Tuesday, January 6, 2015


My friend Courtney Olive has written a very flattering article about our time at the Isle of Man during last year's Classic TT: 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

TC 200

When I post from my IPad, when I'm on the road, I can't seem to upload photos.  They just show up as little squares with a question mark.  But, from my laptop, it works.  So, here are some missing photos from my last post.
Photo by Amy Roper with brother Doug looking on.
Photo by Amy Roper

Friday, December 26, 2014

Xmas 2014

Last Wednesday marked 9 week from the replacement of my right ankle.  I went 6 weeks totally non-weight bearing, then gradually increasing partial weight bearing.  So, Christmas Day I celebrated by riding a bicycle more than 9 miles.  Then, I got a neighbor of my brother, who stopped by on his R-27 BMW, to ride my recent purchase, a '68 Suzuki TC 200, around a little bit.  It seemed to work fine, so I couldn't resist riding it my self. 
 Today, I registered the bike and then rode it about 16 miles.  It's good.  It starts easily, runs well, not too peaky, handles fine, good front brake (I didn't use the rear brake as I rode in my Air Cast boot), and is reasonably comfortable, though it does vibrate a bit at high revs.
The TC 200 is the street scrambler version of the X-5, a 196cc, 5 speed, little brother to the 250cc    X-6.  I bought the bike with only 226 miles on the odometer.  The story was that the seller's uncle bought the bike new, rode it a little bit, then tipped over and parked it.  It lived much of the next 45 or so years near the ocean, so there is lots of surface rust, but it seems structurally sound.  The seller had taken it to someone who put new Michelin Gazelle tires, a new fuel tap, and new spark plugs, cleaned the carbs and got it running.  Evidently, this person didn't check the points, as I found one set gapped way too open and that side ignition timing well advanced.  There was also an oil leak from the clutch pushrod.  I got a new seal, but then realized the the pushrod was bent.  This, and the amount of muck and grime around make me question that the mileage is accurate.  
I also bought a center stand off Ebay and installed it.  It seems that some TCs came with them and some didn't .  Likewise, fork gaiters and rear shock shrouds, but fortunately this bike has both which probably saved the suspension from the rust that's on the rest of the bike.
Most people seem to prefer the look of the high pipes, cross braced handlebars and skid plate of the street scrambler, but personally I prefer the low pipes as they give easier access to the carbs and gearbox oil filler.
All it needs now is a route sheet holder and it's ready for a Moto Giro or Tiddler Tour.

Monday, November 10, 2014

2014 race record

For 2014, I competed in 13 different events, missing two events due to my late June street bike accident.  The 13 events were at 13 different venues, two of which I hadn't been to before: Phillip Island and the New Jersey Motorsports Park Lightning Circuit, and it had been almost 12 years since I had been to Shannonville.  I entered 54 races and started 50 of them, all of the non starts being mechanical issues from as minor as a wire pulled off the coil to as major as a dropped valve.  I did this on 18 different bikes belonging to 15 different people, the most I've ever raced in one season.  I got 22 wins, 6ea 2nds, 13ea 3rds, and 1ea. 4th, 5th , and 6th.  I had 6 DNFs, three of which were crashes plus one practice crash.  This is a little more than average, but fortunately, none of them stopped me from racing the same day.  In addition to this, I did the Lap of Honor parade at the Isle of Man, a Tiddler Tour, a Moto Giro, and a Pewter Run.  Another busy, successful year (with a little bump in the road in the middle).


 Because of the problem with the cracked frame it was decided that it would be better to not ride the Seeley G-50 at Grattan.  So, I went to the track with no ride, but after dragging my pitiful self around with a hang dog look on Fri., Trish Damon offered me a ride on her CB175 Honda.
Trish Damon working on her 175 Honda

I would race it in the 250 GP class, while Trish would race it in the CB 160 race and 200 GP.  Then, after briefly considering an offer of a CB 750 Honda, Don Drake asked if I'd like to race his 350 Ducati.
Don Drakes short stroke 350 Ducati

Trish's Honda was quite stock and not super quick, but worked fine.
250GP ran with 500 Sportsman, Pre 40, and Formula 125.  Francis Ganance's freshly rebuilt 250 was running very well and he was riding very well, and he finished 5th overall behind four 500 Sportsman  bikes.  Trish's bike was no match for Lorraine Crussell's 175 Honda, and Lorraine was also riding superbly and I finished almost a minute behind her, 13th overall and third in class.
Trish's Cl175 Honda

Don Drake's 350 Ducati is a short stroke, i.e. a 450 top end on a 250 lower end, and the more I rode it, the more I realized it wanted to rev and I kept lowering the gearing.  Come the race, Francis Ganance was bumping up with his 250 Ducati.  He got a better start than me and I got balked a bit by the Vintage Superbike Middleweights, who out dragged us to turn # 1.  Not wanting to lose touch with Francis, I tried to dive under Alex Cook's 850 Guzzi in the turn # 10 'bus stop'.  I thought I was by him, but we were on completely different lines and we collided.  I went down and, while Alex didn't, I knocked the seat off his bike, and he couldn't continue.  I banged my big toe and pinky, but was otherwise OK.  Don and his crew kicked the Ducati straight and Alex was able to remount his seat, so we were both ready for Sunday.

