A Ten Year Old Beezer

& Four New Beemers

By Randy Montgomery

Above are two photos of my BSA in mid-summer of 1978 taken a few days before the saga began. It was Friday afternoon when we started off from Phil Funnell's BMW shop in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. (That's the most westerly Canadian province. Directly north of Washington state and south of Alaska.) Participating were Phil on a BMW R-80, myself on my 1969 BSA Lightning, Duncan and Vicki Reid on a brand new BMW R-80, Bob Schneider on his R-100/7 (barely broken in) and Robert and Pam Harrison on an R-80. Phil was an ex Australian who had been living in Canada for many years. Bob was an American, and the Reids and Harrisons were British, or possibly one couple was British and the other Australian (I can't recall). We cruised east for an hour or so before turning off the pavement onto loose gravel backroads. Within a half hour we were "trailing" and joking about what a killer it must have been back in the old springer fork, rigid frame days. (My '41 Harley "U" wouldn't have got ten feet - just too big, heavy, low and with a foot clutch and handshift simply impossible to ride on these trails.) The next photo shows me crossing a small stream early in the Follies, naively thinking this was a sample of what the trip would be like. Little did I realize this was just a very mild taste of what was to come!

fording stream

After we made some coffee beside a lake we continued onto wash-outs, former waterfalls and mini-shouldered goat tracks. I had 14 years of riding experience but never off road so this was already becoming a challenge to me, and my 1969 BSA was certainly no dirt bike, as can be seen from the photos above. With the touring accessories and the camping equipment and food and drinking water it weighed well over 450 pounds. After a few hours I gave up my second or third place position and ran in 4th place in front of Bob Schneider.

Bob and I complained that Phil and the others were riding flat out and this was like a race. Bob and I didn't have time to admire the spectacular scenery. We dared not slow down for fear of losing the others. Phil was always a mile ahead and the Reids and Pattersons were about 1/8 to 1/4 mile each behind him, followed by Bob and I, so many times we could not see the bike in front of us and feared getting lost. I thought this was a really stupid arrangement, and not safe. If a rider behind you fell or lost the route you would not even know it for a long time, and then it would take you an hour (if ever) to catch up to those in front to tell them to stop or turn back. (Back in 1978 there were no cellular telephones.)

Pretty soon I began to wonder if the bike would survive without being bashed up as I struggled to keep from dropping it and to keep up with Phil, the Reids and Pattersons who had years of practise at this kind of riding. There I was on my precious Lightning resplendent in its original chrome, 750 cc. kit, high compression pistons, 32 mm carbs, windshield, oil cooler, turn signals, foglights, fiberglass trunk, saddlebags and crash bar risking all the effort I'd put into keeping it looking and running good. We were dodging huge rocks, sliding out on stones, constantly turning left, right, left, and going up and down hills as steep as you find at competition hillclimb events! To make matters worse I was running a new TT100 triangular shaped rear tire designed for fast, dry highway work and totally unsuited for this terrain where a full or at least semi-knobby was required. The tire was treacherous on the loose gravel and despite my best efforts I dropped the bike a few times, bending the crash bar against the headers.

I was exhausted and began to wonder if I could survive. The bike was running fine. (I had that bike for nine years in all types of riding and was only stuck once - for five minutes with a blown fuse which I quickly replaced.) The bike's performance impressed me considering all the high rpm's and the heat and the constant shifting between first and second, and the braking every few seconds. In fact I was fading a lot faster than the ten year old Beezer. My exhaustion was not only due to the demanding terrain, and unsuitable rear tire but also because my rear shocks were set on hard and I hadn't brought my adjuster tool. Above walking speed the rear of the bike would become airborne and buck me like a bronco. Try riding like that for ten minutes let alone all day. I got even more wasted from starting the bike after I'd stall it on a steep hill or after dropping it. The excellent double leading shoe front brake would not keep the bike from rolling backwards downhill as I struggled to start the engine. I began to envy the BMW riders with their electric starters and super suspensions. If they stalled it took them an instant and a thumb to restart.

