Mt Tarrengower Historic Hill Climb
A smooth winding ribbon of single lane tarmac stretches from the starting line to the top of Mt Tarrengower. The adrenaline-fueled dash lasts little more, or less, than a minute, taking all the pilot’s effort to muscle their pre-1970’s machine through the course against the clock. Although a well-known event, this was our first outing at the long-standing Mt Tarrengower Historic Hill Climb.
David entered on our 1928 Harley-Davidson JDH “Sam Oppie” cut-down, a particularly special machine, alongside comrade Chris Wells on his bobbed 1947 Harley-Davidson FL. An interesting note here that this is the same motorcycle Chris recently rode over 3000km from Cairns to the top of the Cape York Peninsula.
It was amazing to see such an eclectic mix of cars and motorcycles flying up the hill. So you can get an idea, there were little 360cc Honda N360s, hulking touring cars, two stroke race bikes, an aircraft engined 6.2 litre GN Special, Tritons, open wheeled Formula Vee cars, and very sweet Alpine A110. However, the one that really topped off the field was a purposeful, yet graceful, 1926 Talbot Darracq Grand Prix. I honestly had not expected to see such variety, and pushed so hard. This is what these machines were built for, to be used, and it is encouraging to see people doing it very well.
Please enjoy the photos from the event. They were all shot on 35mm black and white to capture the mood in a little more ‘period correct’ style.
Also, to see the results CLICK HERE
Enjoy the ride…
Byrd McKinney – October 16th 1932
Byrd McKinney (pictured above) set a new record for the fastest time at Weldon Canyon Hillclimb. He won the event with a time of 7.2 seconds.
Harley-Davidson also carried the third event of the day with Windy Lindstrom and Joe Petrali taking first and second respectively.
Image courtesy of the Harley-Davidson Archives
The Crocker at Smash Palace : April 2017
Our 1938 Crocker has been undergoing a little freshen up in Christchurch over the last few months and now it’s running sweet as ever. Back on the road, we’ve given it a few blasts around the block and thought we’d give the guys at Smash Palace a thrill at their Thursday Bike Night last night. For those of you unfamiliar with Smash Palace it’s an eclectic open air bar and burger joint that spawned from the 2011 earthquake in downtown Christchurch, New Zealand. They run a regular Thursday Bike Night, which has become somewhat of an institution and draws all sorts of bikes from every era. Here’s some pics from last night
Riding the Great Race 2012: Sam Opie Cutdown
It is 6.00am on a late summer morning in Jindabyne. Temperature is ten degrees still dark with mist off the lake casting its shadow around the lamp posts at The Station Resort, starting point for the 2012 Great Race. Because of my low race number I have an early start 7.30am. It takes a full 80 minutes for the field to get away at two bikes per minute. Time to get a good breakfast washed down with plenty of black coffee. I am riding a 1928 Harley Two Cam. Note the wording Two Cam and not Twin Cam that refers to Harley’s current offering of that engine architecture. My bike was purchased new by Sam Oppie a member of the famed Seattle Cossacks a stunt and drill riding team. Sam was known for modifying Two Cams cutting down the frame to give a lower seat height and shortening the gas tanks to suit. In all there was about a dozen Oppie cutdowns 3 of which are still known to exist. My bike has been maintained but still is essentially as Sam would have rode it 1931. I don’t believe anyone has done a better job of setting up a Harley Two Cam.
As the clock counts down we start to ready ourselves for the adventure ahead. Dawn is making an appearance as I give the bike 3 hearty primer kicks after which it usually starts first kick but of course this morning it wants to play hard ball but after 20 lunges on the kick pedal it burst into life. Now I can put my knee socket back together. Sam’s camshafts make anything under 2000rpm wishful thinking so the warm up provides a static blast from the open pipe into the surrounding valley. 7.30 has arrived and we have 1 minute to be on our way. Thoughts race through ones head mixed with that wonder fuel adrenalin. Will I make the first fuel stop? Will my 84 year old engine fly apart at any given moment? Will the charging system keep working? Ripping around the Lake Jindabyne a lone photographer plies his trade shoots snaps of us as we burst out of the mist. The fog is keeping the visibility to 200 metres watch out for those kangaroos. There is the signpost to Adaminaby so far so good. The sun is making a welcome appearance. Its only 9.00am and we are fuelling up at Adaminaby. No checkpoint so we press on. 20 kilometres later sweeping around a left hander and there is our checkpoint the first of the day. They check that our horns are working and down the Snowy Mountain Highway it is then left towards our lunch stop of Tooma. To get there we have a steep descent which tests the 1928 braking system to the max, so much so that smoke is bellowing from my rear brake close to bursting into flames. Now we are climbing again and brakes cool down as quickly as they heated up. We hear later that down the same hill riding a 1916 Indian Power Plus John Straw wore the soles of his boots out! No it wasn’t from stomping on the brake pedal!
