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H2 for sale  H1 for sale S3 For Sale S2 for sale S1 for sale 1969 H1 for sale KH250 For Sale KH400 For Sale  H2 for sale  H1 for sale S3 For Sale S2 for sale S1 for sale 1969 H1 for sale KH250 For Sale KH400 For Sale 

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I have no clue where all my time goes nowadays? It seems like ages since I wrote up any stories from my U.S. travels, It use to be the case that I wrote up my trip tales on the return flight back to the U.K. whilst everything was still fresh in my mind. The biggest problem is that my trips now last around a Month and there is so much to cram into a tale that I could write a book on every trip – Let’s try and do some catching up.


Drop of a Hat 2007 . . . . (February)


It’s February and reasonably warm in England, I hear however that I am in for a shock on my arrival in Michigan where they are getting hit pretty hard by the snow. As always I plumped for the cheapest flight with the only real criteria being that the flight is out of Birmingham (which is generally £30 - £50 more than  Manchester /  Gatwick etc) With Brum being just an hour away I can get friends to drop me off and collect me (“Taxi Mal”) as opposed to driving that awful long drive home and paying for car parking etc.

All flights are on time but there are some long layovers between them, I am sat around Newark (New York) for the best part of 6 hours, I know this airport inside out now and my big gripe is that I am still smoking so I have to go out through security every hour for a fag and then queue up to get back through security and into the terminal L  But finally after some 25 hours travelling I am in North Michigan and have 2 days to chill out and recover until my long trip down South . . . . . . . .;

. . . . . . Or so I thought, I talk to Cody (Scrambler 73) and he has a NSR400 that he has sold to a guy in Tennessee that’s he needs to get to the buyer, I meanwhile have his hillclimber RD350 that I colleced for him last year, NEITHER of us can afford the time to drive over to collect or swap bikes as it is a 1,400 mile round trip!  So, we decide to meet half way, my first day that was my “recover day” turned into a 780 mile round trip to meet Cody and swap the Hillclimber for the NSR400. The 700+ miles would be slow going in Summer as the roads are all minor ones let alone the fact that I was met with snow blizzards along the way this slowed my driving to the point where I had to stop over in the UP (Upper Peninsular) at my old haunt of the small town called Iron Mountain, I get into the hotel around 10pm and crash out – not surprising really as I have about 6 hours sleep in the previous 60 hours. Next day sees me taking a leisurely drive back to Traverse City past the Beautiful frozen lake Michigan where I finally get an early night.


Bright and early next morning and I am loading the car trailer onto the truck for a trip down South, it was bitterly cold and certainly woke me up!




Above is the local “fishtown”, Lake Leland, a port of call for the millionaire yachting brigade,  the only boats in the water in winter are fishing boats that are iced in for the season.

As I coupled up the car trailer in the garage I thought it was strange that only One of the Twelve fluorescent lights lit up but guessed that they must have burnt out . . . . .  But I was SURE that they were working a couple of Months back? As I head out my truck thermometer reads  . . . . Minus 1 degrees Farenheit! In the European world of Celcius then that equates to around minus 16 degrees! Anyway, I head down South towards my first port of call in North Carolina, the further South I head then the milder the weather becomes and instead of calling it a day after 8 hours driving I head down through Ohio into West Virginia and then into Virginia, it’s 10.30pm and I have covered some 860 miles in my first day and I am ready to call it a night. I pass through a long mountain tunnel and decide to overtake the guy in the inside lane doing 45mph, he accelerates as I come alongside, I take it up to 60 mph and he stays alongside – bear in mind I have a 20 foot car trailer on the back and every time I have to accelerate  more I see my fuel meter drop to 6 MPG!  As we exit the tunnel I have had enough and as the road heads downhill I decide to get ahead of the dickhead once and for all, I pull past the pratt and then see a pair of headlights come on in a gulley in the central reservation – it didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out who would be hiding in the dip in the central reservation at 11pm at night, as I look at my speedo and see it slowing down from 80mph I know I have a problem, I flick my turn signal and head for the hard shoulder and sure enough the sky behind me is lit up with red and blue lights.

