TT Motors Not So Annual Picnic

TT Motors Not so Annual Picnic flyer

TT Motors Not so Annual Picnic flyer

Robin Williams said, “If you can remember the ’60’s, you weren’t there.” Well, if you can remember TT Motors from Berkeley in the ’70’s or ’80’s, you might have been like me, safely on the outskirts of the motorcycle scene at that time. I would gaze longingly at the bikes on display, weekly, before grocery shopping at the Berkeley Bowl. Sometimes I’d converse with local characters like Paladin. Just think, if I’d spent more time inside the shop, I might have met Jeff decades earlier.

Anyway, if you were involved, the above flyer will trigger something like a memory. And yes, the gathering is real and in 2014.

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Day 5 Lochsa Lodge to Salmon, Idaho

Day 5 Lochsa Lodge to Salmon, Idaho

Line up in Darby, Montana

Line up in Darby, Montana


We finished the next segment of the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway, (U.S. Route 12), and found ourselves making a right turn onto 93 in Lolo, Montana. From here there was a straight run to Darby, Montana. Just because the road was straight, didn’t eliminate the possibility of beauty. There were little towns, and big horizons, all new to us.
Kim illustrates the contrast between the old and the new.

Kim illustrates the contrast between the old and the new.


Gas Station in Darby, Montana

Gas Station in Darby, Montana


Wooden carvings

Wooden carvings


After Darby the road climbs up to Chief Joseph Pass (elevation 7, 364 feet) and the border into Idaho. Then the road winds its way down to North Fork.
Terry in North Fork.  I wanted to get a video of him starting this bike.  He ran alongside to bump start it.

Terry in North Fork. I wanted to get a video of him starting this bike. He ran alongside to bump start it.


Cornering is a special challenge on motorcycles. Elevation changes, and distractions such as stunning views, rocks in the road, and oncoming traffic are part of the mix. If I’m not in my zone or feeling the syrup of wahoo, I just slow down and focus on being smooth. However I’m always trying to improve my riding skills. Sometimes I play with throttle control, or lean angle or how to read a corner. No where on this trip did we run into tight switchbacks, but the big sweepers with changing elevation gave me plenty to think about.

I was doing the latter when I noticed three modern Harley’s behind me. They passed me, but then I found I was keeping up with them. One slowed down and gestured for me to pass him. Hmmm. Now I was in the middle of their group. Then the two in front of me pulled onto a wide spot on the shoulder. I don’t know what the road etiquette is for this situation, but I wasn’t riding to meet anyone so I sped up and stayed alone until I reached North Fork where my riding partners were swapping stories and eating ice cream.

It was while we were finishing our ice cream that stories of a rider down came trickling in. Later we learned that Jim A. had some how “got into the marbles,” the gravel on the outside of a corner, and low-sided. The bike was dragged back, but Jim went on to the hospital, first in Hamilton and then transferred to Missoula. He had to have an operation on one ankle and stiches in a knee. We hope for a smooth recovery.

Scratched and scraped, but repairable.

Scratched and scraped, but repairable.

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Day 4 McCall to Lochsa Lodge

Day 4 McCall to Lochsa Lodge

Life in camp was good.  While Fred brought the killer coffee maker, John showed off a vintage tent that multitasked as a laundry line

Life in camp was good. While Fred brought the killer coffee maker, John showed off a vintage tent that multitasked as a laundry line


77 mile curve sign

Velo Road extraordinaire

North on 95 to Grangeville and then then 13 to Kooskia and then, and then, U.S. Route 12, the Northwest Scenic Passage Byway, This is one of my favorite roads, but don’t tell anyone. It’s beautiful, with lots of curves and spectacular views, places to access the river and not a lot of traffic.

In McCall I met a woman who lives and works in Boise and comes to McCall to fish and ride her bicycle on dirt trails. She said, “McCall is my heaven.” In Grangeville I spoke briefly with a woman who said she grew up in McCall but there were too many tourists there now. She loves Grangeville. One man told me that he used to live in Alaska, but he feels he can get more off the grid in Idaho than he ever did in Alaska. We’re barely scratching the surface as we ride through, but I can understand why Hemingway was attracted to this landscape.

On this road, parked bikes indicated someone was cooling off in the river.

On this road, parked bikes indicated someone was cooling off in the river.

At the end of today’s ride, we found ourselves in a beautiful campground. Others stayed in the lodge itself.

