RetroTouring

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by cbmma1969, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. cbmma1969

    cbmma1969 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    734
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    Meridian, ID
    Or 6 Italion stallions through Pennsylvania to West Virginia...:lol3

    First a few apologies. Part of this is going to sound like an advertisement. Sorry it's part of the story... Second this will be as much or more about the bikes as it is about the ride. And finally scenery pictures are sadly lacking...

    I guess the place to start is the early in the saga... Early August has me recieving a call from Ogden Publishing. Seems I just won Motorcycle Classics' Retrotour Sweepstakes. All I have to do is find a way to get myself back to Philadelphia for a 3 day ride through Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia on 1970's vintage Italian motorcycles put on by RetroTours. September 6th found me flying into Philadelphia where unbeknownst to me my adventure would begin when I was picked up at the airport by Joel, the main force behind RetroTours. Joel picked me up in a sidecar equiped FJR to Kennett Square.

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    Picture riding through rush hour traffic... in a sidecar......, duffle bag set on the side of the car with you holding it. Needles to say you attract a certain amount of attention. :D

    A couple pictures from the sidecar once I had adjusted too my "ride".

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    A couple comments here. The sidecar had NO suspension so I got to feel every bump in the road. Also Joel is a very skilled sidecar pilot and it shows in his riding. It was a BLAST. :clap

    Thursday evening was spent getting to know my fellow riders on this adventure, learning about the bikes we'd be riding, relaxing and enjoying some adult beverages.:freaky Sorry no pictures of Joel's lovely wife Lynn or the great dinner she prepared for us.

    More later but first a couple teaser pictures...

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    #1
    dixiethedog likes this.
  2. cbmma1969

    cbmma1969 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    734
    Location:
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    Before we start the ride. Let's meet the machines.

    A 1971 Moto Guzzi 750 Ambassdaor.
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    A 1973 Benelli 650 Tornado
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    the 1973 Laverada 750 SF
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    the 1975 Ducati 860 GT and the only kickstart bike of the bunch. :wink:
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    The little bikes:
    A 500 Moto Morini Strada
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    and the newest member of the fleet, nicknamed "the baby Guzzzi" on this ride, a V50 Moto Guzzi
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    More on the bikes later as the ride progresses.
    #2
  3. Haven't Ben There

    Haven't Ben There restless soul

    Joined:
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    North Carolina
    Looks like a fantastic time to me. Hope you enjoy the ride.:clap
    #3
  4. cbmma1969

    cbmma1969 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    734
    Location:
    Meridian, ID
    First the plan. 6 bikes, 6 riders, 3 days, 700 to 800 miles total switching bikes every 100 miles, ride all 6 bikes. Day 1, Kennett Square, PA to Berkeley Springs WV. Day 2, (the planned long day) Berkeley Springs to Fairmont, WV and back. Day 3, Back to Kennett Square. Never repeat a road and have fun.

    Also an introduction to the players; John and Steve from New Jersy, Fred -Toronto, Bruce - Iowa, Richard Backus editor of Motor Cycle Classics - Kansas, our guides for the trip Doug and of course Joel, and yours truly. :D Sorry no group photo. Those reside on Richard's camera. :cry

    Onto the ride
    Friday morning has us finishing up paperwork, getting gear out to the BMW with sidecar that Joel will be piloting for the trip and meeting with John and Steve who drove down that morning and Doug.

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    Pictured: Steve back to the Camera, Fred, Doug, Joel (green Kawasaki jacket) and Steve

    The bikes lined up ready to go.
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    I started out on the Ducati and as you recall this is the only kick start bike of the bunch. The rule is everybody else starts their bike after the Ducati is started. The challenge kick it through without banging you shin too hard on the foot peg.
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    The Ducati is very stable with a long wheelbase. Unfortunately my segment on it was fairly straight so I can't comment on the overall handling. Braking was decent, as was acceleration considering the age of the bike.

    The route out of Kennett Square takes us out highway 82 through several small towns to highway 372. Things go smoothly with all of us slowly acclimating to the machine we're riding. This also has us once we hit a straight section of road all searching for the various controls; turn signals, brakes, light switches... We look a little like a clown act or actually a lot like one. This scene is repeated every time we switch bikes.

    A note here. These bikes almost all date from before the DOT mandated standardization of controls. So we have both left and right hand shift and the shift pattern varies across the board. Between them they have almost every pattern you can picture. The only pattern missing was none had all the gears one direction from neutral. Switches all varied in location also so you often resorted to hand signals for turning movements because well you couldn't find the turn signal switch.

    The first segment takes us through Amish country and it interesting to see the horse drawn equipment and buggys. There was one sight I though was a little incongrous (sp). The teenage Amish girl in the buggy going down the road talking on her cell phone. :lol3 Again sorry no pictures. We made short stop about 50 miles out to compare notes stretch our legs and see what issues anybody is having with the bikes. Turns out the V50 isn't running cleanly. It started out running on 1 cylinder then finally cleaned up and ran on 2. Joel had just picked it up earlier in the week so this was its maiden voyage and shake down cruise.

