“We just want to be free to drink espresso, ride our machines, and not be hassled by the Man.” ~ motto of the Time Warp Tea Room
File this under, “Are you kidding me?” As I mentioned in my last post I delayed heading out on the TAT by a day due to an invitation. A risky choice considering I have over 6,000 miles to go before I get home. But once I rolled up on the row of vintage motorcycles in front of strategically aligned lawn chairs, I knew I had made the right decision. The members of the Time Warp Vintage Motorcycle Club were just getting started. The organizers of the Macy’s Day Parade could not put together a finer event for old school motorcycle enthusiasts.
I rolled up on my “vintage” 2008 Kawasaki KLR and slid into a discreet spot in the back. Riders immediately greeted me. Everyone was so welcoming. It didn’t matter what anyone rode. Sure some bikes demanded more attention, but the night was about sharing and enjoying motorcycles. Curator and owners, Dan and Peggy Moriarty, keep “Trials Riding” playing on a big screen TV. In the game room they offer pool tables alongside an Evel Knievel pinball machine. They keep tables stocked with old copies of motorcycle magazines. And above all, they keep the coffee and sweet tea flowing!
Over my second cup of sweet tea, Francois was kind enough to share with me the notes from the club’s last meeting. This is pretty top-secret stuff, so what I am about to share with you should be kept secret.
The notes began with: “Huh? What? Say Again? What? Huh? I listened intently before being let in on the joke. I should have suspected as much at an event where multiple shirts read, “Old Guys Rule.” The loss of hearing is a byproduct of riders with a lot of miles on their beloved, and often loud, bikes.
As a painfully un-mechanical individual, I am way out of my league when the discussions turn to valves, cams, and other doohickey modifications. I nod with intentionality using my best Top Gear mechanic face, but I am sure it is clear to most that I am in over my head. However, when the conversation turns to riding a unique machine that I affectionately call “the beast,” I can not hide my true enthusiasm.
From the looks of this possibly retired salt flat champion, I have real opportunity to go down in flames. I am sure bets are being placed that I may not even make a single turn to ride back to the tearoom. Nonetheless, I am not going to pass up such a unique opportunity. Before I know it, owner Kenneth Winter is walking me through the basics of riding the beast. I slide my Shoei helmet over my mess of sweaty hair and the grin is on my face before my butt hits the seat. As I pull away from the curve the first challenge is to find the sweet spot for upshifting with the back of my boot. A lift up and the over-revving in first gear is gone. Slightly up the road I get to test my braking skills before making my first turn, knowing all eyes are on me. Success. Seconds later I cross the old railroad tracks into an open lot and start doing figure eights before returning back to the awaiting lawn chair crowd and the next excited rider.
The smile on my face should carry me through several more days. While it is not like me to stray this far from a scheduled start, this place has my dad written all over it and I knew he would have loved visiting it with me.
Cheers to the men and women of the Time Warp Vintage Motorcycle Club! If you are ever in the Knoxville area I highly recommend that you ride up, check your ego at the door, and have a cup of caffeine and a sweet treat while absorbing the knowledge and history that the club and its members are only too willing to share. Huh? What? Forget it. Just enjoy your beverage!
Bragging Rights to whomever can name this part’s purpose on the bike:
Originally published in my column for RoadRUNNER Magazine as: Riding the Beast
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