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Drop of a hat 2002 . .

Where will the hat land? -  February 2002

Yet again, a totally spontaneous trip! And I shouldnít really be sitting up here above the Atlantic tapping on my laptop as I have a mountain of work (that pays me a living) and hundreds of renewal envelopes! But can I blame you lot? Pressure of work? Deluged with club renewals? Inundated with e-mails? I just needed a break and coupled with the fact that I heard about a triples meeting at a steak house in Dallas and the fact that I had a coyote that was missing me badly in Atlanta, I find myself aboard a sparsely populated 757 continental airlines jet heading for Newark New York (o.k. Jersey but whoís picky?) The flight was too good to miss at £200 and the connection to Atlanta was just £70 . . IF I had booked it a few days earlier, by the time I had convinced myself that I was going all the cheap seats were gone and the darn flight cost around the same as the Dallas flight! Still, I will get to meet the Dallas Community Triples owners, Bill Baxter, Maddog, Saint Barry etc and also see Sam again (Chainsaw to you message boarders) and hope fully get my Coyote on a plane back to Blighty! It will also give me time to do some writing for the next newsletter (trying to justify the trip to myself here J ) One thing that I am dreading is landing in the dark and trying to find my way around Dallas - whilst spending eternities at airports and in hotel rooms I suppose I will make a diary of the trip.

On arrival at Newark I clear customs control faster than a first class passenger, I have spent MANY hours sitting around at this airport and it seems strangely empty, I know it is midweek but I think that the events of Sept 11th are still wreaking havoc with the airlines some Four Months on. One thing that does surprise me is that the staff at Newark appear to have been on a customer relations course, they are polite and actually talk to you rather than grunt at you, it is strange to see armed soldiers patrolling the airport, but I actually enjoyed the boring three hour wait rather than feel intimidated like I have in the past. I even bought a map of Dallas so I could try and plan a bit of a route out (whatís this? Bretty getting old and forward planning?) Iíll tell you what, another bit of forward planning that came up trumps - I tried a pair of specs on at last weekends Newark Autojumble and the weakest set improved my close up vision immensely, so much so that I can read the darn map I just bought! - £2.00 well spent! (the joys of old age are fast approaching L )

So, the 3.15 flight from Newark is on time and things are looking good, as we approach Dallas we encounter a period of turbulence, for those that are lucky enough to have ever flown over the grand canyon in a small plane I have to say this flight was similar, or maybe similar to riding the waltzers for a while? It was the first time during all my hours in the air that I had heard passengers using the "paper bags"! We land in a lightening storm in Dallas and as I collect my hire car I dread the journey ahead . . . a 20 mile drive, whilst tired, on strange roads, map reading in the dark and a torrential thunderstorm - this was not the going to be best time of my life . . but it all worked out and I rolled into my "Days Inn" around midnight.

Next morning the rain is still cascading down and this dumb "so and so" forgot to bring a coat! A quick trip across the road to Dennys and I plump for the "Farmers Slam" . . three eggs, peppers, sausage meat . . . Yummy . . . well until I saw it . . It looked strangely like something you find in the car park of a pub at closing time! I check out the locality and see where the meeting on Friday is going to be (Kirbys), whilst driving round Dallas it becomes apparent why all the women HAVE to have auto boxes on the cars . . . they would NEVER be able to change gear AND talk on the mobile phone otherwise!

From there I head out to a place I visited some four years back near Weatherford, my memory isnít too bad as I wander down the road to "Homers" cycle shop. Homer remembers me and neither the stock nor the bikes for breaking have changed much in the last four years, there are VERY few Kawasaki parts left but I pick up a few manuals and a couple of í69 H1 rear footrest rubbers and some front and rear S2 footrest rubbers, also some genuine workshop manuals. A few hundred dollars later and I am heading back into Weatherford in search of a bed for the night, I check out the Holiday inn but at Seventy quid a night I give it a miss, a hundred yards away is a motel8 at Fourty quid . . thatíll do nicely! Just up the road there is a Golden Corrall where they have "all you can eat" steaks for the princely sum of Eight pounds . . Stupidly I fill myself up with coke, salad and bread and as I am full to bursting on just One steak I donít make the most of it but instead head off in search of a nice bottle of Red wine to wash it down with . . . .An hour later and I have visited several supermarkets and driven down every road in Weatherford and the realisation finally dawns on me, this is a TOTALLY dry community (the town is about the size of Mansfield!) So, back to the motel room and I have a futile night trying to connect to the Internet, Fifteen pounds worth of phone calls later I admit defeat and try to catch up on some sleep, a long night lay ahead as I realised why the room is so reasonable, . . the freeway is just yards away and those huge trucks make a hell of a row as they struggle up the incline!