But as a BSA fan let me say the reason I stalled on some steep hills was not lack of power (with my 750 kit and resultant high compression, and 32 mm. carburettors, I had better power-to-weight ratio than the 800cc BMWs) but the roadracing style rear tire sliding out on gravel and dumping me. In the afternoon we forged a river. We camped around dusk and I barely had the energy to put up the tent and cook dinner (I had wieners and chicken in my saddlebags.) I was unable to sleep due to being overtired and having a leaky air mattress all of which made the second day even more challenging, but as you'll see it would have been very demanding even for a dirt bike rider. I was reminded of the statistic that only 11 of 19 entrants in follies #1 had finished, and follies #2 is designed to be a lot harder than #1. (Of the #1 survivors, only three had enlisted for this Follies #2.) In the 1977 Follies #2 a Yamaha 500 single had to be abandoned in the woods. There is even a Follies #3 which almost no one enters.


We broke camp around 8 am and due to my side stand sinking into the soft earth I couldn't get a good swing on the kicker crank, so I had to push the BSA to firmer ground where it wouldn't lean over so far. I soon caught up to the electric started Beemers on a narrow twisty trail alongside a river. I had passed the Reids and Bob Schneider when, unknown to me, Bob got a flat Eventually the Reids caught up to me to tell me to catch up to the Pattersons, to tell them to catch up to Phil, so he'd know the score. But the Reids had more than one bit of bad news to relay I'd been leaving a trail of oil! I looked down and saw my motor pumping oil onto the ground. At that point it looked like 2 of the 5 starters were already out of action.

However, Bob was able to continue by spraying rubber foam from an aerosol can into his tire every 50 minutes or so. As for me, I was relieved to find that the engine was fine but the oil line I had installed between the return outlet and the oil cooling radiator had slipped off. I cursed myself for not having checked the hose clamp periodically as I'd intended to do months before when I'd installed the cooling rad. (It was from an old water fountain.) I was able to continue by reattaching the line but there was only about a litre of oil left in the machine, and none of us was carrying any spare oil. I also discovered a fractured turn signal mount. The light unit was dangling by the wire, so I cut the wire and put the signal into a saddlebag.

We resumed our breakneck pace but with me now holding up the rear position to watch Bob's rear tire and slightly ease the strain on my low-oil motor. I was happily surprised to find that the bike did not seem to be overheating. Then the riding got really rough again, with very steep hills, huge potholes, and boulders blocking our way. We often crossed crude bridges which had only two rows of lengthways planks about 10 or 12 inches wide (for vehicles with four wheels) and nothing in the middle or outer edges. Some of the hills were so steep that Vicki and Pam had to walk up so their husbands could ride up. I've been a spectator at several Canadian Motorcycle Association national hillclimbs and these hills were just as steep and more slippery due to loose gravel.

As some of you may know, going down such hills is worse than going up. After descending one hill which had been gouged up by 4X4s trying to climb them, all the BMW riders laid their bikes over to inspect their sumps. In the 1977 Follies #2 one BMW had its sump smashed on that hill. Of course with my vertical twin with no oil pan hanging down I was nowhere near as worried. (Even so a skid plate would have been a good idea.) It was amazing to see Phil glide down that hill as if he were out for a Sunday road cruise. The rest of us had struggled to our limits to keep from tumbling down the hill and/or falling though the bridge. (The bridge was directly at the bottom so you had to line up your bike to ensure you'd enter the bridge on either the left or right plank and not the middle.) Phil made it look so easy we asked him to do it again so we could photograph him, and he obliged. What a rider! And it was only then that I found out he was missing the bottom half of his right leg! And that instead of a rear brake pedal he had both discs operating 50-50 off the handlebar lever normally used for just the front brake! So here was a guy considerably older than us and with a real handicap making us look like beginner riders. Phil was always miles ahead of us and he never dropped his machine. The brake system could not have been put to a harder test and it always worked fine for Phil. (On Guzzis and more recently on Gold Wings the brake pedal works 40-60 front and rear, but Phil found his system worked fine and noted the difference between what may be theoretically the best and "real world" operation.)

The further we went the more I appreciated my windshield. While it got scratched, it saved me from getting scratched by branches and it cut down on the dust. The dust was so bad for a few hours along some logging roads that the two women wee wearing balaclavas under their helmets to protect their hair, despite the heat. I was afraid the sharp stones we were throwing up with our wheels would slash my oil cooler rad. I had a simple grill over it made by two overlapping cake cooling racks wired in place, and that plus the front fender kept the rad intact. My steel based boots kept my feet from injury but I caught several painful rocks in the knees.

