe me, I've heard my share of horror stories where the guy brags endlessly about his dream "this" or "that" only to be left by a guardrail cursing the Lucas design or kicking an innocent stator cover. Fortunately, throughout this riding season I have racked up several thousands of reliable miles in a relatively short time, confirming my faith in the brand which revolutionized the motorcycle world in '69. My ride, a 1982 Honda CB900C, clocks something in excess of 32,000 miles. It's no mistake my CB is a close cousin to the original CB 750, which was recently named the motorcycle of the century. So with history rotating at 5,000 times a minute and pumping a 4 note tune, I hope I am able to entertain the imagination and inspire the likeminded, while striking a common chord amongst moto-enthusiasts.

Patrick Parziale's 1982 Honda CB900C 

 "What do you wanna do?"

"I dunno."

"Wanna go to Pittsburgh?"

"Ah … ok, sure."

Sometimes the best ideas have the shortest incubation period. And being that we were a little short on dough, my wife and I decided to save a little in fuel by taking the bike. From Charleston, W.Va., to Pittsburgh is something like four hours. Actually, it should take four hours. I did it in record time … seven and a half hours. Much to my wife's displeasure, what I thought on my Rand McNally would shave 50 miles, turned out to add more miles than my wife's posterior could manage. Yet, Ole' Blue didn't seem to mind; he piled on the miles with incredible ease. All the while my wife was questioning my sense of direction and doing what a wife does best in these situations … In any case, we made it to Pittsburgh in time to see the Blue Man Group perform and then grab a bite at the Hard Rock Café. After rounding off our weekend through downtown Pittsburgh and the Warhol Bridge, we headed a true four hours home in the saddle.

Knock on Wood 

The next week I headed east to Richmond, Va., on Ole' Blue, which is about 750 miles round trip. Again, Blue did not disappoint as I cruised 70 mph with effortless ease and perfect rhythm. There is something to be said about a manufacturer who is capable of making a product that runs probably as good today as it did when it was rolled off the showroom floor some 30 years ago. But as all of us know who have vintage motorcycles, caring for and maintaining classic iron is an art form, from ritualistic starting procedures to careful and complex carburetor synchronizations. One minute you're heaping endless praise highlighting your ride's quirky and timeless character traits. The next moment, you are hurling all sorts of slander only seen in obscene graffiti that would make your mother cry. Yet through thick and thin you will stand by your ride at the next Quaker Steak and Lube bike night. Then before you can adjust your clutch cable or tighten chin strap …

"What in the world? ... Start! Come-on! ... Don't do this, not now!"

Your heart drops to the ground. Your mind is running through all sorts of potential mechanical issues. Maybe my coils went … Maybe the carbs aren't getting fuel … Did I flood it? You curse, fling insults and talk as though a Craigslist posting may be in the near future for the old bird. Now is not the best time to be stranded. You're 300 miles from home, you have places to be, deadlines to meet, and Mr. or Mrs. "Reliable" has decided to take a nap. OK … stop … calm down … think it through … what did I do different? Nothing! Tension is building. Your palms are sweaty. You feel your reuben sandwich from lunch churn a few extra times in your gut. You try not to crank endlessly as you don't want to drain your battery. You say a short prayer. You caress the tank emblem and plead like it was the last time your ex walked out on you. Please … Wait, you've gotta be kidding me, "False Alarm" … You throw the kill switch to "ON." Of course it starts immediately. You ask forgiveness for ever doubting, your confidence re-assured. Then scanning your surroundings and feeling like a complete dork-o, hoping no one observed your newbie like stupidity, you ride off, attempting an unsuccessful wheelie to resurrect your pride …

These things happen to even the best of us!

Patrick Parziale's 1982 Honda CB900C 

After my return from Virginia my wife and I celebrated our anniversary weekend whitewater rafting a couple hours from home. Again Ole' Blue delivered a no-complaint trip, even though he was saddled two-up with 100lb of additional luggage (my wife's Mary Kay cosmetic collection is humongous). Yet, the trip wasn't without incident. Imagine yourself on the Space Mountain rollercoaster in Orlando, with Beetle Juice as the ride's Grand Marshall. I'm not even taking about whitewater rafting. I'm taking about our taxi cab driver who apparently took driving lessons with Uncle Fester and Lindsey Lohan. While clenching on for dear life, her driving provoked our interest in what the Motor Trend Safety rating was for a late ‘90s Ford Windstar. The experience made whitewater rafting seem like "It's a Small World" tour (you know, the kiddie boat ride at Disney where they sing that annoying song the whole time). Anyway, we made it back home without a scratch and had a new appreciation for quality driver's ed. instructors.

Days after, Blue took me round trip again through Virginia, all the while I shuffled through my iPod songs as we cut between the Appalachians. There's nothing like a bit of "Seven Nation Army" matted with a 4-into-4 exhaust note to get your blood pumping as the sun rises above the Blue Ridge. Or maybe a little Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere Man" to keep the tempo up as you clock interstate slab doing your best to locate and avoid Bambi. The worst though is when one of my wife's songs somehow gets slipped in there, like Salina Gomez or Justin Bieber. Yet, I can't deny it; I sing every word ‘neath full-face helmet. I mean who's ever going to know, right? "I love you like a love song baby …"

Knock on Wood 

Even after all those miles, Ole' Blue had yet to face his toughest challenge …

"Beep, beep, beep … BEEEEP!"

"The National Weather Station has issued a severe storm and high winds advisory for …"

While Ole' Blue avoided a direct assault from the flying carnage and the friendly fire projected from the junk in the bed of my pick-up it sat beside, Blue could not muster the strength to face the winds headlong, and Blue went down for the count. A rapturous gust must have caught him off guard, causing him to break his windshield, torque his handlebars, scuff his engine guards, smash his saddlebags, spill his fuel on the ground, and ultimately add a point to his character column. But in the end, Blue was as good as new after a few wrench turns; proving his recovery with a jaunt to Cincinnati, two-up.