The cop pulls up behind me and as I watch him walk up in my mirror I see the classic unzip of the gun holster, he stands behind my shoulder and asks for my insurance and licence, I hand him my U.K. licence and he is puzzled, He asks if I know what speed I was doing, I told him I suspected 78 MPH as he replied “nope, 88mph  . . . . . . . . . . . . in a 55mph zone”  I knew I was in the shit, 10mph over you can get away with but 30mph is an instant visit to the court house or jail. I still don’t know what I pleaded with him but I know it worked and after checking me out he let me go as long as I promised not to drive so fast again . . . .  he also advised me that if I was caught again tonight then I WAS going to jail! Sounds like I need to find a hotel for the night  . . quickly!

Next day and I am leaving the Spring sunshine of Virginia and heading South to the Carolinas, my first collection is a Suzuki GT380 that a guy in the U.K. bought off Ebay and asked if I could collect, the bike had covered just 34 miles from new but in truth looked better in the photos than it did in real life, there was light surface rust on the bike which would clean off O.K. but to be something special the whole bike needed to be stripped, cleaned and put back together again. I carry on South down to South Carolina and check out a very nice 1,200 Mile S3a, from there I call over to see Gordon East who has a friend that is selling a Z1a and another parts bike Z1b, they are duly loaded up and I spend a very relaxing night at Gordons lovely lakeside home. Before I head out I get a chance to see some of Gordons wonderful bikes, it’s not only the bikes that are immaculate but the garage as well!  As I leave Gordons place and head on South, the scenery is breathtaking, beautiful blue lakes, wonderful mountain roads and if there is such a thing as a perfect State in the U.S. I am realising that this c Could possibly be i



I head over East, through Georgia and into Tennessee where I am collecting a H2 Drag bike off Jim Knight, or so I thought, seems that when I got there he had so many toys that I wanted that I ended up spending FAR more money than anticipated as I came away with not only the drag bike but a YDS7, a S3, a CT1 (175 Yamaha) and most importantly a stunning set of modified Dencos that come up one side of a H2, oh, and a set of Gast sidewinder pipes that he had modified for street use. Jim also has a 4 cylinder H2 he built a couple of years back, a VERY nicely restored H2a and also a Nice Daytona 400 Yam Not to mention a LOVELY S3 . . . . Which I just have to have!


It’s early evening now and I ask Jim if there is a local of licence and a hotel nearby ? The hotel is a yes but this is yet another “dry” county and the nearest place that sells wines and spirits is 30 miles away, I make my way over, get a NICE bottle of wine and head for the hotel, a quick shower, jump into bed, I pour myself a glass of wine, boot the laptop up . . . . . . . . . .  and wake up 8 hours later with a still full glass of wine beside my bed and a flat battery in the laptop!.



With Ten bikes now aboard I have to head back up North calling in on EMC in Yale, Michigan to collect a couple of parts bikes off them, I manage to make the 700 mile drive up there, and the further North I got the worse the weather, I arrive in Port Huron (Southern Michigan close to Yale) and it’s back down to minus 3 degrees F, (Minus 25 “ish”)  It’s been another long day of driving and I take my bags to the hotel room, lie down for a second on the bed  . . . . . . . and wake up at 4am!  I finally get undressed and crawl into bed .. .

Next day at 8am, I am up and ready to face the cold again. I load my bags into the truck and see my bottle of wine on the back seat of the truck, only it is no longer a bottle of wine but a FROZEN bottle of wine! The bottle has shattered but there is minimal Red wine on the back seat as it is still a lump of Alcoholic ICE!  The only good part of the tale is that it was easy to chuck away!