Next day I head off back to Dallas and as I drive down the road I see a car some 20 feet in the air advertising a wreckers yard, nothing ventured, nothing gained, I pull in and ask if they know of any motorcycle wreckers yards, luckily there is a small one just three miles up the road, I make my way up there to a small yard in the middle of nowhere, as I walk around the yard the owner is just opening shop, I ask if he has any triple parts? "I reckon I have a H2 or H3 out the back there", we go out and lo and behold there is a half reasonable H1e in the yard, standard reasonable pipes, rotted seat, half good chrome, standard airbox and silencer etc "The motors locked up" says the owner, I ask how much he is looking at ? " Aww $250" Do you have anything else I ask? "Thereís a KZ900 in the garage" We venture in and there is a half decent KZ900 with standard pipes but the points plate and cam cover missing, I ask how much? "$500" is the reply, we go back out to the H1e and I have a closer look, the bike is really salvageable with some quite decent parts on it, I ask what the bottom price is for the bike, "let me see . . . I suppose I would let it go for $100" SH*T! I have no way of moving the bike and wished I hadnít asked for the price, I face a dilemma, do I buy the bike for Seventy quid and rob the pipes, Airbox, ignition system off it? But that would be sacrilege; I just take the details and plan to give the details to some lucky guy at the meeting.

So, back to Dallas and I again check out the exact location of Kirbys steakhouse, I wander into a local store and pick up a booklet of money off couponĖ One is for the "La Quinta" hotel just a mile from my destination, I get the bargain rate of Fourty quid a night and I go and check in, a great room and well worth the money Ė I try to access my mails on the Internet but struggle, I can see that there are nearly 70 waiting but the connection is painfully slow and it keeps dropping out. I wander off around the area and rather than hit a "Maccy D" I decide to indulge in a nice glass of wine and a good quality burger, the "Greenville bar and grill" suits my criteria well, the wine at Five quid a glass is not cheap but very nice, I order a burger with fries, the burger turns up looking great . . my first slice turns to horror as the burger bleeds more than a haemophiliac on Wolferen. I drink the wine and leave the burger Ė O.K. A typically wimpy English guy, but where I come from Steaks can be raw but burgers that bleed are "dodgy" to say the least! I head off back to the motel and try to grab a little sleep, no such luck!

8pm sees me grab a cab and head for Kirbys, I call the place on the way and ask to speak to Barry Burton (I had never spoken to or met any of these guys, but we are all regular "posters" on the Triples message board) Barry is stunned to hear me and thanked me for making the effort to wish them a great night, I then speak to (Sir) Bill Baxter but have to cut him short as the taxi is pulling up outside. I take a deep breath and go into the restaurant, I walk up to the table and a couple of guys do a double take as they sort of figure out who I am . . seconds later the penny drops and the look on the guys faces was totally priceless! ! ! ! From the picture above we have clockwise, Myself, Jim J (H1), Big Mike C (H1e), John Ingram (H2), Sir Bill Baxter ( Multiple H2 drag bikes), Matt "Maddog" Chalmers (H2), David Hilton (H1e), Mr Barry Burton esquire (3 x H2, S2) Ė Please to report that they all fall into he regular triple owners age bracket (Even if John thinks he is and Barry just looks it!)!

I ordered a steak and chips, the guys ragged me about having it burnt to a cinder, but, I have to say in ALL honesty that even if it was burnt it was still one of the best steak and chip meals of my life and I have had a LOT of them over the years! However, I could only take so much flak about my partly cremated steak and I sampled a piece of Jim Jís "rare" porterhouse(?) steak, (More like RAW! I reckon the sun could have cooked it deeper - I swear it "moo"ed at me when I cut into it!) I am so glad that the lighting was low and I couldnít see too much of what I was eating . . . but what a shock, the steak was divine, it just melted in my mouth . . . Now if only I could get over the visual thing of a rare steak I may well try more in the future. So, the night was spent exchanging tales and drinking. I was on my best behaviour and neither got too drunk nor got up to anything outrageous! My sincere thanks to John Ingram for a wonderful night made doubly so by the fact that John Owns "Kirbys" and he picked up the tab for the nights beer and food!

I think I arrived back at the motel sometime after 1.30am and again tried to get online to download mails, failing miserably I gave up at 3am and hit the sack . . . I stupidly left my mobile on, O.K. who was the **** that called me at 5am (11am our time) to ask for a Z1 head gasket? No chance of getting back to sleep now! So I get up and again try to get Internet access. I make my way over to Barry Burtons house around 10am, did I say house? Sorry I meant to say Palace! The guys house was sumptuous in the extreme. We check out his bikes in the garage and Barry tells me about the party the weekend before when Bill B took his Denco chambered H2 out for a blast at 3am in this "upper class" quiet neighbourhood . . It didnít go down well to say the least . .. but hey, these are TRUE triples guys!

We start off on a days tour of the Dallas guys, first stop is at Tony Daratas house, Tony has H2 and about Four early H1ís in the throws of restoration, we go thru some stuff and an hour later we are heading off across to John Ingrams house. John has a restored í72 H2 and a superb Dodge challenger. The H2 John bought new when he was a teenager and a couple of years ago he had one of the mechanics from "Powersports" (Mark & Matthew Jacksons place in Illinois) restore the bike to itís former glory. The Dodge challenger is I think a 1971, fully rebuilt using a 400hp(?) modern (read RELIABLE) engine and fully re-worked transmission, this is a REAL muscle car, John takes me out for a blast and on a quiet road does a rolling burnout that leaves us both laughing for half a mile! To coin a Maddog expression "this car rocks!" John is my kind of guy . . . . a Fourty+ year old teenager!. . . (Nipper your charger has a competition) . . ((actually Nipper, John goes yearly to the Mopar nationals Ė you need to get in touch)).

