Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ARIZONA ROAMING

Tom Ross rides toward Sedona on the Velocette Venom his father bought new...

The Velocette Owner's Club of North America is a simple club; no monthly meetings, and two events during the year - a 'Spring Opener' ride in the Napa Valley, and a 'Summer Rally'.  2012 marked the 30th year a bunch of Velocette geeks clumped together for a week-long, 1000-mile ride, making loops generally west of the Rocky Mountains, as far north as BC and Alberta, Canada, and as far south as the mountains overlooking Los Angeles (for a map of where we've been, click here). I joined the party late; this summer marked my 24th Rally - I missed 2010 when I was licking my wounds in Paris.  That's 24,000 miles, exploring the best two-lane riding roads the West has to offer, generally traffic-free and loaded with amazing scenery, almost always on a Velocette (either my Thruxton or KTT MkIV).  This year I rode a '65 Triumph Bonneville, and I've been guilty twice prior of bringing 'brand x' bikes; a 1974 Ducati 750GT and a 1931 Norton CS1, just to mix things up.  I actually sold the Norton CS1 after a mid-Rally ride-swap with an overbored 1937 Velo KSS Mk2, which was so much smoother and more genteel than the piledriving tough-guy Norton, I sought out an early KTT instead - no regrets there (the Norton now lives in Holland, being restored in the capable hands of John deKruif).

This year the rally made a cloverleaf from Flagstaff, Arizona, and explored the high country (above 6000') from the Grand Canyon to the Navajo/Hopi reservations on the mesas.  Amazingly beautiful place.  I can't fathom why more vintage bike clubs don't host long rides, there's absolutely nothing like it.  With plenty of knowledgable friends on hand, making repairs isn't daunting, although as the bikes are ridden more, problems become rarer, as the 'issues' get sorted out.  This year only one Velo out of 50 failed to complete the course, due to a worn-out magneto. Had he carried a spare, in two hours it would have been back on the road...
From the city museum in the little town of Jerome Arizona, some motorcycle history...a 1912 Indian
1915 Harley Davidson from our lunch stop; Dee Cameron's dad owned this from new, and drove it across the US...this was actually the first pre-'16 Harley I'd ever ridden, many years ago, and I was impressed with its speed, smoothness, and good handling.  It wobbled a bit at very low speed, but straightened out and sang along nicely with an open throttle.
Frank Recoder up close and personal with his Velocette Thruxton's GP carb...
Dee's workshop...Velocette MAC 350cc engine adorned with stuff
Ever to be known as 'Denise's bike', a rare blue Velo Venom
BSA A10 Road Rocket
Buggy of a former mayor of Jerome...
Not all Velocettes are black and gold...
Between 1959-64, a hillclimb terrorized the streets of Jerome, the 'Ghost City Hillclimb'...
Family heirloom #2; Dee's pop's Crocker special, a '36 hemi-head engine in HD frame with BSA gearbox.  Tasty.
The engine in question, plus distinctive lightening holes...everywhere
Family heirloom #3; a genuine 'California Cut-Down', the 1920s precursor to the 'Bob Job', this one with a JDH twin-cam engine.  Light and fast.
The man himself; nice to see you up and around, Dee
Mirek, Dai, and the Endurance.
Alison, the Enfield-killer, all the way from Melbourne
Lovely featherbed ES2 Norton
Crocker, Moto Guzzi Falcone...I witnessed a 'slow idle' contest in Montana a few years ago, which this Falcone won easily.  Bonk...bonk...bonk...

Gwen and Susan
When I say 'graciass' to Jim, I'm not saying thank you in Espanol...he got his saddle pad free from Home Depot's garden section...
Nothing a little Greeves trials outfit couldn't conquer...
The 'Ghost City Hillclimb' trophy cabinet...
Future inheritor of the Family Heirloom?
And now for something completely different; a JAP sports 500cc engine in an HD 'J' frame...
...with a BSA gearbox, of course...
Lotus XI far from home...wonder how the Coventry Climax engine fared in the desert?
El Presidente Jim Abbot with his Venom Endurance...
Mysterious appearance of a Joe Hunt magneto on a Velo...the first I've seen, actually
Loose junk thrown on the shelf...Triumph Trophy 'square barrel' engine...
Jeff Ward and his stone reliable BSA Road Rocket
Nice Velo Scrambler up front; while fast, they didn't handle as well as a BSA...
Oh Mary Ann, where are you now?
'Montezuma's Castle' National Monument; a misnomer, for the Aztecs never made it this far north...these were Anasazi dwellings
Father Olav and son Eric trying to fix sister Alison's borrowed Bullet, which was shaking itself to bits, losing significant bolts, and breaking brackets.  Ah, the process of emendment...
Pete and Atticus Young testing Kim's KSS...
How many of the Young family will fit on a sidecar?  Three, today...
Ghost City Hillclimb, with Porsche 356C  sports racer, equipped with a rollbar (the only car pictured using such...a very good idea with the steep cliffs lining the course)
Miner's transport from Jerome, AZ, where copper mines produced over $1Bn of ore before being shut down by the 1940s
Eric Hassel and the red Venom built up for this ride
A genuine BSA Rocket Gold Star (I asked if it has the 'A10' frame prefix); basically a Super Rocket with DBD34 attire, and somehow even prettier than the single-cylinder clubman racer is mimics.  While the big BSA single is more robust when hammered full throttle, the big twin is a more civilized beast, and certainly so when two-up.  
Blatant product placement; Ruby 'Belvedere' helmets taking in the Café lifestyle in Sedona...yes Ruby sponsors The Vintagent, but only because their helmets are amazing.
Susan wears a 'Ruby Red' Belvedere, available only at the Rue Hérold  Ruby boutique
A rare Velocette Scrambler occupies pride of place, with plenty of other fantastic iron.  Dee raced this at the Catalina GP last year...

Triumph TR2 slithering toward the checkered flagman on the Ghost City Hillclimb
Trophies?  Just stick 'em in the attic...
In its element; Velocette Venom Endurance model
Not many families have carried the kids along in a sidecar from when they were babies.  Pete and Kim Young are a rare pair

6 comments:

Evan C said...

I was bummed about missing Flagstaff already. This really smarts.

Anonymous said...

The Crocker Special appears to have
JD Cameron holes...

Melon, LBMC

David Blasco said...

"...and incredibly, nothing broke! Well, the Royal Enfield, of course..."

David Blasco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I salute Pete and Kim Young. Traveling as a family -with young children via vintage motorcycle in the deserts and mountains of the open West - is courageous and just super cool. Thanks for the inspiration! -JZ

OcchioLungo said...

Thank you Jared. We might be seen as courageous, or maybe just plain dumb and stubborn! But we do enjoy riding and the kids have seen a lot of the West via our bike travels. Maybe you can join us next July in the Sierras? :)