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50 States Special Feature Day 4

Special Feature, Day Four

 
"Wild Bill" Gelbke was one of those guys who just did things quirky and became a legend. His mother tells stories of how he tried to rig up a baby carriage with a washing machine motor. Bill worked for Hughes Aircraft and Lockheed, but his love was motorcycles.


Take a look at the 1965 'Road Hog.'
The photo above is Bill astride it.
Now that's one crazy bike.

 
This Harley 250 Sprint attracted me because Denny LaPorte raced flat track when I started racing, with one like this. It shifted on the right. He would jump the start, they would restart and he'd jump again. They would move him back to the second row. When the starter threw the flag, old Denny had almost hit the first line and handily beat everyone into the first turn. The starter got wise to him and when he got sent back, he'd throw the flag before Denny got turned around.
Good times.
The bike is actually an Aermacchi, Italian, shipped here and given the Harley
name. Didn't do well.

 
'Big Daddy' Ed Roth was an artist and icon of the sixties. Remember the Rat
Finks? His drawing of it and others hang behind this trike. He built this baby with a Buick V-6 engine. Bold, beautiful and different. He rode it to the LA Street Rod Nationals and they refused to let him enter. Probably wanted cars only. Idiots.

 
Look at this old dog. Steve McQueen's favorite bike to ride in the desert to
clear his mind. This is his 1947 Indian, complete with Steve's sleeping bag.
He's famous (especially for bikers) for his role in The Great Escape and the
motorcycle chase. Actually, Mr. McQueen was forbidden to do the stunt where he jumped the razor wire fence. However, he did ride as the Gestapo guy on a
motorcycle, chasing himself! He's also famous for his role in 'On Any Sunday,' another film that took motorcycling to new levels. Steve loved racing and could be found at local Enduro races, mixing it up with the boys when he wasn't acting. It drove the studios nuts that their boy was out risking his neck on weekends.

 
Speaking of movies, this is a replica of Billie's bike from 'Easy Rider.' The
studio built and used four bikes for the movie, two of Billie's and two of
Wyatt's. Three were stolen and never recovered. Both of the Billie bikes and one Captain America. Scum bags.

 
If you've ever seen the movie 'Easy Rider', I'm sorry. It's the story of two
druggies who make a huge score in Mexico, take a pile of cash, get custom
choppers and ride around the South doing nothing until the rednecks kill them. Oh. Sorry. Spoiler alert. I saw the flick when I was sixteen, and was hooked. The cinematography of those guys riding through the south was awesome. I'd been racing since thirteen, but riding around the country on a bike looked like such a wonderful experience (except for the drugs and getting killed-minor flaws) that I decided I would do that. Forty-three years later, and here we are, QG and me, riding around the country. Now look at the color scheme on the Gold Wing. 


Where's the inspiration?
It's fun to look at both bikes and see the tremendous evolution of the
motorcycle. The Captain America bike was a '52 Harley with air cooled engine,
kick start, and four speed transmission.
The MotoBago features cruise control, fuel injection, heated seats and grips,
intercom and CB capable, and storage in every nook and cranny. And it's
dependable. Another spoiler: this is a replica of the 'Captain America' Harley. They usually display the real one here, but it's at a show in Indiana. We may stop there.

 
That's it for the National Motorcycle Museum. We only scratched the surface as the place teemed with bikes, too many actually. With the amazing cornucopia of motorcycles jammed together, it is difficult to take pictures or even get around them to enjoy. And so many bikes become overwhelming.
But that's much better than underwhelming.
 

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