When we arrived at the campground, hundreds of these critters poked their heads up.  Their holes meant you had to watch where you were walking.

When we arrived, the open area was full of these critters. Their holes meant you had to watch where you were walking.


Our tents were behind the line of trees.

Our tents were under and between the trees.


Maintenance never ends

Maintenance never ends


How the other half live - Lochsa Lodge Cabins

How the other half live – Lochsa Lodge Cabins

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Day 3 Bellevue to McCall

Bellevue camp

Bellevue camp


Isobel and Derek surprised us at the camp. Derek was member #3 when the club started back in the dark ages and Isobel has voluntarily performed such duties as Club Treasurer for many years. Their presence made camping that much more festive. Still we had miles to go…

Between Hailey and Ketchum, road works closed one direction of traffic at a time. At one of the full stops, Jeff picked up a lug nut from next to Fred’s rear tire. We pulled over into the first available parking lot to check Fred’s tire and sure enough found he was missing one.

Disaster was avoided, but the road had further challenges for us. The following events were compounded by the fact, that the beautiful ribbon of asphalt avoided lunch in any disguise.

We retraced our route on 75 back to Stanley and then took 21 to Lowman. Somewhere along the Lowman – Banks road, we ran into more road construction. Instead of stopping in the line of traffic, a few riders went to the head of the line. I didn’t join them for two reasons, one I don’t know how Idaho state law deals with this, and two, I couldn’t see the head of the line and so wouldn’t know if oncoming traffic was headed towards me or not. (In other words I take the concept of ride your own ride to heart; the boys have lead me astray before). Anyway the actions of the riders infuriated an off-duty cop who got out of his car and yelled at Larry, another rider who had held back. There were humorous moments such as when Larry reminded him that he didn’t ride to the front and when the cop said, “No one drives the speed limit.”

Later in the day, when we finally found a place for lunch, a car driver felt impelled to come out of the café and yell at me for cutting him off. I didn’t know what he was talking about and did what I could to de-escalate the emotions; I just agreed with him. Then he pointed to someone else’s bike. Aha! It was a case of mistaken identity.

In between these two incidents was the near miss at the Wall of Death. At Banks we turned north on 55, the Payette Scenic River Highway. At the end of a straight stretch of road, just before the road turned to run alongside the river, traffic stopped. Just as we pulled up, a woman ran over to me and said, “It’s one of yours.” Terrifying words.

We rode around the cars to find Steve bleeding from head wounds and receiving first aid from a competent guy. Steve’s modern Royal Enfield was upside down and leaking on the wrong side of the road. He’d missed the turn, left tire marks on the cement retaining wall, flipped back, and bounced across the road into oncoming traffic. Fortunately he was wearing all the protective gear and was in great physical shape. He walked away from the accident with scrapes and bruises. His bike was totaled.

After a lot of wrestling, the guys were able to roll the bike to a wide space on the shoulder of the road.

After a lot of wrestling, the guys were able to roll the bike to a wide space on the shoulder of the road.


The Royal Enfield wears its orange tape

The Royal Enfield wears its orange tape


After all this we hit a patch of rain. This cooled things off, but lowered visibility.

By the time we reached McCall we were all a bit frazzled, but we found ourselves in a great camp, near the hotel where other members were staying, and another airport.

Steve on his feet.  Behind him the wrenching continues

Steve on his feet. Behind him the wrenching continues


Work on this beautiful Velo went from tense to intense

Work on this beautiful Velo went from tense to intense

Back at camp, Larry relaxes

Back at camp, Larry relaxes

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Day 2: Salmon to Bellevue (Hailey)

Jeff says okay.

Jeff says okay.

If this is Tuesday, we must be going south on 93.
One of the challenges of riding with other people on motorcycles is communication. Jeff and I often modify sign language from scuba diving to communicate basic needs. For instance in the above photo, Kim’s bike stopped and Jeff stopped to help her sort things out, but I saw this in my rearview mirror, turned when safe and came back. That put me on the opposite side of the road. Fortunately, there was no need to ride back to nearby Salmon. Jeff mimed okay, and we all prepared to continue the ride south.

