Leader of the fast & fun “Burner Run,” T.C. Christenson (center) checks the map and plots a new course at the spectacular Pier Park in Rockbridge, Wis.
There is a hearty group of motorcycle enthusiasts that are headquartered in Harley-Davidson’s home town, Milwaukee, but in their view the term “classic motorcycle” has a British accent. They are the members of the British Biker Cooperative, and their annual Rally and Show held near Blue River, Wis., (July 19-21) showcased some superb British Iron—and a lot of non-Brit bikes. In fact, though the BBC is devoted to British bikes, the rally is open to any make, model, or vintage—and to folks who don’t ride, for that matter.
The BBC is in its 36th year as an organization and it is dedicated to the preservation of the British motorcycle. That devotion is reflected in the BBC motto: “Long live the Limey!” The group’s annual rally brings in BBC members and riders from all over the region and the show features some great classic bikes. The 33rd renewal of the Rally and Show featured the “Year of the Scrambler.”
2013 was the year of the scrambler and this 1971 Norton 750 Commando SS owned by Rich Reed is one of the finer examples of a British street scrambler you’ll ever find. Reed’s Norton took second overall in the featured Scrambler Class in the bike show.
The rally site is the Eagle Cave Natural Park, which includes shower and toilet facilities, paved access and parking lot, a restaurant, a store and thoughtfully separated camping areas; one for those who actually plan to sleep sometime during the night—the “quiet” campsites—and one for the not-so-quiet campers. Located on a ridge high above the broad Lower Wisconsin Riverway, it is the focal point of hundreds of miles of serpentine paved country roads that sway through land where huge cornfields are embraced by crags and pinnacles of sandstone rock formations and long rolling hills.
The event is well planned with a range of activities including motorcycle games, 50/50 raffle, door prizes, poker run, food and refreshments, live music Friday and Saturday nights, camping, tours of Eagle Cave, the Road-kill Café, the Burner Run with T.C. Christenson and of course the bike show.
The Burner Run (as in road-burner) is something of a story in itself. Each year, former four-time top fuel motorcycle drag racing World Champion, T.C. Christenson of Kenosha, Wis, leads a group of riders on a rapid and fairly random road trip through the spectacular southwestern Wisconsin countryside. To that extent, the run matches Christenson’s persona; it's fast, fun and unpredictable. The remarkable story of Christenson’s rise to drag strip dominance aboard his double-engine powered Norton in the early 1970s is the subject of the documentary “Hogslayer,” now out on DVD. “Hogslayer” was written, directed and produced by BBC member James Cutting.
For more on “Hogslayer,” see our review on the Motorcycle Classics website at www.motorcycleclassics.com/classic-british-motorcycles/hogslayer-zm0z13jfzbea.aspx
Another BBC member, Mike Crane, has incredible talent for restoring old bikes and indeed, two of the three bikes he had in the show took top honors in their class, including Best in Show, which his concours quality 1949 Sunbeam S8 took while it also was judged best in the Antique British Class. His 1954 NSU MaxTT 250 took first place in the non-British class. Crane became the first person to ride an operational 100 year old bike at the 2011 event when he cruised around the rally with his 1911 Levis.
BBC member Mike Crane often comes in with some spectacular bikes. Near to far: His Sunbeam S8 (voted Best in show), 954 NSU MaxTT 250 (1st in the non-British class) and a like-new Yamaha XS650.
For more information on the BBC, visit www.britishbiker.net
Winners of the classes:
- Featured class (scrambler): 1969 Triumph Trophy 500—Team Triumph
- Best in Show: 1949 Sunbeam S8 500—Mike Crane
- Late Stock British (1971-1989): 1974 Norton Commando 850—John Pendell
- Old Stock British (1963-1970): 1965 Matchless G12 CSR—Steve Aretz
- Antique British (pre-1962): 1949 Sunbeam S8—Mike Crane
- Custom British (any vintage): 1974 Norton Commando 850—Dick Schmidt
- Radical British (any vintage): 1972 BSA 650—Joe Ruddy
- Modern Retro British (1990-present): 2002 Triumph Thruxton—Kevin Morgon
- Modern Stock British (1990-present): 2010 Triumph T100 Bonneville—Joseppi
- Rat British (any year): 1970 Triumph Trophy 500—Logan Harden
- Non-British (any year): 1954 NSU MaxTT 250—Mike Crane
Special thanks to Peggy Kasper and Pauline Forrest for show results.