Thursday, October 4, 2012

Last weekend (Sept 22-23) was the USCRA's Fall Giro, this year based in Cavendish, Vt.  With my Airone still apart, brother Doug(and Amy, for that matter) graciously let me ride the '65 175 CZ.  Doug rode his '65  250 Benelli and brought his 200 Bridgestone for backup.

Before we arrived Fri. afternoon, that backup was called upon.  Henry Syphers realized just before he arrived that he had forgotten the key to the 175 Bridgestone he had bought from Doug and wondered if we could swing by his house in Manchester, Ct. and pick it up.  We were long past Manchester, but Doug suggested Henry could take the ignition switch out of the 200 and put it in his 175.
There were a number of interesting bikes lined up by the time we got there, including a few for sale, like this Ariel Leader.

Sat. started cool and cloudy and, after we rode a ways, got very foggy.  Rich Hosley, on his Ossa Wildfire, came by in the fog and we rode together to the first checkpoint at Bunnell's Parts and Accessories, 488 Main St, Claremont, N.H., a non franchised motorcycle, snowmobile and ATV dealer.
Doug Roper's '85 175 CZ and Rich Hosley's 250 Ossa Wildfire @ Bunnell's.  Bill Burke photo
Brian Bunnell was super supportive of the Giro, helping Giroist all weekend including meeting Rich Hosley on the road with a selection of clutch cables to replace the one that was just about to break.  Bunnell's also had some great vintage racing photos on the wall of Roger Chase on a pre-unit Triumph in a scrambles and at Laconia and on a Parilla.
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The Autumnal equinox was approaching at 10:49am, which meant it was time to cut my hair.  I made a rough calculation on how many miles it would take to get to 10:49, then looked for an appropriate spot to stop at that mileage and started mowing.  I'd never done this in the field before, so had bought a battery powered mower.  I traditionally cut the scalp and beard to a 1/2" length, so I snapped on a rake that looked about 1/2" and started mowing, not realizing the mower had an adjuster for height that was on minimum not maximum.  The result was that my hair has not been this short since 15 April, 1970, when I got out of the Army.
Bill Burke, Peter Booth, and Ken Richardson look on as I do the semi annual shearing.  Tom Halchuk photo

  1. Bill Burke photo.  He says I should have stopped now.
    The chores done, it was on to lunch.  At lunch, I checked the fuel and there was plenty, so I didn't add any.  The CZ had seemed more rattle-ly than the last time I rode it, and at first I just chalked that up to the piston getting sloppier in the bore.  Then I wondered 'could this be detonation?  Naw, can't be.'  After the afternoon time check, the bike started getting more sluggish and finally started to die.  I put it on reserve and carried on a bit further, but then it cut out completely.  But, it seemed like I had plenty of gas in it.  Sparkplug?  Brother Doug stopped, then Rich Hosley, and we ruled out the sparkplug theory.  Then, the sweep truck showed up and Doug and Rich rode on.  We mixed up a gallon of gas and put it in, thinking reserve might be plugged, but still nothing.  We pulled off the fuel line and nothing came out in any position.  So, then we laid the bike on it side and took the fuel tap out and apart and sprayed contact cleaner through every orifice in every direction.  I tried starting the bike without my earplugs in or helmet on and it started, but I could hear right off that something was leaking.  We found all the cylinder head nuts loose.  Tightening them down made it better but it was still leaking as the head gasket was blown, and we put the bike on the trailer.  Back at the hotel, I found someone had some gasket material, like you'd use on an intake manifold, and Doug & I fashioned a head gasket.  Once I remembered to put the sparkplug lead back on, it started first kick and sounded fine. 
  2. It rained hard over night, but stopped by the morning.  I started the CZ early and let it idle for 10 or 15 minutes to get it good and hot, then retorqued the head nuts.  I suited up, but when I went to leave the bike wouldn't start.  I put a fresh plug in it, it started and I left late.  After a couple of miles, it started cutting out then died.  I figured all that idling had loaded it up and fouled the plug again.  I took it out and cleaned it, and it ran a bit then died again.  Amy and Gayle arrived with the sweep car and they took me back to the hotel.  I first tried to steal Mike Peavey's backup Moto Guzzi Lodola, then Bill Burke NSU Special Max, but I couldn't get either of them started.  Mitch Fraizer was there, his 305 Honda having holed a piston the previous day from an air leak. We went back to the CZ.  He was convinced it was a fuel flow problem, not spark, and we took the fuel tap apart again.  Now it started and idled, but wouldn't take any throttle.  So, we took the carb apart and cleaned every orifice.  Finally, it ran well.  I took off on the short cut to lunch with Mitch and Jean following in their truck ready to scoop me up if the CZ died.  It ran fine for maybe 10 miles, then didn't want to take full throttle.  I'd roll off and it would start running again.  I could maintain about 40mph n the flat, so I just carried on to lunch in Quechee, Vt.  I had enough time to wolf down a quick lunch and then took off for the afternoon session.
  3. Immediately the motor started cutting out and probably within two miles it died completely.  While I was getting ready to attack it, Scott Rikert, Mike Peavey and Bill Burke stopped to help.  It was a fuel feed problem again.  While Scot held his finger over the opening in the fuel tank, I took out and took apart the fuel tap again.  Now, it seemed like the cork inside had smushed over the main orifice and I hogged it out with the awl in my Swiss Army Knife. 
  4. Scott Rikert has his finger on the fuel tap bung while I auger out the cork  and Mike Peavey looks on.  Bill Burke photo

    1.  That did the trick and the CZ was now running fine.  The four of us rode together into Coolidge State Park where Amy was motioning everyone to slow down as someone had been busted for exceeding the ridiculous 15mph speed limit.  Scott popped a wheelie (on a 250 Jawa!!) for her.
    After a check point on the top to the mountain, the road turned to dirt but became smooth, wide and loose.  Scott led and pulled away, with Mike next and me following.  It looked like Mike got surprised by a downhill right corner and grabbed a bit too much front brake and slapped it down hard.  I avoided him and, by the time I got my bike stopped, turned around and found a place to get it on it's stand Devon Frazier had shown up and called Amy and Gayle.  Mike had hit his head really hard to the point his forehead was lightly abraded through the helmet .  He was dazed and his shoulder and neck really hurt.  Even though his Jawa was rideable, Mike made the right decision to load it on the trailer and ride back in the car.
  5. When we got back to the hotel, Mike was still a little dingy and in a lot of pain.  He's had back/neck issues before and figured a session with his chiropractor the next morning would straighten him out.  He asked Ken Richardson to drive him back home to Boston.  On the way he got nauseous and almost passed out.  They consulted a doctor friend of his and the decision was to take him straight to the emergency room when they did some imaging and found he had two broken vertebrae and a displaced disc which, had it displaced a little more, would have been catastrophic.  They put him in traction for a while, then operated on him, fusing two of the vertebrae with a metal plate and he was out of the hospital in 72 hours.  Amazing.  He should be fine.  A reminder that this motorcycle business is serious fun.
  6. a Zundapp Super Sabre
a Yetman CB77

George Ellis' 50cc Wards Riverside (Benelli) with Rich Snider's C102 Honda

The long distance award goes to the couple who came from Hawaii, she riding this trick 160 Ducati

Carlton Palmer's 200 Benelli


  1. Ah David, gone are the days when the girls swooned to cut your curly red locks....

    1. There's still plenty of swooning going on, so it must be something other than the hair. Figure out what it is and bottle it, you'll make a fortune!