Thursday, July 2, 2015

Oak Hill Classic

Last Sunday was the inaugural Oak Hill Classic vintage road rally in Durham, N.Y.  The weather was challenging, esp. for a inaugural event, with rain and cool temperatures.  Despite this, ten interesting bikes and riders showed up.  The oldest bike was a '63 R-27 BMW ridden by Gabrielle Isenbrand.

 The next oldest was my brother Doug's 64 400 Norton Electra.


Doug achieved excellent oil containment for a British bike with the help of a catch bottle.
The smallest bike was Cater Willey's 125 CZ which his friend Jan, who's from the Czech Republic, rode.  Carter rode his 150 MZ, which had to be the bike with the least mileage: 54 Km.s on the clock.
The 150 MZ with 54 Km. and the 125 CZ behind it.
My sister-in-law, Amy, rode her CL 350 Honda, for which Doug had found a new license plate.

And, Rob Sigond rode the CL 350's predecessor on the ride: a CL77 Honda.

I rode my '68 Suzuki TC200, which may have been the second lowest mileage bike on the ride: 626mi.

But perhaps the most interesting bike was Jake Herzog's 'Grossa': an Ossa Pioneer motor in a Greeves chassis.  This was Jake's first real ride on the bike and he said it worked very well, though he thought it could stand to be geared up and the 12V headlight bulb blew.
Greeves chassis, Ossa motor and Honda fuel tank

note the horn

I didn't get a photo of Jack Cole CA 160 Honda Dream or George Ellis' Honda CB500, the biggest bike on the ride.  George was the one who laid out the route with Rick Synder assisting.  Mike Shia brought a Guzzi Eldorado, but didn't ride.
Trailer Queen
It was an excellent route of mostly county roads with very little traffic and a total of almost 89 miles.  There was drizzle for most of the ride, but some hard rain in the middle.  When we got back to the Oak Hill Volunteer Fire Dept., we were serve an excellent lunch.
George was hoping for more older bikes.  Let hope we get better weather next year and the event gets off the ground.

Owls Head Transport Museum

Recently,  I drove up to Maine to visit my dear friend Phyllis on Mt. Desert Island.  I brought my '68 TC200 Suzuki and we worked on her '78 V-50 Moto Guzzi.  We got it running better by adjusting the valves, cleaning the carbs and petcocks and fixed a problem with one of the front brakes.  We did a bit of riding around the Island through Acadia National Park, trading off the two bikes frequently.
When I returned home, I stopped at the Owls Head Transport Museum just south of Rockland, Me.  The Museum has planes, cars, motorcycles and the odd ship and railroad model.  Just inside the entrance was a Pierce four cylinder, a bike I've always admired for it's large diameter frame members.
The first hall off the entrance is titled 'Power' and the first thing I was attracted to was a cut away aircooled, supercharged, 28 cylinder (four banks of 7) radial Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major R-4360 aircraft engine.  Surely this has to rank as one of the all time great cut aways.
I tore myself away from the Wasp to find the Holy Grail:  a replica of the 1868 Sylvester Roper steam cycle (the original is in the Smithsonian Institute).
Notice the compressed air hose going to a regulator at the bottom of the boiler.  Evidently this has a working motor, though it wasn't running when I was there.  I've seen the original at the Smithsonian, though I'm told it's no longer on display, and I've seen replicas in the Motorcyclepedia Museum and the Barber Museum.  Both of these were done by William Eggers of Goshen, Ct. and they are non-runners.  I asked the woman at the desk who had made this replica and she didn't know, but said they had had it 'forever'.
It's interesting that they call it 1868, but then say Sylvester 'in 1865 created what is consider the first motorcycle.'  I have also seen it dated as 1867.  For those who aren't aware, I am related to Sylvester, his 2nd cousin, four times removed and, I subscribe to the 'Wandering Gene theory'.
Moving on to the other halls was a bit anti-climatic, but there were some other nice bikes among the cars and planes.
A 1901 Steffey motor bicycle
An unrestored Excelsior V-twin
A four cylinder Excelsior Henderson
A somewhat eclectic line up of bikes in the 'Quest for Speed' exhibit
Some neat micro cars including an Isetta and a couple of Crosleys
I'm not sure that I'd recommend going far out of your way to see the motorcycles but, if you're in the area, the Owls Head Transport Museum is worth a stop, especially if you're into cars and planes.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Grattan

