This is a series of articles I wrote for the local Harley Owners Group (HOG) when I had a Harley and was the Historian. Keep in mind that these are dated and specific to that club but it was the deal at the time. Enjoy
April 3, 2000
M/C HISTORY NO. 1
a little history on the historian
By Ron Peck
It all started in Elk Creek, CA. in the summer of 1951. I was seven years old and in the first grade. This gang of bikers came to town, bought some beer at the store and proceeded to climb the hill across the street. I don’t remember the exact number but it was four or five guys, more motorcycles than I had ever seen at once, and the townsfolk’s (population 50) were in an up-roar——-someone call the sheriff! Well the sheriff was in Willows 20 miles away and when he arrived the bikes were long gone. That was the slickest thing I had ever seen. The bikes were probably Indians, H-Ds, and maybe a Triumph or BSA in the mix, whatever they were they put on a show for an hour. Climbing that hill (looking back the hill is fairly steep but a good run out on the bottom, but only about 50 feet high) blew my mind, never saw any thing like it before——-I was hooked, never forgot that day.
Fast forward to 1956 I’m now in the sixth grade still looking at every bike I come across and dreaming of the day. By now I had moved to Willows (population 2000, huge town!) and some guy in town was selling his 1940 Powell scooter for $35.00. I bought it! What a day! Anyway there were some problems with the thing, it seems the crankshaft keyway was wallowed out so bad that after about 50 feet the centrifical clutch would fly off, jam the chain, and come to a screeching’ halt. After weeks of trial and error I found that if I pounded a piece of a toothpaste tube (they were made from lead, remember?) into the keyway, then pounded the key in that and then pounded on the clutch it would last almost a whole day, if I took it easy.
I made a trailer to tow behind the Powell and spent the next two years, in the summer and after school, collecting scrap iron, working on the Powell and saving my money. ——————1958, there was a boat dealer in Orland where my Stepfather bought a boat. The guy was also a dealer for Cushman scooters and had a brand new Eagle on the showroom floor. That was it! I had to have it. $525.00 a huge sum of money——I begged, I made huge promises, I had $280.00 saved. My folks gave in (I think from exhaustion) and I had a brand new 1958 Cushman Eagle. 2 speeds, tank shift, badass ride. I was in heaven. I worked on it constantly, dual exhaust, chain drive from clutch to tranny, new paint job. It would lay rubber (about 12” on slick pavement) I worked on it so much that when I had finished it was F.U.B.A.R. I sold it soon after I found out girls would rather ride in a car, and bought a 1953 Ford in 1959 for $300.00. Life was good!
After high school and a stint in the U.S.A.F. it’s 1965 I’m 21 years old lookin’ for a women to marry and good motorcycle to race (young and dumb) I found the women, still got her. The bike was a 650 BSA Spitfire Hornet, and that was 40+ motorcycles ago.. We started a club called the Willows Scramblers; most of the guys had Honda Scramblers 250s and 305s, and started putting on races around Willows and up a Stoney George Lake (as in Hall’s customer appreciation ride/camp out spot). In 1968 Mardelle, Kim and I moved to Chico and I went to work for Bill Brownell Honda – Triumph as a salesman, later a parts manager and general manager, which brings us to the point of all this B.S. so far and why I enjoy being the “Historian”.
You see, Brownell knows about everyone on the planet who ever had a motorcycle, a least back in the 40s, 50s and 60s. He is from L.A. and hung with the bikers there. He worked for and raced for Hap Jones in San Francisco before he bought the shop in Chico in 1947. He raced at Hollister on July 4, 1947, was friends with Wino Willy and John Camron founders of the Booze Fighters (more about this later). Evil Knevil used to stop by the shop and work on his motorcycles on the way thru here. He jumped at Orland Fair Grounds. (more about this later) anyway the list goes on and on. I was there during a time (1968 – 1975) when a lot went down in the motorcycle sport. When I moved to Chico I also joined the Chico Motorcycle Club (Jim Burns was the only member I know of that is in the Chico H.O.G. now) anyway, we put on a few races and field meets at Black Butte and Cycleland Speedway.
The thing that has always been slick about our sport is the diversity of the people it attracts. From Malcom Forbes to Wino Willy and from Dykes on Bikes to Bikers for Christ and 1%ers to Wall Street Brokers. Plus the machines themselves from a belt drive bicycle with a engine, to a Twin Cam 88 B Duce . The one thing that sticks out in all the above is it all revolves around Harley-Davidson. It all leaves endless topics in both current events as well as historic.
The events that stick out most to me in as far as H-D, HOG, and the biker thing in general go are 1. 1936 EL Knucklehead (the first 45 deg. O.H.V. twin). 2. Hollister July 4, 1947, which led to the Life mag. July 21 issue about biker gangs taking over a whole town. Which led to the movie in 1952 “The Wild One” a story about the 1947 Hollister Gypsy Tour race put on by the Salinas Ramblers. 3.The July 1969 release of the film Easy Rider (powerful stuff). 4.The take over, by Rodney Gott et. al. in 1969 for 21.6 million in AMF stock, of Harley-Davidson (the shit years) 5. 1978 Ron Hall learns to use a microphone and buys out Heaths H-D in 1979. 6. The buy back of the motor company in 1981 by Willy G. and the boys (yippee). 7. 1983, a really big year, H.O.G. founded by Clyde Fessler, Reagan placed a 45% tariff on all Jap bikes over 700cc, the birth of the EVO motor. 8. 1986 the motor company goes public with stock offered on the American Stock Exchange and later on the N.Y.S.E. (should have bought some) and 9. 1987 H-D licensees almost 100 after market firms the supply goodies (hence the walls and cases full o stuff at your friendly dealer) 10. 1990s with the onslaught of “RUBS” “SEWERS” “RIOTS” “AHABS” “BASTARDS” “IGLOOS” and “HOOTS”. More about all of this later.
May 3, 2000
M/C HISTORY NO. 2
By Ron Peck
The construction business turned to shit for me and a lot of other folks in 1980. Interest rates were at 21% thanks to the “FED,” and numerous other assholes I’m sure, and my boss came in one Monday morning with my paycheck and a handshake, wishing me good luck in whatever new adventure I may pursue. Well that was it, screw these people; I bought a 36’ crab boat in San Francisco and proceeded to make my fame and fortune as a commercial fisherman (really dumb idea). After the crab season in San Francisco bay, in early 1981, I moved the boat to Fort Bragg, CA and fished the Rock Cod fishery. I befriended several old salt fishermen from there, most notably Charley Fagg (He used to say “the only Fagg in Bragg); super guy, took me under his wing and showed me the fishing business. Well one of Charlie’s buddies was “Wino” Willie Forkner (the Hollister 1947 Wino Willie) holy shit Wino Willie! I was instantly enthralled (probably the worst damage era to my liver to date) asked him a million questions and got shitfaced drunk (at that time he and Al Renyolds’ favorite was Southern Comfort. I still gag at the smell); for days we would whoop it up at Al’s barn, when the weather was making the ocean a smoking hole.
