Jampot Rallye 2016
by Frank L. "Cranky Frankie" Palmeri

Jampot 2016 started with deciding how to get to the Blackthorne – ride the Norton and the K75 or tow them in my enclosed trailer. It's only about 40 miles and that's not much of a ride, so I decided to tow the bikes. That way I would have my truck and trailer to use as a rescue vehicle in case anyone (even me) needed it.

I tied both bikes down as usual – only 2 tie-downs in the wheel chocks in my enclosed trailer. The ride was uneventful until the entrance to the Weldon House. The driveway entrance is really beat-up, and you could feel the big bumps going up and down the whole way up the rutted, bumpy road. Well, when I opened the ramp of the trailer, there was the Norton with it's beautiful while metalflake paint job lying on its's side against the K75. Sure the road was bad but it was totally my fault. One of my chocks is the locking kind, but the other is not, and you need more than 2 tie-downs per bike. I should know that, duh.

As if this wasn't bad enough - I found out at the rally that the guy Chuck from MA who did the beautiful pain job on my bike died 6 months ago – just keeled over of a heart attack during a family barbecue. So I think I have another trip to Rotterdam to the shop that pained my K1200RS side panel. I'm hoping they can match the white paint. The K75 front half-fender got chipped up too. I think I'll just price out a new one of those. Ironically the Norton is finally behaving, starting on 1 kick all weekend. How about that. Finally get it running right and then I bang it all up.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.

Friday we just chilled out with many of the old Jampot friends and some new ones. Turn out, like at many motorcycle events these days, was low. A lot of the crowd that used to come to Bucksteep Manor in Western MA has not made the transition to the Catskills for whatever reason. In fact the story is Bucksteep is in a really bad state of disrepair. I'm hoping the new owner loses it and maybe we can go back there someday. You can always dream.

Jake Herzog stopped by on his hand-built “Grossa,” the giro bike with the Ossa motor in the Greeves frame. If you have not seen this yet you are missing out. The craftsmanship Jake put into this is just incredible. The Jampot guys loved it. Thanks Jake for giving us all a treat.

Friday night a couple of new volunteers put on a real nice barbecue, then it was Dalmore 12 yr. old single malt + Romeo & Julieta cigars until the fireworks started. A nice, mellow night under the clear skies and bright stars.

Saturday AM we did a breakfast ride all of about 2 miles to a place on 145 for breakfast. Then I rode down to Cairo for a gas fill-up. I skipped the various rides to just relax and read, but I did meet up with the group for lunch at that restaurant on the top of the hill on 23, the one that has a view for miles. All was well until I found several puddles of oil under my bike in the parking lot. Most of it was red which is the color of the ATF I just put in the primary. So add a new primary chain-case o-ring to the new Commando side-cover decal for Monday's parts order (actually it could be leaking from the alternator wire grommet or the felt seal between the primary and engine, so more examination is required).

That's the thing with the Norton; when you boil it down you have a 42 year old motorcycle that I bought well-used, built in a time when quality control was not what it is today. So you ride, repair, repeat – as long as your knee can keep up the kicking. I mention this because we did not have even one AJS or Matchless motorcycle show up at this year's Jampot, which is a first as far as I know in the 39 year history of the rallye. I know lot of guys haven't made the transition from Bucksteep which was in their backyard, but to see the legendary “Plumstead Palace” tent with lesser marques parked under it was a shock. A lot of guys are just older and can't kick these beasts over any more, it's as simple as that.

We had a “Kahuna” meeting to address the low turnout and lack of younger rallye participants, and we have several avenues to explore. It's something we need to address soon if we want to keep this wonderful tradition alive.

Saturday night's dinner was at the Blackthorne, along with the attendees of an HD weekend. There was a Boss Hoss down there, a Honda chopper with no suspension whatsoever, and a nicely done Sporster cafe bike. The dinner was either pork or veal. I don't eat veal as a matter of principle but I tried it and it was so tough you could have made a new seat cover out of them if you stitched them together. WTF? I make one exception to my no veal rule in 40 years and I get what could easily be in a tire patch kit, go figure.

Sunday was the traditional grab bag giveaway. Speaking of giveaways, this year it was a long sleeve t-shirt for the guys and a long sleeve hoodie for the gals. Inexplicably, the bike on the back of the shirts is a Honda 2-stroke. WTF, indeed. Oh yeah, one more thing – the beautiful Tina who was to be our first female Kahuna found a dead mouse between the pillows in the bed in her room. How's that for service with a smile? Of course she got a full refund and now we have yet another Jampot legendary story to tell.

Change is the norm in all areas of the life, and change has to come to the Jampot Rallye if it's to survive. It'll be very interesting to see how it plays out.

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