The day started off on the cool side, but the sky was clear blue without a cloud and the sun was shinning brightly. This was a welcome sign because in short order some old crusty men would soon be mounting some old obsolete motorbikes for a ride down memory lane.
The riders came from all over the area, some traveled quite a few miles to meet their fellow brethren in the quaint village of Skippack, PA. The first riders showed up around 8 am and by 9 o’clock there were 25 hardy souls kicking tires, trading stories and comparing machinery.
It was 9:15 and I hadn’t arrived yet, the group was a little concerned. I spend a few months planning for this event and it seems no matter how hard I try there are always some loose ends to take care of at the last minute. Laura and I need to load up the Suburban with the gas grill, food and other needed supplies for the BBQ and drop that off at the park, make sure the cook and all the other volunteers are ready to go and know what time to arrive. This year I had another motorbike to prepare as a friend wanted to join in on the fun.
As far as the course goes, I probably ride 1000 miles to get a good 100 mile run that I’m happy with. I’m always trying to improve the course. It is one thing to take a ride with three or four other riders, but when you have 25 riders the scenario changes dramatically. Every intersection can be a potential nightmare. Left hand turns must be kept to a minimum. You want to avoid traffic lights for the most part, but when crossing a major intersection, they can work in your favor. Larger towns are a no no, but small villages can be a pleasant addition to the ride.
At 9:20 we arrive, I’m on my ’59 Duo-Glide and my friend, Bruce Edwards, is riding my ’73 R75/5 “toaster”. We quickly top off our fuel tanks and join the rest of the group. By now, all the other vintage riders have introduced themselves and had their coffee and Danish. I was very happy to see Horst Oberst on his newly purchased ’82 R65LS. This was Dr. Peter Frechie’s bike and what a beauty it is! That machine is gorgeous.
It is 9:28, a bright red maple leaf is spotted making its lazy decent from the skies above so I knew it was time to get this ride started. Every rider had their engines running in quick order with the exception of Charles Malinchak’s ’72 Triumph Bonneville and Leigh Bleam’s ’69 HD Sportster. Hey, anyone who has owned one of these bikes knows what it can be like to get them to fire. Sixty-seven kicks later, Charles has his Bonneville barking loudly. Seventy-eight kicks and Leigh’s Sportster is still not firing. One more hardy kick does the trick; we are all relieved and are ready to roll.
One by one we exit the Skippack parking lot heading for Schwenksville, Spring Mount and, Zieglersville where we wait for the rest of the riders to catch up as a series of traffic lights has held a few back. Now, we are pretty much home free, with plenty of nice scenic roads and very few obstacles ahead.
The sun is to our backs and the sky ahead is bright blue as we pass through the tiny towns of Obelisk, Fredrick and Layfield. We skirt around Gilbertsville and Boyertown and are now enjoying the wide open roads that lie ahead. This group wasn’t mistaken for “Rolling Thunder”, but with those two barking Bonnevilles and two Harleys letting loose from time to time, there was some rumbling and growling to be heard for sure.
When I heard the conductor shout out “Shanesville, Manatawny and Boyers Junction”, I got excited, because I knew that we were about to ride through some of the most scenic areas of the course. I could ride Forgedale Road every day and never tire of its beauty. That road has everything you could want and it is just spectacular. The road climbs slowly as it twists and turns following an adjacent cascading brook through very tall and densely populated Eastern White Pine trees. Stately stone estates appear almost out of nowhere and a few rays of sunshine manage to break through the tall pines to magnify their beauty. After several miles it all ends abruptly. But how does one control the urge to turn around for one more pass through?
The next 10 miles or so is a wonderful combination of forest and farmlands. The roads are empty as though they were reserved for our group and we don’t mind one bit. We skirt around the town of Fleetwood, but one village we don’t want to miss is Moselem Springs. Here again, there is a stretch along 662 that you don’t want to miss as it is very pleasing to the eye.
As we switchback our way up 143 heading toward Lenhartsville we are treated to more empty roads and plenty of good riding as we parallel a few streams, more farms and the 172 foot span of the Dreibelbis Station Covered Bridge which was built in 1869 and is still standing proud. I admit, I have a soft spot for covered bridges and this one is a nice example. I have to admire the design, engineering and the craftsmanship that went into these bridges. This bridge is still standing and it is in pretty good shape other than needing a new coat of paint. There are many more modern bridges around that haven’t stood the test of time like these old covered bridges.