At about 1 PM we suddenly halted to find that a bridge had been washed out by raging rapids. The white water was so strong that it had swept away the large trees which had supported the bridge. The river was about 35 feet across and was about seven feet below the shore line. The water itself looked to be between five and ten feet deep and the waves were a couple of feet high. The current in the river must have been about 40 miles per hour, judging by how fast the odd chunk of tree went past. While I was exhausted and very low on oil, and Bob Schneider immediately talked of turning back, Phil Funnel was a true fearless leader who talked optimistically about us building a new bridge! Besides, he said, none of us had enough fuel to go all the way back. (Despite averaging an amazing 45 miles per imperial gallon, I was now down to a gallon in my 4 imperial gallon tank and the BMWs with their huge tanks had maybe 1 1/2 gallons left each.) Phil said there was a gasoline station only a few miles on the other side of the river, so the only choice was to press ahead. But the only tools we had were a few small wrenches, screwdrivers and jack-knives. Not even a carpenter's hammer let alone the sledge hammers and saws and axes and spikes we'd need to build a new bridge. Now I really saw the folly of Funnel's Follies. Even if I had plenty of fuel and oil I simply lacked the energy to go all the way back, and we needed Phil to guide us or we'd be lost within half an hour. The last fuel station we'd passed was 150 miles back, and other than a couple of logging trucks that was the last other human we'd seen. Phil said that if I borrowed a little bit from each BMW I could make it to the next fuel station at Mount Currie, a small town in a Native Indian reserve. Standing there facing the raging rapids, all of us except Phil felt destitute. Turning back only to run out of fuel after 50 miles in the middle of a forest or the top of a mountain made no sense. We were mentally and physically exhausted and it might be days before anyone came along and we were low on food. Any local 4X4 owners or dirt bikers would know this part of the forest was a dead end due to the missing bridge, so would not be likely to come near that place. Besides, how could another vehicle help us cross the river?

Two years earlier in Ontario I'd been swept down much, much smaller rapids, and got very hashed up by sharp rocks and nearly drowned. A human chain had rescued me but fell apart and I got swept away a second time and nearly went over a Falls, so I had vowed to avoid white water at all costs. Unless you've been in such a situation you haven't a clue how strong water current can be. It doesn't matter if you are the worlds best swimmer. We all (except Phil) envisaged our precious bikes being swept away and ruined, and then we'd be left without any transportation even if we made it to the far side without drowning. Just like in a movie, we ended up bitching and arguing with Phil and each other. One idea was to pour all the fuel into one bike and that rider would try to find a logging camp and get help. We hadn't seen any logging camps and had no idea where the nearest one was. Large parts of our trip were on privately owned land owned by hug logging companies who would treat us a trespassers or a nuisance, rather than anyone who deserved help. Likely the solo rider would just get lost or separated from us.

Finally I decided Phil's plan, although crazy and virtually hopeless, was really the best one, so I supported him and convinced the others. But we all agreed that if we did manage to scrape together some ram-schackle device, Phil's bike would be the first one to try the crossing. The we all got to work. Phil used his bike as a tractor, hauling dead trees out the forest with bits of old rope he found laying about. There were also some thick, long logs about which must have been part of the bridge or an earlier bridge, which we dragged and rolled into place. I found some rotten plywood planks in the ruins of an old, burned out cabin. After several tries we managed to get the first log across the river and Robert Harrison daringly walked across it so as to handle operations from the far side. We got more logs across by sliding the ends along the first ones, and with Robert guiding from the far side. Then we slid the sheets of plywood on top. Then we lashed the bunch together with some rusty old cable we found. So far no one had fallen in or even gotten wet. We laid planks on either side as ramps to get the bikes down to the level of the makeshift bridge, which was a few feet below shore level and a few feet above water level. Then we rolled boulders and kicked sand trying to build up a foundation on either side, but the sand disappeared into the water and the river instantly carried the boulders away as if they were beach balls! I couldn't believe my eyes. Some of these boulders were four feet in diameter! I had done nearly all of the boulder rolling myself and then I collapsed from the strain and exhaustion. I was unable to move or speak for an hour and the others got quite worried.

