June 3, 2012
Motorcycle Kickstart Classic 2012
As soon as the 2012 Motorcycle Kickstart Classic was announced, I started prepping my 1964 Harley-Davidson Duo-Glide for the trip. The to-do list included replacing the wiring harness, generator, fuel valve and rear brake shoes, along with the usual trip preparations like changing the oil, transimission lube, etc. I planned to have everything completed by April, but before I knew it, April had turned into May and the trip was a week away. With no time to spare, I worked passed midnight for a solid week to get the bike finished just in time for the ride.
On the first day of the trip, I awoke to the sound of heavy rain. Fearing the worst, I checked the weather and was relieved to see that the storm was moving quickly across North Carolina. By 9:00 the rain had cleared and I had my panhead sitting in the driveway, packed and ready. Soon after, my buddy Tim arrived to pilot my 1972 BMW R75/5 and by 10:00 we were heading down the highway, destination Maggie Valley and Wheels Through Time.
The ride to Maggie Valley was thankfully uneventful, especially considering the ordeal I went through during last year’s rally. The bikes ran great the entire trip and we cruised down I-40 at a comfortable 65-70 mph. I did suffer a loose screw on my windshield bag, but otherwise there were no issues during the 250 mile ride. It felt great to pull into Wheels Through Time and be able to relax instead of having to immediately start troubleshooting problems with the bike.
By 4:00, the parking lot at Wheels Through Time was already filled with Classic American Iron.
There were quite a few familiar faces from last years rally, was as a few new ones. Members representing multiple motorcycle clubs were in attendance, including the exclusive International Pansters Club.
Dale and Matt Walksler had the museum open to all the participants and everyone got to enjoy strolling through the classic bike exhibits. Dinner was provided by the Holiday Diner and included Italian sausages, burgers, hot dogs and fresh fruit.
The museum remained open after dinner, but by dark, most of the riders had retreated to their hotels. We stayed at the Holiday Motel and I took advantage of their well lit parking lot to make a couple final adjustments to my clutch. I’m using a mousetrap set up and have never felt that I was getting the proper disengagement from my clutch. For the first time I was able to compare the set up on several other Panheads and realized that my bike had the wrong clutch lever installed. Turns out the shape of my incorrect clutch lever was limiting the amount of pull on the clutch cable.
After a hearty breakfast at the Holiday Diner of eggs, grits, toast and ham, it was back to Wheels Through Time to prepare for the ride. About 60 classic bikes were staging in the parking lot when we arrived. Among the riders were Bert Baker from Baker Drivetrain, famed drag racer Pete Hill, and Buzz Kanter from American Iron Magazine. After a 9:30 riders meeting, everyone cranked up their bikes and we rolled out at 10:00.
Matt Walksler chose a route which took us over the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway has a maximum speed limit of 45 mph, which made for a nice comfortable ride for a group of vintage bikes. Averaging about 30 miles between stops, the riders leisurely made their way over the mountains.
Our first rest stop was at the highest point on the Parkway. At 6053 feet above sea level, it was no surprise that more than a couple of bikes were starting to run too rich.
We continued north on the Parkway for over 170 miles, finally turning east to head for North Wilkesboro. Once off the Parkway, we were met with a police escort which led us to Crossroads Harley-Davidson.
Crossroads Harley-Davidson was ready for us when we arrived, providing dinner and music. After everyone had their fill, Burt Baker was handed the mic and began announcing special riders awards, including the “dirty underpants award” which was given to two riders who did some unexpected offroad riding, but managed to bring their bikes back under control and back onto the road.
The awards were followed up by a round of transmission trivia, but soon everyone was cranking up and heading for their respective hotels.
The route for the final day of the rally was an easy 90 miles down to the Southern AMCA meet in Denton, NC. Even with a couple stops for pictures and fuel, we made it down to Denton in a couple of hours. Arriving at the Denton Farm Park, we proceded around the outside of the park grounds, ending at our special parking area in the center of the park. Once the bikes were parked, everyone headed off for food and to look for parts at the swap meet.
I had a fairly short list of needed parts and managed to find most of what I was looking for and for prices I was happy with. I picked up a correct rear bumper, a saddlebag bracket and an original 1964 NC license plate. Unfortunately the original clutch lever was no where to be found, but I’m sure one will turn up sooner or later.
By late afternoon it was time to load up my purchases and head for home. Once again the Motorcycle Kickstart Classic was a great event with a bunch of great riders and bikes in attendance. Can’t wait until the next ride is announced.