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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2014 Velocette Owners’ Club Ride to Nowhere Rally

arrival in Salmon Idaho

Motley crew! Ron shows a bit of leg, and the chair shows a bumper sticker we found in Idaho.

Once again the Captain of Industry, Fred Mork pulled a team together for the 2014 Velocette Owners’ Club annual rally. This year the travellers included me, Jeff, Ron and Jeanne the babysitter. No, she wasn’t hired to watch us, but she sure helped out!
The rig in Challis

The rig in Challis

The bikes included my Buell, 3 Velocettes, a BSA, a Triumph and Mork’s Matchless.

The route was straight-forward north and east, 80 to 93 to Salmon, Idaho.

When did Nevada get so big? Reno flew by, but after that time slowed down and the universe expanded. Somewhere just past Lovelock, we had a flat tire. It wouldn’t be a road trip with Mork is incomplete if he doesn’t get a chance show off how efficient he is with tire changes.

Flat tire

Flat tire


Fourth of July fireworks filled the sky as we drove into Twin Falls. Obviously the explosives are not banned here.

We camped in Twin Falls and in the morning got two new tires. Yes, two. A second was ready to blow.

We drove without incident to Century 2 Campground in Salmon, Idaho. Dinner was at the Junkyard, reputably the best food in Salmon.

Don't be scared of the name or front - the food at the Junkyard Bistro was good!  See the smiles on happy

Don’t be scared of the name or front – the food at the Junkyard Bistro was good! See the smiles on happy diners.

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Spring Package o’ Bees

A package is one queen and four pound of bees in each nuc

A package is one queen and four pound of bees in each nuc

One cold winter day, Jeff decided to order a queen bee. Our initial hive began when a friend gave us a swarm and we’ve collected swarms whenever possible since then, but Jeff felt that catching swarms was too uncertain. We needed an influx of bees and so we were going to buy them. The order has to be placed early – queen bees sell out!

He placed an order for two packages. Each package consisted of one queen with four pounds of bees. Yes this type of package can be sent through the mail, but since the source, (Vacaville), was not far from us, Jeff chose the pick up option. Our pick up date was set for a Saturday in March.

Well, the date approached and we realized that Jeff would be at a racetrack in southern California. I would get the experience of picking up the bees and installing them alone.

The pick up window was 8 to 10 a.m. That morning I had a nightmare about finding a fabric bag of bees in a freezer. Despite that, my departure had a great soundtrack; the local radio station, http://www.ozcatradio.com played Joan Armatrading’s Love and Affection. After that the drive was non-eventful, a slog east on 80, and then off into the wild flatlands north of Vacaville.

Entrance to where I got the bees

Entrance to where I got the bees


I arrived at a large corrugated metal garage with an open door. Bee people are not necessarily human oriented, so that may explain why I was completely ignored, or maybe because I was the only female (drone revenge?) or maybe because our order was so small. Pickups, men, six or more packages vs. me, a Mini Cooper, two packages…
Bee packages in the backseat of the Mini Cooper

Bee packages in the backseat of the Mini Cooper


I wasn’t looking for someone to hold my hand, but a little more instruction on how to install the packages would have been helpful. In retrospect, seeing the container that housed the queen would have been extremely useful. In the nuc the cage is hanging down next to the feeder; the queen is covered with bees.
The package on top of the bees future home

The package on top of the bees future home


Installation

Step one: make sure you have the new home for the bees set up. We put hive bodies together with a mix of frames, everything from old comb to new foundation, entrance limiters and water.

Step two: Wait until evening. This gives the bees a chance to bond with the queen. Also as the temperature cools at the end of the day, the bees are more likely to group together to stay warm.

Step three: Suit up and gather your tools. The idea is to secure the queen’s cage at the top of a frame. I took the recommended push pins with me. These did not work! In retrospect, I think something to tie the cage to a frame, like twisties, would have been more effective.