When I recovered we were ready to try our bridge. We knew it would hold a person or two but would it hold a motorcycle and a person? Gingerly, Phil, assisted by two other men, pushed his bike down the ramp and onto the bridge. We held our breaths for a few seconds and as the bike was pushed past the half way point we cheered. The bridge held! The hardest part turned out to be manhandling and pushing the bikes up the rotting ramp on the far side. Finally we were all across and blasting along expecting to see Mount Currie with ten or twenty minutes. I had to keep asking the Beemer riders for some of their fuel but the cheap bastards would only give me a cupfull. Whenever we asked Phil why we weren't at Mount Currie he said it was just a little further. (Eventually we found out that Mount Currie was actually a hundred miles past the river and Phil had lied to us to keep our spirits up and trick us into continuing along. We really had been in the middle of nowhere.) He had also told us the ride to Mount Currie was an easy one but it was as bad as anything we had yet encountered. About 5 or 6 PM, about half way up a steep winding hill we saw a dam of rocks and gravel made by a bulldozer and a sign saying "Bridge Unsafe - Do Not Cross".

At this point I felt true despair and a sense of desperation. If I was a woman I would likely have cried. We were even lower on fuel and energy than we were hours before at the previous washed out bridge. I felt as if we had been riding flat-out for a week. Years later I saw the movie "They Shoot Horses Don't They?" and I knew how the dancers felt at the end of the marathon. When you are truly physically exhausted you lose all mental energy too, and can lose your motivation to do anything to help yourself. As in "The Diary of Anne Frank", you reach a point where you just can't move another muscle or think another thought beyond a feeling of doom and gloom. We were in no immediate danger but we were still miles from the nearest town, cut off by a river, and with only another day and a half's food and water. Nobody knew where we were or that we were stranded. But to my surprise the Harrisons and Reids (apparently not as wasted as I due to much better suspension and appropriate tires, and electric starting) kicked a hole through the rocks and gravel and rode through. We then all gazed at the bridge. It was about 200 feet across a canyon about 250 feet deep. At the bottom were rocks and rapids. Actually the bridge did not look to be in such bad condition, but since the government had gone to the trouble of sending a bulldozer and sign crew to this remote location to keep people off the bridge, one assumed it really was too dangerous to ride across. One of the riders persuaded his wife to walk across to test it. Then the other wife joined her. They said it felt OK. One of the riders then took the big chance and rode his bike across. The other BMW riders followed suit. I started the Beezer and promptly dropped it trying to get through the gap in the dam. Darn rear tire again! It had slipped on a rock. I was so exhausted and the weather was so hot that I could barely lift the bike and restart it.

I rode across the bridge and got half way up the steep rocky trail on the far side. Just as I rounded a bend the motor quit! Wouldn't you know I had forgotten to turn the fuel tap back on after stopping to check out the bridge! I turned the tap on and tried to kickstart the motor but the bike kept rolling backwards down the trail. The double leading shoe front brake design works better than a single leading shoe going forward, but can't hold a bike from rolling backward down a hill. Putting the side stand down didn't help as the hill was so steep. Trying to hold the brake lever, work the throttle, kick the starter crank and balance the bike was too much for me and I dropped the bike. It fell pinning my leg and I could not lift it off me. Trapped and exhausted, all I could do was watch my precious remaining gasoline run out of the vent hole in the fuel cap, across the tank, and along my leg.

Luckily I had passed Vicki who was walking up the hill so her husband could ride up it. When she caught up to me she helped lift the bike off of me. I then put a big rock behind the front tire so the bike would not roll backward. Then I started the motor and rode around the rock. Starting on such a steep hill I was afraid of stalling again, but it proved to be no problem with the power of my 750 kit and the robust Barnett clutch plates.

However I only rode a few yards and rounded a bend when I had to stop! There were all the others milling around yet another dam made of rock and dirt by a bulldozer. This was the corresponding barrier to the bridge on the Mount Currie side of the canyon. And this barricade was much bigger than the other. It was really thick and high and stretched from the upper side of a cliff to a small tree sticking out at the very edge of the lower side. It seemed that someone was as determined to block our progress as we were to travel. My fellow fanatics began to build, with their gloved hands, a narrow path around the outside of that tree. At that point I realized they were all insane. It is one thing to be very determined and resourceful, and to have experience in cross country riding, but another to build a suicide path with your bare hands. It looked like something a five year old would build out of sand at the beach. About 3 metres or about ten feet in length, it was only about a foot wide and constantly eroding. Indeed its width kept changing from 15" to about 10" as rocks and gravel fell down the cliff into the canyon almost as fast as the BMW riders could throw dirt and rocks onto the cliffside. And it was never level, its angle always changing from about 12 to 40 degrees below the horizon. I was sure that anyone fool enough to try to ride on this new "road" would fall into the abyss. Hell, you wouldn't even dare walk on it while hanging onto the tiny tree trunk.

