Friday, 8 June 2018

West Coast Road Trip 6

A Road Trip

West Coast 6

A short trip on a Saturday afternoon to Joshua Tree. We stayed at 29 Palms which is almost at the north entrance to the park then early Sunday morning we were on the next leg of our travels to Phoenix where we had another one night stop in an Air BnB. At the end of the road is Rosie MaCaffreys Irish pub for a nice beer and a meal. Phoenix was my request as there is a motorcycle museum in the Buddy Stubbs Harley shop. 

I met a nice guy called Phil and was really one of the mechanics doing a stint looking after customers visiting the museum. I didn’t know much about Buddy Stubbs but his father owned a Harley shop and as such Buddy was brought up in a motorcycling environment. He was a successful flat track rider and road racer and his experience was put to good use as a stunt rider for the movies.

I did see Buddy but did not get a chance to talk with him. I felt it was a missed opportunity. His Harley dealership is the only one that you can hire a Harley from. Everyone else uses Eagle Riders that is a country wide set up.

The museum has a very interesting mix of Harleys and European motorcycles many of which have been acquired in New Zealand. What was a surprise was a Velocette Valiant in the collection. That makes a least two I know of in the USA. Always looking for bits of information there is a 1913 Indian at the back of the display and that has leaf spring front and rear suspension. 

I thought it was only after the first world war that they had used this, but not so. They have an 1930’s Ariel Square four and a 1950’s one too. I still prefer the earlier ones. 

Being a Harley Dealer there are some special Harleys, like the 1929 board track racer, the military flat twin and one of the first singles.

Oldest motorcycle there is a Frera Leonardo from 1906.
Of the British bikes is an Excelsior Manxman, a whole load of Triumphs including a TRW, Ricardo and GP racer. I took so many photos but I can only use so many. This is a tribute to Martin who has seen Evil Knevil and the Triumph and Harley he rode.

Following on here are a selection of photos to wet your appetite for a visit to this very special museum. I spent quite a few hours there and there are a few scooters and mini-bikes too even the very boxy Harley Topper. 

I had run out of energy and needed some lunch before making the next stage of the trip to Flagstaff. It had turned colder and started rain when we arrived. It would turn out to be an interesting next few days.

Friday, 1 June 2018

West Coast Road Trip 5

A Road Trip

(West Coast 5)

After leaving the museum in Solvang it was only a couple of hours to get to the hotel in Los Angeles. Highway 101 gets close to the coast and near Santa Barbara we looked down on the old road and there were miles of RVs parked up enjoying the afternoon sun. LA was where we met up with daughter and granddaughter who would be with us for the rest of the trip and why we needed a bigger car. Great to have them around but not so sure how the days would go with the little one. We stayed in a hotel on Sunset Boulevard and spent a lot of time going up and down Hollywood Boulevard enjoying the theatre of it all. There are a number of “Military” shops along Hollywood Boulevard and outside one was a particularly looking aggressive manikin. 

Looking closely it did look as though he had a very pained expression on his face. We were having a family breakfast in one of the commercial squares in the LA International market and off to one side was a sauce shop that had some very descriptive brands.    Among them were “Ass in a tub”, “Whoop Ass”, “Sphincter shrinker”, “Butt pucker”, Asbirin”, “Colon cleaner” and a more up market one that I thought was appropriate for this soldier “Anal Angst”. While there we found a Trader Joes and bought an insulated bag to keep baby food in and perhaps a cold beer or two and then off to Santa Monica Boulevard to see a special motorcycle shop.  Its on Route 66 now but used to be on Sunset. 

It is the Thunder Road Motorcycle shop where stars and Henry Cole have visited. I have around somewhere an original Indian Chief motif baseball cap that is now apparently quite rare that was bought for me as a present about 30 years ago. I had to visit the place. Having been to an organic cafe and had steak and salad we walked for, what seemed like miles, and went past Thunder Road. A very pleasant visit but had no LMM fliers with me.

One guy was on an Enfield, the Himalaya and talked about the attributes of this type of motorcycle. It is interesting how things have moved on from those leggy easy rider chops back to more conventional machines. In the evening we drove up to the Observatory to see Hollywood at dusk and the city slowly illuminated as the light went and the dark came in there were students out with “big” telescopes to look at the stars and more than willing to let you see what they were looking at. 

