Friday, October 9, 2009


Curse this rain. The 555 was going to head to Barber this weekend for the vintage racing and swap meet but the forecast of thunderstorms all weekend put the kibosh on that. Call us pussies but riding, camping and standing in the rain watching other people race just wasn't getting the blood pumping.
Good luck to local racer and reining AHRMA 200cc GP champ, Jack Parker and PDX555er Jon Munns in their quest for tarmac glory.
Wish we were there.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

ooooo that smell......

The fact that you here on this blog I know that the picture below stirs emotions so basic and simple and yet so complex that you are unable to convey them to your significant other or your parents.

Bought for a song by a PDX 555er just yesterday, I'm not sure if this dream machine wont be high tailing it across the desert next year on it's way to the as of yet undetermined 555 rendezvous point.

Starter fluid, the elixir of old bikes.........

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh shit, it's on

Toledo Hansen's partial article has reignited my 555 fire like a new ignition coil on an old RD 40o. It's time to start focusing on next years bike, a 1974 Husky 250 WR. Cost: $130

Being somewhat of a mechanical nimrod and not wanting to burden Pearl with carrying my mechanical dead weight like he did last year, I've tricked our buddy and local AHMA race champ, Jack Parker into clearing off a section of his work bench and allowing me to work on my Husky engine under his tutelage. I'd like to say that he has no idea what he's volunteered for but in truth, I think he does.

So the job is going to be: transform this

into a cross country runner for $370 additional dollars or less. Title and tires are not included in this amount and have never been part of the $500 limit. Let the hillarity begin. Stay tuned. - Erock


Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. As you can tell from the infrequency of the posts on this blog, my mind and efforts have not necessarily been on the 555. Well, in truth, my mind is never far from the 555 but sometimes the rest of life interfears with the important stuff. However, yesterday I received both of the following reminders that there lies an incredible journey ahead for the 555. While neither falls squarely into the 555 rigid set of rules, one plays out close to home as it covers part of our planed route for 2010 and the second one is a truly awe inspiring dumnass adventure, I just wish that I had the whole article.

First is my friend's 10 day take on the TAT

Second, this segment of a story found in a 1975 issue of Dirt Rider by PDX555 rider, The Shin. If anyone out there has access to the rest of the article, please let me know. I have a feeling that it only gets better.

Enjoy- Erock

Dumb Journey
Toledo Hansen

"No one ever told you not to go about crossing America on a dirt bike."