Thus I could not believe my eyes when one of the BMW riders tried to ride around the tree. "These people are determined to kill themselves," I thought. "Plus they do it after a huge effort." The rider had the bike angled in toward the cliffside and was trying to make the 180 degree turn around the tree, so slow speed was crucial, but as he was at an upward angle of about 30 degrees he needed some rpm to keep from stalling. The path was so narrow that he had to hug the cliffside so closely that it took him some time and a few stalls and restarts to get his left handlebar around the tree but then his left cylinder jammed against the tree trunk and the more throttle he gave the more his rear wheel slid to the right and off the newly made path. As he gave more throttle more of the path was spewed away and the more the rear of the bike sank downward. At any instant the bike would drop into nothingness. Meanwhile the left crash bar and cylinder head kept chewing bark and then wood off the tree trunk. My heart was in my mouth and I assumed the others felt the same way, but then again they seemed to enjoy this sort of thing. The rider was trying to hold onto the tree in case the bike fell away, but choking a small tree trunk with your left hand and working the clutch lever at the same time is a physical impossibility. Either the engine died or he revved too much sending a shower of gravel down the cliff. Meanwhile two other guys were switching back and forth between trying to rebuild the "path" as fast as it was being detroyed, and one pushing on the BMW while the other pulled on its forks. Amazingly this routine succeeded and then another rider tried. Each time one rider rode his bike while two others pushed and pulled and tried to replace the gravel as it was spun away. Eventually all four Beemers made it around the tree. I was last and it was easier for me with no cylinder head jamming into the tree, once I eased my crash bar past the trunk.

There was no time to catch breath or self-congratulate as Phil was already leading a brisk pace again. We again entered logging roads and had a few close encounters of the head-on kind with the huge fifty ton logging trucks barreling out of dust clouds. These roads and the land are the private property of the logging companies so when confronted by a roaring, raging logging truck blasting along at high speed you only have an instant's notice to dive your puny vehicle into the ditch. The roads are barely wide enough to accommodate the logging trucks, and you wouldn't want to pass a "22 wheeler" on gravel road amidst the dust cloud the trucks stir up with only an inch of clearance to your side. Even if they wanted to stop they would not be able to in time with all the weight they are carrying. They use drum brakes with external water cooling (total loss spray onto the drums).

In my case I barely made it across a bridge in time to dive into the ditch before the oncoming rig entered the bridge from the opposite end. By now I was running out of fuel and each BMW rider was so stingy he would only allow me a cupful of gasoline, so I was forced to stop every ten minutes and beg for more. We finally reached Mount Currie and I ran out again before we reached the filling station and had to beg gasoline from a fellow mowing his lawn. Riding through town I had to swerve several times to avoid running over aboriginals who were playing on the road, standing dazed on the road, or nonchalantly sitting on the road! Guess they don't get much traffic up there! Pulling into the Shell station was a huge relief and despite the high price of fuel and oil we were never so happy to fill up.

At that point Bob Schneider and I counted our blessings at having survived to that point. We considered returning to Vancouver via the paved highway. We relished a shower and a rest, and cold beer. Perhaps the reason we decided to continue on with the Follies was that we felt somewhat invincible and "empowered" by all we had survived and also figured the worst was over and things could only get a lot easier. Also although we felt a week had passed it was only Saturday, dinner time, of a weekend event. So the five bikes headed away from the flat valley back up into the mountains. We ascended and descended many thousands of feet very few minutes, basically following the route along the West side of Anderson lake, passing by Birken, D'arcy and Seton Portage. Of course as a newcomer to the province I had no idea where we were. The scenery was spectacular, especially at the summits where we encountered snow. We stopped for a chilly moment for photos at a communications relay station accessible for only a few months of the year (other than by helicopter).

