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USCRA Runs Inaugural Motogiro USA

For a few brief days we were all kids again, free from adult responsibilities and problems, tethered only by a love of life that comes from revisiting a favorite youthful activity, in this case the riding of little bikes that we first loved as teenagers, blasting the back roads with our buddies again, laughing and living only for the moment as the young do; these little bikes had turned into time machines, and we were happy to be back in the sixties once again.

The United States Classic Racing Association, the oldest vintage racing association in North America, which runs road races and trials in the Northeast, kicked off a new venue this past September 18th and 19th with the introduction of their MOTOGIRO USA competition.

While giro’s have been run in Italy for decades now, the giro (pronounced “jeero”) is new to the United States. A giro is basically an enduro, but is run on public roads on small vintage road legal motorcycles. The most prestigious of the giro’s currently being run is the Motogiro D’Italia, a six day event which covers up to 200 miles per day with a limit of 175cc, and which must be Italian machines with a build date of no newer than 1957.

But this isn’t Italy, and as so many of us baby boomers cut our teeth on small machines that were imported from virtually every country that was making them at the time, we decided that our giro would have different rules. We would include all machines regardless of country of origin, with a cut off year of 1969 or like type, and limit the maximum size to 250cc’s, within which we would have a 65cc class, a 125cc class, a 200cc class, and a 250cc class. That pretty much encompasses the bikes we first loved and learned to ride, and so we began the process to bring it all about.

We needed a place to stage the event, and as event director it was my job to search for an area that would give us a place to meet, to eat, to camp at, and to start and finish from. I really lucked out in that my first phone call was to the Plattekill ski resort located in Roxbury, NY. Ski Plattekill http://www.plattekill.com/ is kind of a throwback to the sixties when ski resorts were family owned and managed, before all the corporate yuppy pc name-tag fancy-dan way-too-expensive BS started. This place is right out of the books for what lodges/resorts used to be, rustic, raw, challenging (they get twice the natural snow that the surrounding peaks get); the kind of place that draws those that are X game minded, no frills, lots of spills, affordable, clean and fun on the best and purest level. Laszlo Vajtay, and his lovely wife Danielle, run eight downhill/enduro/trials/what-have-you bicycle events every summer, plus motorcycle Hare Scrambles, and they pack it out. Laszlo was quite excited to help us develop this new format at his place after hearing what the giro involved, and went out of his way to make the event the success it turned out to be.

In August a planning committee sat down with maps and we laid out the routes, then spent a weekend down in the area driving over them to check them out and get all the mileages we needed for route maps and instructions. Bob Coy, founder and director of the USCRA, then spared no expense in the purchase of timing equipment, awards, and putting together entry packets which came with a bib for rider and number for bike, an overall map, a set of turn and distance instructions for each loop, a “Motogiro USA” polo shirt, and a time card. We planned two loops on Saturday, the first running approximately 60-miles to Cooperstown, NY. We allowed 3-hours to accomplish this loop (we established an average speed of approximately 25mph to complete each loop to allow for stops, breakdowns, etc.). Then, after lunch, the second loop would return to Ski Plattekill with a distance of approximately 70 miles, 3-½ hour allowed time. On Sunday, we planned a single 80-mile loop that started and finished at the ski center which was allowed a 4-hour time.

Riding the loops is terrific fun, more on this later, but it is fairly easy to zero your times; that is you are started on a certain minute, say 9:00 AM, and this means that you must get your card punched at the destination within 30 seconds either way of the arrival time posted at the bottom of your card, every second you miss by will be a point against you. You must also have the “stamp checks” stamped on your card along the route, these being checks along the way to be sure you aren’t shortcutting the course. But the place where the contest is won or lost is in the special tests, these being 20 meter cone courses where the contestants are given say, (i.e.) a 12.5 second time to ride the course. Timing beams are set at start and finish, you are penalized for touching down a foot, knocking down a cone, going off course, and by every fraction that you miss the exact time by.

Having established all of the parameters of this event, let me now recount how the weekend went from my own personal view as I shared with some of my friends: I got to the ski lodge at around 10:00 AM on Friday and hung out until Henry Syphers showed up, then we jumped in his van and went out for the 5 hours of arrowing the Saturday course. I left my Dodge pickup for Jim Marhan and Frank Camillieri to do the Sunday run when they got there. Meanwhile, Hurricane Ivan, having sucked up a thirsty sailor’s portion of suds down in the Caribbean, was still getting rid of it with a vengeance all the way up here in New York State.