When one beholds certain truths under the influence of peyote, one must pay a price. Ingesting peyote is against the law. Some tribes of American Indians, ignoring the law even before it was on the books, ate peyote all the time. Of course, the Indians were deadbeats, their minds so glutted with the poisons they didn't have the sense to develop the land they loitered upon into something worth-while. They sat on rocks staring at rivers for hours on end. They settled homes anywhere they wished without benefit of deeds. I could go on, but you can see how peyote can ruin lives. Look where the Indians are now.
In 1969 I dropped out of college and began work in a factory, printing beer cartons on a gravure six-color web-fed press. By the time I had worked my way to assistant pressman I was unexplicably miserable. For the first and only time I ate peyote buttons at the advice of a friend. Shortly after the experience, and certainly as a result of, Los Angeles had been revealed to me as the oppressive, paranoidal nightmare it was: I saw millions of people every day, none of who you should trust with anything sharper than a hotdog - millions of people thundering about tons of machinery an [sic] in all different directions. Often I'd see a ton of liquid north-bound try to occupy the same space (at the same time) with two tons of powdered southbound. It got to be an eyesore.
So I retreated to Ventura, 60 miles north of L.A., and tried not to think about it as much. For two years I made food money by selling stories to various publications. I merely sat at my typewriter and made up facts and sold stories [Becky, isn't this your dad?]. It was easy.
I also wanted a horse to roam around the hills on. I used to like riding horses until I got tired of trying to outguess them. I have enough trouble keeping track of my own mind and care not to concern myself with the thoughts of a second dumb animal [No, this is *my* dad].
In 1972 I walked into a motorcycle shop in Goleta, told the man of my needs, and bought a Matador. Nice name, nice looking bike. He taught me how to mix gas and oil, told me to clean the air filter now and then, gave me some extra spark plugs, and I rode home. The next day I rode back to the shop and bought a helmet and goggles. The helmet gave me a headache but removing a couple layers of gauze I acquired by not having the helmet in the first place made things more comfortable.
The next three days I went riding in the hills over to the Santa Clara River. In the sand it felt awful. I fell down a lot. I had a hard time starting it. I wasn't having as much fun as I thought and decided to get my money back and go to Europe. I put an ad in Cycle News:
$1,000 brand new I just bought it
and now I need the money to go
back East and besides I don't like
it at all. T. Hansen, General
Two weeks later and only one reply came in the mail, from New Jersey. "Mr. Hansen, your ad stated that you were coming back East. They are out of Matadors back here so why don't I buy yours and you can bring it out? Very truly yours, Darryl Gookins.
I wrote back,"Yes I can deliver the bike if you deliver me $1,000 first - as a token of good faith, of course."
He wrote back,"Are you mad? Do you think I'm a sucker?"
I called him from the train station, collect, in a rage. "Listen, you scum sucking tightwad, I'll be goddamned if I'm going to gallivant my motor-cycle all over Kingdom Come just so you can look at it and say 'Ugh, take it back, the paint's scratched!'" I hollered into the receiver. A train was going by for effect. "You had better goddam well send me $500 by Monday or I'm going to take that bucket of vulture snot Matador you want so bad and shove it into a ravine and let it rust a few years!" I slammed down the receiver.
I got my money along with a note of apology from Darryl Gookins. He said he was looking forward to seeing me in 30 days, that we would have fun going riding where he lived. He sounded like a fruit.
I prepared for my trip east and the delivery of Darryl Gookins' new Matador. It never dawned on me to tell him the Matador is the only form of transportation I own.
I spent the better part of the morning filling a day pack with food and oil, filling my army-surplus jacket with every tool I could find that I might need, and carefully choosing supplies common sense dictated: first aid, a tire patch kit, a good book (Cat's Cradle), and traveler's checks. Since I didn't have a driver's license or business card or anything, at least traveler's checks might make me look good.
At about 11 that morning I left Ventura, rode up the Santa Clara River and headed for New Jersey. I had a compass: East.
I stopped a [sic] Castiac Junction for gasoline, the first time I'd ever had to mix gas in the Matador. The gas station man asked me where I was off to. I told him New Jersey. He called me a smart-aleck. I pumped in 2.4 gallons. Lessee, I thought, 32 ounces to the quart, 64, that's 128 ounces to the gallon. Twenty-to-one, hmmm, one-tenth of a gallon is 12.8, so one-twentieth is 6.4 - that's it, six point four ounces of oil per gallon times two point four gallons is... carry the two... fifteen point three six ounces of oil. I opened a can of oil and started dumping it into the tank. "Tell me when it looks like fifteen point three six ounces, willya?" I asked the attendant. He called me a bastard.
By nightfall I hadn't made it to Palmdale. I was sore and kept falling down, more than usual. Something felt funny on the Matador. I was going to have to average two hundred miles a day to make sure I got to New Jersey in thirty days and was already behind schedule. I slept soundly and proceeded the next morning without breakfast, then wasted a lot of time in Palmdale finding a motorcycle dealer who could help me out. He said my throttle was sticking because the cable was ruined and called another dealer to see if he had one. I told both dealers where I had been but didn't want to tell them I was riding to New Jersey; they acted as if what I had done thus far was a strange thing to do.
Heading out of Palmdale across the Mojave Desert, I watched some other motorcyclists play in the distance. They stood up when they rode. It took me a while but I soon could stand up, too. I wondered how much I didn't know about motorcycle riding.
By nightfall I had made Adelanto for gasoline and continued across the desert by the light of a full moon after my lights stopped working. Probably a fuse. I felt like an Indian as the perfect desert air flared my nostrils. I crashed in a ditch sprained my wrist [sic]. I laughed. The sand in the ditch was cool, soft, and I slept.
The next morning I looked at the map while chewing on beef jerky and felt my nostrils flare some more. I still had dirt in my mouth from last night's fall. It wasn't very smart of me to leave the Matador lying on its side, either - it must have taken me an hour to start the thing. I had to wrap my wrist, using all the gauze in my first aid kit.
I had decided to cross the San Bernadino National Forest and stay close to - but a safe distance from - Interstate 10. Having to rely on gasoline supplies was taking fun out of the trip. I discovered an interesting series of trails running up into Big Bear Lake. I was practicing standing up when riding when the Matador belched once, then stopped running.
It had stopped. Stopped running.
It had never done that before. I couldn't believe it.
I sat down and waited for it to start running again.
I said,"Tell me what you want and I'll fix it."
It was dead.
I rememberd the spark plugs. I put a new one in good and - urk - tight. The Matador ran again. Now that everything was back to normal, I rode off towards Big Bear Lake. I decided to buy lots more spark plugs. Lots.
In less than a mile it stopped again. I put in my last spark plug and made it (urk!) good and (urk!) tight. I hit the starter, it fired, made a vulgar sound my mother would have spanked me for, and died. I didn't know what to do. I sat on the trail and waited for someone with more spark plugs to come along. I pushed uphill for two hundred feet and collapsed. I heard bells. No, wait, shhh, did you hear them? Real bells. I saw a mare and a stallion, the mare with a bell tied around its neck. I could ride one of them to find more spark plugs. I snuck up on the one with the bell and leaped to its back. She just stood there. "Giddyap," I commanded and dug my heels in. She started bucking, and on the third buck she flung me off towards my Matador. I knew right when I landed I was going to die, which is what you always think when you get the wind knocked out of you. Both horses ran behind some trees and laughed at me.
By twilight I had hiked into Fawn-skin and started asking anyone, "Do you know anything about motorcycles?" Finally one guy said,"What motorcycle?"
I said, "Bultaco Matador." He said, "A two-stroke? What's the problem?
"It stopped running on me. I put in a new spark plug and it ran for a little bit, then stopped. I put in another one and it made a vulgar noise my mother would have spanked me for making, then died."
"Sounds to me like fouled plugs," he said. His knowledge gave me comfort.
"Like these?" I said and handed him two. He looked at me with raised eyebrows for two, four, sixteen seconds.
"Like those," he finally said. "How long have you been riding?"
"Three days. I started in Ventura, rode across the desert and came up the backside here."
He was silent for a long time, then sat down to explain to me how my air-filter was clogged, and how I should learn to clean it more often. "Clean it often, once every day if you can. Be good to that bike and, hell, it'll take you all the way to Georgia and back if you want."
Those were his last words to me. He understood.

