Continuing this week’s theme of sharing the Occhio Lungo mailbox discoveries… Today’s items arriving into the overflowing inbox are from Jerry Cordy. After seeing some of the pictures of his old friends in the articles about the pre1916 tours of the old days Part 1 and Part 2, he kindly sent several emails and photos. Jerry has ridden and restored a large number of machines over the past few decades, including some really neat early American bikes. Some of the best pics include before and after shots of his restoration projects, in which he brought some rough bikes back to life. His notes are as follows and tell us a bit about the history of our hobby in the past few decades:
“My first introduction to the pre 16 rides was in Minden, NV in 1980. The ride was put on by Bud Catlett and Bill Stowers. I was riding a 1913 Yale twin at the time and Bud allowed me to bring my 19 Indian power plus for one time only. I’ve been going ever since except for the last few years. In 1985 I restored and rode a 1915 Harley with side car. I also rode a 1913 Flying Merkel twin, 1913 Excelsior, 1915 Thor big bore and a 1912 Marsh Metz 90degree V twin belt drive. I still have the 1915 Harley. I have put on 4 pre 16 rides in the Jackson/ Sutter Creek area in the late 80s and early 90s. They are great fun and the object is to get from point A to point B without a tow home and to have a blast.
Jerry continues, “For the last several years I have been going to the Minden rides but not with my 15 Harley. Two years ago I rode my 2008 Harley screaming eagle up there but only went to Markleeville with the crowd. I’m glad to see more people getting into this hobby. It’s a kick in the pants. This year I just drove in my pickup just to say howdy as I will next year. I did attend almost every ride for 30 years.
I rode with Merrill, Olsen, Holthaus, Ekins, Buster[Cal Naylor] as well as his brother. Also Penter, Huntsinger and Lysle Parker. Parker and I became good friends and I bought my Yale and Marsh Metz from him. Most of the old guys I’ve ridden with in the last 30 years are gone now as is Parker, Merrill, Ekins and many more. In those days you could pick up a running pre 16 for a few of thousand bucks. I paid $5000 for the Yale and it barely ran. That was in 1979.
It wasn’t uncommon to have 90 people on the ride roster. Some of those were wives or girlfriends. A 70 person ride was normal. People came from Or, Az, Wa and all parts of Nevada and Ca. One guy made his vacation time for that trip from Florida. Marshall Matthews and Phil Hill were regulars on my rides. Both are gone now.
Some of the pre 16 rides were held at Atascadero, King City, Solvang, Jackson and Sutter Creek [my rides] and Corvallis, Or. as well as Albany, OR and McMinnville, OR. All were great rides. I missed a few in northern Washington that went into British Columbia. Also, Borrego Springs started out with pre 16 bikes. It’s different now.
“My favorite was the 1913 Flying Merkel. It’s in Frank Masons motorcycle museum in Chehalis, Wa. Most of these restored bikes in the photos I had restored myself at some point over the years. Some I rode unrestored. The 1949 Indian Arrow is one I restored for my late wife’s 50th birthday. She couldn’t get the hang of it so I sold it and bought her a ring instead. The Vincent’s should not be in this folder either but are still fun to look at.
Here are a few more pictures from the Minden ride. The car shown is my daughter and son in law’s car. They have a collection of cars and motorcycles in Minden. The fellow pumping the Pope is Jim Thomas from Florida. I loaned him my 13 Yale for his first pre 16 ride many years ago.”
Thank you for sending in the stories and photos Jerry!