Tiger Tales II
TIGER TALES II
"Two-Up On A Cub To Daytona"
At the tender age of 23 in January of 1966, I was a student going to Pfeiffer College in Misenheimer, North Carolina, thinking, not about my studies, but about the up and coming “Daytona 200” in March. The previous year I had ridden my 1960 Tiger Cub solo seat scrambler from my home in Devon, Pennsylvania to Miami, Florida and then up to my college. All that fall of ’65 and winter of ’66, my roommate, Ed McDuell and I had enjoyed riding the ex-race bike and working on it in the hope that we could ride, two up, to one of the most prestigious motorcycle races in the world.
Because the motor in the Cub was very tired, I brought it home with me during Christmas vacation, in order to deliver it to Larry DeSimone, my hometown Triumph dealer for an engine rebuild. My Dad said that he would crate and ship it back to me when it was done. For my Dad, this was a great labor of love. Mom and Dad were not keen fans of motorcycles. In fact, my Mom used to refer to my bike as the “Unmentionable”
Upon returning to college, I disassembled the rest of the machine so as to restore and paint the chassis and make ready for the reinstallation of the motor. Working with limited funds, I had to improvise for my painting booth and shop. The frame of the bike was spray-can painted out on the side lawn of our dormitory, and then wet sanded using the men’s room shower stall as a source for free flowing water during the operation. The painting of the tank, I undertook, using Krylon cherry red and silver in spray cans. The parts were hung in the boiler room to dry. Chris Matsen lettered the rubber kneepads and the tires to give the bike that “detailed” look. By the end of January we were all done and waited eagerly for the mail to deliver the newly rejuvenated Cub engine for final assembly.
In the first week of February, the much anticipated crate arrived. My father had excelled in doing what he enjoyed doing most, constructing things in wood. I used the bottom of the crate as an engine stand and placed the Cub engine on top of my desk, as one would put a vase on a table. Now it was time for final assembly and testing.
One of the big problems with the proposed trip to Daytona was the fact that some of the riding had to take place in the dark. Yes, folks, that is Dark, as in Joseph Lucas, Prince of Darkness. Because, to date, I had never been able to power both the ignition and the lights at the same time, I decided to use a powerful sportsman dry cell battery to run the lights and run the ignition separately off the Lucas Energy Transfer [E.T.] electrical source. My plan was to leave around 3:00 A.M. I estimated that the battery would be strong enough to light our way for three hours. By then the sun would be up and the battery would have done its job. My calculation on the useful life of the battery was spot on.
Over the next two weeks the Cub came together, and the big departure day was drawing near. I was working the bugs out until we came to the day before leaving. On this day I decided to take the Cub to the car wash to clean it up. After washing it, the bike absolutely wouldn’t start. It would fire once or twice but wouldn’t continue to run. No matter what I tried, it wouldn’t stay running. In inconsolable despondency Ed and I went down to Fraley’s Tavern, the college watering hole and drowned our disappointment in copious amounts of beer. At this point, one more thing came to my mind about what I hadn’t tried. We went back to the dorm and rolled the Cub out and tried to start it. It fired but wouldn’t stay running. While we looked at it I noticed that the points apparatus was rotating when I tried to give it gas. I quickly removed a hose clamp from the air cleaner filter and used it to clamp the points keeping it from changing timing. All of a sudden, the bike started running perfectly. “Come on Ed, let’s go” It was 1:30 A.M. Saturday morning. The Daytona 200 was at 1:00 P.M. Sunday.
We packed our gear and gave it to Lester Bivens, who was driving with friends to Daytona in a car, and embarked on our adventure. Ed took a small pillow, [whoopee cushion] and plopped it on the rear fender for his seating comfort, and off we went. We went 200 yards before we made our first stop. The chain guard was rubbing against the tire. We stopped and removed the offensive guard, throwing it into the woods, remembering for future retrieval, where it went. Our next stop came 20 miles down the road in Albemarle, N.C., where we had to tighten up the rear shocks so that we were not “bottoming out”. All went well for the next two hours as we rode slowly down into the countryside of South Carolina.