Two empty queen cages

Two empty queen cages


Step four: Remove the feeder. That’s all! Set it aside. (On package #1, I was following some instructions that recommended slamming the nuc to shake the bees to the ground at this stage. This worked, for a moment. Then the bees began to swarm out.)
This can had sugar water in it and was easy to lift out of the nuc

This can had sugar water in it and was easy to lift out of the nuc


Step five: Remove the queen. (Package #1 queen was lively. In fact, I could have sworn I heard her scream. Package #2 queen was very docile.)

Step six: Look at the cage and figure out what is required to secure it to the top of a frame. Find the sugar cube and remove the cap over it. These plastic cages had an alternative cap that could be opened – that too be honest I didn’t see until we removed the empty cages.

Step seven: shake the bees from the nuc into the hive.

All this seems straight forward, but doesn’t capture my experience with the first package. After slamming the nuc down, the bees swarmed out, and I think bees from our established hive joined them. Four pounds of bees is a lot of bees when they are flying around you. Add to that the frustration of push pins that are not long enough to secure the queen cage and a queen that is screaming at you and you have a not pleasant experience. Both queen cages ended up near the bottom of the hives. Although package #2 was calmer, the air was still full of confused bees. Plus the bees don’t pour out of the hole in the middle of the nuc easily.

If I were to do this again, I would have ready a variety of ways to secure the queen cage. I would not slam the nuc until I was ready to pour and I would remove one side and attempt to pour that way instead of through the middle of the top. Of course packaging changes so the important thing is to be clear on the goal.

These bees are busy drawing out comb on foundation

These bees are busy drawing out comb on foundation


10 Days Later or Only Time will Tell

It’s important to give the bees a chance to release the queen from her cage and get settled before getting in the hive to remove the queen cell and measure success. Some sites recommend 5 days, but others say ten. Jeff and I opted for the longer time.

During the week I noticed that our old hive appeared to be battling robber bees and there was a lot less activity at this hive than before the installation of the two new hives. It was as if it had swarmed, which is possible, but the timing seemed odd. Also I noticed in our garden honey bees showed a new interested in the pink poppies.

On day ten both new hives show healthy behavior. Worker bees are returning with yellow, beige and orange pollen. Comb has been built. The hive with the rowdy queen is the most lively.

Bees coming in with colored pollen

Bees coming in with colored pollen


Interestingly, when Jeff and I opened the hive with the lively queen, the bees poured out of our old hive. Once we removed the empty queen cage and closed this hive, the old one settled down. I don’t understand the relationship between these two hives, but there appears to be one.

After looking in the hives and removing the empty queen cages, I came inside and found the radio playing Joan Armatrading’s Love and Affection once more.

Two bees in a pink poppy

Two bees in a pink poppy

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The Art of Starting a Velocette

There’s a lot written about the Velocette starting procedure. In fact, every Velocette owner should consult their owner’s manual for the correct specific procedure. Below are the very basic steps without any jargon or technical terms. Those are more accurate, but hey, sometimes the experience of a novice may contain insights.

Why did it take me over ten years to master this? Well the mystique intimidated me; starting a Velocette seemed to require initiation into the arcane subject of how the engine worked. As in you can’t start the bike if you don’t understand what the motor is doing. Or, it’s not just application of weight, you have to work with the motor.

Great! What if I’m not an engineer or even a mechanic, just a girl who wants to go for a ride?

Well, that’s not the Velocette way. If that’s what you want, get a modern bike with an electric start!

Still want to delve into this subject? Okay here goes.

First you have to prepare the bike. It’s essential to be confident that your bike is set up as correctly as possible. The following steps are specific to starting a bike that is in working order.

1. Turn the gas on (there should be some in the tank!)

2. Turn the oil on (there better be oil in the bike!)

3. Set the Advance/Retard Lever to Retard. This retards the spark timing and will prevent the bike from kicking back at you. I’ve heard stories of grown men breaking legs or being launched 40 feet into the air because they did not take this precaution.

advance retard lever

advance retard lever


4. Get fuel into the carburetor. There are two primary ways of doing this. Which method you choose depends on the ground surface and your comfort with the weight as well as the bike. Some specific bikes prefer one method over the other.