My old Beezer ran fine despite all the extreme altitude changes but the V shaped TT-100 rear tire kept plaguing me, forcing me to make several top speed runs to get to the top of some of mountains. My sixty horsepower came in handy and supplied some amusement at just before the top, when the BMW guys thought I as about to stall in first gear, I would downshift from 2nd to 1st. They really had trouble believing I was taking most hills in second gear, as they sure couldn't (even those not "packing double"). However the switchbacks in the trails we were on were so sharp (about 120 degrees) that I had trouble turning. Even with appropriate tires it would have been a hassle. If you slowed down enough to take the turn you had trouble getting moving again. Often my rear tire would slide out, forcing me to have to start uphill at a steep and awkward angle. Of course going downhill was even worse. With all the loose stones and ruts aggravated by my snaking tire and jumping rear end.

Despite almost constant use in the dust and heat, my brakes only faded slightly on the downhills - the full width front hub being literally a lifesaver thousands of times. I can remember approaching many of the downhill switchbacks with wheels almost locked, clutch engaged, motor revving five grand in first, the bike snaking in the loose gravel, and hoping all to hell I would somehow make the turn. Twelve or thirteen MPH was too fast for many of them, and all I could see a thousand feet below was that emerald glacier-fed river flowing through the snow-capped peaks.

On one turn I was lucky there was a ledge of rocks I was able to brush along and peddle my foot against to keep from plummeting over the mountain. I was a little shaky after that. We stopped at a river bank in a valley to fill our canteens and then rode up to near the Terzaghi Dam, camping near a one horse Indian (now called "Aboriginal" or "First Nations") hamlet. Unpacking I discovered my precious tool bag was missing. It had apparently flown out of the trunk and over a cliff during a stretch where we'd been blasting along a potholed trail at 45 MPH. The rear of my bike, bouncing airborne a foot or two with every bump in the trail, had bent open the trunk latches and caused the contents to fly out every few seconds. I was lucky not to have lost everything. The snobs on the BMWs (not counting friendly Bob Schneider, the Yankee) had not bothered to alert me to this even though they had seen it happening when they were behind me. In fact one said he thought it funny to watch everything in my trunk flopping up and down, and seeing the tools fly over the mountainside. Combine this with their not warning me about my trailing oil and I can only conclude that such is the snobbery of some Brits that even when they are riding German machines they will not help the only member of the group riding a British machine! It had taken me years to accumulate exactly the tools I needed for that bike, so the loss of those tools was quite upsetting. Then when I opened my left saddlebag to get dinner out, everything was all mashed into one sticky gooey mess of honey, sand, frying oil, peanut butter and instant coffee.

The shot above shows us atop Mission Mountain, altitude 12,000 feet. The mountain was steep on all sides so this small flat area at the very top is deceptive. I'm seated on the BSA on the left and Phil (with the beard) is standing next to me.

SUNDAY (Day 3)

Having patched the tear in my air mattress I got a slightly better sleep than the night before. In the morning we broke camp and started up, except for the newest BMW which wouldn't start. After five minutes of flooding the cylinders and wearing down the battery, Duncan discoverd that his air filter was clogged solid with dust. A quick cleaning and we were on our way again. We zoomed across the huge dam and gradually descended to flat ground. A few hours later we rejoined civilization and had lunch in the town of Lillooet. It almost seemed strange having to share the road with other vehicles. Except for gassing up in Mount Currie and dodging the odd logging truck, we'd had the roads to ourselves. We were so covered in dust we felt conspicuous in the restaurant. We were desperate for a wash-up but as fate would have it that restaurant had no soap or hot water or clean towels. (Twenty two years later and I remember that scene as if were yesterday, we were so disappointed.) We had to eat grubby, and could have fillled the entire room witha dust cloud just by patting our bodies. We did that outside but I was tempted to do it inside to get revenge for the lack of ordinary washing facilities. (It was a large, modern restaurant and the town is not just a village, so there was no excuse.)

Phil had promised us a "pleasant easy ride" on public roads back to Mount Currie, alongside Lake Duffy. As usual, this turned out not to be the case. In fact it proved to be as demanding as anything else we'd encountered. The flat, hard roadbed was covered with millions of small, same-sized stones, evenly spread. The treacherous result was like riding on marbles over concrete. Few hills but hundreds of turns. My tires again proved hazardous and caused me to snake a lot. Even the BMW riders were complaining!!