Once back in the Frozen North and I get the opportunity to buy a “vintage” Kawasaki snowmobile, this snowmobile lark is totally alien to me but after spending a lot of winter time up here and seeing hundreds of snowmobilers I stump up the £200 and get myself a 1988 Kawasaki Drifter – I later learned that this is just about Kawasaki’s first venture in to snowmobiles, So, I crack it off and head into the woods through the 2 feet of snow, 2 miles into the woods and the motor splutters and dies - Guess what idiot didn’t check the petrol tank ? I know I have petrol back at Garys shed, so I start to walk the hardest 3 miles that I have ever walked in my life! If you have never walked through a couple of feet of snow wearing “swnowgear” then I am talking totally alien to you! BELIEVE me it is damn hard work, and what was worse is that when I got the petrol I had to walk back down there in the dusk and then muster up enough energy to keep pulling on that pull start cable until the bloody thing burst into life ,. . . . . .  needless to say when I got the effing thing back to Garys I just dumped it!


Next day I give bikes a rest and take a drive around Leelanau County which is another peninsular at the north of Lake Michigan. Michigan still has a lot of tribal land (Injun land), this land has been allocated to the Indians and as they have their own juras diction they can more of less do what they want, the result of this is that they very often have splendid lucrative casinos on the lands which are normally illegal in many parts of the U.S.A.  Obviously as these are the only places to legally gamble they are very popular

So, after my brief rest it is time to head back down South, over the bridge in Detroit and into Canada, the weather is still pretty bad and progress through the snow is a little slow. I stop over near Toronto and meet up with old pals Greg, Rick & Rich. Next day it is back on the road, through Niagara Falls and into New York state, here I meet up with Erin and buy a ropey old H2c of him, in fact it is little more than a frame and engine cases but it least they are a matching pair. From Erins I make my way to a somewhat reluctant guy called Phil Parker, Phil owner a dealership for many years and decided to retire, he put a couple of bikes on Ebay and also said he had some 50 or so other Japanese bikes, I managed to get hold of Phil but he was 150 miles away and was shutting up shop in 2 hours, averaging 75mph across states on toll roads was virtually impossible but I managed to persuade Phil to stay on for 30 mins and wait for me. As I entered Pensylvania I got a call “What the F*ck you doing in Pennsylvania stealing all our bikez?” I pissed myself laughing at what a small World it is! It  was DJ Fisher who had been called by a friend who in turn had been called by Phil asking if they knew of me – luckily they all did and Phil was satisfied enough to hang about and wait for me I got to spend an hour with Phil and fill his pockets with cash and also relieve him of 2 1969H1’s and a promise of a return to buy some more bikes next trip. Seeing as DJ was just 15 miles away I made my way over to his place and invaded his spare room for the night.



From Pa it was back on the road to call by Johnnys Vintage Cycle in Ohio (Number35 off Ebay) John has a fantastic shop but his prices were out of my reach to buy bikes, ship them AND make a profit on them.


After my visit with John I set off West and called by Richard Spradlins place (Cyclepartsunlimited on Ebay) I had met Rich a couple of times, we got on well and I had agreed to buy six bikes off him.


I arrived late afternoon and Richard was nowhere to be found, he turned up a while later and we started to load some of the bikes in the bitter cold - Richards house has to be in one of the coldest places in the U.S. whilst it is only minus 30c or so the house has no protection and open fields all around and with the wind it is absolutely bitterly cold. As we loaded the bikes Richard kept wandering around the pole building and looking out into the fields, I asked him what was up and he explained that his 3 dogs had gone missing earlier that day and he had been out searching for them all day and with the weather as it was there was no way that the dogs would survive the night, being a dog owner myself I asked him what the hell we were doing loading bikes when we could be out looking before the night fell? I jumped in the truck and he jumped in his and we set off driving through the snow looking for tracks, a mile or so away I was convinced that I had found the basset hounds track, there were four paw prints and a distinctive trail where the dogs “undercarriage” had been dragged through the foot deep snow. Richard wasn’t convinced as he was certain the three dogs would stick together. Darkness fell and I had a spotlight in my truck so we headed out again with Richard driving and me aiming the illegal spotlight into fields and gardens but all to no avail. I left a somewhat sombre Richard who was convinced he would never see his dogs alive again. It was now 7pm and I was only 450 miles from base, rather stupidly I decided to drag the truck and trailer back up North hoping I would be back just after midnight .. . well, it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that at an average of 60mph and gas stops it would be an 8 hour drive, somehow I was worrying about Richards poor dogs and  didn’t do the maths – I got back to base around 3.30 am. L



