Monday, July 27, 2015


The competitors parade...
Here's an important way Wheels+Waves is different from most other motorcycle shows; it includes two days of riding through the exceptional Basque countryside, and an impromptu street race - the 'Punks Peak' hillclimb.  While this race started out quasi-legally on a lonely hillside farm track back in 2013, it developed into a sanctioned event the next year, complete with police assistance and an ambulance in case of trouble.  For better or worse, the competition, while still very much in the spirit of fun (there's nothing to win but glory), has heated up over the years, and the 'run whatya brung' entrants are being overshadowed by purpose-built drag bikes, and very hot street racers come to show what they've got cooking.
Mark Upham - owner of Brough Superior - rode Sam Lovegrove's Royal Enfield special over the weekend, which he says changed his life. 'I've spent the last 11 years building up motorcycle businesses, and never riding for pleasure.  This was so much fun, I've decided to cede some control of the business, so I can ride and enjoy life more.'  Amen to that, my friend.
The ride from Biarritz to Jaizkibel mountain takes about 45 minutes, with roads winding mostly along the Cote Basque, Corniche, and through several villages on the way to Hondarribia in Spain, the last town before climbing into the mountains.  This year many thousands of bikers made their way up the mountain, and surprisingly the ride didn't feel like a clump, possibly because so many people get temporarily lost en route!  The view at the top of the ridge is commanding, taking in the whole of France's coastline as it merges into Spain, and the lovely city of San Sebastian just beyond. There are wild horses and fenced-in sheep wandering the expansive meadows, which shortly resonate to the sounds of throttles held wide.  Competitors are flagged off two by two in rounds of elimination, paired roughly by capacity.
El Solitario's David Borras catches a quick nap on his beloved Panhead, after his usual late night revels...
It was widely expected that the day's highlight matchup would be the Lucky Cat Garage dustbin-faired 'Sprintbeemer', which won last year, vs the Swiss Young Guns Garage sprint Moto Guzzi, which had just been completed and certainly looked formidable.  As the races proceeded, a wild card was thrown in the mix, as the Revival Cycles 'Hardley', with its 100+hp tuned engine, was as fast as anything else on the road, and better suited to the twisty hillclimb than the drag-slick clad sprinters.  When finally paired against the Young Guns Guzzi, determined Texan Alan Stulberg pipped the Swiss machine at the line, and the final was to be Seb Lorentz vs. Stulberg.  The Revival founder surprised - shocked? - the assembled thousands with his hairy starting/riding style, his first off accompanied by the day's most vertical wheelie.    Still, Seb's much-developed BMW racer took the flag at the end, although as usual the Revival gang caught everyone's attention - as a 'factory' effort, they must have felt vindicated in flying a couple of bikes to France!
Vincent Prat's H-D VL bob-job
Rare Benelli Tornado 650cc vertical twin, in cafe racer guise
David Borras is pensive on Shinya Kimura's Yamaha 'Faster Son' build
Southsider boss Vincent Prat opens the racing while flat-out on the Brough Superior 'Pendine' racer
Shinya Kimura's 'Faster Son' Yamaha, a factory commission, is revealed in Hondarribia, during a post-race party in town - the same spot the Southsiders and myself had lunch in 2009, and discussed the future...

Dimitri Coste and his BSA B50 flat-tracker 
A detail shot of the BSA's essential equipment...
A lovely Ducati 250cc cafe racer
Watching the action on Jaizkibel mountain

Sam Lovegrove's beautiful Norton M30 International - the rigid version, my fave

The Japanese BMW 'Soulfuel' custom contingent rode, and raced, their gorgeous machines - this is the 46Works 'Clubman Racer'
The BMW Soulfuel by Hide, the 'Boxer'
Lunch was grilled on site, with my favorite dry Basque cidre sold by the jug.
Maxwell Paternoster, the artist known for his Corpses from Hell blog.  Note his patch - from 'The Ride' special edition
Not junk.  Dig the custom louvre paint job - never seen that on an MV!
Men's File magazine publisher and now filmmaker Nick Clements 
The Norton Commando graciously loaned by the Southsiders for my use on the weekend.  Great and trouble-free bike!
Another shot of the Commando, with its scallped paint job
Alan Stulberg and Andy from Revival Cycles, hoisted by Fred Jourden of Blitz Motorcycles, at the prize-giving ceremony in Hondarribia
Riding down the mountain with Max on his modded Honda 110 and Valeria on her El Solitario H-D
Sam Lovegrove prepping the Brough Superior SS100 'Pendine' racer 

Sebastien Lorentz of Lucky Cat Garage takes kudos for his Punks Peak win on the Sprintbeemer, with the Southsiders, Revival, Blitz, and Young Guns on stage too.  Yours truly gave a speed about the history of Wheels+Waves, which began in 2009 when the Southsiders graciously invited me for a ride in the Basque mountains (there were 13 of us), and grew annually into the monster it is now.
Shinya and Ayu with the 'Faster Son' Yamaha
The crowd sings 'Happy Birthday' to Shinya Kimura!
Sweet BSA B44 cafe racer
"Club Prive: le Rats"...and the El Solitario Malo Bueno
Southsider Jérome Allé, the man who makes it all function smoothly, and it did.  Terrific job! 
The Cherry's Co BMW 'Highway Fighter', one of my favorite customs ever, and the first decent attempt to bring the spirit of Ernst Henne's streamliner to the present.


Liudvikas said...

Hello, I really liked your blog! Vintage bikes is my passion! There is nothing better than riding motorcyle after hard day at work, not even sex! HAHA :D

Vince said...

Hello i em italian biker end i have a moto Guzzi le Mans III and guzzi T5. Vintage bikes is my passino end your blog it's fantastic!!

Vince said...

Hello my passion is vintage and i have a moto Guzzi le Mans III

Vince said...

Hello liudvikas i'm italian and my passion vintage bakes