Archive for November, 2009

No Shortage of Motorcycle Museums

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

I’ve been thinking lately about motorcycle museums, ever since it was brought back to my attention that there is one such place in downtown Denver that I have never been to. So I thought it might be interesting to put together a list of all the motorcycle museums around the country.

A quick Google search showed me that there are one heck of a lot of these museums. Not all of these are specifically motorcycle museums; some are transportation museums that naturally include motorcycles. After pooling lists from various websites, removing duplicates, and visiting numerous sites to see if some questionable ones should be included, I came up with 78 of them. I’m sure if I did a more thorough search I could uncover a few more.

vintage Harley-DavidsonConcluding that I didn’t want to just post a huge list here, I whittled it down to only those in Colorado and the adjoining states. That’s essentially those you can get to in a day’s ride. I also included South Dakota in the list because the Rapid City/Sturgis area is also within a day’s ride and they have several. Then it turned out that while some of these states are close, the museums themselves are at the far end. Oh well.

So here’s what I came up with, and the way I figure it, you may not want to make the trip just to see these places but if you’re on the road anyway, and going near any of these, you might plan to make a stop. Rather than add a world of details on admission fees and hours of operation, I’ll just provide the links and if you’re interested I’d suggest you go to their sites for that info.

Colorado – 4

The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame is in Colorado Springs, sitting right in front of Pikes Peak Harley-Davidson, at 5865 N. Nevada Ave. I’ve been to this one a couple times and it’s a very interesting stop. Jerry Manka is the curator and he’s a character. You definitely want to talk with Jerry while you’re there. Indians and Harleys dominate but there are a variety of other bikes as well.

Vintage Motos, at 2762 Walnut in Denver, is the one I haven’t been to yet. Their site says they have more than “190 Two Wheeled Wonders for Your Viewing Enjoyment!” They ask that you call ahead just to make sure someone is there when you arrive. The phone is 303-547-7389.

The Forney Transportation Museum at 4303 Brighton Blvd. is one of those I mentioned. The last time I visited the Forney Museum was at least 25 years ago, and they have moved since then, so I don’t know what they have but their site does say motorcycles.

Then there’s the Mathews Collection, which is the iffiest of them all. Located at 5889 Lamar Street in Arvada, their website shows a lot of really hot, fast cars, but just two motorcycles. If you like hot cars you may want to go to this place for the cars, with any bikes being icing on the cake.

Arizona – 1

The Buddy Stubbs Harley-Davidson Museum, in Phoenix, is just what the name implies. It’s located in the Buddy Stubbs Harley-Davidson dealership, at 13850 North Cave Creek Road.

Nebraska – 1

There’s no website for Chevyland U.S.A. – Auto and Cycle Museum, but it’s located in the town of Elm Creek. Elm Creek is just north of I-80, a little west of Kearney. With no website it’s hard to find out much about it.

Kansas – 3

Yesterdays Museum is located in the lower level of the Topeka Harley-Davidson dealership. Like the Buddy Stubbs museum, it showcases Harleys. It’s located at 2047 SW Topeka Blvd.

The Kansas Motorcycle Museum is home to more than 100 vintage and rare motorcycles of all various makes and models. It is also one of two motorcycle museums in the small town of Marquette, in south-central Kansas. Go figure. This museum was originally built as a tribute to local racing great Stan Engdahl and has a lot of posters, photos, and memorabilia related to him. It’s located at 120 North Washington in Marquette.

Just one block south of there is Steve’s British Motorcycle Museum. This museum exhibits more than 40 British, BSA, and Triumph motorcycles and other memorabilia.

South Dakota – 4

The Freeman Heritage Hall Museum is located in Freeman, which is a little west of Sioux Falls. This is another that does not specialize in motorcycles but the website says they do have some. They’re located at 748 S. Main Street in Freeman.

Motion Unlimited Museum is in Rapid City, at 6180 S. Hwy 79. They feature 100 motorcycles on display along with memorabilia, wall murals, gas pumps, and gas station memorabilia. Their special claim to fame is a Webley Vickers, which is said to be the only one in existence.

Pioneer Auto Show is a giant tourist attraction just off of I-90 featuring cars, motorcycles, tractors, “prairie town”, and rocks. They have Elvis’s old Harley. Murdo, SD, is the locale. That’s right on I-90 in about the middle of the state.

Not surprisingly, Sturgis is home to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. Their website lists more than 100 bikes on display, plus a lot of memorabilia related to the Sturgis rally. You’ll find the museum at 999 Main Street in Sturgis.

Oklahoma – 1

The Route 66 Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum is in the town of Miami, in the far northeastern corner of the state. This place features more than 40 vintage bikes, including “The World Famous Steve McQueen Collection, Evel Knievel Memorabilia, 1950’s style gas station, replica board track, one of the largest vintage motorcycle photo collections in the world, a huge one of a kind vintage helmet wall, and much more……” The museum is at 128 S. Main in Miami.

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Biker Quote for Today

From the artistic viewpoint, it (the motorcycle) is three-dimensional: a composition of many elements of form, design, and aesthetics, always reflecting the time in which it is conceived and produced. — Richard Gaul

Baja 1000 Coverage: Working Without a Net

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

I linked up with a team racing in the last weekend’s Baja 1000 and was hoping to be able to post frequent, up-to-the-minute reports on what they were encountering, how it was all going, and their general attitude/morale. Because I was not going to Baja with them, I was entirely dependent on them to feed me this information.

