Energetic, enthusiastic, and smiling are just three words that describe Pete Young, Motorcycle Cannonball rider #36. Also a tireless ambassador for the world of classic motorcycling, Pete will be riding his 1913 Premier for the event’s historical odyssey this fall.
Residing in San Francisco, California with his wife Kim and their two small children, Pete is a true Renaissance man. An engineer by trade, he also restores and maintains his many vintage motorcycles, participates in local and national riding events, volunteers his time in support of the riding lifestyle, and even spreads the vintage bike word via an Internet blog site.
A Young family affair
However, as active as Pete is, when it comes to classic motorcycles it’s very much a family affair for the Young household, with Pete, Kim and the kids all actively involved in the vintage motorcycle lifestyle. The children started riding at 9 months of age, with trips in the sidecar as the family putts around town to coffee on Sundays, etc. The whole clan is a familiar site at many local riding events.
For his part, Pete also got an early start in motorcycle world, learning to ride at the ripe old age of 10. These days he only owns and rides pre WWII era bikes, with a focus lately on pre-1916 bikes like those being ridden in Motorcycle Cannonball. Regardless of age or era, none of the several bikes the couple owns are collected for display purposes. They try to use the bikes as often as possible, the way that they were made to be used and attend about 10-15 organized rides/rallies each year.
Asked about the source of his passion for old bikes, Pete is likely to beam his trademark smile and then spin a long tale that references the beauty and the engineering of the early motorcycles, the contrast of that machine’s simplicity and their complexity of parts. Whatever the magic is of old bikes, they have Pete under their spell.
The Youngs are founding members of the Yerba Buena chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America and Pete serves on the board of directors. Peter was formerly the President of the Velocette club of North America that was founded in the early 1970’s, and the couple still rides frequently with them, including the club’s Annual Rally. Typically held somewhere in the western US or Canada in late July/early August, the rally comprises around 1000-miles over five days of riding. According to their website, www.velocette.org the rally is “Simply the best old-motorcycle event on the planet, as we choose locations which are scenic, historic, and in the middle of the finest riding roads anywhere, and blessedly free of traffic.” Tackling the Motorcycle Cannonball will be another feather in Pete’s well-worn riding cap.
Pete and Kim Young also organize some annual rides such as the Rigid Ride for pre-WWII bikes and the San Francisco 49 Mile ride for pre 1975 bikes. They both volunteer and judge at bike events like the BSA Clubman’s show and the now defunct Legends of the Motorcycle, as well as others. Pete’s Motorcycle Cannonball entry, his1913 Premier, is ridden fairly often at pre-1916 events and won best pre-1930 motorcycles at Legends of the Motorcycle in 2007.
In addition to the 1913 Premier Pete will be riding in the Motorcycle Cannonball, Young is currently restoring the couple’s 1916 Excelsior. With Kim’s assistance, Pete does almost all of the restoration work on the bikes himself, with the exception of magneto windings, chrome and some painting.
Pete admits that he averages about three hours of work in the shop for every one-hour on the road, and after recently witnessing his roadside repairs at the 2010 Wright’s Ride in Atascadero California, even more of his wrenching is done al fresco.
Whether in the workshop or at the side of some shaded country lane, all that “fix-it and make it go” experience should serve Pete Young well as the Motorcycle Cannonball makes its historic way across the United States in fall 2010. Friends, supporters and the general public will be able to read all about it right here and on Pete’s motorcycle-related blog site, Occhiolungo.