By this time the motorbikes are just starting to feel their oats and they don’t want to stop for anything, as we roar along a delightful stretch of 143 past the town of Greenawald, but some of the owners aren’t quite as energetic and need a rest, so we pull over at the local filling station for refueling and refreshments. Now we get to empty one tank and refill another. This also gives us all another chance to rub elbows, exchange some more stories and admire the wonderful collection of vintage bikes.
Rick Kramer tells me his ’74 R90/6 sidehack rig is giving him some trouble, but he thinks it straightened itself out. I said “I sure hope so”.
Twenty minutes go by and it’s time to continue with our ride. I give the alert to all Triumph and Harley riders to start their engines. It made no sense for the rest of us to fire up until those fellows got their bikes started. Well, to everyone’s amazement there we no problems this time and we were on are way.
Kistler Valley Road and Hobens Valley Road are a bike riders’ dream especially with a group of riders this size. These roads just go on and on up and down, zigging and zagging through some very nice terrain without a hint of interference as we pass through the hamlets of Lynnville and Werleys Corner. It is at this point that the ride starts to head south and it is at this point that we realize we have a rider that has a problem.
Rick Kramer’s bike is starting to miss on one cylinder and he is having trouble keeping up with the rest of us. We all wait awhile and sure enough here they come, rip roaring and ready to go. Again, it’s running better and we all hope it continues.
The next 25 miles are more than you could ask for. Well paved two lane country roads with fast sweeping turns gently winding and twisting up and down just enough to make it somewhat challenging and interesting at the same time. By the time we reach Seisholtzville, we know Rick’s bike is still not quite right, so Rick and his wife Pat elect take the direct route and meet us back at the Park.
Now we are on the home stretch, only ten more miles left for this seasoned group of veteran riders. After some more hills, valleys and a reservoir crossing, we find our way to the Park which ends the ride for this year. To everyone’s surprise, Rick, Pat and “The Hack” made it back to the park one minute prior to our arrival. This just proves those old Bavarian Boxers don’t give up without a good fight. We gave the ol’ girls a damn good workout and they held up remarkably well.
Back at the park pavilion, Mike Lougherty was already busy cooking up the Bratwurst, Knackwurst, Weisswurst, Weinerwurst, Chicken, and Cheeseburgers along with help from wife Sue and Dave and Susan Wood. Laura prepared the homemade Chili, her mom Roseann, prepared the homemade potato salad and my mom prepared the homemade applesauce. These folks all worked very hard and deserve much praise. We would not have had the BBQ without their efforts.
While we were enjoying our meal I handed out some deserving awards.
Ron Rohner received “The Flying Merkel Award” which goes to the rider with oldest motorbike. Ron was riding a ’64 R60/2 Wiesbaden Polizie Spezial with all the bells, whistles, flashing lights and sirens. Joe Dille received “The Karl Duffner Best of Show Award”. Joe’s ’75 R90S Daytona is as fine example as you are going to find and is well deserving of the award. There were other fine motorbikes as well; the decision was not an easy one.
Mike & Sue Lougherty……’66 Pontiac GTO
Dave Wood…………………’30 Ford Model A
Susan Wood……………….’82 Porsche 911 SC
Andy Anderson……………’75 R90S Daytona
Rob Anderson……………..’70 R75/5
Leigh Bleam……………….’69 HD Sportster
Rocky Chung………………’74 R90/6
Joe Dille…………………….’75 R90S Daytona *
David Dilworth…………….’75 Moto Guzzi V1000 Convert
David D’Imperio…………..’73 R75/5
Bruce Edwards…………….’73 ½ R75/5 “Toaster”
Bill Foster……………….….’82 R100RS
Tony Karas…………………’74 R90S Silver Smoke
Rick Kramer……………….’74 R90/6 w/ velorex
Thomas Kramer……………’79 SR500 “Manx”
Charles Malinchak…………’72 Triumph Bonneville
Jesse McDowell…………….’72 R75/5
John Melchor……………….’74 R90S Silver Smoke
Karl Myers………………….’78 R80S
Brian Nolan…………………’78 Triumph Bonneville
Horst Oberst………………..’82 R65LS
Kermit Oswald……………..’72 R75/5
Stoney Read…………………’74 R90S Silver Smoke
Ron Rohner…………………’64 R60/2 Weisbaden Polizie Spezial *
Wayne Thompson…………..’65 R50
Todd Trice…………………..’73 R75/5
Todd Trumbore……………..’59 HD FL Hydra Glide Duo Glide
Bill Zane……………………..’76 R60/6
David Zillhardt……………..’73 R75/5
I want to thank everyone involved in this year’s event. I really enjoyed myself and hope you did too. Let’s try again next year!
Ride ‘em, Don’t Hide ‘em,