Soon my chauffeur Barry and I are heading off south in search of Bill Baxters place, an hour or so later we are pulling up and Bill is out in the garage tinkering with One of his Three H2 Dragbikes, this bike has a Z1 gearbox welded to it and as I inspect the gears I am reminded of those old days repairing ERF truck gearboxes! These cogs are HUGE! We wander to the other garage and look at bills stockpile of parts, enough to keep him going for a few years, Bills knowledge on Standard machinery is limited but you start him talking dragging a H2 and he leaves me for dead . . this guy is a living legend! We did have a laugh as Bill fired up a spare drag bike and did a short burn on the driveway . . . problem is that the front brake hydraulics had leaked and he shot off into his garage faster than Bin Laden down a rabbit hole! After a great COOKED steak sandwich (thanks Karen2) we headed back to Barryís place (sorry missed an A out there) where he had organised a quick party in my honour.

Back at Barryís and I am shown to one of the guest bedrooms (the bed is bigger than my bedroom!) at this stage I am dog tired, having had just 5 hours sleep in the last 3 days . . But as the "Guys" and partners show up a couple of hours later we slowly get in the mood for a good night, the girls gather in the kitchen and we wander off to the garage to talk bikes and fix blown sound systems (yes, in the garage!) by midnight I am dead on my feet, but it IS a once in a lifetime thing and I persevere . . . largely influenced by Karen1ís (Barrys wife) great cooking and wine selection J At 4am I can take no more and sit for a while on the Floor of Barryís office . . .within seconds I am out like a light and allegedly snoring like a good Ďun. 5am and my hosts Barry and Karen are up with the larks (o.k. so Barry didnít even crash out), they wake me up, still on the floor doing my snoring impressions and drag me off to the airport, baggage checked, and as I go through security I am, for the first time, frisked quite rigorously, shoes off etc. I passed with flying colours, and collect my carry on baggage, but as I looked at the net side pocket I saw my new Leatherman multi knife staring at me! Unfortunately I think a soldier standing next to me also saw what I was looking at, dilemma, do I get on board and not declare it or do I say something? Well, I rather stupidly did the right thing and I thought it best to mention it to One of the "friskers" - he appeared embarrassed, and left me in limbo. After standing there for a minute I approached a supervisor and told him I had a knife, "Impossible" . . . It's in my bag, "How did you get it through, wasn't it screened?" Ermmm yes, it is in the side pocket here . . . a few awkward looks from the staff, they re-screened the bag, made me get my PC working, whilst they stumbled for excuses to the supervisor, and then I had to go back to the check in desk and leave the knife there, oh, and then go through the whole screening process again! The screening process is still a token gesture, maybe just there to try and re-assure the flying public? Every little helps, but I for One realise that it is totally impossible to vet thousands of travellers and hour to any great extent. You pay your money and you take your chance Ė you are FAR more likely to die on your bike or of a heart attack than flying!

So, once on the flight it is and hour and a quarter uneventful flight to Kansas, and then a short sit around for the next flight to Atlanta. The sun is out in Atlanta and the 40 minute drive to Sam (Chainsaws) house goes well, 4pm and it is down to a local bar for "breakfast! Burger and Beer . .( the waitress actually asked how I wanted the burger cooked! Ė Tip to "Greenville" waitress there!) does life get any better?

Back to Sam's house and we set about the task of my visit, crating up the little coyote that I have bought, the bike is rough but runs fine (as Sam proves) and will look good again one day (wonít it Mal?) We remove the bars and forks to minimize the size, the wheels and seat are off and the tank removed and drained. Sam gets out a huge tool trunk and starts to pull out his power tools and wood to make up the crate, we start to measure up and as I look at Sams huge plastic power tool case I mention in jest that the bike would even fit in it .the joke turns serious as we look at each other as if someone switched a light on! Out with the tape measure, the box is just a fraction too small . . . but, there is a hardware super centre just a mile away, I comment that itís a shame that it is 5pm and the store was hut, but hey this is the good ole U.S. of A The store isnít shut at that time even on a Sunday! We head on over there and for the princely sum of Twenty quid I have a suitable tub and Two ratchet straps! Back at Sam's and the bike fits in the tub to perfection! We throw it in the back of the truck and head for the post office, itís 6pm now and unfortunately we are out of luck, but I now know where it is and it should be all plain sailing.

Back at Sam's we check out a few message on the net and just chill out for a while, I head back to the hotel with the full intention of trying to catch up on some missed sleep, I stop off to indulge in a bottle of Nice Californian red wine, but at the checkout I am stunned to hear "Sorry sir we donít sell alcohol in Atlanta on a Sunday" . . . . Did I ever tell you how I miss CERTAIN things about England so much ???