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Thread: 1969 XLCH Ride To Woodstock

  1. 1969 XLCH Ride To Woodstock

    This is a long read, but I think some of you will enjoy it. And let's be honest, what else do you have to do while "Big Daddy Government" has you grounded?

    Last year was the 50th anniversary of 1969, so I decided to ride my 1969 XLCH to Woodstock, since both were turning 50. I actually decided that I would ride to the town of Woodstock, NY, and then continue across NY for another hour or so to the actual concert site.

    I chose a beautiful October weekend, and planned to stay in the Catskills and make it a two-day trip. What could be better? The ride up was fantastic! It took about 5 hours, almost completely on back roads, the leaves were changing color, and the weather was perfect.


    I made it to Woodstock, NY and rode around town for a while. I stopped into the town cemetery to pay my respects to Levon Helm and Rick Danko, and then made my way out of town.


    On the outskirts of town, I was riding down a narrow, hilly road on my way back to the main route West and saw a perfect photo opportunity with the narrow country road surrounded by autumn leaves, so I pulled over.

    Anyone who actually RIDES kick-only, mag fired XLCH's knows that when stopping for a short amount of time, you keep it running. If you're not sure why, you just have to experience it for yourself. But I pulled over to take a photo of my bike on the hilly road, left it running, backed up to take the photo, and in the display on my phone watched my 1969 XLCH vibrate off the side stand and fall over.

    A gentleman stopped in his car, and helped me pick it up. He was smoking a big joint, and said "hey man, your bike is laying where Bob Dylan crashed his Triumph in '66." I replied "Oh yeah? That was along this road?" He said "No man, I mean RIGHT HERE!" (and he pointed to the ground where my CH had been laying.)


    I thanked him, and sat on my bike. It was still running and, other than a small scuff on my right grip, it looked fine. I let out a grateful sigh or relief and, as I was anxious to continue my trip, reached for the clutch lever to shift into gear.

    Except my clutch lever wasn't there.

    The lever must have hit the ground head-on, because it snapped off and was hanging by the cable. Did I mention that I was 5 hours from home and alone?
    I tried to fit the lever back into place, and it snapped back in!


    So I shifted into first and rode to the end of the hill. I shifted back to neutral and pulled to the side of the road to come up with a plan. My girlfriend, MagKenzie was away hiking for the weekend, so I called my Dad (Papa Magneto). I explained what happened, and told him that I was going to make my way to highway and head for home. I looked on google maps and found a route that I could take that would be 100% highway up until 10 miles from my house. (less shifts)

    I told my Dad that the lever was holding and functioning, but it had a limited number of shifts left. I didn't know if it was 5 shifts, 25 shifts, or 100 shifts, but it was going to break and I was in a race against time. I decided to go for it, and asked my Dad to have his truck ready to go in case it failed before I reached my house.

    It gets dark pretty early in mid-October, but I blasted along the highway with my little XLCH headlight flickering away, stopping only for gas. The ironhead gods shined on me and I made it all the way home. There is something exhilarating about making it home on your bike when you have a mechanical issue.
    This weekend, I decided it was time to get the 1969 XLCH back on the road. I had pieced together a pair of OEM levers (because my old ones had been repops, I decided to upgrade to OEM) thanks to my parts stash and a shipment from Moon Wolf, one of the most respected members of the XL Forum.

    I polished them up on my buffing wheel, installed them, and took the bike out for an afternoon ride with my Dad today.


    Thanks for reading,
    -Magneto Sportster
    "Ride 'em, don't hide 'em!"

  2. #2

    Re: 1969 XLCH Ride To Woodstock

    Great story and a great looking bike to go with it. Glad you got home okay with very little harm to the bike.

    Woodstock is on my bucket list. August of '69 I was on the back end of my 2nd tour up in I Corp on boats.

  3. Re: 1969 XLCH Ride To Woodstock

    Quote Originally Posted by panz4ever View Post
    Great story and a great looking bike to go with it. Glad you got home okay with very little harm to the bike.

    Woodstock is on my bucket list. August of '69 I was on the back end of my 2nd tour up in I Corp on boats.
    It is a fantastic little town, and the concert site is about an hour away. Definitely something to be seen if you are a music fan.
    "Ride 'em, don't hide 'em!"

  4. #4

    Re: 1969 XLCH Ride To Woodstock

    Good story and a really nice looking XLCH.

  5. #5

    Re: 1969 XLCH Ride To Woodstock

    The Midnight Rambles are still held at Levon Helm's home and attached recording studio in Woodstock NY. Very small and limited seating venue. I think that there was seating for 100 and 50 for standing only. Folks brought covered dishes and snack food that was put downstairs for everyone to enjoy with large TVs so that you didn't miss anything. I was at one not long before Levon passed. And the mystery guest singer was Donald Fagen of Steely Dan fame. Three of us rode up and also visited the Woodstock Music Festival Museum.

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