Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Seductive Nature Of The Older Ones

Even the elite have their own elite. This becomes obvious when the owners of vintage BMW motorcycles and other exotic machines meet to display their equipment. Such was the case on Sunday, October 5, when Todd Trumbore convened the second annual Mac-Pac Vintage Bike Ride, in Skippack, Pa.

Eighteen museum quality bikes -- ranging in age from 53 to 33-years-old --participated in the event. Each machine roared in from various distances. Some were from Delaware. Others came in from Philly. They all had two things in common: One) Each bike came in under its own power with a rider grinning from ear-to-ear; and Two) Every machine looked like it had just rolled out of the showroom. In some cases, the bike had been purchased new years ago by the rider on it.

The riders for the 2008 Mac-Pac Vintage Bike Ride and their Machines
Click on the image to get a a more detailed view of both bikes and riders.
(Photo courtesy of Todd Trice -- ©Copyright Todd Trice 2008)

Gordon Alderfer...............'55 BMW R50 w/ Velorex sidecar
Dave Crank......................'61 Vellocette Clubman Venom
Joel Diefenderfer...............'74  BMW R90S
Dave Dilworth...................'76 Moto Guzzi T3
Eric Ducdude....................'72 BMW R75/5  Toaster
Karl Duffner......................'62 Harley Davidson Sportster CH
Bill Foster.........................'73 BMW R75/5 Toaster
Bruce Kramer....................'75 BMW R90S
Rick Kramer......................'73 BMW R75/5 Toaster
Tom Kramer......................'79 SR500
Joel Jackson......................'68 Triumph Daytona
Dennis O'Dell....................'68 Triumph TR6C
Stoney Read......................'69 BMW R69US
Ron Rohner.......................'64 BMW R60/2 Wiesbaden Polizie Grun one of 25 original
Charles Scott.....................'77 BMW R100S
Todd Trice........................'73 BMW R75/5 Toaster
Gerald Zell.........................'77 BMW R75/7
Bill Zane............................'76 BMW R60/6
Todd,Laura & Larry..........'67 BMW R60/2 w/ Steib TR500

This was the second year that Todd Trumbore graciously invited Dick Bregstein and I to participate in the proceedings. Initially, we were to serve as judges. It became apparent early on in the game our primary role had been downgraded to social parasites. (Last year, Dick was riding his new F800S, and I was on Fireballs, my 1995 K75. Dick wrecked this year and I was down with arthritis in both knees. We made this ride in an SUV.) I was delighted to recognize two familiar faces from the “Great Centralia Ride of 2007. They were Dennis Dooce and Tom Kramer.

I am always impressed at the spirit of camaraderie shared by these guys. As the second hand moved closer to the order for “kick stands up,” concern was expressed for the fate of one rider not yet present. “Stoney” Read, on a 1969 BMW R69US, pulled in at the last minute with a substantial gas leak at the left cylinder head.

Resident Mac-Pac vintage bike experts DucDude, Todd Trumbore, and Bill Zane
reach a consensus that the gas leak on "Stoney" Read's 1969 BMW R69US will require 
more time than availble to fix.
(Photo by the author -- ©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008)

It was the considered opinion of the assembled experts that the repair was going to take longer than the starting time allowed. Stoney pulled out of the ride and headed to the luncheon staging area to complete the repair. At the same instant, Ducdude’s immaculate 1972 BMW R75/5 Toaster started oozing gas as well. This was a simple matter of an overfilled tank, and was resolved with a rag.

DucDude casually checks gasoline leaking from the tank of his impeccable BMW Toaster.
Fortunately, it was just an overfilled tank. Click on the image to fully appreciate the 
detail of this extraordinary motorcycle.
(Photo by the author -- ©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008) 

The BMW "Toaster" is one of the most beautiful motorcycles to have rolled off the line, and Ducdude's is flawless. Note how his features are reflected in the glass-like finish on the gas tank in the photo above. The bike runs like it looks, too.

Todd Trumbore gave the signal, and the line of museum pieces fired up and moved out. It is a testimony to the rider/mechanics that all of these bikes came to life on one or two kicks. The ride covered 108 miles of rural Pennsylvania countryside in a 30-mile radius west of Skippack.

Todd Trumbore gives last minute instructions before the group pulls out. He will
tell those around him not to look all at once, but a brunette with a pronounced "camel toe" is
struggling to get out of a small foreign car. Without exception, the group will all turn and look at once.
(Photo by the author -- ©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008)

We passed through the towns of Boyers Junction, Huff’s Church, New Jersusalem, Landis Store, and Lobachsville. Rolling hills offered occasional changes in elevation with moderate twisties popping up here and there. Feed corn, known as “dent corn” stood drying in the fields. Distant hillsides were dotted with orange, as pumpkins awaited harvest. Roadside stands that offered tomatoes and corn just a few weeks ago now held squash and root vegetables. Cows stood amiably in pastures, contented by the cooler temperatures and demise of the flies. A number of old mill ponds, stone barns, and houses that were 25 years old when the first shots of the revolution were fired provided an incredibly picturesque run.