One story that not many people know about Wino was his stint in the Army Air Corps in WWII. He was a waist gunner on a B-24 in the Pacific Theater of Operations. That means you stand by an open hole in the side of the aircraft, which at 20,000 feet is 20 below freezing your ass off, with a 50-caliber machine at your side, looking for some asshole in a fighter trying to shoot you out of the sky (Great job). Anyway, on one mission he had to fill in on another aircraft that was short crew and did not get to fly with the other nine crewmembers that he usually flew with. On that mission the plane he would normally be on was shot down and all crew was lost! I know this had a profound effect on him his whole life, although he never brought it up to anyone, it had to.
Before the war there was a motorcycle club in L.A. called the “13 Rebels” which had more to do with how many people could fit in the club trailer than any association to the number “13.” Willie Forkner was a member of the 13 Rebels, along with several other guys who were veterans. After the war they found that most of the members had married, got steady jobs and settled down, not much fun for a guy looking to party down.
So here it is the Gypsy Tour, Hollister 1947. Wino Willie, along with John Camron, had formed the Booze Fighters M/C and they were there for the races and the party. (Hell, they had just got back from WWII.) (I’m sure after going through that time on the planet your attitude about life and the grand scope of things would be highly modified compared to the rest of the citizens.) Anyway, it seems that the rig that the Booze Fighters were using to tow the club trailer (a model T) was overheating from a lack of water in the radiator. Bingo, some bright biker decided it would be easier to pee in the thing rather than drive it to the gas station. Well the cops took a dim view of this and arrested the gentleman and threw him in jail for indecent exposure. After a few beers at the local watering hole, a bunch of his buddies decided that this was a total injustice. They all marched down to the jail to free their friend. Wino Willie saw all of this taking shape, and being president of the Booze Fighters, figured this would be a bad rap for the club. So Willie goes down to the jail to talk some sense into the mob. He is standing in front of everyone with his back to the jail and arguing that this is dumb and the guy inside is better served if you let him sleep it off in the can. Well the cops look out the window and see Wino Willie standing in front of this crowd, but can’t hear what is being said; they figure he is trying to stir up the mob, so they come out and arrest Wino for inciting to riot and throw him in jail! This breaks up the crowd and everyone goes back to the bar to bemoan the whole deal.
Meanwhile, back in San Francisco at The Chronicle, a reporter gets wind that a riot is underway in Hollister and jumps in the car and heads down there to get the story. Well by the time he gets there it’s all over, a few local drunks left in the bars. So he finds this guy (a local) coming out of a bar, has him sit on a motorcycle that’s parked in the street, scrapes up a bunch of empty beer bottles, and places them in front of the bike. Snaps “the photo” that ends up on the front page of The Chronicle. Later that month, the same picture is featured in Life Magazine with a story of how a motorcycle gang takes over a small town in California and that starts the process that leads to the movie The Wild Ones with Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin. Shit happens.
Wino Willie passed away a few weeks before the 50th anniversary of Hollister 1947. His friends and family had him cremated and Wino attended the event in an urn.
Last article I listed a group of acronyms, listed below is the translations.
RUBs “Rich Urban Bikers”
Sewers “Suburban Weekend Riders”
Ahabs “Aspiring Hard-ass Bikers”
Riots “Retired Idiots on Tour”
Bastards “Bought a Sportster, Therefore a Radical Dude”
Igloos “I Got the Look, Will Own One Soon”
Hoots “Have One Ordered; True Story”
My wife and I just got back from the Laughlin River Run. Looking back at Holister 1947 and comparing that to 53 years later the only thing that’s changed is the numbers. Same press thing, same cop thing, same local businesses making windfall profit (i.e. Water $3.50 per bottle). The bikes are Harley, but they are no longer choppers as in take off all the crap you don’t need and shorten the rear fender with a hacksaw. Now it’s $50,000.00 wonders that some RUB cashed in his 401k for.
M/C HISTORY 3
“EVIL” by Ron Peck
I’m sitting in the Parts Department office at Bill Brownell Honda – Triumph, ordering parts. In walks Evil Knevil! He starts ranting on about how someone has stolen his car and kidnapped his wife! He needs a ride to the Police Station, but first he calls the Enterprise Record to let them know what’s happening. I take the CB-750 off the showroom floor, Evil jumps on the back, and off we go to Chico City Hall. He tells the dispatcher that he was visiting his bone specialist and when he came out to leave, his car, along with his wife who was waiting in it, was gone! By then the reporter arrives and asks what all the fuss is about. Evil goes into his diatribe. (You see it’s 1968 and not many people have heard of Evil Knevil.) Here is the real deal. Evil went to the doctor and after the appointment slipped out the back door, called a cab and showed up at Brownell’s. His car and wife were still parked in front of the doctor’s office! Evil gets a blurb in the paper (he was jumping 12 cars at the Orland Fair in a couple of days) and bingo a few more folks attend the event. Cool.
We get back to the shop, after the police found the car and wife parked at the doctor’s office, and Evil gets on the phone and calls Merv Griffin! He tells Merv about the kidnapping and wants to get a spot on his show. (Now here is some true hustling.) Anyway, Evil would stop by the shop when he was passing through town and bring his Rolls Royce, 18-wheelers with ramps, bikes and roadies and take over the shop. First it was Triumphs’ then American Eagles’ then Harley Davidson motorcycles, always a new sponsor.
In fact, when he was at the shop, all those phone calls, working on the bikes, putting up with the roadies and whatever else he could beat out of Brownell, he never mentioned or paid for! Evil was a hustler of the first magnitude. I bet he got someone to sponsor his underwear. This guy truly has an ego the size of Montana, but also the ka-hoons to back it up. Never, that I know of, did he fail to put on a show, even when the conditions were far from perfect.