A new problem developed for me. Due to the vibration and pounding caused by my stiff rear shock absorbers, my windshield kept creeping up on its handlebar mounting posts. Had the posts not been six inches long, the windscreen would have come off. Every few minutes I stopped to torque the nuts as hard as I could with a 5/8" wrench I borrowed from the BMW riders, but amazingly they kept loosening. The threads were not stripped, the vibration and pounding were just so intense. The BMW riders would not even leave the wrench with me (where did they think I would abscond with it?), but got fed up stopping and handing it to me very ten minutes whenever I asked to borrow it, so I had to use road side rocks to pound the shield back down on the mounts. Then the bike started stalling and being hard to start. Later I discovered the cause to be a loosened connection at the ammeter. As if this wasn't enough, my rear brake began to stay on after each application due to build up of dust in it, and then to start braking all by itself! The turns were bad enough without my rear brake locking itself without warning.

Due to all this I missed one turn and grazed some boulders with my crash bar and foot. No harm done and I was able to ride out of the soft shoulder after getting my breath back.

By this point my rear carrier mounts had vibrated loose and the assembly was flapping up and down with every jolt. The rear tailite assembly (an aluminium casting) got smashed to bits. By the time I discovered the situation all the bolts and nuts had disappeared so even if I still had my tools it would have been to no avail. Bob Schneider had equipped his bike with top of the line guaranteed unbreakable Krauser saddlebag mounts, and they broke all apart, so I couldn't feel too bad about my cheap assembly falling apart under those conditions.

In the late afternnon we stopped for roadside coffee. The BMW crowd had been using little gasoline stoves to boil their water and now found that none of them would work anymore due to the vibration and bouncing. My propane tank was still okay. I borrowed Phil's tool kit to tighten up my loose accessories, and discovered that his shock adjuster fit my Girling shocks! Of course the BMW tool was much better made than the cheap things that came with Brit bikes. So I was finally able to reset my shocks to a softer setting and enjoy a better ride, but we were only an hour from paved highway by that point. When we hit highway 99 an hour later I realized how great the TT-100/K-87 rear tire was for pavement at high speeds. It was such a real treat after all the suffering I had been going through that I left the group behind and blasted straight back to Vancouver except for one fuel stop. Arriving in the city about 7 PM, I encountered stop and go traffic and the rear brake kept sticking on, making me slower and slower until the engine began to overheat. I thought I'd never make it but the old Beezer kept slogging and somehow I made it home and staggered into the house and took the most welcome and most needed shower of my life.

Taking stock the next day, still stiff and sore and exhausted, I calculated that the adventure had cost me a $10 entry fee, $60 worth of lost tools (some of which were special items I never could replace), plus $15 for a new used tailite assembly, 19 cents for a new turn signal bracket, the cost of two new air filters and a new rear chain (the trip had stretched the chain so much). I had created handicaps for myself by installing the worst kind of rear tire (but I only had a weekend to get ready, needed a new road tire and could not afford to buy a semi-knobby for one trip although in retrospect it would have been worth it, and Phil should have banned me from participating with the road racing tire), not bringing my rear shock adjuster (being new to dirt riding I had assumed I should just set them at "hard"), and getting so tired and concentrating on the riding that I broke my rule of checking the hose clamp fittings on my oil cooler rad every few hours, and paid the price. The bike ran fine for another six years before I sold it in Edmonton.

Phil and the others encouraged me strongly to join them in Follies level III which was coming up in a few weeks, but having barely survived a level II there was NO WAY I would commit to a level III. I later learned it consisted of Phil and two others trying to ride up mountainsides in the pouring rain. So I was really glad I opted out and I am sure Bob Schneider felt likewise. Funnel's Follies II was the highlight of my riding career. I feel very proud to have survived the ordeal and I still have the cloth "survivor" patch Phil gave us, on my leather jacket (except I am too pudgy to wear that jacket anymore).

The main thing I found out was that as long as you are on paved roads or the beaten track, you haven't really ridden a motorcycle (unless you are a real roadracer or "canyon carver"). You are just sitting on your bike going through the motions of shifting gears, clutching and braking. Its just like a two wheel car.

Nowadays we have cellular telephones and "dual sport" (on and off road, formerly called "street scrambler" motorcycles, but after reading all the articles about riding with 'the Doctor' in the foothills of the Rockies west of Calgary in Canadian Biker magazine (e.g. Jan/Feb 2000 issue, and April 2000 issue) and more recent articles in Motorcyclist magazine I fear I am too old for this type of "adventure" riding any more.

P.S. I've been told that some of the dirt roads described in this story are paved now.

About me as a biker