Saturday, November 7, 2015

Fall Moto Giro

The USCRA's Fall Moto Giro was held in Asheville, N.C. this year on the weekend before the Barber Vintage Festival.  Will Paley, who participated in many Giros while he lived in Ct., moved to the Asheville area a couple of years ago and organized and laid out the route this Giro.  When I arrived on Fri., people were getting set up and doing last minute prep on there bikes.  I was quite taken with Tom Cotter's Progress scooter.
This is a late '50's German machine powered by a 191cc Sachs two stroke.  German machines of this era have such beautiful aluminum castings.  Tom let me take it for short ride and I was quite impressed.
It started to rain and blow in the afternoon and we knew that this was the beginnings of Hurricane Joaquin.  The predictions were dire, but we went to bed hoping for the best, knowing that the media often hypes these things way out of proportion.
The headquarters motel was chosen because of it's proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was our exit out of town.  Unfortunately, we found Sat. morning that the BRP had been closed.  Apparently, trees were down, and there was no easy way to revise the route on short notice, so Saturday's route was abandoned and we just did a agility test in the parking lot.
The majority of the Giroist decided to go to the Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, not far away.  But, a few of us wanted to ride.  Yeah, it was raining and blowing, but so what?
Rob Hall grew up in the area, though he now lives in Charlotte, and he volunteered to lead us on a ride.    Six of us took off, heading first to Rob's brother Jake's shop, Hall's Custom Vintage, so Rob could pick up some two stroke oil.  We got to see Jake, who was recovering from a badly broken leg he received when T-boned while road testing a customer's beautiful BSA Goldstar.  HCV is a great shop and between Jake, Rob, and their dad Stuart, they can tackle anything for restoration or performance.  After checking out a few of their current projects and a good smooze, we got on the road again.
Leaving Halls Custom Vintage during Hurricane Joaquin.  Stuart Hall photo
Rob was riding the 125 Sachs Boondocker that he and his brother had beat the shit out of when they were kids.  Rob dragged it out of the barn where it had sat idle for years a few days before and threw some new tires on it.  I was riding my '68 TC 200 Suzuki, Mike Baker and Steve Fowler we each on 250 H-D Sprints, Tom Cotter was on his Progress and his nephew Kevin was on a YDS-3 Yamaha.  After a couple of miles of residential streets, we got to Elk Mountain Rd., and the fun began.  The road climbs steeply with switchback after switchback.  I couldn't believe the pace Rob was setting.  I knew Rob was a great roadracer, having raced against him at Roebling Rd., Barber, and Talladega.  But, now he was on a 125 dirt bike with trials universal tires.  In the pouring rain, he was  sending it in to the wet leave covered roads.  Admittedly, he knew the road well, but still I was dumbfounded, and there was no way I could hang with him.  When we stopped for a break, I asked him about those trials universal tires.  The front was a Shinko and the rear was a Golden Boy!  China's best.
We worked our way to Banardville, and then headed back, dropping Rob off at HCV.  Yeah, it was wet and there were a few branches down, but I think people had over reacted again.  Back at the HQ motel, my old friend, Bob Curtis, met us for lunch.  I probably met Bob 35 years ago when he live in the East End of Long Island, near the Bridgehampton race circuit.  About 10 years ago, he moved down to Burnsville, a little north of Asheville.  A couple of years after that, he fell in an AHRMA cross country and broke his back and is paralyzed from the waist down.  He now lives in a rehab facility in Asheville and his wife brought him over to the motel to see the bikes and some old friends, including Bob Coy, President of the USCRA, who he hadn't seen for about 30 years.  This motorcycle sport is serious fun.
At dinner that night, it was announced that Will had come up with a plan to run Sunday's route despite the fact that the Blue Ridge Parkway was still going to be closed.  Five or so locals would lead groups of 12 or so Giroist on a complicated route some 12 miles out of town to where we'd pick up the original route, for which we already had route sheets.  And, while the day started drizzly, it got nicer and nicer and, by mid-day, the sun was out and the roads were dry.  And, what roads they were.
Early on, I got hooked up with Rich Hosley riding his Ossa Wildfire.  But then he missed a turn and I rode for myself through some fabulous roads.  Grapevine Rd., Revere Rd., Lonely Mountain Rd.  Switchback after switchback with superb views and almost no traffic.  After I had gone quite a ways and was beginning to wonder if I had missed a turn, I stop to take a piss.  Being the modest, retiring fellow I am, I walk a ways off the road after parking my bike right on the side of the road.  I heard a two stroke coming and I got back to my bike just in time to see Rich passing and riding off in the distance.  There are no friends in a Moto Giro; it's cut throat.  So now I jammed hard trying to catch Rich, but ended up being the first one at the lunch stop in Marshall.  Rich had gotten lost again.
After lunch and the agility tests, I left with Rick Bell on his Sprint.  After we went a ways, we got hung up by some Giroist who were taking the average speed a bit too literally for my taste and I made a bit of a rude pass and lost Rick.  Some ways later, I saw a rider up ahead, and it took me for ever to catch up to him.  I followed for a good while and couldn't find a was to safely pass at this pace.  Finally, when he looked down at his route sheet in his tank bag figuring out the next turn, I swooped by, having my route sheet holder up on the cross bar of the handlebars and not having to take my eyes off the road much to read it.  This fellow, on a CB160 Honda, latched right onto me and we rode hard all the way back to the finish.  Trent Webster from Knoxville, Tn., introduced himself and I told him that I was impressed by his riding after he told me the motor was stock and still 161cc.
Trent Webster's CB160 Honda
I was impressed that Trent's taillight actually worked
Swiss Neiderberger gets the long distance award.  He brought this 250 Motobi from British Columbia
Eli Kirtz' on his C110 Honda, the sole 50cc entry
After a rough start, it turned out to be a great Giro.
Ron Cowan's Sears Allstate/Puch SR250 Twingle
Rich Snyder's '67 LS-2 Yamaha