One of the far from perfect times was at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. It’s storming bad that night. It was an indoor AMA short track race and the pits were full of motorcycle racers. The deal was Evil would go outside to the parking lot, gas it up to speed in the driving rain, enter the arena through the front doors, go down a ramp and onto the main floor then up the jump ramp over some fire trucks, on to a ramp and into the pits and pitch it sideways to stop! Piece of cake. Well there is one more factor. The Hells Angel’s are there and heckling Evil. They are all sitting right over the entrance where Evil makes his approach. As Evil is doing his pre-jump warm up runs, he and the Angles exchange gestures. When Evil makes his final run through the door, one of the Angel’s throws a Coke cup at him; he makes the jump and then comes back, jumps off his bike and starts shaking his fist at the Angel crowd to come down and get it on. Well the Angles jump down to the main floor, the pits on the other end of the track empty on to the main floor and it’s fargin’ war. There were about 12 Angels and 200 racers/pit crew; it was ugly, took 15 min. to break up. It looked to me like most of the Angels were removed on stretchers, some looked real bad. Anyway, back to the point. This guy (Evil) was doing this back before Super Cross triple jumps, 12” suspension, and technique were in place. Let’s see, go x-miles per hour depending on distance, up the center of the ramp and hold on till it lands on the other ramp. Wow! No knowledge of using brake and throttle to control motorcycle attitude. Only 4” suspension on most bikes he rode. And no practice or training. Truly amazing. Every time I saw him (4 or 5 trips to Chico) it was always a show. At the time I didn’t think much of it, B.F.D. some egomaniac with a stunt. I’ve looked through my stuff and I don’t even have a picture or an autograph to show you. Oh well. I may be one of the few people on earth who ever gave him a ride on the back of their bike! (Another B.F.D.)
M/C HISTORY NO. 4
Dirt By Ron Peck
I just returned from a 600-mile trip across the Nevada desert on my dirt bike. Eight of us left Reno on Thursday morning and arrived in Ely Saturday night, with stops at Gabbs and Belmont along the way. Absolutely awesome country, ghost towns, old mine sights, 10,000 foot mountain passes, lush meadows, rocky single track trails, straight dirt roads that are smooth as your kitchen table and stretch for 40 miles. I’ve ridden in the dirt all my life and enjoy the ability to be able to inject myself into the middle of nowhere within a few hours. The whole western U.S. is riddled with fire and logging roads and I doubt you could ride them all in a lifetime. I feel very lucky to enjoy both street and dirt bike riding. So what’s the point!
Harley-Davidson has single-handedly revived the motorcycle sport (Rumor has it 1,000,000 bikes are expected to attend Sturgis this year!) and attracted a whole new group of people to the sport / lifestyle. The illusion of freedom and careless abandon (see any Motor Company ad) is truly brought home on a dirt bike in the middle of the Nevada desert. You can ride down the road on the rear wheel for as long as the terrain and your ability allow (no cops). You can stop and spin hookers till you tire of the procedure, or go flat out for hours on end with no recourse from the “man”. What is missing is an audience. The only people to benefit from your skills and daring are a few fellow riders that have already “been there, done that”, so the reward is personal. And that brings us to Sturgis.
Keep in mind what started the Sturgis run; it was “BIKERS”, real ones, Hell’s Angles, ET. Al. They boozed, doped and fought (on occasion till the death of one or both) for their colors or their woman or their pride. For the “BIKERS” it was and is personal. They, like it or not, are the model for the current lifestyle. They were the true pioneers of the current fad. They rode to Sturgis, no trailer behind the SUV, they worked on their bikes, not haul it to the service department at the local dealer. They still attend the event, but are so out-numbered by the new comers as to go almost un-noticed. It must freak them out! What they had going was a rugged individualism and a dislike for straights and a system that dictated proper behavior. That seems to be one of the attractions for the “I feel like a number” crowd that followed. A way to somehow thumb your nose at a system that has run amok. It’s about taking away your personal freedoms and trying to protect you from yourself. Helmet laws, cigarettes that extinguish themselves if not puffed on for ten seconds. Warning labels on everything you consume. Some cop with a warrant to remove YOUR couch from YOUR front porch, and on and on. It’s personal!
There is no sin in being a newcomer to this sport of ours, and part of the attraction has to be the fact that, if only for a few hours or a weekend, you can rap the pipes or pull the front end off the ground and wave the middle finger to a system that is broken beyond repair. It sure does my heart good.
And the Motor Company has capitalized on the concept. They offer the ability to truly individualize your ride, and this is a good thing and is what most people had in mind when they bought their scooter. Look around at the next event you attend, none the same, not so with the made in Japan crowd. The made in Japan scoots are technically superior, (your Harley was developed in 1936 and in fact never had rear suspension till 1960) some will go 190+ m.p.h. off the show room floor, but lack what a lot of people seem to be looking for in a ride; personal expression. I don’t want to pee in anyone’s Corn Flakes by bad mouthing other brands. Any form of the sport is fine by me. It has to be a thrill gassing the latest crotch rocket up some canyon road on a Sunday morning or riding your Goldwing up the same canyon and hearing the leaves fall. It just isn’t what Harley and Sturgis and Dirt biking are about. If you get my drift? It’s about sitting straight up in the seat on a be-chromed piece of history that you made look and sound like you wanted. And along with 1,000,000 of your closest friends riding to Sturgis to make a statement that you to are sick and tired of the B.S. let’s party!
Riding in the desert for days does this to me. Sorry.
M/C HISTORY NO. 5
Races By Ron Peck
For those of you that attended the Flat Track races at the Silver Dollar Fair Grounds on August 5, 2000, you may have been as amazed as I was at the crowd that showed up for the event. The M/C sport is alive and well in Chico! It was great to smell the fuel, hear the roar and watch the talent go around the ¼ mile oval.
Flat Track has always been my favorite motorcycle-racing event. It is one of the few forms of racing that is totally dependant on the talent of the rider and not, how much money was spent on the equipment. You can put the winner of a given race on the guys’ motorcycle that finished last place; and the last place guy on the winning motorcycle, re-start the race, and the results will be the same winner and same loser.
Racing on an oval track has its roots in the teens and twenties. It started along with hill climbing and endurance racing so the manufactures could promote the value of their motorcycle as compared to that of their rivals. The early history books on Harley-Davidson refer to the fact they entered their “Grey Fellow” in endurance races on the East coast.
Board Track racing in the United States in the twenties drew huge crowds to watch the racers go around banked tracks, made from lumber stacked narrow edge up, at speeds over 100 m.p.h. These were nothing more than a bicycle with a single cylinder engine mounted on them. The riders wore a jersey and a leather flyers helmet, and many were killed before the tracks burnt down or were outlawed.