Next day we were passing the Thunder Road Shop and dropped in to leave some fliers and take a few more photos I was given a Thunder Road pin badge. Not many are bought now but as I wear a waist coat when volunteering it will be put on that along with a San Francisco Fire Department patch. I had an idea to keep going along Santa Monica Boulevard to the coast along Route 66 and see the memorial to Will Rogers but we were now on a schedule and needed to get to Joshua Tree for our next stop.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

West Coast Road Trip 4

A Road Trip

(West Coast 4)


Leaving Morro Bay topped up with a good breakfast at a harbour side cafe it was a grey misty start to the day. Solvang was a couple of hours away. Not a long drive but it would be Highway 101with only rolling countryside to see. We were well away from the dramatic coastline near Santa Barbara where rains of last year had washed away some of Route One. Solvang is a quaint town with local breweries and a place to taste some craft ales. We passed one on the way into town at, of all places Buellton (Solvang Brewery). It is also the nearest town to Ronald Reagan’s ranch and has Danish style architecture making it even less American. Still has a MacDonalds though!

Arriving early afternoon we had plenty of time to explore the town and enjoy its style. Two reasons for being at Solvang, one was its quaintness and the other, the Solvang Motorcycle Museum. This we would visit the next morning before going on to LA. Passing a restaurant at the end of the afternoon we stopped for a beer and had a Buellton 805. That evening we went in search of somewhere to eat and finally sat down at the Solvang Brewing company restaurant, had a rack of beers and some chicken. I like the idea of being able to try a selection of beers rather than halves or pints.
Another hearty breakfast then around the corner to the Museum. It is run by Jill at the desk taking your money and Virgil. Virgil is more than a rocket scientist and is a theoretical nuclear physicist. A very clever man with money and a passion for special motorcycles. We had some interesting conversations about a up-down flat twin racing two stoke Jawa that he had got from the factory. There was no information with it so everything is conjecture. 

Virgil believes it to be a factory prototype that has been put together to get around the vibration problems of a two stroke single. Thinking about it now the flat twin two stroke has also been done by Velocette in the Viceroy scooter. The Viceroy engine has a common crankcase and is balanced as the four stroke with pistons opposing each other. This two stroke had two carbs and basically two engines strung together. Set up as being opposed would give the best balancing but 90 degrees in a vee would give the better power delivery. My view on this layout was that it was a student or apprentice project with the simplicity and crudeness in the construction. Virgil disagreed with this in that as a prototype it didn’t need to be any better. I think that when someone designs and builds and engine they want to make it look the business even if it is not. Virgil went on to sign his books an I carried on looking around at some of the fantastic bikes in his collection. He has one of the eight Brittens in existence. I have now seen three, one was at the Britten Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand South Island the second in the Tao Papa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand North Island and now, this one.

It will only travel with him and will not get shipped anywhere. It is too much of a treasure to be shipped anywhere. I took so many photos but he has an original Mike Hailwood machine, the Vincent that did the speed record at Bonneville are just a few examples of the extraordinary collection and there is a lot more.

Some other special machines worth mentioning like the Guzzi Vee Twin racer, the supercharged BMW Rennesport racer and the NSU Rennemax.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

West Coast Road Trip 3

West Coast 3

Breakfast included at the hotel so we were able to make an early start in making our way to Big Sur towards our next hotel in Morro Bay. First stop was Laguna Seca raceway. The magical place that has a corkscrew and entertainment by the bucket full in World Superbikes and MotoGP. We were so close I had to visit. The lady at the gate was very helpful in that as we were just doing a quick visit and a volunteer at the LMM she refunded my money for the day pass as we stayed less than an hour. I didn’t get to see all the track as it was being used for a track day and some areas were not accessible. When you see it on TV it is so much different from when you are there and identifying corners is difficult when there are no real land marks to refer to.

Next on the list that morning was Moto Talbott Collection another museum I had contacted before leaving home but as events turned out no one was around to let me I. I had come on spec as they had said the boss was out of town and the other guy was going to be busy, but they said they would see what could be done. I left fliers and a note at the local grocery store in Carmel Valley. The lady there said they frequently come in for sandwiches when they are busy. It was not a big detour. Laguna Seca was only ten miles east from our hotel and Carmel Valley was on the way to Big Sur.

Route One had only just opened after the winter land slides and got us to Big Sur and an equally big lunch. The direct route to Morro Bay was still closed so to get there we took a mountain road over to Highway 101. This was the Nacimiento-Furgusson Road a delightful two hours of climbs and descents switch backs and hairpins with no safety barriers, just you, sky and valley on a narrow road. 