Our third stop came, when, after riding many miles with diminishing light, we could no longer see the road. The stars were giving more illumination than the headlight. In desperation I tried hooking the headlight wire up to the same wire that fed the ignition coil. Voila!! LIGHT. In all the hours that I had been riding the Cub, I had never tried this arrangement in wiring. We were elated. We remounted and continued south. The next hours brought the slow brightening of the predawn sky. Ed and I were well on our way.
Riding “two up” on a T20S Tiger Cub scrambler with a solo saddle can, and did, become quite uncomfortable. To spread the pain equally, Ed and I switched off at the driver passenger orientation every hour. While riding in Georgia, we were pulled over by a state trooper and advised that unless Ed got a helmet he would be arrested and fined. I was wearing my trusty Buco helmet; Ed was wearing an Irish Tammy. His nickname is Irish Ed. To comply with the law and not deplete our funds radically, we went into a toy store and bought a kids football helmet for $2.98. Ed looked hysterically funny. I think the screenplay writer of Easy Rider saw us and decided to dress Jack Nicholson just like Ed. They made a ton of money doing it; we got through Georgia doing it.
Late Saturday afternoon, while Ed was driving, we went up onto a dividing island at an intersection and nearly hit a sign. “Ed, what are you doing? Are you all right?” No Reply! We stopped, and Ed said, he must have been in a trance. It was time to stop for a rest. We checked into a cheap motel down below Savannah and rested up for the early morning charge to Daytona.
At 3:00 A.M. Irish Ed and I arose, refreshed and ready to make the last leg of the trip. We rode for an hour and stopped at an all night diner where we saw a beautiful new Triumph 500 parked. Inside the diner we met the rider and his passenger. Boy, were we envious. Their bike was beautiful. They also were going to Daytona. They finished breakfast and promptly left. A half an hour later we finished our breakfast and left. We rode ten miles down the road and saw a light shining up in the sky from down in the swamp along side of the road. We stopped and saw that our friends had run off the road and wrecked. They were all right but their Triumph was not going to make it to Daytona this year. How utterly sad they were. Not only had they wadded up their bike but, they like us, wanted to be part of the magic that is, when riding a motorcycle at Bike Week.
After making sure that they were all right, we continued south. Shortly after dawn we came upon a big tractor trailer wreck that had closed down the highway. A Florida state policeman was directing traffic around the accident scene. When he saw us he made us pull over and stop. Remember please that Ed was wearing a football helmet and we were riding two up on a single seat bike. “And where the hell do you think you guys are going?” was the cop’s first question. When we told him that we were heading to Daytona Beach, he said, “I don’t think so. Where are you coming from?” Our reply of “We came from Misenheimer, North Carolina” was received with a gale of laughter and a change of attitude. “Take the back roads down and good luck.” We took the directive from the policeman and proceeded on our way to Daytona.
On Sunday morning, at 11:00 A.M. Irish Ed McDuell and I rolled into the parking lot of the motel where Lester Bivens and our college buddies were staying. It had taken us 331/2 hours to go approximately 450 miles. We showered and jumped right back on the Cub and rode to the Daytona International Speedway. We went through the tunnel and entered the infield and watched, at 1:00 P.M., the beginning of the 1966 Daytona “200”. Buddy Elmore won the 200 mile race at a record breaking average speed of 96.383 M.P.H. Irish Ed and I won the “Twoup on a Tiger Cub” 450 mile race to Daytona at an average speed of 13.433 M.P.H. Elmore’s record was soon eclipsed by Gary Nixon the following year. To my knowledge, the record of riding a Tiger Cub, two-up, 450 miles, to Daytona is still held by myself, Snuffy Smith, and Irish Ed McDuell. May the record stand forever!
After spending a magnificent week at the speed capital of the world, time dictated that it was time to return to Pfeiffer. The thought of riding the Cub home was more than we could handle. We took the wheels and handlebars off the chassis and threw the parts into the trunk of Les’s automobile and drove back up in comfort.