We returned to base to find some early birds arriving. Lower areas were now getting muddy so we all moved up to the highest-level area, as it was on crushed stone, and set up. Pretty soon we had a good-sized party happening. Frank, Henry, and I headed down to the local pizza parlor to grab a bite, and when we returned, a real good hurricane party was breaking out, awnings and tarps had been set up, beer runs
had been made, barbeques blazing, giro bikes pulled out of trailers and trucks to be admired, cigars lit, more people were arriving, and the fun had begun. It was raining hard, but it was balmy and pleasant so the party went to around midnight and then everyone crashed.

All night long it absolutely poured and in the morning George DeCamp stuck his head in the camper and told me that Bob Coy, the director of the USCRA, needed to see me. It still was raining way too hard to be able to go out in, this being a giro not an ISDT, so we decided that we would switch the two days runs around and run the Sunday run today (Saturday), and have a key time at 1:00 PM. Laszlo and his crew showed up at 8:00 AM and we all got a nice cooked-to-order breakfast, after which we had a meeting. So Bob Coy’s making the announcements about the changes and I'm sitting there a nervous wreck, as this is my baby, thinking it just can't get any worse. Right in the middle of the meeting, Dr. Bob (one of Laszlo's more colorful employee's) marches in and announces, "ALL THE ROADS IN DELAWARE COUNTY HAVE NOW BEEN CLOSED!" It had just gotten worse.

The Schoharie Creek flows through Delaware County, a mere trickle most of the year, but the Catskill Mountains will send water bellowing down into it during a bad rainfall, and as we had now received 5 inches of water in a 12 hour period, the little Schoharie Creek had now become the mighty Mississippi, and the Mississippi fits into the Schoharie's banks like Dolly Parton fits into Calista Flockhart’s little black dress. At this point we tentatively and hopefully called it a go at 1:00 PM, be ready.

At 11:00 AM, I received word that the Northern Delaware County roads had reopened with some restrictions, the rain had begun to abate, and we all got ready. Craig Hirko, on his 50cc fan-cooled Sears and Roebuck ‘Department Store Especiale', was the first to get his card punched and do the first special test, and he was out on the course. We all kidded Craig about that bike and his chances, but I've got to tell you, he was fierce and unrelenting on it. It was a classical hare and tortoise thing as we'd all stop and talk while we got gas, taking a break, or we had a breakdown that we'd all stop and fix, but in the meantime Craig's out there droning relentlessly along. This is great class, Craig proving that it can be done and done well and is one not to be sneered at; in fact on Sunday he was the first one to arrive in Cooperstown. I will do the giro one year on a 50cc, just for the experience.

The rest of us got our cards punched by Cathy Smith, did our tests, and headed out into the fog and light rain. Frank, Henry, and I bunched up and did some road racing at legal speeds. These small bore machines are an absolute hoot as 50mph feels like 80mph, plus they're so light and maneuverable that you can pretty much pin the throttle, momentum being the name of the game. I think the fastest we went, as a group, was the second day on a long downhill when we hit 70 mph. Craig said the only place he got to speed was through the towns when he was doing 35mph in a 30. I was on my Bridgestone 175, which might have been the fastest bike of the meet (I had it up to 80 once), Frank was on a Yami’ 125 single (58mph flat out), and Henry was on a Suzuki 120cc "dual sport". Henry was a bit down on power, no problem for Henry though, as he'd simply hang his body between the handlebars, his helmet looking like a nose cone, get in your draft, and do a slow-mo' slingshot by you.