A former motorcycle dealer in Chico, Larry Powell was from that era and had pictures at his shop showing him racing back then. He had lots of stories to tell! In fact a couple of things I remember about Larry Powell was that he was the Harley-Davidson dealer in Chico after Pullins Cyclery gave up the franchise here. He was also one of the first people around to work on the design of expansion chambers for two-cycle engines. Back in the days before computers, or even hand held calculators for that matter, he would sit in front of a hand crank calculating machine and crank out equations. At that time he was a Hodaka dealer and was obsessed with this new theory of improving the performance of the little 100cc engines.
I’ll try to give you the condensed version. Unlike your H-D, a two- cycle fires a power stroke every time the piston reaches near top dead center and since there is no exhaust (or intake) valve(s), the piston, as it travels down the cylinder exposes a hole in cylinder where the burnt charge is released into the exhaust pipe. Soon after this port is exposed the intake port is exposed and because the piston is still traveling down it forces the gas mixture out of the crankcase and into the cylinder. In doing this it also forces a little more of this mixture in than is required and a small amount escapes thru the exhaust port before it closes. Here comes Larry Powell. When the exhaust port is uncovered an energy wave is sent out the exhaust pipe, if that wave can be expanded you increase the velocity and thus the speed that the gases leave the cylinder (a good thing). If, at the millisecond before the exhaust port is closed by the piston on it’s way back up the cylinder, you could harness that wave of energy and send it back up the exhaust pipe toward that hole, you could cause some of the excess fuel to be forced back into the cylinder (bingo) the reason two-cycle motorcycles became competitive in racing. And Larry Powell refined the shape of the “expansion chamber” expanding cone in first half of the pipe and reversed in the last half of the pipe. It’s like Chinese arithmetic, bigger cone to much expansion, smaller cone to little, short pipe no top end, long pipe no low end. Anyway quite a guy and I’m happy I got to hang out at the shop with him.
The riding style of flat track has evolved over time to what we see today and some of the technique has even carried over to modern road racing, more on that in a minute. The style you see today, with the left foot stuck out in front of the engine, as the rider pitches the motorcycle into the corner started with the rider dragging his foot behind (called drag leg style) the foot peg/footboard. Somewhere someone got the idea of putting a steel shoe on the left boot of the rider and the style changed. Sliding a motorcycle sideways with your feet on the pegs is spooky, if you put your foot out you not only have the added balance from the outrigger effect but you have an additional sensor device connected to your brain. With your foot down you get a better feel for how far you are hanging it out and make corrections to steering and throttle. One of the reasons lap time are improving on road race courses is due to the fact that riders are now dragging their knees into the corners. By doing this they are able to sense the side drift and ride the road racer like a dirt bike going into and out of the turns.
As important as it is to put your foot out coming into the corner, when you put your foot back on the peg is just as important. When you reach the apex of the turn and start applying power to the rear wheel you need to shift your weight to the rear of the bike and off the front end, which you needed weight on coming into the turn.
So here is the drill for you would be milers. Try to start in the front row on the tackiest part of the track. Make sure your bike is in top running condition, the gearing is set for the track conditions, and the tires you have chosen are the best for the dirt you are on. Your tear off lenses are stacked in order on your goggles so you can tear them off as they become dirty. Try and anticipate the starter so you can dump the clutch a millisecond ahead of the rest of the riders. As soon as the rear tire breaks loose put your feet on the pegs and shift your weight to reach that sweet spot between going over backwards with too much traction and spinning the rear wheel. If you are in the lead hold tight to the inside of the track so the guy behind you can’t get a front wheel under you and move you out of the way. If your second place and back try to drive in under the guy in front of you and if you can put your front wheel just behind his foot peg and give the forks a little twitch towards the outside of the track. Sometimes this will move the rider out of your way for a pass and sometimes the guy in front of you will lay his bike over further and you go high side off your bike. If the latter happens pray for a re-start otherwise get back on and go.
Now is when all that race experience comes in. You have made it off the starting line into turn number one and are starting out of turn two feet on the pegs, tucked in behind your front number plate. Moving your left hand to the fork tube to further streamline the package and wait till the engine is at the top of the torque curve to catch another gear. Stay on the gas hard going thru the gears and stay tucked in till your way into turn three, now back off the throttle, set up in the seat to create more drag, let the rear end come around under compression breaking and plant your steel shoe on the track just in front of the engine cases at 130+m.p.h. and pitch the bike sideways to scrub off speed so you stay in the groove and not into the hay bales, also try and turn the front wheel into the corner just a little bit to help take off a hair more speed, while shifting down. Now while your still sliding sideways get your left foot back on the peg and roll on the throttle while steering to stay in the groove and shift your weight off the front and to the rear as you accelerate out of turn four and down the front straight away towards turn one. Refer back to coming out of turn two and into turn three. Now if you are way out in front after this lap just relax and keep up the pace, but if someone has managed to tuck in behind you, as you left turn three, chances are he has drafted you and will pass you going into turn one. This is because by running right behind the lead bike cuts the wind drag and requires less horsepower to maintain the pace. So all you have to do now is keep up the pace for the next twenty four laps and be in position on the final lap to be in second position to draft the leader coming out of turn three and pass him at the start line for the checkered flag. Piece of cake!
Boy, I should stay away from the races; it gives this old man the bug again.
I realize this installment may not appeal to every/any reader (i.e. techno babble and gear head talk), I promise it will never happen again.
M/C HISTORY 6
“Crash/Burn” by Ron Peck
If you push the envelope far enough in this sport, be it street, dirt or track, you will bail; it’s the deal. Once the kickstand is folded up it takes input from the rider to keep the bike from falling over. Given that fact, the consequence to the operator falling over is compounded by many factors, i.e. riding gear, speed, surface of the earths crust on which you are on at the moment and what is near you at that time. You can have on every piece of riding apparel known to man, but if you over shoot a turn and end up in the wrong lane, and coming the other way is an eighteen wheeler, it’s over. Conversely, you can be wearing thongs and your shorts, get you foot hung up on the foot peg while parked, and do a high side without a scratch.
Short of the eighteen-wheeler thing, I’ve done most of the get offs in between. The first time I recall was back in my scooter days. Remember the new Cushman Eagle? Well, the Powell scooter’s throttle I had been riding was rigged so that you turned the twist grip forward to accelerate, opposite from the Cushman’s, and every other motorcycle I’ve ridden since. So when we got the scooter home from the dealer, I jumped on and started that puppy up and ran wide open into the bushes and fence in our driveway. Scratched the bejesus out of my arms and face. Same era; while riding down some country road showing off for my other scooter pals, I was riding cross handed, left hand on throttle, right hand on opposite side. When I went to switch back to standard configuration,I yanked the handlebars full right, went into the ditch and tulles along side the road and really hurt my right foot, hobbled around for a week.