The mighty Venom at the overlook

The mighty Venom at the overlook


Fred Mork and the view

Fred Mork and the view


93 to Challis and the Tea Cup Cafe and then onto 75, the town of Stanley, and the Sawtooth Scenic Byway. What spectacular roads and views! There was about 20 miles of straight road with mountains on the horizons. We passed through Sun Valley and stopped in Ketchum so I could visit Hemingway’s grave. Then we had coffee, well the best affogato (vanilla gelato smothered in espresso) at Velocio.
Hemingway's grave

Hemingway’s grave


Velocettes and Velocio

Velocettes and Velocio


Then we rode through Hailey and past the amazing line of private jets at the Friedman Memorial Airport to get to the campground in Bellevue. The road to the campground was torn up due to construction, but what’s a little more dirt?
Bellevue campsite from the road

Bellevue campsite from the road


Jeff does maintenance under the flight path of the nearby airport

Jeff does maintenance under the flight path of the nearby airport

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Day One: There and Back Again (Salmon, Idaho to Jackson, Montana)

John and the  riders meeting

John and the riders meeting

The Rally began with the Riders’ Meeting. President John gave the usual reminders to ride safely. He described the steep pass at the Montana border, and the need to shift down before entering corners especially when descending. The numbers were something like a 3000 foot elevation change in 15 miles.

Dan, who has some experience with roads in this area, added tips. Dick raised our consciousness in two ways. First he stated that if we don’t know the story behind the name of Dead Indian Pass, then we need to stop at Big Hole National Battlefield and learn about the Nez Perce Indian Tribe. Then he spoke of the need to gather and recycle crankcase oil, and accepted to take charge of this.

Velocettes and tipi

Velocettes and tipi


We need to remember our history!

We need to remember our history! Big Hole was an important stop on today’s ride. There is much more to our trip than the road.


The plan took us north on US Route 93, along parts of the Lewis and Clarke trail, and pass the Continental Divide to Highway 43. Here we turned east to Wisdom where we turned right (south) on Jackson for lunch.

Velocettes in front of Jackson Hot Springs Lodge

Velocettes in front of Jackson Hot Springs Lodge


Repairs sometimes got tense

Repairs sometimes got tense

More bikes parked across the street from the lodge.  Notice the snow on the hills.

More bikes parked across the street from the lodge. Notice the snow on the hills.

And then back again.

This was a great shakedown run, a test to see if the bikes were sorted or not. Although he hadn’t planned on riding the Matchless, Fred was talked into it. About 2o miles up the road he could feel it start to seize. Instead of risking serious damage, he pulled off and put on the orange tape which means, the bike had to go into the chase truck.

Fred and his Matchless ready for the chase truck

Fred and his Matchless ready for the chase truck


It also was a good warm up ride for riders like me who haven’t been riding much. Eager to get back into shape some of us took the recommended detour out to Shoup, despite the warning of gravel on the road. It wouldn’t be a Velo ride without some gravel or dirt roads. The ice cream was good and some took the time to cool off in the river. None of us needed fuel, but yes the pumps are still active. A few miles further, the road ends at the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area.
Pete, Kim and Dan in front of the Shoup Store

Pete, Kim and Dan in front of the Shoup Store

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VOCNA Rally – Sunday the gathering of the enthusiasts

Welcome to Salmon sign

Welcome to Salmon sign

Just as Jim A said at lunch, “there are an infinite number of parallel universes,” there are an infinite number of ways to arrive at a VOCNA rally. This year the most popular was with trailer, but the showing off of Velocettes and other bikes began early.

President John Stanley on his beautiful LE in the hotel parking lot

President John Stanley on his beautiful LE in the hotel parking lot

Fred and his Matchless

Fred and his Matchless

Pete and his amazing 1913 Veloce

Pete and his amazing 1913 Veloce

Steve and his modern Royal Enfield

Steve and his modern Royal Enfield

The Vintagent, Paul D'Orleans, was only in Idaho long enough to unload and reload his Triumph.  Supposedly he got a call he couldn't refuse from his publisher.

The Vintagent, Paul D’Orleans, was only in Idaho long enough to unload and reload his Triumph. Supposedly he got a call he couldn’t refuse from his publisher.

Ron gives Paul a ride back to the hotel.  There's no helmet law in Idaho.

Ron gives Paul a ride back to the hotel. There’s no helmet law in Idaho.

Rene and his Sportsman Velo

Rene and his Sportsman Velo

Alan brought an extra bike for Gerry.

Alan brought an extra bike for Gerry.

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