October 10, 2012
A large storm system that had brought days of rain was just working it’s way out of central North Carolina as I pushed my 1964 Panhead outside to begin my ride to Maggie Valley. I planned to meet up with another rider at 7:00 AM, down in Pittsboro, about a 45 minute ride from my house. The roads were still wet as I made my way toward the old courthouse located downtown. Within a few minutes, Steve showed up on his 1947 Knucklehead and we were headed for the highway.
The plan was to ride secondary highways all the way to Maggie Valley, about 250 miles total. We stuck to the plan for the first 100 miles of the ride, which took us through a few small towns separated by rolling hills and green fields. At our first gas stop we checked the map and realized that we could save some time if we got on the interstate. We figured traffic would be light, so we could just cruise at 55 mph without interfering with the flow of cars.
As we expected, there weren’t many cars on the road and the miles passed by easily. That is until Steve’s bike started to backfire and cut off. We rolled over onto the shoulder and began troubleshooting his Knucklehead. Turns out that his points had broken and he did not have a spare set on hand. It took about an hour and a little ingenuity, but we were able to repair the points and get back on the road. If your curious, here’s how we did it: Click Here
With Steve’s bike back in running condition, we rode the last 75 miles to Maggie Valley. The headquarters for the road run just happened to be at the Wheels Through Time museum, which was the perfect choice for a group of about 150 vintage bike enthusiasts. Dale and Matt Walksler were great hosts as always and even allowed us to pitch our tents on the museum grounds. After getting our run packet which consisted of daily route maps, a pin, a license plate medallion, a t-shirt and a name tag, we unpacked the bikes and started setting up camp.
Once the tents were in place, it was time to hit the parking lot and start checking out the other bikes.
Dinner was served under the white tent around 7:00 and soon after most folks started heading back to their hotels. Dale kept the museum open until 9:00 which gave us something to do besides sitting in the tents. Then it began to rain…
The second day was a complete wash out. Twenty-four hours of steady rain. No one seemed to mind as we were able to spend a solid 8 hours going through the museum. I’ve been to Wheels Through Time on several occasions, but this was the first chance I really had to take it all in. There are so many bikes, parts, memorabilia and other things that it can cause a bit of sensory overload. When you really can take your time, you start noticing unusual things, like a Knucklehead with homemade rear suspension or a Flathead with tankshifters on both tanks. Odd bits sitting on shelves or hanging from the rafters catch your eye and require closer inspection. I honestly cannot think of a better place to spend a rainy day.
A fire was built in the outdoor shelter and the evening was spent talking about bikes and telling lies. A couple of guys from Australia were also camping at the museum and I enjoyed hearing about their adventures in the US. Turns out they were on a 6 month long motorcycle trip across the country. Talk about a vacation! Around midnight, I finally slogged back to the tent to try and get some sleep.
We had pitched our tents next to a small stream that ran around the edge of the museum’s grounds. Initially it had seemed like a good idea to set up next to the stream, it made for a very peaceful location with the water gentle running through the rocks. This all changed after an entire day of rain, soon the stream had turned into a minature raging river. Between the sounds of the rain on the tents, the wind whipping the tarp and the water crashing on the rocks, I was up half the night keeping an eye on the water level. By morning, the water had not risen past it’s banks, but it was really ripping past our campsite.
Finally around noon the rain started clearing out and we prepared for our first group ride. Plans were altered slightly and we chose to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Mt Pisgah. The roads were still a little wet, with water running across them in some places and plenty of wet leaves, but it was great to finally get on the bike. We made one stop at the highest point on the Parkway, before continuing on to Mt Pisgah.
Returning back to Wheels Through Time, another dinner was being prepared and everyone was glad to have a warm meal after a cool ride in the mountains. The route for the following day was close to 250 miles of mountain roads, so most folks headed back to the hotels early to get some rest.
The last day of the run actually started out with something I hadn’t seen all week, warm air and sunny skies. People arrived early at the museum to get a start on the long ride and to make sure that they were in front of the chase truck.
The route for the day was supposed to take us over the Cherohala Skyway, then loop around to the Dragon and back to Maggie Valley. Of course there were a couple wrong turns added, which kept us from completing the planned ride, but we still logged over 200 miles and had a good time.
Dinner for the last night was BBQ sandwiches, followed by an awards banquet. Plaques were given out for the oldest and youngest riders, longest distance traveled, etc. Once the banquet was over, people headed out to start packing up bikes and trailers for the return trip home. The next morning I did the same, finally getting on the road by 9:00 AM. Steve and I had an uneventful ride back to central NC and I was home by mid afternoon.
This was my first AMCA road run and I hope to attend more in the future. If you like riding old bikes or even just looking at them, then an AMCA road run would be worth considering. You have to be an AMCA member to attend, but that’s it. They are already scheduling runs for next year, so check out their website for more information.
I posted some additional pictures of individual bikes here: Click Here
June 3, 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.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011…D-Day. Weeks of preparation (an procrastination) had come down to this. Sitting in my driveway were my two entries into the first Motorcycle Kickstart Classic, a 1972 BMW R75/5 and a 1964 Harley-Davidson Duo-Glide. My good friend Tim volunteered to pilot the BMW and I rode the Harley-Davidson. We left on a clear cool morning in central North Carolina, so I donned my full set of leathers before kicking the panhead to life. We let the bikes slowly warm up as my wife took a few parting photos. By 8:30 we were fueled and on the road, headed west on I-40. Our destination was Maggie Valley and the Wheels Through Time museum. Maggie Valley is a straight shot down I-40 from my home and at only 250 miles, we had high hopes of making it to Wheels Through Time by early afternoon.
About 80 miles into the trip, I hit reserve and we pulled off for gas. Trying to maximize my minimal range, I filled both tanks to the top, assuming that the bike would be upright for the next couple hours. The bikes were running great and Tim commented that if we’ve made it this far without issue, we’ll probably make the entire trip without any problems. Well, Murphy’s Law kicked in right after that and within ten minutes of the comment, I was pulling out the tool roll. I had kicked the bike over about a dozen times without even sputter, so I started going through the standard troubleshooting procedure, checking for gas, air and spark. Off came the air cleaner assembly, oil lines and More on Motorcycle Kickstart Classic Ride – A 1200 Mile Harley Panhead Adventure