When I first got the racing bug, I used to go to the hardtop track at the Willows Airport and practice going left for hours on end. I fell off ten million times, scraped fifty pounds of flesh off my arms and legs, but I was getting faster! I started with a helmet, t-shirt, jeans, and pair of work boots, and ended up with gloves, leather jacket, goggles plus the helmet and boots. The use of protective gear was a learned process for me, because until I hurt myself about ten times, I figured I didn’t need no stinking protection, you know bad to the bone. Well after scraping off everything down to the bone, it modified my behavior (sort of). When I suit up for a dirt bike ride now,I look like an ad in a Malcolm Smith dirt bike gear catalog.
Even with all the gear, I’ve had some dandy get offs that remind me every time the weather changes. (In fact, way too many to fit in just one “History” article, more later.) One item that I carry with me at all times is the 7/8” stainless steel rod that runs the length of my right femur. I picked up that little item after one of my Baja adventures on Thanksgiving Day 1983. It goes like this.
About fifteen of us are riding down the Pacific side out of Ensenata to Mikes Sky Ranch on our annual Baja Thanksgiving ride. We are on this freshly graded dirt road somewhere near Colonet B.C. and it had just rained. If you are in the dirt, a lot of times the best traction can be found running in the water covered areas off the hard packed wheel tracks left from four wheel traffic. That is where I’m riding, in the center of the road, hauling ass, unaware that the road grader had picked up a 8” to 10” rock, plowed a furrow about 20 feet long, then skipped over the rock and left it in the middle of the furrow. When my front wheel hit that rock, it catapulted the bike and me up in the air and off a twenty-foot high bank at +/- 60 m.p.h. (oh shit). The motorcycle was a Honda XR-500, 1983 model. When it hit the ground, it was completely sideways and I broke off one end of the unbreakable handlebars with my face (I still have the piece that broke off with a “over the bars club” sticker on them) I had on a new Bell Moto-3 helmet. During this excursion, the bike and I became further entangled and it crushed my femur for about 6” into splinters. This knocked me out and I had swallowed my tongue and could not breath (not a good thing). Ethan Wayne (as in John Wayne’s son) was riding with us and got a stick down my throat and got my tongue out just before someone else was about to perform a tracheotomy with a pocketknife (whew). So I’m breathing, and someone said later, I complained of my shoulder hurting when I came to on occasion and kept asking what had happened. We are miles from a paved road, some of the riders head there to flag down some help. Someone else rides into the nearest town and gets an ambulance; others try calling back to the States to get a helicopter. The ambulance gets stuck on the way there, and at the time you could not be airlifted out of Mexico for any reason. One of the parties that went out found a guy with an old Chevy FWD pickup and talked him into driving in to get me. He had a sheet of plywood in the back of the truck. They slid me onto the plywood and loaded me in the back of the pickup and off we went.
The road back to pavement was rugged, three feet drop-offs into creek beds, then steep climbs out, more rough road, then repeat the creek crossings. At first, when the truck would climb a steep grade, I would start sliding out the back of the truck; we would stop, they would slide me back in, and off we go again. I was screaming so loud that a lot of the riders would hang way back so they could not hear the agony. Finally, one of my trail buddies climbed in the back and laid on top of me so I wouldn’t bounce around so much; it also kept me from sliding out. I kept calling him Mel, his name was Alan, and I’d known him for years. When we finally got to the pavement, I was out of it, back and forth between consciousness and gone. Someone found a hospital in a village we were passing through and Alan went in and looked around and said no way is he staying here, but he did find a nurse inside that came out to take a look at me. She went back in, got a syringe, and gives me a small squirt of morphine in the top of my hand. I passed out.
Next stop was Ensenata to transfer me into one of the rider’s motor home and take me across the border at Tijuana. I woke up for this maneuver as they were standing me up to walk the few feet to the door of the motor home. No one had realized yet that I had broken my femur! I screamed and hollered as they crammed me into the narrow door and around a ninety-degree corner and onto the floor. When they saw my right foot facing one hundred and eighty degrees out of sync, they realized I may have broken something, so they turned my foot around straight, and I passed out again. When we got to the boarder, it was plugged with cars crossing back to the states. One of the guys ran up to the inspection station and talked one of the officers into coming back to look at my condition and try and expedite our passage. The cop took one look at me, and then started getting everyone out of the way so we could pass. Next stop, Bay General Hospital in Chula Vista.
By the time I got to the hospital, it had been ten hours since the wreck; I had no pulse, so they started with four units of whole blood while they cut all my riding gear off, boots and all. They then got me strapped onto a stretcher, removed one of the windows to get me out of the motor home, and took me in to emergency. I remember nothing in the emergency room, but later learned that they closed a hole in my septum to keep my brain from getting infected. (I hate it when that happens.) They had taken x-rays of my entire body and found a few problems. I woke up in my room when three male nurses jumped on top of me and a doctor crawled up on the bed with a drill and drove a pin through my lower femur! After that they came back and hooked cables to the pin, ran them over some pulleys and hung a twenty-pound weight from the cables. Another doctor came in and said that I had torn my upper jaw from my skull, but was unable to do anything about it because my head had swollen so much.
While this was going on, one of the guys on the ride was having trouble with his bike. He took the bars off of his bike, put them on mine, and continued the ride. When I go to Baja to ride, I go to the bank and get all the money I’m taking with me in one-dollar bills. I would roll these up into fifty dollar rolls and rubber band them and stash these in my butt pack. Well, my trail buddies found my stash and went to the local pub and gave it a good spending. (Who could blame them?)
After a few days of morphine and rest, they were able to start the surgery. First was the femur; it was so pulverized they had to drive a rod in it. While they were beating in the rod, they broke the trocanter off the femur! (That’s the part on top of the femur that plugs into your pelvis) Normally they would use a “nail” to fix this, but they did not have one big enough in stock, so they plastered from under my armpits to my ankles with a full body cast! Next came the plastic surgeon to work on my face. It had been so long since the wreck that it had started growing back together so the Doc had to break it loose and start wiring it back. (This was the part where I had an “out of body experience”) Wires around the orbital area of the eyes and wire the upper jaws to the lower jaw and rebuilds my nose and cheekbones. So let’s see,full body cast and my mouth wired shut that should just about do it! Nope, one more glitch, while they were fixing my leg they either drove the rod in a little too far, or the connection at the hip was a little out of alignment. Whatever the source, it left my right leg 5/8” shorter than the left. Now whenever I buy a new pair of shoes, I get to spend an extra $50.00 to have a lift installed in my right shoe. (That’s special)
After a few weeks at Bay General, I was flown back to Chico and spent a week at Community Hospital. Then home to a hospital bed at my house for a few more months. Eating your meals with a turkey baster through a small opening in your teeth, using a bedpan and watching every video ever made, you tire of the process. (I sold the Honda and bought a VCR, this was 1983, and it cost $1,100.00 for the thing!) The cast came off and I went back to work. First on crutches, then a cane, then just a slight limp. The process took six months.
