The smoke had barely settled from the Mac Pac attempt at establishing a new Guiness Record Book number for the BMW motorcycle category when I started hearing snippets from the street. Some of these snippets related to details that had been left out of my last blog episode. While many of snake-eyed readers are more than happy to attribute this to bad journalism, the truth is that I have been working against a number of challenges lately. The first of these regards my regular writing schedule, which has intensified by 100 percent (thank God). I went from being a near-unemployed bastard to being a bastard with 5 to 7 writing assignments each week. (I prefer things this way.)
But I’m only good for a limited amount of text each day and I’ve had a lot less time to go through things. Plus the arthritis that has plagued me like a one of my previous marriages has spread to my back and other places. This simply wears me out. Yet I was compelled to fill in the blanks from my previous story on this record-breaking event. I really wanted to elaborate more on the “behind the scenes” activities of my colleagues, and to run some of the pictures of these guys.
Above -- Todd Trombore (left) laughs at Brian Curry's suggestion to ask everyone to move their motorcycle two feet to the left. Curry dropped a quarter and he wanted it back. Trombore did not realize that Curry was serious. (Brian Curry is usually what someone means when they say "Mac Pac leadership.") Photo by Wayne Woodruff.
As previously reported, Mac Pac leadership had considered going after this record nine months ago, but decided to just have breakfast instead. Then Todd Trombore said, “I think we can do this.” (Mac Pac leadership is determined by having five guys and four chairs in a room in which music is playing. When the music stops, each weasel scrambles for a seat. The person left standing is the “leadership.”)
(Above) There wasn't much of a crowd around 8:30am. (From left) Gordon Till, Dot Ellenberg, Jay Scales, Laura Hirth, Dave Case (extended arms), and Rich Cavaliere. Most of the machines in this picture are traditional "R" bikes, owned by people who do not believe in proper cooling systems, such as those of the mechanically sophisticated "K" bike. Photo by Wayne Woodruff.
Trombore is the epitome of the BMW motorcycle preservationist. His name is well-known among serious BMW collectors and the Delaware Valley Riders, who revere antique machines of all marques. With more than 34 bikes in his collection — many of which are painstakingly restored to museum-quality perfection — he keeps company with legendary BMW riders like Karl Duffner and personally supports an annual riding program designed to showcase BMW toasters “that were designed to be ridden, not hidden.”
(Above) This is the priceless "Velocette" owned by Dave Crank, who worked registration. Note the toe and heel shifter. I first saw this machine two years ago, when Crank rode it on one of Todd's rides. Two hours into that trip, we found Crank on the side of the road, crying piteously. He hadn't read that the ride would be four hours long, and the splitting-maul of a seat was working its magic on his ass. The bike was ineligible for the Guiness Record-Breaking event. Photo by Wayne Woodruff.
Trombore has the kind of personality that puts everything into an easy perspective. No challenge is too great... No issue is too ghastly to defy resolution. He is one of those guys who can do anything (and is very annoying in the extreme to those of us who can’t.) In this case, he was faced with creating a mechanism for getting everyone all together and organizing the event, including a ride-route that not only met the Guiness Book Record requirements, but that would also treat participants to a real taste of the Pennsylvania countryside.
(Above) There is nothing like spying BMW royalty in the crowd. Moto Edde Mendes looks for trick questions on his registration card. Mendes is the gentleman who rode an unmodified K75 from Morocco down to the Sahara, up to the Silk Route through Turkey, across the 'Stans' into Russia, and across the US east to Philly. In all, 39,000 miles in 11 months -- without a film crew or support team. He is a member of the Mac Pac. Photo by Wayne Wodruff.
“We need to set up a route where the riders need only hang together in tight formation for two miles,” said Trombore, staring off at the horizon, like Lincoln thinking of the Emancipation Proclamation.“Then they can spread out and take in the beautiful countryside that surrounds this place. I have a simple route in mind... Only three left turns and 128 rights.”
I rolled my eyes at Dave Case.
Trombore is our resident authority on twisty, shaded, Amish farm roads. I have been honored to be invited on two of his great antique runs in the past.. And he does pick some of the most beautiful roads I have ever been on... Yet it is not uncommon for these roads to disappear down single tracks marked with cattle skulls and pentagrams, and end at a knotted rope, which the rider must climb with the motorcycle strapped to his back.
(Above) Videographer interviews Todd Trombore (middle) and Bob Jones, the CEO of Montgomeryville Cycle Center. Photo By Wayne Woodruff
Montgomeryville Cycle Center is tantalizing close to Rt. 309, in Hatfield, Pa, but its driveway is actually on a one-way access road that peels to right of the highway, just as the sign for the dealership heaves into plain view. Initially, it looked as if all of our riders would have had to spill out onto the access road to make an immediate left, and then a right onto a tight, one-lane country road. The local police department commiserated with Todd on this grim bit of reality, and then offered to shut down the access road, and both lanes of Rt. 309 fot the 13 minutes it would take for 246 bikes to exit the lot. Suddenly, it became very easy to set up the parade formation, herd the bikes out onto the pavement, and videotape them from several vantage points.