Eli's faithful mascot
The legendary Cotter brothers, Danny standing and Tommy on his Progress, after Tommy survived going over a cliff, hauling his scooter 40' up to the road with the help of half a dozen or more and carrying on to the finish.  What's the big deal?
retrieving Tommy's Progress

I stayed on a few days with Will and his wife Elaine, in Weaverville, and got to ride much of his fleet.  Mon., my brother Doug and his wife Amy came over.  Doug's Benelli had died the previous day, his first DNF, and he found the loose connector in about 5 minutes in Will's shop, and we went for a ride, me on Will's Moto Guzzi Falcone, Will on his R-50 BMW, Rick Bell on his Sprint.  I rode my TC200 down to Bob Curtis' rehab facility and had dinner with him and his wife, who had brought Chinese takeout.  Over the next couple of days, I got to ride Will's NX 250 Honda and 2011 Moto Guzzi V-7.   I thought Will, having three BMWs, should know Ivan Messina and  Motorrad Unlimited, and we took a ride over to West Asheville and checked out his shop while he was preparing a bunch of bikes for Barber.  We visited Jake Hall again at HCV when I needed to weld a broken cable adjuster I found on my ERTT when preparing it for Barber.  Will took a shine to a 1950 Douglas Mk IV 350 they had in the shop and he recently told me that he bought it.  And we rode down to the Wedge Brewing Co. on a fine evening and met up with some of Will and Elaine's friends.  All in all, a great prelude to the Barber Vintage extravaganza.


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    1. I know I am a latecomer to this blog, but just wanted to add that when I was in college in 1964-68 I had a Progress Scooter exactly like the one in this article, same color. I commuted 8 miles to college any time the weather was half decent, which actually included some rainy days and even some with light snow. The Progress was a great cross between a scooter and a cycle, with the 16" wheels; 4 speed transmission; and the 191cc(I called it a 200cc)Sachs engine it was quite comfortable and fast. As I recall the top speed was about 65 MPH. I have never seen another one, sure wish I still had it today.