The Portland-to-Knoxville 555 “dumb-ass adventure” is complete. Twelve souls on 12 old heaps left Portland, Ore. on June 20 bound for Knoxville, under the same basic premise used by last year’s Knoxville 555: pre-1975 motorcycles, under 500 cc’s, and costing less than $500. The group included the first-ever female 555er, three two-strokes (two Yamaha RD350s and a DT350), a chopper (CB350f-based) and a 1979 Honda XL500 “cheater” bike (four years too new). In a stroke of cosmic justice, the cheater bike expired near the Oregon/Idaho state line, but the fine folks with the Idaho Vintage Motorcycle Club (idahovintagemotorcycleclub.org) donated a barn-fresh Honda CL200. The 555er known as “Germ” was a cheater no more.
Three riders peeled off in Denver (as planned), and the lone female rider, “Blecky,” ditched her tired and smoking SL175 in favor of a CB200 left by one of the 555ers who split off. And then there were nine. From Denver to Monterey, Tenn. took from June 27 until July 3, and the group met new friends, made miraculous roadside repairs (although no bottom ends were split open) enjoyed (mostly) good weather, and had their fireworks confiscated by the police in Oklahoma.
Members of the Knoxville 555 rode west to Johnny Walker’s farm near Monterey to meet the Portlanders on July 3. Mr. Walker had helped the east-to-west group when mechanical gremlins interrupted the 2008 trip, and it seemed only natural that the two groups rendezvous at his farm. Saturday, July 4th saw the final push into Knoxville, where the 555 stopped for a cookout at Cycle Stop, then cleaned up and enjoyed Knoxville hotspots Back Room BBQ and Toots Little Honky Tonk into the wee hours.
Sunday morning saw the Portland 555 begin to filter away, but some of the group hung around long enough to stop by the Time Warp Tea Room to watch the Laguna Seca MotoGP race. By Monday, July 6, it was done.
Unlike two of the 2008 adventurers, no one in the 2009 contingent elected to make the return trip via motorcycle. Five bikes were shipped back to Portland in a Forward Air container, and the rest will be sold off or kept here. Three of the group rented a car and drove back; the rest flew home. All were impressed with Knoxville’s “bad ass” moto culture, and couldn’t believe that the KPD wasn’t waiting to arrest them.
The torch has been passed back to the Knoxville 555, and an off-road adventure is in the planning stages. Should that indeed come to pass, Zac Christensen of the Portland group said, “I am sure there will be a random Oregonian 555er that sets out on an intercept course with a satchel full of roman candles and Pendleton whiskey.”