Lean the bike to the right side for bikes with a remote float or
Tickle the float bowl (raises the fuel level in the float bowl)

Tickling the float bowl

Tickling the float bowl


Okay, once you’ve done all that, the bike is prepped and ready to go!

Next you the rider must supply the energy to overcome inertia.

Although the steps below seem straightforward there are many variables. Some people like to do this procedure while the bike is on the kickstand. Others perform the steps while standing next to the bike. I found a technique that enabled me to get the maximum effectiveness out of the kick after many hours of trial and error. But it can be done!

1. Find compression. This means to kick down on the lever until you feel resistance. At this stage, you can kick the lever with a kind of pumping action a few times. The location of the compression will move and you can put it into your preferred area. This has to be determined with experience.

2. Pull in the Compression Release. (Cute little lever under the handlebar on the left.)

3. Push the kickstart lever down smoothly and slowly enough to listen to what the motor is doing. You want to pass the first wheeze and begin the second. The sound is important! That’s the motor telling you when the cams open up, whatever they are.

4. This time allow the kickstart lever come back up with great focus. This is the big one! You have to maximize the effectiveness of the next kick. The best starting position is about 10 0’Clock, where your kick will have maximum effectiveness.

At this point you are communicating with the bike through that kickstart lever. Do not release it. Your foot and the kickstart lever need to stay connected.

5. Kick straight down. Use your weight, your muscle, what you got.

Ta Da!
Of course if it doesn’t work, then repeat the steps above.
Pay attention to what the bike is telling you.
Yes there are other variables (choke, throttle, etc), but they’ll have to be discussed in Advanced Velocette Starting

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The Grinch stole Christmas and someone’s forks

The Grinch visits the Loub Ranch on Christmas Eve

The Grinch visits the Loub Ranch on Christmas Eve

Happy Holidays to All!

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24th Annual Northern California All-British Ride

Beginning line up - just one portion!

Beginning line up – just one portion!

On Saturday November 2nd, 169 fans of British Bikes registered for a spirited romp through Marin and Sonoma Counties. This was the 24th anniversary of a ride that began as a birthday celebration and has become the event that closes the riding season. Often the ride includes some rain, but this year the weather was sparkling, crisp, cool and clear, and the sunshine brought many riders out.

The one requirement of this ride is that all riders be mounted on a British motorcycle. This means that the Cockney on the BMW is not welcome to ride with the group. The owner of a Velocette who leaves that bike at home and shows up on a Harley is also not accepted. I parked my Buell and rode on the back of Jeff’s Velocette Endurance.

The Velocette Endurance

The Velocette Endurance


Although it may seem limiting, this one rule encompasses a wide spectrum of bikes, from AJS’s and Ariels to Vincents and Velocettes and including lots of other marques in between. Old or new, doesn’t matter. Shiny or patina-ed, original or heavily customized, all are welcome, as long as they are British.
Shiny BSA and Triumph

Shiny BSA and Triumph


Not as shiny, but love the color combination

Not as shiny, but love the color combination


Don't know the story on this one, but I liked it

1971 Eddie Mulder Triumph


This red Vincent is museum quality

This red Vincent is museum quality


The route meandered through rolling hills and along the coast, and stopped at the romantic coastal towns of Tomales and Bodega before returning to the Marin French Cheese factory for a meal and awards ceremony. There was much story telling, a few reunions, some introductions, and lots of adventures. The misadventures included one flat tire and a few falls, but the potential hard landings were more in the style of the 3 Stooges and accompanied with plenty of laughter.
Lou Brero got an award for making the ride on this BSA

Lou Brero got an award for making the ride on this BSA


Other winners included Ron, the LifeSaver, Jim for the oldest bike, his Velocette KTS; Jeff got the Wanker award, and John whose Norton

Other winners included Ron, the LifeSaver, Jim for the oldest bike, Jeff got the Wanker award, & John whose Norton picked up a nail

Although I was told that I looked like a little backpack, and snug as a bug on the back of the Endurance, I prefer to ride my own bike. It’s a lot more exciting!

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