We got the mid-point stamp check in Summit by George and Kiyoko DeCamp, and continued from there until we began to get close to the Schoharie, which was by now the “SCHO’HAIRY”, a raging torrent way out of it's banks, and we hit a "Road Closed" sign, but not to Frank Camillieri. To Frank, 66 years young, that simply means, "It's time for an adventure", and despite my pleadings to cut over to Rt. 30 on another road, we went down the closed road for a look-see. Around 5 miles down we found the creek up over the road. It actually didn't look too deep near up, and then up a little further there was only an inch, but at around 20 yards in, the current was sweeping around pretty good. Frank says,” Hah, hah, hah, should I try it?" Like I'm going to tell him no, "Sure, give it try", so into it he goes, makes the first part okay, goes up over the quiet part and then he hits the current. That water was moving so fast that it hit his front wheel and came right up over the handlebars, and when he put his feet down and the water came up over his knees and into his lap, the motor sputtered and stopped, Frank pulled the clutch in to hit the electric starter (too hard to kick, that 125) and the current drove him backwards to the quiet spot, whew! When he got the bike out of course it wouldn't run, so we pulled the side covers off and we figure between what came out before we got the covers off and what we dumped, there was about a quart of water in the thing, but it started and ran fine.

So we were off to find a way home. Rt. 30 was closed also but we checked the map and found some great roads over on the East side of the creek that took us up into the mountains and gave us some of the best riding of the day. We zeroed our times, did another test and got ready for dinner.

Dinner was scrumptious. The meats, turkey and roast beef, were great with their gravy's, but the salads were to die for. Pete Talabach pointed out to me that seldom at an event like this, do you get both the macaroni and potato salad being good, let alone this good (some of the best potato salad I've ever had), and usually they both suck, but they were both great and the German potato salad was superb. Other accompaniments were tossed salad and fresh dinner rolls, then for desert homemade brownies, and always plenty of beverages on hand. Their secret at the ski center is an older German woman who makes everything by hand (BTW, this lady marched in a German parade in Saturday mornings hurricane rains because she wanted to carry her birth countries flag, "I am prowd' to carry my flag"; a neat lady and a sensational cook).

One would have thought that the Japanese bikes would have swallowed the percentage entered, but while they were the largest percentage, we got all kinds of machines. Amongst them were an NSU, Dave Ropers
1950 Moto Guzzi 250, a Bultaco Mercurio, a Velocette, a Sears 'Puch" 250, a Sears 'Benelli' Mojave, several Ducati's, a Parilla, a CZ, a Gilera, BSA, and many more.

The terrain was fabulous, and I’m not exaggerating, ask anyone who participated. The roads were perfect for our intents, seemingly built for the machines we were riding. We had long climbs, big drops with hairpins in them, some very aggressive dirt roads with climbs that if you had to stop, your best bet would be to return to the bottom for a retry. We were only on the state roads for very short periods using some of the county roads, a lot of the town roads, with a goodly portion of seasonal dirt roads thrown in to make it challenging in every way. Traffic was literally non-existent. Aside from Cooperstown, we might have seen a dozen cars all day on Sunday. This is probably some of the most beautiful country on God's green earth. I know that when we broke over the top of a hill and set our eyes on Cooperstown and the surrounding hills and valleys, it took everybody’s breath away. Both days were full of such sights, beautiful vistas of fields, trees, black mountain tops way off in the distance, lovely rolling valleys, farms, wildlife, really an unspoiled natural treasure. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful place to ride.

Sunday dawned sharp and bright, with a little early morning fog that quickly cleared. We waited up and formed a larger group this time. Henry had been having trouble on Saturday with a skip that came and went, and today his exhaust pipe gasket let go so he was down on power which limited his climb speeds to around 20 mph, so he tried to catch the pack (and did) on the downhill side, only when he came cooking into a 20 mph hairpin at 60 and laid it over the tires let go, the bike slid off, stuck its front wheel in a
culvert, and Henry did a face plant cutting his nose from the impact of his glasses and banging him up. In true USCRA style he sucked it up, duck taped the gash on his nose, wired up the broken parts, and caught us at a gas stop. I was leading and noticed he had dropped off the pack at a stop sign, so we had waited a bit and then I just figured he'd broken and the sweep truck would get him as I had no way of knowing how far back I'd lost him. I did feel bad, but Henry just said, "Hey, pain is my friend because it lets me know I'm alive, it's when I don't feel pain, I worry". He's a tough guy and aside from being banged up a little, and angry that he couldn’t find all the stuff that got jettisoned out of his milk crate (I really didn’t care to remember that part of the sixties) he was fine and finished the ride with us.