Trish's 175 was not, however.  It wouldn't start and she and her crew couldn't figure it out.  But, she found me a different 175 to race Sunday.  Now, I would race in the 250 class the 175 Honda that Anders Carlson was racing in 200GP.
The Cl 175 Honda I was sharing with Anders Carlson

 This bike was quite different than Trish's.  It shifted in the opposite direction as it just had a reversed shift lever while Trish's bike had a linkage.  This was more awkward shifting and the riding position was awkward for me, too, but the bike was faster than Trish's.

But again, not as fast as Lorraine's and Lorraine briefly got ahead of Francis on the first lap.  They both steadily pulled away from me with Francis finishing 5th overall again and me this time less than half a minute behind Lorraine in 10th overall.
Having geared Don's Ducati down again, I thought I might be able to make it a race with Francis in the 350 GP, but it would require using the draft of his very quick 250, and on the first lap, I missed some shifts and lost touch with him.  I finished less than 3.5 seconds behind him, he in 5th, me in 6th overall.
all in all, not a bad weekend for having arrived with no ride.

Steve Pieratt picked up this beautifully crafted twin engine Bonneville on his way to Grattan.

Another tasty bike at Grattan was Geoff Maloney's GP Tech Yamaha powered Moto 3 bike.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Ritual

Last Sunday was the Roper family tradition of the putting in the basement of motorcycles for the winter.  This was about 4 weeks early this year because of my recent ankle replacement surgery and my brother's impending hip replacement surgery.  This will be the first time for his right hip; he's on his 6th left hip replacement, having been among the youngest people to have it done in 1972 when they were just doing it on old people ready to die.
Amy's 650 BMW was first to go down
Doug pushes my Airone...  Amy Roper photo
...while I supervise.  Amy Roper photo

Amy Roper photo
The Airone goes down
I supervise the lowering of Doug's Benelli 260.  Amy Roper photo

Amy's CL/CB 350 Honda goes next
Then the Bridgestone 200
Finally the stairs go back in place
It's crowded downstairs as the disease progresses.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Daytona 2014

Less than a week after Barber, AHRMA had their final race of the season at Daytona.  From Barber, we drove to Opelika, Al., and the next day took a side excursion to Pasaquan, in Buena Vista, Ga., on our way to Savannah.  Check it out; it was well worth it.  In Savannah, my two biggest fans, Darleen and Terry Dremel, let me use their garage/shop to pull the head off my Sprint.  The exh. valve had clearly touched the piston and wasn't sealing.  I tried lapping it a bit, but it wasn't going to happen.  But,  I discovered that I had a spare, used exh. valve with me and, with minimal lapping, sealed well.  With the rocker adjuster all the way out, I just barely had valve lash and the pushrod really needed to be shortened, but no time for that now.
We got to Daytona Thurs. afternoon and got registered and teched.  I decided that I had gone way too rich at Barber and lowered the float and main jet.  Maybe it was a little better, but still lots of hesitation and missing.
As it's been for the last several years, the turn out for Daytona was very thin.  In the 350GP, there were only four entries, one of whom (Jack Parker) didn't show up.  In the race, Paul Germain pulled away until his bike broke (suspected broken piston) and I inherited the 'win' from Dick Hollingsworth on their new 350 Sprint, which they've built very mildly initially.
A couple of races later was the 250GP, and there were eight entries in that, four of whom actually started.  My bike died on the warm-up lap, which turned out to be just a wire that pulled off the coil.
Don Hollingsworth won the class by a big margin, and was 3rd O.A. behind a couple of Vintage Superbike Lightweights, on the same CRTT H-D Sprint that he used to win the 1968 Daytona Novice race.
The next day, I decided that my carburetion problem was an ignition problem.  The motor seem to run fine below 5K rpm and, if I really screamed it, would pull high rpms.  The problem was getting to those  high rpms.  So, I geared it down, and it seemed a little better.  Our practice ended at perhaps 10:30a and we had to wait to perhaps 3:30p for the CCS races to finish and the AHRMA races to start.  On the warm-up lap of my first race, the 350GP, the motor dropped a valve and made a mess.  I haven't pulled the head off yet, but the spark plug was hard coming out and smashed up and there was debris in the exhaust pipe.  If it had dropped the valve on the last lap of practice instead of the warm-up lap of the race, I could have packed up 5 hours earlier.  Life is cruel.
I thought this was a pretty neat in line radiator on Barrett Long's 125
So, a rather definitive end to my 2014 racing season.  An equally definitive end was having my right ankle replaced four days later.  This goes back to that fateful day in 1977 when I hit the diesel fuel on the off ramp from the Goldstar Memorial Bridge in Groton, Ct. while riding my Norton Commando and sliding feet first over the kerb and under the guardrail and braking my talus.  The ankle has gradually deteriorated since then and I decided last spring the time had come to replace it.  So, I scheduled it for right after the racing season and I should be fit near the start of the '15 season, though I may have to miss the first round, or so.  The operation seemed to go well and I'm at my brother house right now recovering, with good confidence for the future.
My CRTT with Don Hollingsworth snoozing in the backround
The Hollingsworth pit was a bee hive of activity.  Al & Dick snoozing
Don Hollingsworth's 250 on the left and Dick's 350 on the right
The evergreen Ken Nemoto brought his Guzzi from Tokyo again.  Neik Leeuwis from Holland was the other foreign competitor at Daytona.  Both talked of going to Barber next year.