Dozens gathered at Skidmark Garage on Dec. 7 to listen to garage founder and Motogo coach Brian Schaffran discuss his first off-road riding experience – a three-day, 500-mile jaunt in rural eastern Tennessee aboard a 1967 Honda CL77.
The talk took place in the Skidmark lounge. About 40 people enjoyed food and fellowship before Schaffran began his about 45-minute presentation about how the grueling riding and less-than-ideal conditions of his first Vintage 500 event helped him gain a new perspective on life and the student he teaches through Motogo.
Schaffran is a lead instructor for Motogo – a nonprofit organization that teaches middle school and high school students mechanical skills through motorcycle maintenance projects in greater Cleveland. Schaffran co-founded Motogo with his partner, Molly Vaughan, who serves as the organization’s executive director.
Schaffran’s presentation started with how he came to own the 1967 Honda CL77 – which is also known as a 305 Scrambler — he rode for the Vintage 500. He said the bike was part of a package deal with a nearly worthless vintage Harley-Davidson. Schaffran added he’d planned to flip both motorcycles, but those plans were upended when Vaughan bought him an entry in the 2022 edition of the Vintage 500.
The presentation included videos of Vaughan and one of the Motogo students removing the engine from the bike – something Motogo recognizes as a major accomplishment for each of its students — as well as some difficulties that were encountered when bike was test-started after the engine had been reinstalled.
Later, Schaffran’s discussion turned to his preparation for the Vintage 500 – which is organized by Speed Deluxe and requires participants to ride a pre-1968 motorcycle and carry all their tools and camping gear with them. He also said that as the work on the scrambler went on, he became more nervous about screwing something up that couldn’t be repaired due to a lack of spare parts. He said he believes that experience has helped him better understand what new Motogo students experience the first time they start working on a bike for the class — as many of them have little to no experience with tools or automotive maintenance.
Schaffran then recounted his experience at the event – and how members of Skidmark Garage and other event participants helped him get the parts, gear and knowledge he needed to further prepare for the ride. His account of the Vintage 500 covered the long days of riding in challenging conditions – including muddy, steep slopes and river crossings – as well as how the rides were prolonged by his riding cohort having to frequently stop to help fix each other’s motorcycles. The event also marked Schaffran’s first time using roll sheets for navigation – which sometimes resulted in his missing a turn and causing the group to have to backtrack.
Schaffran described his low point of the event waking up one morning to a flooded tent in cold temperatures. Though he considered packing up and leaving the event early, he said he came to realize some of his Motogo students go home to far more difficult situations than what he was experiencing and decided he had insufficient reason to not continue with the event.
Among those present were Vaughan and several Motogo board members.
The 2023 Vintage 500 is slated to take place July 7-9, 2023. To learn more about the Vintage 500, visit https://speeddeluxe.com/vintage500.
To learn more about Motogo, visit https://motogocleveland.com.