When I checked my phone the next day there was a voicemail from Richard, He had found the dogs! A neighbour a couple of miles away had heard constant barking and at midnight Richard walked a mile down a railway track to find his basset with a paw stuck in a trap, his mongrel with a leg stuck in a trap and his paw frozen to the ground and the Labrador keeping guard and barking for all he was worth! The end result was the mongrel had frostbite in it’s leg and the basset had to have it’s paw amputated – but they survived against all the odds!

So, I now have a decent stash of bikes but it is bitterly cold outside and I really need to get the salt washed off them, but that is not as easy as it seems, the soapy water just freezes the second it touches the metal and the sponge just sticks to any metal it comes in contact with – did I mention it gets COLD in Michigan ?   I have a master plan, I get hold of an old wood burning stove and pipe it into the pole barn, next it is off into the woods collecting and chopping up logs – THAT was hard work, but soon I have smoke puthering out of my chimney and the temperature gradually raises up to around the freezing mark, I know it is warming up because one by one the fluorescent lights start working! Something new I learned is that unless you have special tubes the lights don’t work below freezing!




So, it’s been 10 days and my snowmobile has not had an airing in what is actually perfect conditions for it, I drag the bloody thing out (it is VERY heavy) and fire it up, off over the fields and I see the speedo rise from 40mph to 50 and it keeps slowly climbing, I get adventurous and start drifting it and within a minute  I have high sided the thing and I am head first into a snowbank, still, no broken bones so I decide to try it down the quiet road and see just what it will do flat out.  Once on the road the speed soon gets up to 55mph and then it starts to slow, down to 40, 30, and as I fear it is seizing I pull up. The engine appears to be revving O.K. but every time I dump the clutch it just stalls, things are not looking good and I call Cody for advice, we run through a few things and I am still no wiser AND stuck on the road in the middle of nowhere! Then, over the brow of the hill comes a Dark Green pick up truck, he pulls up and Red and Green lights appear and start flashing. The local cops are soon looking over the stricken snowmobile and asking a lot of questions, One cop can’t be arsed to get out of his truck and his attitude is somewhat aloof, I am puzzled as it now appears that these guys are what we in England would call “Hobby Bobbies”, these guys are from the DNR – Department of  Natural Rescources, they are the guys that spend summer in Speed boats on the lakes and winters on Snowmobiles and Quads. Anyway, I get the impression that I am in the shit, it’s not looking good when I confess that the machine isn’t registered in my name, it’s not licensed, I haven’t titled it  etc . . .  I face the music and ask the cop what we are going to do, he tells me that I am facing Three charges . . . . . . But, . . . ..  . “You’re a Brit, you are good guys and our allies, I am going to let you go on this occasion!   . . . . . Phhhhhheeeewwww !!



So, not only did the cops let me go – they helped me to load up the snowmobile and drag it back to the barn!

Later,  In relaying the tale to friends at the bar they stood open mouthed when I told them that I was let off by the DNR – Apparently “the DNR is god man”  So, it would appear that my suspicions about the cops attitude were well founded they do have more powers than the everyday cop and are not people to mess around.

So,  I now have a broken snowmobile, but it’s not broken for long, Gary K knows instantly what the problem is – The tracks run on Nylon runners as opposed to the newer style rollers, the tracks  HAVE to be cooled by the snow or else they melt and bond onto each other . . . Hmnnn . . . .


Until next time . . . .  (When I hope it has warmed up a little!)