We make Tooma with plenty of time to spare. We must checkout 6.00 hours after our departure time at Jindabyne so we have time to clean the bikes replenish the oil tank (we have a total loss oiling system) and top up with fuel. The Tooma Hotels kitchen does an excellent job of catering for 210 people when it would normally serving a dozen locals.
For our afternoon stint the bike starts according to the prescription and we are off on a timed leg where we must average 52 kph to an undefined checkpoint. Stop for fuel at Khancoban and then it’s up the mountain towards Thredbo. The Two Cam is in its element on the tight twisting climb with its light weight of 155 kgs good ground clearance and a beefy 1200cc V Twin engine so we make great progress. Of some concern is a competing Harley coming towards us obviously going in the wrong direction! Suddenly we are at Thredbo and yes there is a checkpoint sign one many are to miss. Our average speed should be pretty close. We don’t have the luxury of a speedo which was an option in 1928.
Now it is a 25 mile ride back to Jindabyne which we make without incident and then the bikes get prepped ready for the following morning. We have covered 354 kms for the first day and my bike has performed faultlessly! At the evenings dinner the rumor circulates that Harley is narrowly ahead. Now for sweet dreams indeed.
The following morning has gentler start time of 9.00am Weather promises to be kind as we head into a region that only last week was threatened by devastating floods. My Two Cammer starts on cue today and we head through Jindabyne and out towards the Eucumbene Dam. Todays’ navigating is more complex as we negotiate a series of back roads. Finally a checkpoint appears and it is another tick in the box. Road damage from the recent rains is apparent as I continue to navigate my 84 year old steed across the Cooma Plains. Next there is a stutter and silence as I run out of fuel. A speedy top up from a jerry can, another checkpoint, another tick and finally after 130 kilometres a fuel station. After filling to our 2 gallon tanks brim it is a straight run to Dalgety for lunch. (apart from being catapulted airbourne by a bridge onramp that was 12 inches lower that it should be)
Another sumptuous lunch of local produce fuels us for the last section of the event. Reports drift in of several terminal break downs in the course of this morning’s run. A terminal breakdown heavily impacts on a team’s score. We checkout from the Dalgety Hotel and not far down the road, at the top of a hill another checkpoint. This is to be the start of the rolling race where you turn your engine off and roll down the hill as far as you can. It is an exhilarating feeling coasting at speeds up to 100 kph. It is said that the heavier your bike and the higher your tyre pressure the further you will travel. Counts us out. Dugal James and John Straw on their later model Indian Chiefs have proven to be the past masters of this section of the event. This year line line honours go to Straw. Back to the task at hand which is to complete the 2012 Great Race. The Two Cam engine continues to run strong. After a loop through Cooma it is back to Dalgety a checkpoint and then a big climb back to The Station Resort.
The mission is completed. One exhaust nut to tighten and the Oppie Special can go back in the trailer for a well earned rest ready to fight another day. 654 Kilometres have been travelled over Australia’s best mountain roads in two days. And which team won? By the narrowest of margins the honours went to Indian Team. I suppose there is always next year. To the Sam Oppie Special I have nothing but the greatest of respect.
Epilogue. This was about as much fun as there gets!
The Machine Show : 2017
April the 1st turned out to be a very memorable day for any motorcycle enthusiast who happened to be in Braidwood NSW. The inaugural Machine Show, an event for motorcycles at least 30 years old, was being held in the quaint NSW town some 90 kilometres southeast of Canberra. Weather was what one always hopes for in early autumn, cool evenings with clear blue skies and plenty of 24 degree sunshine. The local showground was the fitting backdrop for an eclectic collection of some 350 motorcycles.
Organiser Matt Machine from The Machine Files had certainly put much effort to having the show well organised with security, a well-stocked bar and various food outlets with excellent local produce infused food. Judges had their work cut out choosing the various class winners.
British, Italian, German, American and Russian machines were on display. Standouts were a couple of round case GT Ducati’s, a Black Shadow Vincent, many very tastefully bobbed and chopped Triumphs (brings back memories), Peter Arundel’s 1916 8 valve Indian, a very original Honda CB450 K3 and some seriously chopped Harleys that were ridden to the event.
From The Harley City Collection we took our 1929 FDH, the 1929 Two Cam Tidwell Bobber and our bobbed 1939 Knucklehead. All in a very enjoyable weekend and can’t wait for next