Patrick Parziale's 1982 Honda CB900C 

Toss in a couple more all-day round trips and I notice that apart from my own stupidity, Ole' Blue has delivered in excess of 10,000 trouble free miles since I purchased it a calendar year ago. I consider that a milestone for any retro ride. For all the trips I've taken on it, it has never left me stranded. And for some reason a motorcycle (even more so a classic motorcycle) has a certain way to cement a trip or adventure to the long-term memory lobe of the brain. I can only wish for more miles like the one Blue has delivered. Readers out there that have an old crock, say a BMW R90 or Kawasaki GPZ 550, probably have similar insight. Yet, anytime we throw a leg over the seat, moments before depressing the start button, there's a little whisper, a whisper that taunts our faith. It scoffs in the face of years of trusty service and thousands of miles. We push it aside as years of riding bliss flash before our eyes in an instant. We can't help but wonder, and then we realize; this is the price we pay for vintage ecstasy …

Riding through the Rockies with the SOHC4 Forum Ride Across America

(Ed. Note: In 2011 the Single Overhead Cam Four/Forum, an online community devoted to Honda SOHC/4 bikes of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, loosely organized a relay/rally ride that will triple-transect the lower 48 states and all Canadian Provinces. The ride began in mid-March and continues into the early Fall. Learn more and join the ride when it passes your area . ) 

So many miles, so little time. And in the wide-open spaces of the great American West , the scenery, distances and weather can all be awesomely dramatic. New ride “heroes” seem to pop up weekly on this 3X transcontinental tour, which this week surpasses 7,800 miles in the log book since leaving Daytona Beach, FL back in mid-March.

What follows is as much as a photo tour or travel log capturing just some of the drama that’s unfolded in the past few days. We end this blog entry with the ride due to arrive in Topeka, Kan., for a much anticipated meet-up at the home of Motorcycle Classics and editor Richard Backus. A meeting that will include the originator of this crazy ride concept, Jerry Griffin. It will be a meeting of the minds.

But getting to Kansas has been a touch and go operation this May. Check out the conditions when Greg, known as Ofreen on the SOHC/4 Forum, was scheduled to leave home near the Idaho/Oregon border. Not an auspicious beginning.

US 95 at Jordan Valley 
US 95 at Jordan Valley near where Ofreen would be starting his is 1,500 trip.   

Yeah, his round-trip ride covered some 1,500 miles as he traveled south to Fernley, Nev., to take the handoff from Team California. From there he traveled east through Nevada and much of Utah before handing off to Team Central Rockies at Spanish Fork, Utah, south of Salt Lake City. Along the way, Ofreen, traveling solo, crossed those legendary wide-open spaces.   

Straight shot 
No twisties here, just straight shots for miles and miles.  

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Rockies, forum member riders Apex_seeking, cb650 and Jerry RXman Griffin were ready to head west to meet up with Greg, but what lay ahead was altitude and weather at Vail Pass.

Apex and son 
Apex_seeking with is young son at home in Denver just before heading west.  

Now unlike Jerry and cb650, young Apex was not a road-hardened rider. Yup, those clothes you see him in are what took him through the snow and over the pass. Good thing he was riding with some veteran cruisers to see him through. According to Jerry, they traveled some distances through slush on the road with both feet down just to keep upright. Check out this blurry but telling shot of conditions at Vail Pass. 

Team Central Rockies 
Is this crazy? Maybe, but Team Central Rockies made it through extremely challenging
conditions crossing the Rockies

It's May 2011, and spring had not yet arrived in these parts. Check out the snow pack along the road near Vail Pass after the snow showers and slushy conditions abated.  

Colorado Snow Pack 
Snow pack that’s four bikes high!   

But after that it was “all down hill” said Jerry and the riders over-nighted in Grand Junction, Colo., before the meet-up the next day with Ofreen near Spanish Forks.   

Team Central Rockies Handoff 
Ofreen, Jerry and Terry handoff at Spanish Forks, Utah.   

Back over the pass and home to the Denver and Colorado Springs areas was, fortunately, not so eventful, save for the petcock issues Jerry developed on his ride, a loner for this trip. Over the next few days the forum heard “Petcock Tales” from Jerry, which could be a separate blog entry in itself.  

After their grueling road trip, this relay ride took a couple days hiatus in Colorado. But that didn’t mean operations stood still. Godzilla, the pesky little monster mascot for the ride, was taken on some very scenic tours of Colorado’s eastern slopes. Forum member TheOfram was in the driver’s seat now escorting both petcock parts to Jerry and “G” around the state.  

Part of that tour included a visit to one of the forum’s highly respected members Hondaman, aka Mark Paris, who escorted them to Lookout Mountain outside Golden, Colo. 

Lookout Mountain
At Lookout Mountain, Co., forum members theOfram and Hondaman, Mark Paris.  

On Monday, May 8, Jerry led the crew off the eastern slopes and on to the Great Plains for the visit and lunch on Tuesday, May 10, with the magazine crew of Motorcycle Classics.  

Just think, at 7,800 miles and this ride now past the mid-point of its planned 14,000 total miles. 

Check back soon for new updates. Crossing the Plains, the ride heads into Chi town the weekend of May 14 and Indianapolis May 15, the rain gods willing. But who can complain after the cold and snow others have endured? Next up after Indy is my hometown, Cincinnati, and my turn to ride a circuitous route through Ohio. You’re totally welcome to join me along the way.  

See you down the road! – Steve Shanesy 

Steve Shanesy is a Forum Member who is making last minute preparations for his leg in this incredible journey.  

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