I borrowed a Husky 250 from a friend and rode the Last Chance Trail Ride in the fall of ’84. It goes from Forrest Hill near Auburn to Homewood at Lake Tahoe, through the Michigan Bluff trail, the Last Chance trail and the Rubicon into the lake. I couldn’t ride! Every time I came to a sidehill with the down side on my right, I had to get off the bike and walk along side. It scared me so badly I didn’t ride for two years! I couldn’t stand it, so in 1986 I bought a 200cc trail bike and learned to ride all over again.
So what have I learned from all of this? While I was out partying in my youth, some people were studying medicine and learning to fix fools that part with their motorcycles. I thank them! When you’re down on your luck, your family and friends are your only hope. I thank them! And finally, what washed out in the end was, I love to ride on my motorcycles! It’s a craving, not a sickness.
Oh! And the burn part comes later.
M/C HISTORY 7
“Wrenched” by Ron Peck
Somewhere between removing the gas cap to refuel the bike and truing the engine flywheels, lays the area that reflects every motorcycle owners wrenching capacity. You do remove your own gas cap, right? How about checking the air pressure in the tires? Checking the oil level? Tightening a loose mirror? Well none of this is important anymore.
Motorcycles have made huge leaps in maintenance requirements over the last two decades. Electronic ignition systems replacing points and condensers, belts replacing chain drives, electronic fuel injection replacing carburetors, electric starters replacing kick starters. And how about safety features, i.e. self-canceling turn signals, low oil pressure warning lights and vacuum diaphragm safety fuel shut off override, a gravity switch that kills the engine should the bike exceed a certain angle of lean. And how about the other brands? Pull in the clutch lever before you can start the engine in case you left it in gear. The kickstand must be up before you can start the engine so you don’t leave with it down. How in the world did we make it before all this help? Do you have the latest “map” downloaded from the world wide web that modifies your injection and timing curves in your “Power Commander” Do you own a 2001 model year Harley-Davidson? Now when you bring it into the dealership they can up-link to the factory and diagnose any problems you engine has had along with a history of maintenance it has had, who preformed it and where.
Do we need this much help? Well if you want to conform to the latest air quality standards, and if you don’t mind that your authorized dealer will probably be the only place that can service and repair your bike, then no problem. If you don’t mind that an agency of the government will no doubt have access to this data, and be able to tell that you have a modified exhaust system and that you put leaded fuel in your bike eleven months ago in Fargo, North Dakota and now there is lead contamination in your fuel system, and that is a misdemeanor in California, then no problem.
So let’s see I think I’ll go for a ride today. OK put on the leathers, but wait isn’t there a Friends of the Farm Animals group near where we are headed and do I want to hear how some innocent cow had to give up it’s hide so I could ride. If we stop at a bar will they allow smoking? All that do are in violation of state law. Will I be fined? Which county are we in? Can you smoke within 25 feet of a public entrance or is it 100 feet? How many drinks can I have? Has the new .05 BAC gone into effect or is it still .08 BAC? Should we buy a Breathalyzer? OK put on the helmet, is it DOT approved, or did someone remove the sticker? What’s the penalty for sticker removal? Do I have to wear eye protection in this state? (I love to ride down the road at 70 mph with my eyes wide-open waiting for a dragonfly to hit!) But wait! Should I check the oil level? Nay, I have an idiot light. Oil the chain? There isn’t one. Check the fuel? Nay, I have a gage. Turn on the gas? Nay, I have a vacuum operated valve. Kick start the engine? Nay, I have a button. Pull out the choke knob? Nay, I have fuel injection. Remember to turn off my turn signals? Nay, Mine are self canceling. Should I bring some money? Nay, I have an ATM card. Should I carry some tools to fix the bike? Nay, I have a cell phone and a MasterCard.
Bottom line? You don’t need shit, it’s all been taken care of, don’t worry.
M/C HISTORY 9
“The Reason” by Ron Peck
Most of us pay a huge toll to pursue our sport. The cost of the bike, gear, insurance, license, service, repairs, gas, tires and on and on. Big loot! Unless you were born with a silver spoon in hand or married someone who was, in one-way or the other, you have to make that MONEY.
We all work for someone, most for the “man” or, if self-employed, for the customer. You only get paid while on the job, but consider what it takes to show up and keep the job. First you need the basics, food, shelter and clothing. You need sleep and you need to get to and from work. None of this pays ten cents, it just costs you.
In order to work I need to stay alive, I need to eat, but I don’t get paid for eating. I need sleep, but I don’t get paid for it. I need a place to stay out of the elements but I have to pay for it. I need to stay clean or I will get fired for smelling bad, but I don’t get paid for bathing. I need to get to and from work, but I get no help with the car payment. I have to shop for my food and clothing on my own time without pay.
When I finally do get my paycheck, wonder of wonders, a lot of other folks decided that they were entitled to part of it. My Uncle Sam, my friends at the state, my friends at social security, my friends at the disability insurance joint. After I cash my check and start spending it on the things I need to work (remember the clothes and gas), I find I have other friends helping me out of sales tax, federal gas tax, and who knows what else tax.
I need to have a phone at home so my employer can call to let me know that I don’t need to come to work today. I need a cell phone so I can conduct business on my way to and from work. I need a computer at home so I can keep up with my e-mail from work. I need to get my hair cut so I don’t get fired. I need shoes so I don’t cut my feet and have to stay home from work. I need a coat so I don’t freeze to death on the way to and from work. I’m getting old and can’t see as well as I use to so I need glasses to see to work. (Eye care not covered by employers insurance) so I buy glasses so I can work. My teeth are rotten and need fixed so I can take nourishment (not covered by insurance) so I buy a partial plate so I can chew my food to stay alive to work. My hearing is getting bad and I need a hearing aid so I can hear what my boss says, so I don’t get fired for not listening. I need to buy over-the-counter pain relievers so I can get some sleep at night and not stay up all night with back pain I got from lifting stuff at work!
