Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Today is the day we've been looking forward to since we started our journey.  Jeff had invited us along to the Swap Meet weeks ago so it had been scheduled in to our agenda.  Our bikes were set to go and once Jake arrived on his 'Toaster Tank' BeeEm R75 away we went.  Our first stop was at Ypsilante at a great place, hidden away from the main throroughfare, called Side Track Bar & Grill.  We then rode through Saline, Adrian (still in Michigan here), crossed the border to Ohio and on to Wauseon.  It was not hard to find the Swap Meet, basically the only thing in Wauseon.  We paid our $5.00 entry and prior to riding through to the camping area and swap meet we were asked for another $45 each.  We thought that a bit steep but as luck would have it, one fellow came over and saw our Nova Scotian number plates and said because we'd traveled so far he let us (and Jeff & Jake) in for free.  Little did he know how far we'd really come!
The first thing we spotted as we rode in was a black Eldorado like Ellie leaving in the back of a pick-up.  This is going to be good.   Wauseon is a Swap Meet dedicated to all motorcycle parts/bikes prior to 1980's.  Can't remember the exact year but they were strict with the rules.  Modern bikes were not even allowed through the gates, they had to park outside.  We of course passed the test and could ride anywhere.
First thing the boys did was have a beer which by the "arrhhh" sound went down well in the heat of the day.
No time to waste, there is so much to see here.  We all wandered up and down the isles at various paces.  Paul, of course, was dragging the chain as he wanted to inspect every box and table and bag he passed.  There was a huge array of Harley-Indian parts (as you would expect) but occasionally some Italian bike bits would appear.   There was a reasonably generous display of British and Japanese bikes and parts.   There was so much to see and we had to keep moving otherwise we'd never find that elusive gem that we always look out for.
Jeff was searching for his friend Antonio and it wasn't long before we found him.  A vivacious Italian full of life and laughter.  It was a pleasure to meet him.
Away we went and the rest of the afternoon was spent going up one isle and down another.
Out of everything at the swap meet this is what took Paul's fancy.  He certainly knows how to pick a 'project'.  It's a 1947 Indian Chief.
We were all so keen to check out the swap meet that we hadn't set up camp yet.  Time to go back to the bikes, locate Greg (another friend of Jeff's) and set up our tents.
It was good to have the tent set up, change in to some cooler clothes, then it was back to wandering about. 
Paul could not believe his eyes when he found a brand new MZ 150cc still in it's crate.
An added bonus to the Swap Meet was the Flat Track Nationals which were starting at 6.00pm.  We'd heard the bikes circulating the track throughout the afternoon as they did practice laps and time trials.  We made our way to the grandstand and were lucky enough to get seats near the start-finish line.  The racing was absolutely spectacular.  We watched one fellow sliding around the corner at an unbelievable speed with his  front wheel in the air!   How can anyone do that...???
One thing that took us completely by surprise was when a 'preacher' offered prayers for the riders, their safety, their families, and everyone in the crowd that they have a safe meeting and everyone gets home okay.  It was very respectful but what really touched us was when everyone stood up and removed their caps and many put their hands to their heart.   It was quite moving.  Same thing again when the national Anthem was sung.

Our favourite category of racing was the vintage bikes.  They putted around, popped and banged and crunched and they weren't very fast but they were sliding the bikes and using them for what they were made for.  Fantastic to see as these bikes are worth a mint now.
The last race turned out to be the most exciting race of the whole evening.  We went down by the fence to watch.  We were showered with dirt and rocks and had to shield our faces every time the bikes went past.
The race was not going to end well for the fellow in the light-coloured pants and white helmet.   He was racing like there was no tomorrow.  Absolutely amazing to watch.  On the last lap, as he flew past us we saw parts of engine flying in all directions.  We couldn't believe what we'd just witnessed.   We went and checked out the bike once the races were completed and discovered that he'd lunched the engine well and truly.  The cylinder head was sitting on the studs but the barrel and piston were missing-in-action.  The flywheels were completely exposed.
The track crew collected all the pieces and gave them to the rider (not that it was a rebuildable proposition) and he gave me a piece of the destroyed magneto with the WICO name-plate attached.   What a great momento to take home from the races.  And so we ended the day and night on a high.

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