A real test of driving skill but reaching speeds of no more that 40mph! We had been warned at Big Sur that you could not take pictures or stop as there was a $5000 fine if you did. Well that may have been the case if you stopped in the military base where the road ends however the views on this road were worth the effort. We were not alone on this road and I think the fear was unjustified as each person we asked said the recommended route was to go back to Monterey! I think they were just trying to put people off because if this road was full of traffic no one would be going anywhere. Just like Cornwall in the summer. The road was a bit wider than a Cornish lane. You can check this out on YouTube if you want.

Morro Bay was reached by the end of the afternoon. It was a sleepy place with most action being done by the seals in the harbour and a nice sunset.

West Coast Road Trip 2 -The Jameson Collection

A Road Trip

(West Coast 2)

The Jameson Collection

Out of San Francisco on Route One going south to Monterey. A pleasant drive with views of the sea most of the way. I can understand why you would want to bike this. Gita drives us in the hire car, a Hyundai Tucson SUV. It is a bit of a tank but she gets on well with it. I have a destination to get to in Pacific Grove. After checking into our hotel it is off to find the Old Timer Museum which we find easily using Tom. There is no-one there when we arrive but a note on the door inviting us to an address in the next street. This is the local newspaper office. We are in the middle of the office of “The Cedar Street Times” . We are introduced to the team members Neil and Marge Ann Jameson along with Webster Slate. At the back of the office is the Jameson’s Classic Motorcycle Museum. We spend a couple of hours talking bikes and history. I could not think of a better way to spend our time. The collection has some very interesting machines to view.

Neil standing by one of his Triumphs. In his collection there are some very interesting bits. I start with this washing machine motor. Most would this it would be electric however, in the past many places do not have an electricity supply even today so a petrol driven option may well take your fancy.

There is a good selection of scooters all having been restored to running order along with various mopeds and bicycles. Then there is this early Harley single to add more interest and a late thirties 45.
There are some interesting Triumphs too with this electric start Bonneville that was one of the last twenty to come off the production line before Meriden closed.

There is a speed record holder in the Honda CB160 Bonneville Streamliner from 1965 and a little 1913 Peugeot almost hidden behind a Harley but my favourite was the late thirties Rudge. Unusual to see anywhere.

Last but not least is one of my favourite 250s and that is the BMW R30, a bit heavy but built like a tank with and almost unburstable engine. It is an eclectic collection of motorcycles that reflects the machines that were used in different times.

As usual I left some fliers and got, in exchange, a copy of the Cedar Street Times and a couple of copies of the City Bike Mag. All of which I have enjoyed reading along with the different styles of publication.

Friday, 25 May 2018

West Coast Road Trip 1

A Road Trip.

(West Coast 1)

At the Wey Valley Advanced Motorcycle Club meeting in April the guest speaker was Zoe Cano who is an adventure girl travelling across America, New Zealand and Wales this time on her scooter. Zoe was very honest about her travels expressing her fears and triumphs quite clearly. An enjoyable evening. I have known Zoe a little while and at this meeting introduced her to my wife Gita. Timely as we were about to embark on our own road trip flying into San Francisco going down the west coast to LA then on to Flagstaff via Phoenix, some of the National Parks, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite and back to San Francisco to come home. All in three weeks and every day planned except one where we had to change the itinerary due to it snowing! The painted desert would not be painted!
San Francisco is a great place to visit with those hills that everyone remembers from the Steve McQueen Film “Bullet”. Touristy stuff was on the agenda along with paying a visit to the San Francisco Fire Department Toy Program being a Facebook Friend for a long time I felt that being in the city it was an opportunity not to be missed. Will all my best efforts I did not manage to meet up with the Toy Program organiser Sally or see the Museum however I did get to visit 3 Fire Stations one being the fireboat station. 

This happened to be the oldest fire station in San Francisco that survived the quake and following fires in 1906. It is being preserved for posterity. What I did learn was that San Francisco has the only Fire Department that still uses wooden ladders. Some with parts a hundred years old. They have craftsmen that look after these ladders, service and repair them from new seasoned wood. They all look like new! Varnished and beautifully cared for, works of art. Having visited stations 9, 10 and 35 leaving London Motorcycle Museum fliers at each station meeting the most friendly guys ever a few of whom have promised to visit the Museum when they come to the UK.

A visit to San Francisco would not be complete without going across the Golden Gate Bridge, Cable Car rides and a visit to as many shops as we could manage while they were open we left the city on Route One south to explore the coast, enjoy the scenery and arrive at Monterey to visit a couple of Motorcycle Museums and the famous race track, Laguna Seca.