I went to school for twelve years (well almost, I got kicked out in my senior year) so I would have skills needed so I could work for someone. I paid to go to a community college for two years so I would have even better skills so that I had more of a chance to stay employed. I just received a letter from social security that said that I can now wait till I’m 66 not 65 to receive full benefits. So it looks like I get to work another year for that. I just looked at the money in my 401k program at work and it looks like I have enough saved to buy a medium sized car when I retire. When I send in the mortgage payment each month almost 90% goes to interest, remember those nice folks at the bank? I have gotten used to having hot water at the house so now every month I get a bill from P.G.&E. the Water Company and the sewer district and don’t forget the phone bill plus the extra line for the computer! Now all of this doesn’t count the garbage bill so I can have the trash for the food containers hauled away nor the paper and cable TV subscription that keeps me abreast of the latest news so I can talk intelligently at work about current events. How about the washer and drier that keep my clothes clean for work!
So it went like this. First I got hooked on hot water, I’m sure I wasn’t even aware of it at the time, nor understood the ramifications of the addiction. Then it was the indoor plumbing and the next thing I know I’ve worked for 40 years trying to pay for the lifestyle that has so many gizmo’s that you “need”. What! You don’t have a TV/microwave/self-cleaning oven/surround sound/DVD/digital camera/garage door opener/heated spa/central heated/air conditioned/satellite/cable/DSL/personal computer? I sometimes lose track of why I put up with it all.
So why would anyone suffer this lifestyle? It’s simple, it’s so I can ride that Harley and enjoy all the ““free”dom””.
M/C HISTORY NO. 10
“Babbling Buzzard” By Ron Peck
Have you ever heard anyone having complained about their new Harley being too loud? How about it has too much power? Too much chrome? Me neither, so why do they make them that way? I’ll bet the Motor Company sends a thank you card to the E. P. A. every year giving praise for the requirements the bureaucrats have laid on them to provide non-polluting vehicles to the public. Out of the box a new Harley sounds like an electric lawn mower with a miss. If you get it going fast enough it will pull the grade on a freeway overpass if you shift down twice! But the Motor Company has the answer to these annoyances———- Screaming Eagle parts! So after you bolt on new mufflers, air cleaner, jet kit/injection map, cams, lifters, push rods, rocker arms, heads, big bore cylinders, forged pistons and ignition system it sounds like an Harley! Wow! And you only had to take out a second mortgage on the house! What a country! So what do I call my precious before it becomes a “Screaming Eagle”? (See title of this article for my designation)
So the bureaucrats in all their wisdom have caused the manufacturer to produce a vehicle that meets their stringent air and noise requirements so the planet will be saved from destruction and it ends up on the showroom floor totally safe for the environment. That is until a real humanoid buys it and yanks all the offending crap off the machine so it will run and sound like the Harley-Davidson they wanted to start with. Now don’t you suppose if those folks at the Environmental Protection Agency had left well enough alone the Motor Company would have produced a machine that would have mostly been environmentally friendly? It may have had a little louder exhaust note and ran much better and appealed to a least some of the humanoids? They would have left the mufflers and fuel mixture alone and been happy with a “stocker” but no, they created a machine that no one leaves alone. (D. U. M. B.) Department of Uninformed Misguided Bureaucrats. At least your Harley doesn’t come with a back-up alarm, seat belts and air bags. Yet! We can thank someone in procurement that they didn’t go with Firestone tires.
While I’m bashing my government friends I’d like to take a couple of more shots. How about the decision to break up Ma Bell? There are now a bazillion cell phone providers and where ever I’m at I should have used one of the others, because the one I have don’t have no stinking tower in the area. (DUMB) How about energy de-regulation, that’s slick, now I live in a dark cave with no heat, because I cannot afford to turn either on! (DUMB) OK my blood pressure indicator light is starting to flash red, enough of this.
At least our new President was a drunk, I can relate to that, and I hear his buddy Dick had two DUIs, now were getting somewhere! Maybe now we can get our minds out from under the desk in the oval office and on to some real American stuff. I’m thinking drill a few oil wells in the tundra and maybe start some shit with Sadam. Who knows, it may be that the P.G.&E. bill and the fact that the Motor Company has its hands tied will go the way of the Saber Tooth and HOGs will fly!
How about the new invention that’s making it’s way around the media, code named “IT” or “Ginger”? It is reported to be a one-wheeled scooter for personal transportation and will revolutionize the planet, as big as the P.C. and the Internet combined! Sell that Harley now before its too late! Actually, I looked thru the patent info posted on the web and it has more to do with how it’s powered than the application itself. Have you heard of the “Sterling” engine? It is a hot air engine, whose concept has been around for years, called an external combustion engine. Hot air is produced outside the combustion chamber and the force of the expanding air drives the piston. Kind of like a steam engine but different. Bottom line, it is way less polluting and way more fuel efficient than the internal combustion engine. Awesome stuff. The articles in the media say the inventor will be richer than Bill Gates in five years!
So you’ve seen the videotapes they sell showing a fire in the fireplace or fish swimming in an aquarium? Well when H-D starts using the Sterling engine, Screaming Eagle will come out with an audiotape player with a bunch of different internal combustion engine sounds that go where the mufflers used to be and a jar of carbon monoxide you can release into the atmosphere, for us old timers!
This is a article that I did with Linda Wilsmore and was published in the French magazine “MOTOS d’hier”. The magazine article is on this site under “Magazine”
Cafe Racer on the Couch
Interview – Linda Wilsmore – London Desk
What makes the perfect cafe racer? This question must have been asked a thousand times. The answer of course, is down to personal preference, and here, lifelong Triumph fan and ex-racer Ron Peck of California tells me about his own experiences and hopes that it will give you plenty of useful tips and ideas.
CR: What sparked you to build this Rickman/Triumph?
“I was in the United States Air Force and stationed at Lakenheath, England in the fall of 1961 and all of 1962. I was 17 years old and looking for some excitement, I got my name and a snake tattooed on each forearm at a parlor in Piccadilly Circus, they cost me 2s 6p each. I told the guy that I had owned a Cushman motor scooter back in California and he said I should check out the Ace Café. That was one of the local hang outs for Mods and Rockers. So the next time I had a pass I caught the train to London and a bus to the Ace. I only was there once but I saw a dozen bikes (Triumph’s and BSA’s mostly) that were modified with low bars, swept back exhaust and rear set pegs, something I had never seen in the U.S. I pined over buying a bike and riding back there but my pay at $58.00 a month never allowed such extravagance. I never forgot that experience, so fast forward to 2006 and I get a call from a guy that was in town visiting his mother from the Cayman Islands and had this bike in the garage. He had purchased it 10 years earlier as a project and had never completed it. He heard that I was into Triumph’s and called and ask if I was interested in buying it as he was headed back to the Cayman’s the next day. The bike was mostly there and consisted of several boxes of parts the Rickman frame and the Triumph engine. I bought it for $3,000.00”
CR: So you have been into motorcycles for most of your life?