From Road America,I drove to Chicago and spent three and a half days with some dear friends that go back to college days.  Once again, Ken Kales of The Sports Car Store let me use his shop facilities to work on my bike.  I tried to methodically check everything to cure what ever was wrong at Rd. Am.  I took the points out and dressed them, replaced the wire from the points to the coil, replaced the condenser, repaired the battery ground wire.  I found the ignition timing well retarded, but that could have been from removing and replacing the points.  I checked the valve clearance, which hadn't changed, and did a leak down test, which was excellent.  I checked the coil for resistance and found no evidence of shorting.  I took the carb apart and found that the tip of the air screw needle was broken off and jammed in the jet.   Knocked the broken off piece out of the jet and got on the phone to find a replacement.  But, I didn't think that was the problem, as I hadn't touched the screw in years  and suspect it had been that way for a while.  I didn't feel like I had found the smoking gun, but couldn't think of anything else to do.  I started it up and it seemed to run OK, but couldn't run it through the gears, so I went to Grattan with my fingers crossed.
The line up of spectator bikes at Grattan
I don't know which change or changes that I did made the difference, but the motor ran well at Grattan.  Unfortunately, I had lots of trouble with missed shifts.  I had had a few missed shifts at Rd. Am., but I had other problems to worry about.  Now it seemed to be getting worse.  It was almost exclusively on the up shifts.  More often than not, it would undershift from 2nd to 3rd and over shift from third to 4th, so I'd try to be very firm and deliberate for the former and lightly tap the shift lever for the later.  But, it wasn't entirely consistent.  I had a lot of slop in my shift linkage and I spent a fair amount of time tightening that up by bushing the arm on the shift shaft and replacing the clevises and pins in the linkage, but it didn't seem to help.
An A-50 BSA
Again, the 500 Premiere race was before the 350GP and we were gridded in front of 500GP, 500 Sportsman, Formula 500 and Vintage Superbike Lightweight.  I got a fair launch and then missed a shift and was swamped by the field.  Karsten Illg on his RD 400 based Yamaha won overall and F-500 with Tim Joyce winning 500 Premiere on Maurice Candy's Manx Norton.  Andrew Mauk and Wes Orloff, both on 450 Honda based Premiere bikes were having a good diced when Wes missed a downshift and ran off the track stalling the bike in a gravel trap and not finishing.  Kenny Cummings was next on his Seeley G-50, so I ended up 4th in class, though Alex Mclean came by on the 500 GP Mckeever Manx Norton, making me 7th overall.  My fastest lap was slightly faster than Kenny's, but my lap,times varied by some 3.5 seconds depending whether I got it in gear or not.
The 350GP race was gridded behind the 750 Sportsman and ahead of Formula 250 & 125.  Things went slightly better in this race, but I had token opposition in class as Paul Germain decided not to bump up from 250GP as his DT-1 Yamaha was running poorly, and I beat the other two starters, both on 250 Ducatis.  I finished behind two 750 Triumphs and three XS650/750 Yamahas and ahead of three Yamahas and a Triumph.
It rained hard over night and into the morning and I took it very gingerly in practice.  It stopped raining and the sun came out by the time racing started, but there was still water streaming across the track in several places.  Wes Orloff didn't start the race Sun., as his gearbox broke in practice.  Tim Joyce saved a big slide on the stream in turn #1 and pulled off after the first lap.  Kenny Cummings pulled off after the second lap.  Then it started to rain again and two 500 Sportsman bikes went down in the turn #10 'keyhole', with me having to take evasive action as one of the riders ran into my path.  The race was red flagged and on the restart, it was only Andrew Mauk and me in Premiere.  We were both trying to be really careful in the tricky conditions and I push Andrew hard, finishing a little over 0.1 of a second behind in third overall.  Andrew has been racing a long time in all disciplines and he said that when ever he raced on his birthday, he won a race.  He thought that streak was going it end this weekend racing against Tim Joyce on Maurice Candy's Manx, but he was wrong.  The streak continues.
Keith Leighty's CB450 based Premiere bike that Andrew Mauk rode to a 2nd and 1st
Keith and Andrew make a great team but they're unusual in that Keith lives in El Paso, Tx. and Andrew in Milwakee

