Saturday, January 30, 2010

Vintage motorcycles shine at Florida show

I heard that another rider on a Royal Enfield attended the Dania Beach Vintage Motorcycle Show Jan. 30, but I never saw him. Royal Enfield motorcycles are still rare in my part of the world. On the other hand, this was a chance to see whole rows of Triumphs, a dozen BSAs, BMWs, Harleys, Indians, Jawas and at least one Laverda.

Another whole row was devoted to vintage Japanese motorcycles alone. But no need to dwell on that.

A camera malfunction prevented me from taking home all the pictures I wanted to share with you. Take my word for it: there was a 1952 Western Flyer bicycle "powered" by a two-cylinder airplane engine mounted above the rear fender and swinging a propellor.

Obviously this was some kind of jest by owner Richard Mussehl of Volant, Penn. At least, I think it was.

I got a decent picture of Clive Taylor Jr.'s 1956 Triumph TRW in war paint, with the Union Jack flying in the breeze behind it. Clive, of Hollywood, Fla., has shown the bike before and it is one of my favorites, perhaps because it looks as though it has been through a war.

In fact, some of the motorcycles I liked the most at the show were battle scarred veterans. A 1966 Triumph rat bike shown by Gary McGordon, of Fort Lauderdale, has been kept carefully away from soap and water for a long, long time. The license tag has been out of date for a quarter century; the foam is peeking out from beneath the seat cover.

People who had merely glanced at polished motorcycles on which dust has never settled stared at McGordon's rolling wreck, checked tires and all.

Pavel Karasek of Fort Lauderdale really captured my heart, however, with his aviator helmet and finely restored 1957 Jawa Pionyr ("Pioneer," it means in Czech). Found in a basement, the little Jawa was in such a state when found that he was given the motorcycle for free. He displayed a picture of the motorcycle as it looked when found (not good).

It now looks factory fresh, but Karasek gleefully rode it in the motorcycle field trials that were part of the event.

This competition consisted of seeing who could ride slowest (last across the finish line wins) and a devilish game in which the rider must pick up tennis balls resting atop traffic cones. The rider tucks the balls into his T-shirt, then turns around and, not missing a beat, replaces the tennis balls on each cone. It looked impossible and few could do it, but Karasek came close.

For me, one of the highlights of such events are listening to what people have to say. Samples:

"Oh, a sidecar. You could put the kids in there. You'd need a seat belt. Maybe a strait jacket, too."

"My Dad had an Indian."

"That's just exactly like the bike I had, except mine..."

"It's an Army bike."

"It gets rid of mosquitoes, too (on starting an old bike, in a cloud of smoke)."

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