“Yes, after I got out of the Air Force I went to college at night and worked in a motorcycle shop days. The shop, Bill Brownell Honda Triumph, hired me as a salesman and later parts manger and finally general manager. I worked there from 1968 until 1977. During that time I raced ¼ mile and ½ mile dirt tracks, mostly on Triumph 650s but I also ran a couple of Bultaco’s and BSA spitfire hornets. I raced every weekend during the spring summer and fall and wrenched on the bikes in my spare time. My wife worked as a score keeper at the track and my daughter grew up at the track. Road Racing was never a big venue on the west coast, mostly desert, hare scrambles and dirt track. After my racing days I rode off road nearly every weekend. Northern California has thousands of miles of logging and fire roads and we also rode a lot in the Nevada desert and in Baja California. My wife and I both still ride, and she is a Track Day junky on her CBR 600RR to the tune of 30 or so days a year.”
CR: Tell us how you began with this restoration?
After I brought the bike home I let it set in the corner of the shop for year and soak. Every so often I’d dump the parts that came with the bike out on the floor and paw through them trying to decide what to keep and what needed pitched. In the end I kept the frame, tank, seat, front fender and engine. I replaced every thing else. I never liked the look of the disc brakes that was part of the Rickman Café Racer kit. (The kit came with everything except the engine and electrics) The kit also included a ½ faring but was missing from this bike. I striped the bike down to the bare frame and started by trying to complete a rolling chassis first. In the meantime I disassembled the engine and sent the cases and covers out to be polished. When you polish the cases on a Triumph engine you commit yourself to building everything else on the bike to a high level of finish. I’ve always admired the Grimeca four leading shoe front hubs as old school road race components. So I ordered one from AJS in England along with the twin cable lever set up and the optional speedometer drive. I sent the hub out to the metal polisher as well. I ordered polished stainless steel spokes from Buchanan and a shouldered 19” polished WM2 rim to complete the front wheel. That left me with what to do about the rear wheel. I had an old 70’s Triumph conical hub I purchased on EBay for another project. I’ve seen these on other bikes where the hub was bored with lightening/ventilation holes and it really transforms the looks. I have a rotary table for the mill, so I bored the holes using a hole saw mounted in the chuck; I also slotted the brake backing plate on the table and sent those to the polisher as well. I had a set of Ceriani road race forks new in box and a set of 35mm clip-on so I replaced the Rickman forks with those and purchased a new set of shocks from Icon (a Koni look alike). Laced and trued the wheels mounted a pair of new Dunlop 4:10 x 19 TT100’s front and rear mounted it all to the frame and had a roller!
CR: How did you proceed with the rest of the build?
Next came the engine; after the polishing the cases I started with cleaning the sludge trap in the crankshaft and replacing all the bearings and bushings. I replaced the valve guides and valves and did a three angle grind on the seats installed new pistons +.040 over in a fresh bore job. I installed Tri-Cor Drag/TT cams and a new pair of Amal concentric carbs. Reassembled the engine and bolted it back in the frame. Now the hard part, how to finish it out. I never liked the stock Rickman colours so I stewed over what colour and decided on black. I sent the tank, seat and front fender out to my friend Don Lee for painting. After the black was on and before the clear coat I sent the tank, seat and fender to my friend Robert Carter for the Triumph logo (his design) the 59 club logo on the seat and the pin striping and then back to Don for the clear coat. Don’s work is flawless and my thought was to enter the bike in the Legend of the Motorcycle Concourse in Half Moon Bay California again in 2008. I won the class in 2007 with my Triumph Flat Track Racer and I knew the bike had to be up to a high state of finish. I bought a Dunstall replica ½ fairing to mount as well but after spending hours building the necessary brackets and mounting I decided a naked bike looked better. The tank on the Rickman is secured to the frame with a leather strap that is soaked in water and stretched over the tank and connected to tabs on the frame, the old one was dried out beyond use so I had a new on made by the local leather shop. The strap was natural tan in colour and looked out of place on the black tank. I decided to dye it black and polish it and it looked a lot better. After much debate with myself I ordered some Rocker looking studs on the internet and installed them on the strap—wow it was totally the look I was after. I made up new clutch, throttle and brake cables along with a new rear brake bell crank and rod. The stock Rickman brake setup used hydraulic cylinder, hoses and slaves to actuate the brakes so it took some engineering to come up with a rear brake system that looked correct and period. I used a Boyer ignition set up along with a Typanium regulator. The stock Rickman used a fibreglass box behind the engine to house the battery and the electrical components and again very ugly. I fabricated a new battery mount behind the gearbox, mounted a modern fuse box under the seat and wired a two position key switch so in the first position the ignition was hot but no lights would come on just in case you need to run with the lights off at night!!! In the second position a relay switch would heat up the various lighting circuits for normal operation. I always liked the look of the Lucas headlight mounted high on the fork tubes with the clip on’s below (not a very comfortable riding position but hey it looks cool (my opinion). So some Castrol bean oil in the frame, gear box and primary oil a little gas in the tank and bingo after a little tickle it fires first kick.
CR: So, how did you do with the Rickman at the Legend of the Motorcycle Concourse in Half Moon Bay, California?
I won! It is a world wide event and you have to submit photos of your entry for acceptance. I feel lucky just to be accepted. What was over the top for me was the fact that I not only received the second God of Speed trophy but that Mark Wilsmore was there to look over the bike and hand me the trophy. Talk about going full circle since visiting the Ace back in 1962, and its subsequence closing and then Mark reopening it after all those years! I was quite humbled by it all.
CR: Have you taken the bike to any other events?
Well yes I have, we made the trip to Mid-Ohio Raceway in July, 2008 for the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days. I entered the Rickman in the British Café Racer class and the BritBikes.com ride in bike show. I won best of show at the BritBike.com event and second in the Café Racer event sponsored by the Ace Café. I was interviewed by Mike Seate for a future show dedicated to Café Racers to air on Speed Channel this fall. I was also contacted by Bertrand Bussillet a writer for Moto Journal – Café Racer magazine of France. I meant up with Bertrand at Laguna Seca Moto GP in early July before we left for Ohio. He took a bunch of photos of the Rickman and interviewed me for publication in the November/December issue.
What is the future hold for your Rickman?
I have consigned it to be auctioned off at The Mid-America Auction in Las Vegas in January 2009. I’m selling the Rickman and the Triumph Flat Tracker. It’s time to move on to other projects and besides the fun is in the building of the bikes, once they are completed I start loosing interest. I’m looking forward to my next project. A Triumph of course!