The rain stopped again before the 350GP and the sun was out, but still lots of water streaming across the track.  The Robinson father and son on Triumphs sandwiched the Hargis father and son on Yamahas.  I got ahead of Pete Beyer and Mike Dixon, both on Yamahas, pretty early on, but they started to figure out conditions and both got back by me near the end of the race.  We swapped back and forth a bit and, in the end, I finished behind Pete in 6th overall, and 0.016 seconds ahead of Mike. After the race, I drained the oil out of my motor and a gear tooth came out with it.  I dropped the bike back off with Bill Himmelsbach on my way home and he took it apart and found two broken gears and the dogs badly worn on another.
3rd gear layshaft
5th & 3rd gear layshaft
Worn dogs on 4th gear layshaft

Road America 2015

After I had the trouble with my 350 Sprint at Summit Point, I dropped the bike back off with Bill Himmelsbach.  The intake valve had started to seize in the guide and the question was lubrication or clearance.  Bill found a partial obstruction in the oil feed through the rocker cover.  He also talked to Kibblewhite, the manufacturer of the valve and guide blank.  He ended up giving it more clearance than before and putting a different finish on it.  He then ran it on his DYNO, and everything seemed good.  I picked up the bike on my way to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wi.
The motor didn't want to start for the first practice Sat.,and I convinced myself that it didn't have any spark.  But, after much checking and futzing around, I realized that I did indeed have spark and evidently had just failed to flood the carb enough.  Somebody give me a dope slap.
I did get out for the second practice, but the motor ran very poorly with lots of miss-fire.  I changed the main jet, needle position, point gap, fuel hose from float to carb, changed the break-in oil, and charged the battery.
Starting to work of the ERTT
Some or all of that helped considerably, and the motor ran much better for my first race, my 'bump up' race, 500 Premiere.  I totally blew the start with the bike in neutral when the flag dropped.  Once I finally got rolling, I was a bit tentative, having gotten no good practice.  But, by the end of the 6 laps, I was starting to get into it and closed on Helmi Neiderer, finishing 5th in class and 8th overall.
I dropped the main jet again, and in the 350GP the bike ran better yet.  We were gridded behind the 750 Sportsman class.  I got a decent start this time, though Jack Parker and Paul Germain both got better starts (as they usually do).  I got by Paul and several 750 Sportsman bikes going into turn #1.  I got by Jack before the end of the lap.  I caught Pete Beyer and Nick Hargis on their XS Yamaha 750 Sportsman bikes and we went back and forth some. Nick Hargis is the son of the race leader Jeff Hargis and was competing in his third race weekend.  After passing me back a couple of times, he decided to follow me for a while and he picked up some tips, then went by again and pulled away.  I was able to get right on Beyer into the last turn, but he was easily able to out drag me to the finish line.  So, I won my class and finished 5th overall behind four XS Yamaha 750 Sportsmen bike. The day had been a steady upward trend and finished on a high note.
It rained some overnight and was raining for practice Sun. morning.  My bike ran terribly in practice with a heavy misfire under any kind of a load, and I pulled in after two laps.  I suspected it must have to do with the rain, as I had done nothing to the bike since I won the 350GP race Sat.  I pulled the points cover off and water came out, so I thought that must be it.  I cleaned everything up and sealed the cover and tried riding around the paddock; no better.  I found a high resistance in the battery ground cable and bolted a cable directly from the battery to the motor with on/off switch; no better.  I put a smaller yet main jet in the carb; no better.  I took the float apart, changed the spark plug, and checked the valve clearance.
Continuing to work on the ERTT
It stopped raining and the sun came out and I hoped that would make a difference.  I started the bike up for the 500 Premiere race and, as I was waddling down to pre grid blipping the throttle, the motor died.  I put it on starter rollers and it started, but died again.  And again.  And again. Then it wouldnt start and I did not start either race Sunday.  I was totally baffled, but some days are like that.
There's always a good turn out of Guzzi singles at Rd. Am.
A Sport 15? from the '30s
80 some odd years of evolution
A beautiful Bridgestone 350 GTR with 79K miles on the clock
It must have lost it's taillight lens wheelie-ing over backwards


