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.


  1. Wish I was out on the East Coast for these events! There's nothing like this in Chicago. I'll let me buddy Jeff up in Boston area know about your July ride. Cheers Dave!


    here's a pic from that weekend!