    On to Hanover and our first bike switch. This lands me on the Ambassador. A torque monster with shifting issues. It was a challenge to hit first gear. The technique required was shift until you thought you were in first, gentle nudge to take pressure off the shift pall, then shift into first. It also was not a bike for fast shifting. This was take your time and let everything spin as you shifted. Probably the heaviest feeling of the bikes to me.

    A few pictures from that afternoon.

    Bruce on the Laverda
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    Almost John with the Benelli
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    Joel and Fred[​IMG]

    Steve had moved to the baby Guzzi at the fuel stop. And soon he and Joel vanished from sight in the mirrors. A stop at the next corner had us waiting and ... moving to shade as it's apparent the baby Guzzi has issues. Doug had just decided to go find them them they showed up. The baby Guzzi running on one cylinder. Time for some minor maintenance. Not sure what all Joel found but with a new plug the baby Guzzi is back and moving forward.

    Bruce and Richard while waiting for the baby Guzzi
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    On to Berkely springs. The roads are interesting, the Ambassdor happy as long as I don't decide to shift. Fortunately with that engine frequent shifting is not required.

    Our residence for the next couple days is "The Homestead", an early 1800's log house, moved to this location several years ago.
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    The inside:
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    Day 2 later.
    #4
  5. Ladybug0048

    Ladybug0048 Bug Sister

    Joined:
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    12,902
    Location:
    Spokane Valley, WA (the dry side of the mountains)
    What a cool thing to get to do. I'm waiting for more. :lurk
    #5
  6. FoolHardy

    FoolHardy Still Inky

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Boise...ish
    This really sounds like a fun ride :)
    #6
  7. cbmma1969

    cbmma1969 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    734
    Location:
    Meridian, ID
    It was a blast.:clap Good riding interesting bikes, fun riding companions.:freaky

    On to day 2....

    Day 2 found us groggily getting out of bed after a night of BSing and adult beverages. My thanks to John and Richard for voluntering to cook breakfast. That meant they drug themselves out at 6:00 or before to start coffee :clap and cooking. Today is supposed to be a long day and that also meant we were on our way for trying to meet our planned 8am departure.

    Another switch of bikes that morning lands me on the Morini. A fun little bike that is a blast to ride. Right side shift so I now have to adjust to that drill. Nice part is decent front brake so I can stop while searching for the rear brake. :lol3 Also has a realllllllllyyyyy long throw to shift.

    From Berekely springs Highways 9 and 29 down to Highway 50. Fun roads and 50 allows for decent time. We stopped at the junction of 50 and 29 to regroup. While there I did remember LB's requirement to slow down and see the flowers.

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    Highway 50 up Mount Storm was a blast. Unfortunately Mount Storm lived up to it's name. By the time we reach the top it's starting to rain. A quick stop to don rain gear and we're off. About half way down the Benelli ran out of fuel. Fortunately Joel and the Beamer are behind with some fuel. We stopped at the bottom of Mount storm to wait for Joel and Fred and were glad we did. It seriously rained for awhile. We also added some fuel to the Benelli and the Morini and opted to continue before fully refueling.

    The climb up from where ever we stopped the Morini is now struggling, running on 1 cylinder and missing badly. I watch as the the leaders pull away. Stop and Joel pulls up, short discusion as the Morini idles and revs fine sitting. Maybe a simple solution hold my left leg away from the bike as it's easy to block the intake with your pant leg on that side. We're off and within a mile I'm looking for the next pull off. Not the solution. Next guess is the rain has the pods soaked and it's drawing water/starving for air. Off come the pods and we're off again. Ok now it only misses occasionally.

    We stop, regroup, and gas up around Auroa, WV. Rain has slowed our progress and the question is do we continue or reroute. After a short discusion we decide to reroute. We can shortcut the planned route and head north to Highway 39. This cut's about a hundred miles off today's planned ride but still leaves some fun roads and perhaps has us a little less miserable.

    It's also time to switchbikes. This lands me on the Benelli, another right hand shift. The major feature of the Benelli is its front brake, you really wish it had one.:eek1 The required pull is significant for marginal slowing. Our cutoff road under most ciccumstances would have been a blast. But.... It's raining hard, these are naked bikes, I can't see and I'm on a bike I can't stop or slow reliably. I have to admit I wimped out at Oakland, WV when we stopped for lunch and switched bikes with John. This put me back on the Ducati.

    Hwy 136 across Matyland to 46. Somewhere around Piedmont we stop again for relief from the all the coffee we drank at lunch and to look at the Morini's shift linkage. The source of the really long throw is found to be a missing nut, allowing a lot of play in the linkage. One 6 mm nut late the shifting is much improved.