(Above) The 60-second to roll-out signal has been given, and 246 BMWs started in unison. Photo by Wayne Woodruff.
If Dave Case, the Mac Pac member responsible for coming up with the bike parking scheme for the event, should ever opt for a change in careers, he could teach a correspondence course on air traffic control. Case packed those bikes in tighter than a clams ass (and that’s waterproof). Yet he was assisted by a team of Mac Pac members whose dedication to service would shame the commitment of a Kamikazi pilot. This addendum will attempt to do justice to Dave Case and his crew.
The Crack Volunteer Parking Team was...
Chelcie, Fiancé of Ryan Sorensen
“The day started out as humid as a greenhouse, but cool enough to move around,” said Case. “Yet the sun beating down on all that hot German steel and black asphalt quickly turned the parking lot into an oven. My first thought was 246 kickstands were going start to punch holes in the blacktop. I had a vision of setting another record... The number of bikes that could go over like dominoes. Fortunately, we didn’t have to deal with that.”
Case likened the arriving bikes to popcorn in as microwave. “At first the kernels pop slowly, almost at random,” said Case. “Then they pop faster. That’s how the bikes arrived. By ones and two’s, and then in groups of ten or twelve, as they came together on the road. I was confident the crew had it covered. At one point though, I heard a pride of Beemers arrive and found everyone locked in conversation over a great looking bike So I just yelled, ‘Incoming,’ and that became the action word of the day.” (A group of BMW motorcycles and lions is referred to as a “pride.”)
(Above) Bill Dudley of New Jersey shows Mac Pac members Corey Lyba, Kimi Bush, and Dave Millhouse the point of impact for slow moving pedestrians. Photo by Wayne Woodruff.
Case and his volunteers had formulated a number of contingency plans for another crisis: mechanical failure. “Some of these bikes were 50 years old,” said Case. “Our record-breaking attempt was two phase. One was to get them together. The second was to ride in a parade formation for two miles. Every one of them had to start and ride out of here to qualify.”
(Above) The crack registration team (from left) Patti Minner, Dave Crank, Gordon Till, and Jack Riepe. Photo by Wayne Woodruff.
Not surprisingly, they all did. But one went down towards the back of the line. It was a classic parking lot drop with no damage to the rider nor the machine. Two of Case’s crew rushed to upright the bike, while others paused the remaining cycles around it. (The rider of the dropped rig simply remounted, restarted, and went. The delay was less than 30 seconds.) Case and crew were among the last riders to exit the lot.
“It was like watching the plug get pulled out of a giant tub,” said Corey Lyba. “There was a swirl of motorcycles back by the exit, and then the rest all followed smoothly.”
The ride was to be the subject of at least three video teams. One was on a highway overpass, less than a mile from the start. Cameras from this vantage point caught the bikes coming and going. Joe Dille (pronounced Dilly), and his son Matt, got some incredible ride footage at ground zero -- from the sidecar of vintage BMW. Moving among the riders, Team Dille caught the line undulating along Route 309 at speed.
(Above) Author Jack Riepe (in blue Sturgis BMW shirt) comments to Gordon Till, "There is nothing more penetrating than a fart from a senior citizen." Till responds by taking the most basic of precautions, but cannot help glancing at the most likely source. Rogers George is staring intently at Riepe's water bottle, trying to levitate it. Photo by Wayne Woodruff.
Clyde Jacobs and I filled in that 30-second gap prompted by the dropped bike. I followed the flashing police lights through two easy curves, marveling at the expressions on the faces of waiting cage drivers, who certainly weren’t expecting a show of this magnitude. As I explained in my previous piece, the staggering majority of BMW riders do not do the group thing. I was immediately behind a guy on a yellow bike who was under the impression the speed limit was 35mph. This rider felt that a 25-bike-length gap was the bare minimum space between his machine and the motorcycle in front of him. Now while the police from various townships closed the feeder lanes as we approached, some did not feel the need to remain until we all passed by. I saw a line of cars waiting to get on the road sizing up the gap created by the guy in front of me.
I hit my flashers, waved to Clyde, and went around this gent bringing Fireballs up to the red line in 3rd gear. Seven other bikes followed me. And that was it. The event was over for me shortly thereafter, and passed into history — perhaps. The group thing is fun in moderation. I recommend riding on groups of two and three, unless you are with 246 BMWs.
©copyright Jack Riepe 2010
AKA The Lindbergh Baby
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain — PS (With A Shrug)