Friday, May 29, 2015

7th Annual Rossi TT

Memorial Day weekend means the Steve Rossi Tiddler Tour, this year the 7th annual.
Fri. morning, I rode up to my brother and sister-in-law's house in Haddam, Ct. on my CBR250R beater bike.  Then, when I arrived, I took Amy's brand new '16 Moto Guzzi V-7 II Stone out for a ride.  It's a very nice bike with plenty of power and it steers very nicely.  I'd prefer slightly lower bars and more rear set footrest, but it's quite comfortable as is.  Then, I took my brother newly restored '64 Norton Electra.  We both agree that it seems geared too low which makes it very busy when the speed gets up there.  He's already got a bigger gearbox sprocket ordered.  But, it handles very well and is quite comfortable, and everything works including the electric starter and turn signals on the ends of the handlebar.
Sat., our friend Gordon Pulis rode up from Easthampton, Long Island, taking the ferry over to New London.  I went out on my Airone to give it a shake down before the next day's TT and met Gordon on the road on his was up from New London.  After we got back to the house, we followed Doug on his Electra on a ride to check out a new voltage regulator.  Gordon rode his '70 CL175 Honda and, having established that my Airone was mint, I rode Amy's '65 CZ175.  The CZ is a hoot and the automatic clutch release when you shift is brilliant.
Sun. was a beautiful day and there was a decent turn out for the Rossi TT.  Steve rode his latest acquisition, a '74 electric start 350 Harley Sprint.
Steve Rossi's '74 350 H-D Sprint, all original except for the Sportster mufflers
 Bill Burke rode the only other Sprint to show up, his Giro legal 310cc bike.  This uses a late, non-electric start, 5 speed 350 motor with an early, long stroke 250 crank assy.
Jeff Zelek brought this totally original '67 YR-1 350 Yamaha
Rick Bell brought a later iteration of the 350 Yamaha, a '72 R-5c.  He's had the bike since '74 and modified it extensively over the years.  It has an RD 350 front end, Dunstall clip-ons, rearsets, and expansion chambers, but a stock motor.
Rick Bell's '72 R5c Yamaha
Gino Bernardi rode a later still iteration of the 350 Yamaha, a watercooled RZ 350.
My brother rode his '65 260 Benelli.  Al Anderson rode his R27 BMW.  Jawa/CZ was well represented with Mitch Frazier on a 175 and Tom Halchuk and Scott Rikert on 250s.
Jean Frazier rode a late '60s Honda CL125a
Behind Jean Frazier's CL125a Honda is Mitch Fraizer's 175 Jawa/CZ and Rich Hosley's Ossa Wildfire
Honda, which she says is her favorite in the garage because it always starts.
Jean Frazier's CL125a Honda
There was also a BSA B25 Barracuda, '72 Kawasaki 175 F-7, Yamaha DT250, Honda XL 175, and Yamaha SRX 250.
Steve's route led us down to Old Lyme from East Haddam, through Moodus, Lyme, Hadlyme, and East Lyme.  I was afraid that heading to Old Lyme on Memorial Day Sunday might ensnarl us in Summer People traffic, but it wasn't bad at all.  I guess everyone was already at the beach.
After lunch in Old Lyme, we headed north again, stopping at Gillette Castle State Park.  This was the home of William Gillette, a famous stage actor of the late 19th century who made the transition to film.  Gillette was also a motorcyclist and on display in the visitor center of the park was a 1923 Ner-a-car, similar to one he had owned.
A 1923 Ner-a-car, similar to one William Gillette had owned
Apparently, before Gillette had owned the Ner-a-car, he had owned a Triumph from the teens.  There was a reprint of a newspaper article along side of the Ner-a-car display recounting how one day Gillette rode his Triumph down from his castle to the the Chester ferry.  The brakes failed and he went across the dock and over the Cheslyme ferry into the Connecticut river.  He swam back to shore and got some dry clothes on his yacht.  He was talked out of trying to retrieve the bike as it was in 20' of water,  but it later was salvaged.  When a director friend of Gillette's heard about the incident, he lamented that Gillette had wasted a $10,000 shot on a mere 5 spectators.
When I got back to Steve's house, I took his Sprint for a ride.  I was surprised by how much it vibrated, esp. through the seat, much more than my race bike.  I wonder if the balance factor that worked on the backbone frame, didn't on the dual down tube frame of the '73 & '74 bikes.  But, I was also impressed with how well it shifted despite the conversion from right to left hand shift on these bikes.
By the time I got back, Paige and Josh, who has joined us at lunch, arrived and Paige let me ride her brand new KTM RC 390.  The bike has a fabulous motor and steers really well.  I had read some criticism of the brakes, but they seemed fine to me.  It seems like a great play bike, but might be hard to live with day in and out with a bit radical riding position, low bars and a hard seat.  I'm hoping that Rich Midgely will bring his KTM 390 Duke to the Roper Tiddler Tour July 4th, so I can compare it to the RC 390.
Memorial Day, I escorted Gordon back to the New London ferry with my Airone via some back roads.  After seeing him off, I hooked up with my cousin, who lives in New London, and had lunch with some of his friends.  After riding back to Haddam, I loaded up the CBR and rode it back to Hicksville in amazingly light traffic for Memorial Day.  Everybody must have beat the rush by leaving early.  So, I rode six different bikes over the the three days on some fabulous road in glorious weather.  I'm the luckiest guy in the world.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Summit Point