    On across 46 to Paw Paw for fuel where we switch bikes agian. This lands me on the Laverda. Right side shift again and another bike with a less than stellar front brake. The Laverda is a fun bike. Not one I'd like for a long ride but a lot of fun through the twisties. With it's sport bike positioning you're cramped and have some upper body weight on your arms until you hit about 60.

    The Laverda also has a clutch pull that would give you a work out if you rode it on a consistent basis, definitely not the bike for riding around town. :D The other thing is though above second gear you really don't need the clutch, accelerate, load the shift lever, back off the throtle and you've hit the next gear. Downshifting requires a little more thought but a similar process.

    A stop in Berkeley Springs for Chinese takeout and we're back to " the Homestead".

    Day 3 later...
    #7
  8. cbmma1969

    cbmma1969 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    734
    Location:
    Meridian, ID
    Day 3. Finds us preparing for the return trip to Kennett Square. The weather has cleared and it promises to be a beautiful day for a ride.

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    Somewhere during the course of the previous evening or that morning Richard and I decided to switch bikes. That put him on the Laverda and me back on the Benelli. I was determined to put some miles on it since I had bailed on it yesterday. The Benelli, other than the woefull front brake, is a lot of fun. Pulls nice and is light.

    Our ride takes us up 522 through some very pretty areas at a decent pace.

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    At Fort Littleton we refuel and switch bikes again. This lands me on the "baby Guzzi". Light and fun. I have to remember I'm not on my Husky. :D This truly is a bike that begs to be dual sported. With a longer travel suspension and a bigger tank it would be a decent toy for the unpaved routes. I've also lucked out. The first segment is 533 which has a nice tight twisty section. Doug who's leading the pack also decides it's time to set a little less laid back pace. The pace through the corners while not overly aggresive does liven things up a bit. The "baby Guzzi" is happy with any line you want.

    533, 997, 234, 194 on down to Hanover. Fuel, lunch and time to switch bikes. Who wants more time on what? Because Steve opted to stick around Berkely Springs yesterday the "baby Guzzi" hasn't been ridden by everybody. Richard takes her and I ended up back on the Benelli... Not my favorite bike but we have a decent road that allows me to have some fun carving some corners with her. About 65 miles into this segment we stop for more pictures. We also discuss the next gas stop... about 40 miles from here back at Kennett Square. This could be fun as the Benelli's been hitting reserve along about 90 miles. My task, keep here running that long since we're talking tap the Beemers tank if I need fuel. Fuel economy mode has me twisting the throttle gently while pushing her down the road. I hit reserve about a mile from the fillling station. On back to Joel's place for dinner, relaxation and a recap of our adventures. Steve and John head back to New Jersey while the rest of us enjoy a relaxing evening.

    Monday morning finds the rest of us heading our separate ways. Bruce and Fred ride out around 8:00 and Lynn gives Richard and I a ride to the airport a little later in the morning.

    The shameless plug. :lol3 If you have and interest in 70's vintage motorcyles and like scenic backroads, RetroTours may have ride for you. He has a variety of scheduled tours with his fleet of 20+ bikes. You can check them out here: http://www.retrotours.com/ BTW check out his disclaimers under Requirements...:D

    This weekend can only be described as fun.
    #8
  9. canban

    canban n00b

    Joined:
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    Great report Clint. Words and pics do not suffice . A retrotour is the most fun you can have with a bunch of 30 something exotic beauties and still come home and tell your wife all about it!!!!!!

    I was so excited when I returned home I went out a bought this

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    Fred
    #9
  10. cbmma1969

    cbmma1969 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    734
    Location:
    Meridian, ID
    LOL. I like that line. Also like the new girl!

    It was a great ride and a great group. It's also got me searching for an "Italian beauty". I may even have found one. She's just a little far from home and not a good fly and ride location. A Ducati / Cagiva Alazzurra 650.
    #10
  11. canban

    canban n00b

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    COTU/GTA
    Excellent choice, I remember testing driving one in Vancouver when they were introduced back in '85.

    Who had $3,999.00 back then??:
    #11
  12. twodogsf

    twodogsf Been here awhile

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    Ia
    That was a blast, if you ever get the chance to go you won't regret it:D
    Shameless plug:eek1 Nice buy canban:freaky
    #12
  13. Ladybug0048

    Ladybug0048 Bug Sister

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    Location:
    Spokane Valley, WA (the dry side of the mountains)
    Looks like you had a good time, Clint. I'm glad you had the opportunity to experience touring on those interesting looking bikes. Good job on taking time to enjoy the flowers along the way too. :clap
    #13
  14. ryanwilliamcantrell

    ryanwilliamcantrell Get Out and Ride!!

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    Nampa, Idaho
    :norton
    #14