The last loop, the 70 miles from Cooperstown to Roxbury was the best of the lot as far as I was concerned, as it was the most diverse and as such turned out to be the most deceptive. I had a low number so I was in the lead pack that had ridden up around beautiful Lake Otsego and down the other side, and aside from a seasonal road on the route, we had been able to make very good time arriving at John and Mary Branson’s stamp check 40 miles from where we started in one hour. As we had 3 hours to make it back to zero out and only around 30 miles to go, many people stopped and chatted in the warm afternoon sun for a bit too long. My group wanted to ride and I also knew that breakdowns happen. We took off, had two 10-minute breakdowns to repair, and got back with only 15 minutes remaining before we were due. Giro rules really dock you for being late and many of the former leaders were late, not arriving within the maximum allowed time, and received the full 20-minute penalty (1200 points).

Fast Freddy Fringe came flying in so fast trying to make up time that he lost the front end on his borrowed 160 Ducati and pancaked it right across the finish line. While he said he was unhurt, he couldn’t understand why we were laughing at his “crash”. “Dude, that wasn’t a crash, it was a spill. A crash makes a sound that goes ‘CRASH!!’ and the rider flies and bounces off stuff for awhile, that’s a crash!” Besides, we all knew to whom the bike belonged and that made it even funnier. Freddy got an honorable mention during the awards ceremonies for the “Snatched From the Jaws of Death Award” (an animal jawbone), along with Frank Camillieri, but the award went to Henry Sypher, going away.


What more can I say, the ride was fabulous; we all had an adventure, a race, some exciting moments, and a fabulous time. We finished up, did the after event beers and awards, and left knowing that we'd be back next year to this same spot for another two days of entirely too much fun. Between Laszlo, his wife, and his crew, who put out the welcome mat in such a wonderful way (they couldn't do enough for us), a great USCRA style facility, tremendous terrain, the best bunch of friends, vintage machinery, all of us having the best time of our lives, we could not have asked for a better start to the event. This thing is gonna' get big. For information concerning our next USCRA Motogiro USA, go to http://www.race-uscra.com/events.html .

Doug Boughton [email protected]
518 674 4045

Motogiro USA 2004 Results

65cc Class: 1st Craig Hirko #3/Sears 50

125cc Class: 1st Frank Camillieri #3/Yamaha 125, 2nd Henry Syphers #4/Suzuki 120, 3rd Bob Bove #21/Yamaha 125

200cc Class: 1st Richard Snyder #18/Honda 200, 2nd Kerry Smith #11/Honda 160, 3rd Doug Boughton #2/Bridgestone 175

250cc Class: 1st Robert Reich #10/Puch 250, 2nd Peter Davidson #17/BSA 250, 3rd Ed Scott #9/Suzuki 250
 

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Dgy,

I enjoyed the article. I live right in that area. Now lets read the ones you wrote about the next 2 giros. I also liked the article you wrote for "roadbike". Hey, why didn't this years giro get any press other than the response to the letter to the editor Bob Coy wrote.

Do you know when the event will be written up in the AMA mag?

Jam, I have a couple giro eligible bikes for sale--both projects, a 1955 Ariel Colt 200cc and a pair of Honda S65's that could easily be made into one. There is also a '55 Truimph tiger Cub, but that would be hard to talk me out of.


Jack
 

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Dgy,

I enjoyed the article. I live right in that area. Now lets read the ones you wrote about the next 2 giros. I also liked the article you wrote for "roadbike". Hey, why didn't this years giro get any press other than the response to the letter to the editor Bob Coy wrote.

Do you know when the event will be written up in the AMA mag?

Jam, I have a couple giro eligible bikes for sale--both projects, a 1955 Ariel Colt 200cc and a pair of Honda S65's that could easily be made into one. There is also a '55 Truimph tiger Cub, but that would be hard to talk me out of.


Jack
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Jack,
Thanks. The reason that the article didn't make it into Roadbike was because that Buzz Canter (owner of Roadbike) started the ride on Saturday, missed a turn, and got good and lost. When he finally got back, as I was told, he was so mad that he and his buddy threw their bikes in the back of his truck and left, and that was the end of our coverage as far as Roadbike was concerned.

BTW, I've been criticized for telling this story on line in that "Buzz was good for us in the past", and I also appreciate the coverage he gave us, but I was pretty pissed at him in that we also made an investment with him and his magazine in trusting them to follow through and finish the job for us. The nicest way I can say my opinion of him is that he is unproffessional. Cycle World was willing to cover us, and still may, but we gave Buzz the shot.

