First ride: Freezing into the Argonne
CCE's Cross Bob hits the road at Mecrin!
The season has started – and CCE's "Bolt On And Ride" bikes are out on the road again! "Cross Bob" by Thunderbike has been introduced during European Bike Week 2018 in Faak – and since have seen some rides into history! In September 2018, "Cross Bob" rode into the one-off event "Patton Memorial Days" in Saint Mihiel which celebrated the two liberations of the town in September 1918 and 1944. Since Thunderbike did a great job in "bobbing" a stock Street Bob and converting it into a dual purpose "New School" ride on off-road capable Heidenau tires, there was some "unfinished business" from September 2018 – but this years weather left only a small window to explore the history of 101 years in the past with "Cross Bob".
The first weekend in May is always the collision point of two popular events: The Swiss Love Ride at Duebendorf near Zuerich and the Old School Swap Meet & Bike Show in Mecrin/France, just south of Saint Mihiel. Always a great landscape to ride and photograph CCE's "Bolt On And Ride" bikes, "Cross Bob" was the perfect bike to ride around Mecrin 2019 – and to highlight certain components that deserve a closer attention. And there's hardly a better place to see the interest of real "hardcore" Old School riders than at Mecrin!
As it turned out, some parts attracted more attention than usual, even in a crowd that would see an "Evolution" era motorcycle as "too modern". The Rebuffini manufactured controls were one of them, on "Cross Bob" accompanied with Thunderbike grips. The stylish levers and controls work great, the three switches on each side function perfectly, albeit it takes some time to get used to the sequence for starting the bike: The neutral gear position has always to be engaged. Especially the "sandblasted" look was receiving positive responses from the Old School crowd.
EMD Rocker Box, engine and primary covers also received approval, with positive comments that now the M8 engine does look much better than in stock configuration. When riding around the small village of Mecrin and especially on the event-site, it was the adjustable Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hyde that caught the attention of the crowd. The two sound options, performed by hitting the switch located next to the EMD primary, are both street legal, however running "silent" may give you a better appreciation in your neighbourhood. That seems to have become more important also in France. That CCE is now distributing Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hyde via a sophisticated and easy to use online configurator tool has been already recognized by many independent customizers. Also that Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hyde's systems are available in combination with the stylish BSL pipes.
With the weekend temperature close to freezing point (and lower during the night), there was not much of a chance to test-ride the Heidenau tires, especially since Saturday was very wet and did not encourage any riding in the dirt – but Sunday we did it anyway. A three hour window from Mecrin to Varennes-en-Argonnes was not much time, especially since near Varennes there would haven been some gravel-road passages to explore – "Cross Bob's" special abilities and Heidenau tires being the reason to try these passages anyway. In September 2018, "Motographer" Horst Roesler and Patton-Re-Enactor Thomas Goode retraced the steps of George S. Patton and his tanks on the first day of the "Meuse Argonne" offensive, September 26th 1918, leading to a very close approximation were Patton got wounded on the first day of the battle. Short on time, as always, there was no time to explore the roads leading from Boureilles over the top of the ridge to Cheppy where it happened or the alternative road east of the Aire river leading directly into Varennes. Starting the gravel-tour just behind Boureilles, in 1918 the German first trench line, the asphalt soon turned gravel and too soon into a bulldozered section that would have been possible to pass – but only at the cost of messing up the bike with mud and dirt completely! Not an option today, although the bike would have been even more appreciated at the Mecrin Show later WITH the dirt. So back to the Aire Valley, following the river which Patton likely would have followed before turning into a ravine and – according to his diary – then helped his tanks passing a steep section of the terrain. With a short visit at the location where Patton got shot from a German Machine Gun (near todays "Missouri" Monument and the road split to Montfaucon/Cheppy and Verdun/Butte de Vauqouis) time was running out and dark clouds were approaching from the Argonne Forest. Time to turn back and hit the road!