Monday, 4 February 2013

The Motorcycle Story (cont)

There were 70-some riders from numerous countries riding motorcycles the likes of which you would expect to see in a museum. Who knows what from Rudges but there were two of them and #25 Mike Wild of England, with the Union Jack on his helmet, rode a 1925 Rudge sporting a wicker basket perched on the rear fender, not unlike those seen at boot parties where Grey Poupon is de riguer.

And a 1925 Sunbeam? Not a Brit aboard but instead, #9 Claudio Femiano from Italy, another of the non-Americans on the roster which included one Canadian, a couple Brits, someone from Ireland and two amazing Japanese.

As for motorcycle, there was an ill-fated Triumph (only made 59 miles) three BSAs, three BMWs, and a Velocette that did better than the TR but at 900 miles, it, too, succumbed. The predominant American metal, 33 Harley-Davidsons, 16 Hendersons and eight Indians, were the strong runners and inordinately successful. Perhaps something to do with being on home ground.

The bikes fit into three classes: under 500 ccs, up to 750 ccs and over 750ccs.
Virginian Brad Wilmarth, #1, won in 2010 and in 2012 on his 1913 Excelsior Twin Model 7. It was remarked that, all things being equal, bikes of smaller displacements have the advantage. Maybe not the comfort though. Imagine that engine buzzwhine in your ears for 4,000 miles and those narrow tires not absorbing much road roughness, but the trade off is  stamina and less moving parts to go wrong.

It's funny how the guys got to know one another, as if they absorbed each participant's name and number and the quirky things about them and their bike.

Take #60 Hans Coertse of South Africa. Besides an accent unlike any in the United States, his 1921 Harley-Davidson J proudly flew the multi-coloured South African flag and was one of the only
bikes to actually carry a spare tire casually looped around the toolbox he thought he might need to spruce up his H-D each evening before the onslaught of dawn and the rubber hitting the road.

Similarly, most carried tool boxes, some, those red plastic ones that doubled as warnings to those who came too close but one rider, #89 Josh Wilson from Virgina, really felt that his 1929 Indian might need special care and attention and he loaded a large wooden box overflowing with fluids, parts and the rest of his garage, overhanging his rear fender. The piece de resistance of this arrangement, a full roll of silver duct tape hanging from a jerry-rigged wire holder. Who among us would not laud him for having foresight!