Less than a week after getting back from California, it was off the Summit Point, W. Va., for a WERA Vintage event, this time to race my own bike for a change.  After I got back from Phillip Island, Australia last year, I vowed not to race my ERTT Harley Sprint until it got the complete rebuild.  The motor had more than 5500 miles on the big end bearing and almost 3500 miles on the piston.  I figured I was running on borrowed time.  I asked my old friend Bill Himmelsbach if he would undertake the rebuild and he agreed.  Bill and I raced together in AAMRR in the '70s and he had raced a CRTT Sprint himself.  He didn't promise any quick turnaround, but it ended up taking longer than either of us suspected.  This was in part because the amount of deferred maintenance involved and the fact that Bill and his wife have elderly parents who required a lot of their time.  But, the motor was finally done with a reground crankpin, oversized rollers and the conrod race honed to suit; a new cyl. liner and piston and rings; new valve guides and seats; and new valves; and a re-shimmed gearbox.  I drove to Bill's house in Quakertown, Pa. and installed the motor in my chassis.  We bumped the bike off there and it sounded good.  I installed the fairing that Steve d'Angelo had recently repaired and painted.  The bike looked better than it had in a while.
A fresh motor,  fresh paint job on the fairing and a new windscreen. 


Saturday morning I took it out for the 1st practice slowly breaking in the fresh motor.  It seemed to be running well and I worked the motor up to 7000 rpm and some load.  On the 5th lap, it mis-fired a  couple of times, cleared for a bit, then died.  When I got it back to the pits, I discovered that the intake valve clearance was 0.045", a huge amount.  Hmmm, that's odd.  Usually you'd expect the valve clearance to reduce as the fresh components settle in.  I re-adjusted the valve, but then it seemed like it had no compression and wouldn't start.  I checked the clearance again, and I had none.  OK, maybe I made a mistake and adjusted the valves on the the overlap rather than on compression.  So, I adjusted the valves again and now I had compression and it started.  By this time I had missed the 2nd practice, so I arranged to do a 'scrub' lap on the warmup lap of the 2nd race.  The motor ran fine below 4000 rpm but wasn't at all happy above that.  I checked the valve clearance and it had changed once again.  Frank Giannini thought it looked like the intake valve collets were pulling through the retainer.  I was less convinced as they normally sit very deep in the retainer and this wouldn't explain the changing valve clearance.  But, if they did pull through, it would be disastrous, so I took off the cylinder head and removed the collets and retainer.  I had to struggle to get the valve out of the guide, but when I did, it became apparent what the problem was.  The valve stem was 'picking up' on the guide and you could see valve guide material on the valve stem.  Either there wasn't enough clearance between the guide and stem, or the guide was the wrong material, or it wasn't getting lubricated properly.  In any case, this wasn't going to be fixed before my races were up.
I had noticed that Joe Traino's CB 350 Honda with an XL 350 motor in it was pitted next door with a for sale sign on it.
Joe Traino's CB 350 Honda powered by a '74 XL350 motor
Bill Johnson had brought it for Joe who had moved on physically and moved on with his life and now wanted to sell the bike.  Bill was curious and had taken it out in practice but was racing his own CB 350.  I had raced the Traino bike at Summit Point 2 years before, with some success.  So, I explained to Bill that my bike was dead and that I didn't suppose that I could race the Traino bike, as we'd have to check with him.  But, Bill assured me that Joe would be honored if I'd race his bike.  I didn't challenge this assumption.
