We rang our pal Mike Camillo as we rolled into the city and he gave us directions to Brooklyn where a cool vintage bike show was going on at a bitchin' little bar called the Bar Matchless. We were treated like family by Chris the bartender and Jennifer the event organizer, from Works Engineering. We donated a helmet for the best Brit chop. It was ironic that Greaser Mike on his 750 CC triumph won the helmet and then rode with us for the next week. Mike's bike is way faster than it looks and he is not afraid to ride it hard. Chris' panhead won best American bike and he got loaded up with patches, t-shirts and more importantly a $50 bar tab that we made sure went to good use. Thanks to the bar and shop guys, we sincerely appreciate the hospitality. A home cooked meal from Mike and his lovely wife rounded out a perfectly executed impromptu day. The next day Greaser Mike treated us to a visit to Alphabet City's premier Brit Bike Guru, Hugh from 6th Street Cycles. What an awesome guy. basement chock full of great flat trackers, rare Trackmaster frames and all sorts of British iron. Thanks for taking time out of your day Hugh, we sure enjoyed the visit.
We made such good time that we were there several days before the actual event started so we rode all over Brooklyn and across one of the many bridges and into Manhattan. Wow. Nothing like it. Bike swallowing potholes, a bazillion people all in a hurry and two cranky old motorcycles that don't care to sit in traffic. Riding through what I think was the Chrysler Building on Park Ave was really cool. We got to the other side and just had to stop and have a hot dog from a street vendor and soak it all in. Everyone says New Yorkers are rude, but we had a different experience. They didn't seem any worse than LA drivers, they just use their horn alot more. A friend from Jersey told me "We ain't rude, we just got shit to do!"
We stopped by the Indian Larry Legacy shop and met Keino (not Chica!) and Paul Cox. Chris had met these guys before, but I hadn't and I couldn't help but feel like I was in the presence of greatness there. Ally (spelling?) was helpful as could be, and pointed us in the right direction for a hotel and even let us store Eric's bike there so he had a solid place to pick it up when he and the wife flew in on Wed AM. We came back humbled by the Brooklyn potholes with Chris' license plate bracket and tailight assembly in hand instead of on the panhead. Paul let us pull it into the shop to dial it in and then welded it up for Chris like it was nothing. Hey, maybe like the baja saying goes, "Bad roads bring good people". Check out their raffle bike for September Smiles. There couldn't be a more deserving organization and how crazy would it be to actually win a bike like this? Thanks again guys!
Monday night, McGoo flew in from a european drinking binge and all of a sudden we had an official chase truck driver and subway navigator. McGoo can subway around like he was born in the lower East Side or something. Chris and I gave up trying to add anything of significance to the plans, we just followed Harold as he raced from one train to another. In pouring rain we walked and subwayed our butts all over Brooklyn and Manhattan. We even managed to go to the Bodies exhibit and look at a bunch of skinned out people. Wow. Remind me to bring some beef jerky to snack on next time!
Come Thursday morning we were met at the Tunnel Diner on the Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel by a dozen or so other riders from New Jersey, New York and Connecticut (I didn't forget Jeff!) Bikes were everything from Keith's wild purple BSA to Joe's very sano Triumph to our fearless navigator Fritz's panhead that looked like it was straight out of a David Mann painting. We took off for the 200+ mile trip with Fritz in the lead and a string of scraggly riders in tow. About 40 or so miles into it, my magneto mysteriously jumped time. We marveled at how it could be possible with the input shaft and hex hole in good condition and the points tight, but with some help from Keith, Joe, Fritz and half a dozen other guys we managed to get it re-timed by ear and got the old girl back on the road. Somewhere along the line we lost Keith and a few other riders. They got stopped behind us at a light and we kept thinking they'd catch up. Come to find out, the beezer's oil tank was breaking loose from the mounts and leaking all over the back tire. Ever seen anyone mulch a rear tire? Hey, it makes it a little less slippery! About a hour or so away from the campground for the first night I noticed my right exhaust mount that I had just made a week before had snapped and the pipe was being held precariously by the screw-in spigot in the head. Not real good and it might explain why performance was a little off. Eric was hanging back with me because his risers were shot and his bike handled like a rowing machine. We stopped at some closed down service station and stripped some wire out of an old air conditioning unit and used it to secure the pipe in a couple locations. Later I dialed it in with some hose clamps and had no problems the rest of the trip even though I was wringing the little 650's neck to keep up with all the big twins.
The next couple days were basically the same, ride, drink, camp, repeat. Photos will tell this part of the story better than I could. Just know this: Truth and the Choppahead boys know how to party with a capital "P". We settled out into smaller groups that rode together and finally ended up at the Marcus Dairy in Danbury, CT on Saturday. IronHorse magazine sponsored a hamburger and hot dog BBQ and plenty of cold drinks. Big thanks to Sean Marcus and Todd at IH mag. We hung out here with all of the riders, doing a little maintenance, checking out the carnage to the bikes, swapping bullshit stories, eating ice cream, etc.
All in all, the trip was a great success and we had a lot of fun and rode some pretty hard miles. If you've wondering why we are so slow at returning phone calls and emails, we have no excuse except we've been out playing when we probably should have been working. Chris will be back in on Thursday and will be chained to his desk until all return communications have been handled. Thanks for your patience.