And next month [Dirt Rider, May 1975]: MAKING THE BORDER

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lois and Austin Have Left the Building

Lois Pryce and Austin Vince took a few days off from their cross country tour to swing by and visit the 555 this week. Riding a Ural Patrol sidecar outfit, which Ural USA loan the couple for this trip, they rolled into town on Wed for an evening of jawin', food, beer and a little TN motorcycle juice. This was the first time that we actually met. Up until then, we'd only known them through their books, DVDs and a few email exchanges. However, that did not prevent Austin from releasing flatulence that sounded like sound effects from War of the Worlds the entire evening. We knew we'd found one of us.

Lois, Mike and Austin

Tennessee Paella, better than the real deal.

(yeah, you heard me)

The following day, Thursday, was spent recovering from the previous night's gorging, libations and Austin's gaseous releases and preparing for a presentation that there were scheduled to give at the Time Warp Tearoom. Technical difficulties aside, the show went off without a hitch and all who attended were treated to an incredible evening of Lois's bold travel stories and Austin's funny as shit, Benny Hill driven, travel log. Ewan McGregor's ears must flame up and burn to a crisp every time Austin does this talk....and I thought that the 555 made fun of Ewan.

Austin self documents all of his travels with both digital video and Super 8 film so Friday he took advantage of having a chase vehicle at his disposal as well as having stunt doubles Dic and Tina available to stand in for Austin when the riding got really hairy. What's it take to double for Austin Vince, you may ask yourself; nerves of steel and a custom pair of coveralls, of course. I guess tits and a heavy beard can cleverly be disguised or edited out during post production.

The Tree Austins: Austin, Dic and Tina

Being a 'concrete nerd', one of Austin's desires was to do some filming at a TVA dam so Dic and I took him up to Norris were we were tantalizingly close to the Norris water shed and the off road trails that lie within. After bagging the footage he wanted, we headed up High Point which was a bit muddy after a week's worth of rain. I'm hear to witness that the Ural is everything it advertises. We never once got stuck and we never used the two wheel drive option.