The bike was built by Stan Lipert many years ago and is for sale for $3500
By now, it's just before the start of the 500GP race,  so we quickly change the numbers from 222 to 7 and I put my transponder on the bike.  There was just one minor wrinkle:  the bike wasn't legal for the class.  There was no time to change classes and I decided that it was better to ask forgiveness than permission.  The warm up lap would be my practice on the bike.  The digital tach either didn't work or I couldn't read it anyway, so I was just shifting by ear.  The one V-2 entrant was gridded in front of us, Rich Lucas on his RD 350.  I got a good start and led down towards turn one, but was unsure of my brake point, so Rich, Bucky Sexton and Bill Johnson all went by on the brakes.  Rich checked out.  I got back by Bill fairly quickly and followed Bucky around and drafted him down the straight.  I braked later, but still not late enough and continued to follow Bucky.  But, the next lap I got him.  I finished 22.5 seconds behind Rich and about 8 in front of Bucky.  Bill almost caught Bucky, finishing just over 0.1 sec. behind.  After the race, I went to several of the contestants and told them that the bike wasn't legal for 500GP and if they had a problem with that, to please protest me.  No one did.  So, I figured that I might as well also cheat in 350GP, which was the 2nd race after the 500GP.  Here we were gridded behind two Formula 500 machines: Mark Morrow on a RD400 based racer and Rich on his RD350.  This time, Mark checked out and I kept Rich in sight.  Starting the 3rd lap, Rich Midgley came by. We swapped back a forth a bit before he started to pull away from me and close on Rich Lucas' RD 350.  On the 5th lap, when he was right on Lucas, Midge tucked the front end in turn #5 and went down.  I had to ride off the track to avoid him, but I was able to do that without going down and was able to close back up on Lucas, finishing 3 1/3 sec.s behind him.  Bucky was alone in 4th overall and Steve d'Angelo, on his beautiful 350 Ducati,  finished less than a quarter second ahead of Bill Johnson.
Two years ago, I turned high 1:33 minute laps winning the V-1 and V-2 races.  This time I turned a low 1:37.  Does that mean that I'm getting old?  Or that practice DOES help?  Or that a tach DOES help.  Or that the track was faster then?  Who knows?  In any case, my thanks to Bill and Joe for salvaging the weekend for me.
The Stan Lipert built XL/CB 350 is a fun bike and a good value at it's asking price of $3500.  If anyone has interest in it, they can get in touch with me and I'll pass on Bill's contact info.
It was a light turn out for both the vintage and modern classes, especially considering how beautiful the weather was.  I hope we can just chalk that up to it being Mother's Day Weekend and that it doesn't represent a trend.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Goldstar Ron Memorial Ride.

Ron Halem, better know as Goldstar Ron, was a Goldstar and IOM fanatic.  He poured all his resources into his G/S race bike and racing it, esp. at the IOM Classic TT.  Kenny Cummings, Brian Filo, and I all raced his G/S here in AHRMA races, as well as various riders at the IOM.  Ron died last Nov. after a protracted battle with cancer.  Ron provided a model of how to die by insisting on living until he died.  Here are links to a couple of videos featuring Ron that give an idea of the kind of person he was: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cZGTtyA5OQ
https://vimeo.com/111265713
So, the BSA Club of Northern California organized a Memorial ride in conjunction with the AHRMA races at Somona Raceway.  Fri., and bunch of people took a ride to the track to watch the races.