Rural Pennsylvania countryside was the backdrop for this beautiful early fall ride.
(Photo taken by the author -- ©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008)

We stopped at Boyers Market, in Boyers Junction, Pa. This is quant little gas station and tiny market on the edge of a neighborhood facing extinction. I ordered coffee for Dick and I, plus whatever cookies they had. I expected the standard bag of Pepperidge Farm gas station cookies. What they had was four or six home-baked large cookies in plastic wrapped trays. I said to the nice lady behind the counter, “Bring me some.” She didn’t know what kind I wanted, so she bought four different varieties in various trays. I bought them all and distributed among the riders.

There is nothing more beautiful than a row of vintage bikes parked at a rural gas station.
Please click on the image to enjoy the detail of these remarkable bikes.
(Photo courtesy of Todd Trice -- ©Copyright Todd Trice 2008)

One guy on a toaster said to me, “There are great sugar cookies.” I remember thinking I wanted a ham and cheese on rye with a beer. Then I felt guilty as it might have been too early for a sandwich.

During the break, Todd Trumbore discovered a small stain of oil on the ground beneath the engine of his '67 BMW R60/2 w/ Steib TR500. Todd had just altered the gearing of the bike (which he described as “tall”). He wanted a bit more torque to muscle the hack rig, and in making the change, had reused a crush washer.

Larry Bowa and Laura Hirth inspect two drops of oil under this immaculate 
1967 BMW R60/2W/Steib TR500, which stemmed from Todd Trombore's 
decision to reuse a 34¢ crush washer following a gear box rebuild. The unusual 
fork on the front end is called an "Earls Fork." Laura is an accomplished mechanic 
in her own right. Click on the image to enlarge the detail.
(Photo taken by the author -- ©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008

Now there is one person famous in the Mac-Pac for reusing crush washers -- to save money. (It is not Trumbore.) After 25 years, he has saved enough to buy a "happy meal" at MacDonalds. The group was going to pass a hat around to collect enough change to buy Todd a new crush washer, but Laura assured everyone that she intended to get one for him as a Christmas present. 

While he examined the leak, his Australian Shepherd, “Larry Bowa,” would occasionally hand him a wrench. The dog rode in the sidecar with Laura.

"Tool Dog"Larry Bowa... Click to enlarge... Note wrench in Larry's mouth.
Some speculate that this dog is capable of doing tune-ups, oil changes, and 
other tasks as long as someone else holds the flashlight.
(Photo by the author -- ©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008

On the road again, I said to Dick, “This was about where we lost the group last year.” Ahead of us was Tom Kramer on a 1979 Yamaha, and Dave Crank on the 1961 Vellocette Clubman Venom. They were having a bit of a discussion, which when resolved, found us detached and lost from the group.

“Right on time,” said Dick.

The handling characteristics of the Vellocette Clubman Venom were becoming challenging for Dave Crank, who is a pretty big guy. This particular bike, while beautiful, was highly compact with thin tires.

The 1961 Vellocette Clubman "Venom," owned and ridden by Dave Crank.
This was a sexy bike and the first of it's kind that I had ever seen. 
(Photo taken by the author -- ©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008) 

Crank had fashioned a special heel/toe shifter for the machine, which needed modification after a few hours on the road. We pulled over at Huff’s Church, took a brief rest, then waited while the Vellocette made up its mind to restart. This was a relatively brief period in my opinion, requiring less than 10 minutes to sort things out. Crank is British, and speaks with a reserved sense of understatement. 

"I didn't realize we'd be out on a ride this long," said Crank, who also felt various road surface factors, such as grass clippings, gravel, smeared animal entrails, and flattened vegetation worked against this unique bike's personality. I didn't get the opportunity to discuss the issue with him, but I suspect he favors the alternative antique ride, where the mileage to the event is the thrill and the enthusiastic discussion that follows in the bar is the chief reward.  

Magnificent BMW Toasters parked in a row for the Mac-Pac Vintage Bike Ride.
(Photo Courtesy of Todd Trice -- ©Copyright Todd TRice 2008)

Rejoining the group at Upper Salford Park, we were in time for a cookout and group reception. It was here that Todd was surprised with a cake to commemorate his 56th birthday. This elaborate confection was decorated with a picture of his bike, BMW Roundels, and wrenches. Had the cake actually come from BMW, it would have cost $1,800.