Lois, Dic and Austin (giving the finger to the local union and OHSA dicks)

Saturday saw them heading off down the road to their next stop.
If you are reading this and you have not read their books or seen their DVDs, you owe it to yourself to do so. Between them they have three books and a slew of DVDs, all inspioring works of what they call 'DYI travel' and what I call 'pure adventure'.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Don't be an idiot, go...

The 555 presents badasses Austin Vince and Lois Pryce at the Time Warp Tearoom!
Vince and Pryce will be giving a talk and slide show about their worldwide motorcycle travels. TWT is located at 1209 North Central in Knoxville, TN.
If you've never heard of their adventures, check it out:
Pryce's site
Vince's site
Seriously, missing this show will reflect poorly on your intelligence.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tonight's the night

Tonight's the ni-i-i-i-i-ight......

Pistol, Dic, Pearl, Feat, I think Thunder and a few of the local boys are headed out to Johnny Walker's place for a night of eating Mexican food sitting around the campfire talking trash. Our Goal? To pay the PDX boys back with a few jars of the shine. But first, An update from the boys on the road:

Now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout, a Popo escort into Tennessee for our friends from the Northeast.

For those of you interested, we should be at the Backroom sometime Friday night if you want to come on down and have a drink with these guys. If you don't know where the backroom is, just put your nose in the air, it should be obvious: unwashed dudes and one girl, leather, beer, whiskey and lots of gas. I'm sure you could follow the oil slick, as well. - Erock

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just like old times

With the imminent arrival of the Portland 555 guys to Knoxville via Johnny Walker's farm in Monterrey, I decided the only decent thing to ride to the party was my original 555 bike.....Phily Joe Special (1974 Honda CL450). The fact that it wasn't running as of 2 days ago necessitated my own private wrench party in the basement on Sunday night. I'm pretty sure Pearl was doing the same thing over in his garage, but I don't think he took pics. Anyway, last year in Portland I had discovered Phily Joe's electrical/charging problems had been the result of the chain cutting all of the wires going to the stator/alternator. My "fix" was on the street in front of Face's apt in the evening before our big Beulehland party and included using electrical tape to splice in some extra wire to bridge the huge gap left by the chain slashing and wrapped it all in duct tape. Not the best solution of course, but I just wanted to ride to the party. I always intended to get home (or break down on the way home) and actually solder the connections or get new wires.
Fast forward 1 year.....not once have I even looked at the wires. I've just kept riding it around town with Sneaky Pistol's ever impressive mantra of "Hey..Yo...I'll get around to it" (spoken with a accent somewhere between Rocky Balboa, Tony Soprano, and Emeril Lagasi).

As you can imagine, about a month ago Phily Joe barely got me home and I promptly parked her and rode some other bikes around. But alas, the grand arrival of the Portland 555 gave me the kick in the ass I needed to work on Phily Joe and get her running again. See you on the road!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What is the 555?

Whoa, a deep philosophical question for this crew and one that doesn't necessarily have an answer. I like what one of the 555 copycats, Cryin' Eyes, said when asked by a Knoxville writer "Why are you guys seeing the Knox555 as inspiration instead of the bad examples they so obviously are?"

To which Cryin'Eyes replied: "We have spent years doing stupid stuff as fast as possible but the Knoxville guys turned that whole concept upside down by showing us that stupid stuff can be done much, much slower and be equally fun."

Speaking for myself, the 'doing stupid things slowly' was a by-product of something more altruistic and rational. More accurately this whole thing came about as a big equalizer. It's no fun riding distance when one rider is at a woeful disadvantage in the cc or the reliability department. In our case, we simply defaulted to the lowest denominator which was Chocolate Thunder's Honda CL450 which was bought for $100 and an offer for a punch in the neck from the seller for even considering riding it across country.