A throughly modernized Goldstar.  This bike was originally built by Mike Bungay.  Below is how it looked, in three evolutions, before Mike sold it.  Mike Bungay photos



Some of the bike that showed up at Sears Point for the Goldstar Ron Memorial


 Sat., we met in Novato and took a 100 or so mile ride through Marin County through Tomales to Bodega Bay and back to Tomales for lunch.  I had arranged to borrow a bike from my old friend Parra O'Siochain.  Parra is an Irishman who has lived in the Bay Area most of his life, worked for Dudley Perkins H-D, was Sandy Kosman's first employee, worked closely with Dick Mann and Mert Lawill, did a lot of work for Team Obsolete, and has been heavily involved with motorcycle flat track, drag racing, road racing and trials.
Parra took me from the track to his home in Forest Knolls and Sat. morning we rode to Novato.  I rode Parra's TR5T Triumph, arguably a Triumph 500 twin in a BSA chassis, and he rode his Honda FT500 Ascot.  Parra had replaced the 21" front rim with a 19" alloy rim on the TR5T and was running it with out a battery.
Parra's TR5T Triumph
Parra started the bike for me and I flipped on the headlight.  I found the bike delightful, being very torquey, steering very well and having good brakes, though I thought it was very stiffly sprung for my weight.
When we got to Novato, we met up with Don Lange, among others.  Don is an old friend of Kenny Cummings, having both been musicians in Seattle years ago.  They reconnected a couple of years ago and Don became intrigued with Kenny's hobby of motorcycle racing and started coming to the races and filming.  He got sucked in and last fall bought a CBR300F Honda.
Me trying out Don's CBR300F.  Don Lange photo
He very sensibly took a riding course and very methodically practiced by riding in an ever increasing radius from his home.  This would be his first group ride and probably his longest ride and he was a little concerned about etiquette and if he'd be able to keep up.
Me talking with Parra before the ride started.  Don Lange photo
The line up in Novato before we left.  Don Lange photo
After smoozing for a while, people started to mount up and head out.  I kicked the Triumph a number of times, but it didn't start.  Parra then kick it a bunch with no results.  Then I did the run and bump and it started.  By this time, Parra, Don, and I were the last away, but that was OK as Parra knew the area and knew where we were going.  We had a great ride through the swooping, flowing roads of rural Marin.  We caught up with the group in Tomales for a late morning break at the Tomales Bakery.
At the Tomales Bakery.  Don Lange photo
 More smoozing ensued.  When it was time to leave, again I kick the Triumph with no results and after a couple of pushes got it started.  Once running, it ran fine.  We stopped for gas in Bodega Bay, site of the famous Hitchcock movie "The Birds", though this wasn't the gas station that went up in flames in the movie.  After I gassed up, again it didn't want to start.  Another rider suggested that I turn off the head light.  He had noticed when I pushed it at Tomales the headlight flickering.  Without a battery, the headlight sucks most of the juice and it won't fire.  Sure enough, I flipped off the headlight and it started on the first kick.
From there, we took a roundabout way back to Tomales for lunch in the William Tell House.  Among the 40ish bikes on the ride, there were 7 or 8 Goldstars, BSA A-10s and A-65s, a B-50 single, at least three Norton Commandos, and an Atlas, Triumph Bonnevilles and Daytonas.
An A-10 BSA,  400 Can-Am, and Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 among others at the William Tell House
Goldstars and a Commando at the William Tell House
A KH Harley with a Gimeca front brake.
A BSA Rocket 3 and A-65, and Kennie Buchanan's 370 Suzuki
Gary Roper rode with his wife Debbie on his beautiful Commando
A BSA B-50 in front of it's predecessor, the Goldstar
A Norton Atlas, a H-D bagger, Brian Filo's FZR Yam, and a A-65
From lunch, things broke up with people returning to there homes.  Don following a few back to Novato and Parra and I peeled off for Forest Knolls along the way.  Don did great and said it may have been the most fun day in his life.  The ride went a long way towards making up for missing the USCRA's Spring Giro in Oneonta, N.Y., which has conflicted with the AHRMA Sears Point races the last three years.