Todd Trumbore displays his 56th birthday cake -- which follows a BMW theme.
The cake would have cost $1,800 if it had actually come from BMW.
(Photo courtesy of Todd Trice -- ©Copyright Todd Trice 2008)

Laura Hirth (Todd's significant other) was trusting enough to introduce me to her mom. Women like to confide in me. Her mom told me about the time she spent a major holiday in the back of a police car, kicking the door, trying to get out. Then she told me about another occasion, when the local minister came calling and little Laura told him mom was inside, “hooking.” She was actually working on a rug. (That means she was making the rug.) Why is it I never have defacto inlaws like this. My first mother-in-law was the reason I got to see the back of a police car. (She had just gotten a pace-maker and caught me removing the seal from the door of her microwave oven.)

This year’s event was more extensive than last year’s ride and has potential to become a multi-BMW chartered club activity. But Todd understands that the ride is the glue that binds, and getting any larger on that end would increase the chance of delays, breakdowns, and mishaps.  I was flattered to be invited back again this year, as I do not own a vintage bike. But seeing these beautiful classics ridden by these guys made want to get one.

“Doesn't a day like this make you wish you had a bike like these, “ I said to Dick.

Bregstein smiled and replied, “You’d have to be able to fix it and you’d still be shit out of luck.”

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008
AKA The LindBergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)


Woody said...

Nice story Jack. I learned something today. I was unaware that feed corn is called 'dent corn'. One of these years, I may join this ride, should the EPA decide to issue a permit for the Matchless. You see, the small stain beneath Todd's R60 is what the Matchless issues every nanosecond. Fill the oil, check the gas :-(

Charles said...

Hi Jack,

I noticed that the bikes were old and most of the riders were even older - including me. I tried to ride toward the front and, therefore, didn't see all the other riders in motion, but the ones in front of me were frequently stretching their legs, shaking their arms and grasping and ungrasping their hands in a effort to keep aging body parts working properly. I expect that more contemporary bike are more comfortable, but I don't happen to own one (although my wife has a 2004 Yamaha Vino 125 scooter). I shutter to think what the Vellocette riding position must feel like although I would love to ride it given the opportunity.

Thanks for the peanut butter cookies. I had been disappointed when I went into the store to find they didn't have peanut butter crackers. I hadn't noticed the cookies and was pleasantly surprised when they were passed around.

Anyway, you've written another great ride report even, this time, without having ridden. I'm looking forward to seeing if I get my name in a national (international?) magazine.

Charles Scott
West Chester

BMW-Dick said...

Dear Jack:
That's exactly how I recall the trip. What great fun thanks to Todd and Laura and Larry and their friends and family.The only thing that would have made it better would have been if we were riding motorcycles instead of an SUV with an anemic GPS starving for streets. It was perfect day -- good fun, cool bikes, and cool people. Next year we're on two wheels!

DC said...

Beautiful bikes on what looked like a very nice day to ride. My BMW is 25 years old this year, but was sidelined with a bad alternator rotor. I could have been the "youngest" antique there! I plan on attending the 3rd Annual ride next year.

Dave Case

Joe Dille said...


I really wish I was there instead of waiting 2 hours at the KoP mall at the grand opening of the Lego store, then digging a 20' ditch for my drain line. Thanks for writing this wonderful story and making me feel even more guilty.

Did you ever get my picture?

Ride Safe,


John said...

One day I will have the R75/6 ready for this ride. Of course with all of my other duties I would not have been able to go anyway, but at least the bike would be ready. . .

Grandad 43 said...

Jack, totally enjoyed this ride report and seeing the pix of these beautiful bikes. The "Toaster" all one can say is wow.
If I had been aware of this ride, I would have ridden to Skippack just to see the vintage bikes.

Grandad 43
PS 14

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Woody:

Thanks for writing in. This qualifies you for the October readers' contest. The Matchless sounds like a car -- a Ford Fairlane -- my brother had in the early 70's. He carried a gallon of Foxhead oil in the trubk.

Thanks for stopping by,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charles:

It was great seeing you guys on Sunday, I look forward to riding again in next year's event. Everybody's bike looked great. The Vellocette was a wonder. I watched Dave Crank shift with his heel a dozen times, without taking his foot off the peg, before I realized what was going on.

Next year, I'll have peanut butter crackers in my top case.

Thanks for writing. Your name is entered into the October contest.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...


We were like two fish out of water last Sunday. We've got to ride in next year's event. But it was a pisser. We got to sit in the SUV and solve the world's problems for four hours.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear DC (Dave Case):

Dick Bregstein was the youngest antique there. When he got out of the truck, everyone started humming "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald."

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Joe:

You missed a great day in the countryside, though I bet spending the afternoon in the King of Prussia mall was a close second -- Not!