It was an interesting concept. In the day and age of $25,000 adventure bikes, deep pockets and everyone striving to be Ewan McGregor in the Long Way Around, could seven guys (one who had no previous motorcycle experience) spend three weeks traveling large for around $2,000 including the bike, gear, fuel, food, beer and umm.....more beer. Obviously, they can...and did....and will do again. So by default we were regulated to taking the Slow Way Around, which to state the obvious, gives you time to take more of everything in.
I've traveled in different levels of comfort and luxury but nothing comes close to the experience of traveling cheap and slow. - Erock

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wow. That about sums it up. 24 hours after Germ blew his cheater bike up, some guys in the Idaho Vintage Motorcycle Club found him a free, yes, FREE CB200 to run into the ground. 555pdx is learning what we learned on our trip and that is that if you throw yourself out there into the unknown, lower your guard a bit and allow yourself to be a bit vulnerable, people will show you their good side. Here's to the IVMC.

Just as important, if you look closely at this photo, you'll see that all present have a beer in their hands. Ah, the universal language of beer. Where would the 555 be with out it?

Reminding me a bit like this commercial from my youth ,Germ attempted to fool The 555 and has paid the price. You see, Germ left pdx on a Honda XL 500. While abiding by the first two rules (his bike is at the top end of the cc allotment [but non-the-less it makes it] and we trust that he didn't invest more than $500 into it) Germ attempted to fool mother nature by riding a bike that failed the third and really, most critical rule. A quick check of Al Gore's biggest contribution to mankind and one finds that the Honda XL500 that Germ was riding was introduced in the very futuristic year of 1979. It's no wonder, really, that his bike shit the bed. The 555 is not surprized.
Although I'm sure he dosn't think so at the momment, Germ's a lucky man. Had he shown up in Knoxville on a bike made in 1979, he would have been shuned, ridiculed and made to sleep outside with our dog Otis who's breath and general stench could make even someone named 'Germ" retch. However, if at this early stage of the game, he's successfull of locating a real bike and is able to pilot it to Knoxville, it's zero to hero and a couch for the Germ! Go Germ!
Check back for more updates on the pdx555 - Erock

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The new book in the growing stacks of the 555 library is a book sent to us by Pearl's friend and mentor, Captain Insano. I'm not going to subject you to a review of this book but in a nut shell, Lois Pryce rides an underpowered bike from Alaska to the southern most tip on South America, something that every respectable 555er has dreamt of doing. This is a good book, one worth reading. Also, her site is worth visiting

I'm not giving anything away by saying that in the beginning of book she meets and falls for a guy named Austin. Well, come to find out that Austin is Austin Vince of Mondo Enduro...the Mondo Enduro. We are already huge fans of Mondo Eunduro and now these two motorcycling powerhouses are an item. The small world of motorcycling.

If you are not familiar with Austin's work, you need to be. He and the rest of Mondo are as badass as they come.

Stay tuned for an announcement concerning these two, the States, the 555 (of course), hillbilly music and a possible visit.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

If you see this strangely grotesque He/She out on the lonesome highways in the coming weeks, you've just spotted a 555 copycat. Some folks out in Portland, who primarily ride with the SFRC, picked up our thread as we embarked on our trip last year and became big supporters of the 555. Really, about the only thing they did for us was to get us absolutely loaded as we rolled (well, choking, coughing, spitting, pushing, limping, some with only first gear...), into pdx and then The Sandy Hut. Whisky flowed and so did stories. Come to think of it, that's all we really wanted from them, but I digress.

So this, our year off, is the year of the pdx 555 and they leave town today, headed for Knoxville and some alcohol fueled paybacks. If you see a pack of leather clad types rolling 200 - 500 cc machines in the general direction of Knoxville, give them the thumbs up, shake your fist at them, give 'em the finger, whatever.

You can see their site at

Friday, June 19, 2009

Somewhere out there there are seven riders iching to hit the road again. Actually, it's the dusty trail that beckons them this time. In 2010, the 555 plan to head out on old, shitknuckle beaters to traverse the country and then the length of Baja, all on unpaved roads if all possible. The rules of the trail will be the same as the original 555 and bikes like this one will be pressed into service for the event. Hopefully, with more time that we had last time to work out the bugs, these steeds will be more faithful than some of the bikes on the last trip...but somehow, I doubt it. Bah, come hell or high water, or both, we'll ride these things to the Pacific and then some. Check back for updates as we bring this blog up to spead. - Erock

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Test of The 555 on blogger

Maybe this will allow all of us to blog about the 555.