The AMA magazine article will hopefully be out in the next month or two from what I've heard. What were riding again, Jack? And what do you want for the two 65's, what kind of shape are they in, any pics? I think it would be a blast to do the giro on a S65 one year.

I didn't do any writeups on the next two giro's. The first one will always be the best, but then that's often the way with inaugural events. The first time we raced at Gunstock it rained cows and chickens, but boy, it was fun. The best one!

Dgy

quote:
Dgy,

I enjoyed the article. I live right in that area. Now lets read the ones you wrote about the next 2 giros. I also liked the article you wrote for "roadbike". Hey, why didn't this years giro get any press other than the response to the letter to the editor Bob Coy wrote.

Do you know when the event will be written up in the AMA mag?

Jam, I have a couple giro eligible bikes for sale--both projects, a 1955 Ariel Colt 200cc and a pair of Honda S65's that could easily be made into one. There is also a '55 Truimph tiger Cub, but that would be hard to talk me out of.


Jack
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Jack,
Thanks. The reason that the article didn't make it into Roadbike was because that Buzz Canter (owner of Roadbike) started the ride on Saturday, missed a turn, and got good and lost. When he finally got back, as I was told, he was so mad that he and his buddy threw their bikes in the back of his truck and left, and that was the end of our coverage as far as Roadbike was concerned.

BTW, I've been criticized for telling this story on line in that "Buzz was good for us in the past", and I also appreciate the coverage he gave us, but I was pretty pissed at him in that we also made an investment with him and his magazine in trusting them to follow through and finish the job for us. The nicest way I can say my opinion of him is that he is unproffessional. Cycle World was willing to cover us, and still may, but we gave Buzz the shot.

The AMA magazine article will hopefully be out in the next month or two from what I've heard. What were riding again, Jack? And what do you want for the two 65's, what kind of shape are they in, any pics? I think it would be a blast to do the giro on a S65 one year.

I didn't do any writeups on the next two giro's. The first one will always be the best, but then that's often the way with inaugural events. The first time we raced at Gunstock it rained cows and chickens, but boy, it was fun. The best one!

Dgy

quote:
Dgy,

I enjoyed the article. I live right in that area. Now lets read the ones you wrote about the next 2 giros. I also liked the article you wrote for "roadbike". Hey, why didn't this years giro get any press other than the response to the letter to the editor Bob Coy wrote.

Do you know when the event will be written up in the AMA mag?

Jam, I have a couple giro eligible bikes for sale--both projects, a 1955 Ariel Colt 200cc and a pair of Honda S65's that could easily be made into one. There is also a '55 Truimph tiger Cub, but that would be hard to talk me out of.


Jack
 

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Dgy,

I was on the black honda CA160 mini dream, wore a red Ducati jacket. My Duc was the one Pete T was working on in his trailer. Good thing nobody took it out for the run--when I got it home and road it it wobbled all over the road, unsafe. Still not sure what the problem is, maybe loose spokes in the rear wheel?

The S65's are not running, But there are enough parts to get one together except for a front fender. One is seized up, but with a good "body", the other one will kick over,not start, but the rest is a bit rough except for a very good seat. The one that kicks over was underwater for 3 days in the big flood, but I drained the water out and refilled with oil a couple times. Was OK. I have about $325 in the pair, and don't expect to get anything near that for them.

I emailed Peter Egan at cycle World inviting him to come and ride one of my bikes next year, but never heard from him.

If you are interested in the HOndas, let me know and I will try to get a couple shots of them.

Jack
 

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Dgy,

I was on the black honda CA160 mini dream, wore a red Ducati jacket. My Duc was the one Pete T was working on in his trailer. Good thing nobody took it out for the run--when I got it home and road it it wobbled all over the road, unsafe. Still not sure what the problem is, maybe loose spokes in the rear wheel?

The S65's are not running, But there are enough parts to get one together except for a front fender. One is seized up, but with a good "body", the other one will kick over,not start, but the rest is a bit rough except for a very good seat. The one that kicks over was underwater for 3 days in the big flood, but I drained the water out and refilled with oil a couple times. Was OK. I have about $325 in the pair, and don't expect to get anything near that for them.

I emailed Peter Egan at cycle World inviting him to come and ride one of my bikes next year, but never heard from him.

If you are interested in the HOndas, let me know and I will try to get a couple shots of them.

Jack
 
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