Thanks for your kind note. And I regret there seems to a problem with the transmission of your pictures.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear John:

I was amazed to discover how many Mac-Pac members have vintage bikes. It was amazing to see this long, thin, ancient line extend down the highway.

Your name has been entered into the contest.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Grandad (Dave):

I would have been delighted to introduce around. Are you doing anything non Sunday morning, October 19th? The Mac-Pac will meet for breakfast at the Pottstown Family Diner on Rt. 100 at 8am. I'll save you a seat.

Your name is entered into the monthly contest.

Fondest regards,

Charlie6 said...


great ride report and great pictures of beautiful motorcycles....

I would have loved to have seen that Velocette in person, missed a chance to see some recently and regret it.

re owning a vintage motorcycle, yeah, you gotta expect to be working on it.

mine's not vintage, barely 22 years old, but she's all sorted out
for now....I would have loved riding in such august company.



TheBavarian said...

I'm not sure what I enjoy more, laying out this vintage ride each year, or reading Jack's portrayal in his blog discribing this ride/event.

Jack's unique writing style and colorful display of wit and humor always manages to get a good hardy laugh out of me.

Anyway, I want to thank everyone who was courageous enough to endure such a work-out that these older motorbikes can give our aging bodies and overcoming the fear and anxiety of not knowing if your antique bike will make the trek back home without breaking down.

We were blessed with terrific weather again this year and had a diverse, enthusiatic group of riders. I hope we can duplicate the conditions for next year. I'm already looking forward to it.

Todd Trumbore

RossK6 said...

Jack - another great story. Thanks for sharing and keep them coming.

SoloBear said...

Most excellent write-up,Jack! I really enjoyed the photos, too.

Ummm... on that crush washer? Maybe I am the cheapest SOB you have met in that regard... my VStar is on the original seven and a half years ( and countless oil changes!) later. Guess I need to order a few before that next maintenance day, hmmm?

Sorry to hear Old Arthur has been working you over so hard... hope he eases up a bit soon!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

This was the kind of ride where I was content to watch from the shadows. Each of these guys is a no-bullshit, die-hard biker/mechanic, with a thorough understanding of the machinery at hand. They amaze me. In the Mac-Pac, where a great deal of tolerance is exercised in accepting the foibles of the individual, the envelope is pushed to accommodate me.

My last bike was a 1986 K75 with a Sprint fairing. This was really something, until some pain in the ass old woman ran me over in Virginia.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and to comment. As ever, your name has been entered in the October Meals Contest.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bavarian (Todd Trumbore):

Thank you for your comments on my writing style and for inviting Dick Bregstein and I to your event once again. We had a blast. You certainly know how to show the boys a good time.

I am always amazed at how beautiful these bikes are, and how congenial these guys can be. It is touching how they try and make Bregstein feel like he is a real biker too.

I was glad Laura didn't see you kick that dog in the ass though.

And by commenting, your name has been entered into the Readers' Meals Contest.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear RossK:

It's letters like your that keep me from killing myself. Writers never know if their efforts are appreciated, and my friends all lie to me, hoping they'll win the monthly meals contest.

Thank you for your kind commentary on my work. Your name has been entered into the monthly contest.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear SoloBear (Scott):

My close frend and mentor -- Brian Curry -- is the cheapest bastard who ever lived. He has a tiny set of defibrillators and a resuscitator to revive crush washers for yet another season.

He did an oil change on my bike and acted as if I had asked him to perform an unnatural act by using a fresh washer. I then showed him ten extras I carry in my tool kit. He fell down in a trance.

Thanks for dropping by tonight. As always, your name has been entered into the Readers' Meals Contest.

Fondest regards,

Rick said...

Beautiful bikes, and beautiful scenery. Looks like a wonderful time. I will be riding to your part of the country within the next month.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Rick:

I read your blog -- Keep The Rubber Side Down -- with great interest the other night. If you are planning on passing through this part of PA next month, I would be happy to host you at one of our biker lunches at the Himalayan.

Lunch with the Mac-Pac is like visiting the Discovery Channel. Did you ever see hyenas finish off a Cape Buffalo? It's a lot like that.

There is also an adult leather store close by that you might find interesting as well.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe

Anonymous said...

That '67 GTO in the top photo -- oh, baby! I had one just like it (yes, in 1967!). My brother rides a '73 R75 toaster (I hope that's correct terminology -- I'm a girl, you know). The bikes are all beautiful, and you're still funny! I'm going to have to post as Anonymous since I can't remember my password. Sammye aka Granny2Wheels

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sammye:

Post a comment anyway you like. It's always good to hear from you.

Fondest regards,

MacNapier said...

Great little Blog. I hope you'll write about the Karl Duffner benefit Ride on 25 October. I saw Todd there and host of others.

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