Baja racing
Frank Prince, of Big Magic Racing, during the 2007
Baja 1000. (Photo: Mark Hintsa)

Well, we all know about the best laid plans, and there was a reason television, in its early days, quickly switched from live programming to pre-recorded shows. When you’re on the air live and something goes wrong you can find yourself in a very awkward place.

I had discussed with Jason, one of the J2 Racing riders, just what I was hoping he could send me, and he had made it clear he would do what he could but he couldn’t promise the world, the race was his number one priority. I understood and accepted that. But I had hopes that he would find it no problem to update me frequently. And I told everyone I would be providing them with frequent updates. A bit of overconfidence on my part.

As it played out, preparing for the race became all-consuming and 36 hours after the race began I still had heard nothing. What’s more, the team had a GPS website that was supposed to show their location along the course, updating every 10 minutes. Checking repeatedly during the race the only thing it showed was that the GPS unit was in downtown Ensenada and not moving. Did something happen during the pre-running, knocking them out of the race before it even began? Did something totally unrelated foul up their plans and ruin everything? What the heck is going on down there? I really wished I was there.

Saturday night I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about it, and figuring I owed my readers some kind of update, in my head I wrote the gist of the piece I was going to put up come morning if I still hadn’t heard anything. Basically, I was going to tell them just what I’ve explained right here.

But glory be, come morning there was an email from Jason. The good news was that things went fine leading up to the race. The bad news was that early on in the race, John, the other rider, crashed the bike, broke some bones, and the event was over for J2. I still don’t know what the deal was with the GPS.

So of course it’s a disappointment for the guys, although they still seem pretty upbeat just to have gone down there to live out their boyhood dream. And it will still make for an interesting story once I have all the details. I’ll let you know when it’s written.

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Biker Quote for Today

The further you lean the less distance to fall!

Definitive Report on Status of Motorcycle Safety Study

Friday, November 20th, 2009

I went to the sources and can now give you the full scoop on the status of the Motorcycle Crash Causation Study. I had reported earlier that the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) was withholding the $2.8 million its members had committed because the reduced size of the study–due to lack of money–would not meet their requirement as adequate to the objectives.

Motorcycle Safety Foundation logoWhat I found when I went looking for answers was that a huge part of the story was being totally overlooked. Yes, the MSF had decided to withhold its dollars, but everything I read suggested this was a final decision. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the words of MSF President Tim Buche, “The MSF has not shut the door.” He said that if new information suggests a statistically valid study can be conducted with fewer than 900 crashes studied, that information will be presented to the MSF board.

The reason this matters is because Dr. Samir Ahmed, the Oklahoma State University researcher heading the study, told me that at present, no one really knows how many crashes must be studied to develop statistically valid data. He and his colleagues are at this time doing a statistical analysis to come up with that number.

I asked Tim Buche whether, if the number arrived at is significantly below the 900 crashes threshold the MSF has demanded, would the MSF be open to reconsidering throwing their $2.8 million into the pot. And he said yes, and the decision the board would make would “depend on the quality of the work and the rationale.” He said the board would also weigh the opinions of other involved organizations, such as the National Transportation Safety Board, which has previously stated its conclusion that a minimum of 1,200 crashes should be studied in order to get useful data.

So that’s it in brief. The statistical analysis should be complete in about mid-December and then it will presumably take some time for the involved parties to study the new information and reach their conclusions. However, even if the MSF is still not satisfied that its dollars would be well spent, the situation will still be open-ended. Dr. Ahmed told me he is continuing to seek additional funding from other sources. Presumably if enough additional money can be raised, that amount might tip the scales such that the MSF’s money will be the capper.

In fact, I suspect that is exactly what the MSF intends. They’re using their substantial dollars as a carrot. This allows Dr. Ahmed to approach other funding sources with the idea that their contribution will be multiplied if it leads to release of the MSF funds. And even if that’s not the MSF strategy, it seems to that it’s exactly the way it will work.

Sure, at this moment, the economy sucks and money is tight, but this study will take several years. Presumably the economic picture will brighten in that time and money will become easier to come by. This is a story that is likely to play out over years, not days or weeks. We’ll just have to watch what unfolds.

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Biker Quote for Today

You know what I like about motorcycles? Ridin’ ’em!

Linked Up with New Baja 1000 Team, Race Coverage Back on Track

Monday, November 16th, 2009

I will indeed be telling the story of a racing team participating in the 2009 Baja 1000 race, which gets underway this Friday. I just won’t be following the team I started out with.

The team I am going to be following is J2 Racing. The riders are Jason Hill and John Lowe, two dirt-bike riding buddies in their early years who were reunited just two years ago after an extended loss of contact. Here’s how Jason describes their decision to do the Baja.

As we began catching up, John asked, ‘Do you remember when we were riding as kids how we used to watch the Baja races on TV and always said we’d run it one day?’ ‘Yeah,’ I replied. ‘Well, it’s time.’ And that was that. It took some convincing, but I finally agreed that it was indeed time, so we began incubating a plan.

I met up with these guys on the Adventure Rider forum. When my initial plans to go to the race and report first-hand fell through I posted a notice on Adventure Rider asking if there was a team going who would like me to tell their story. Jason quickly replied and the deal was set. This time I made absolutely certain to make it clear what our relationship is. I am not a team member, I am an outside observer, and my position is not to tell a bunch of fluffy stories that paint the team as perfect, it is to tell the story as it really is, true to life. Jason is something of a writer himself so he understands that false starts and missteps are part of life, and how you handle them is sometimes the most interesting part of the story.

So anyway, I won’t be posting the reports of their adventure here; that will be on Examiner.com. I’ll post links here to those pieces and if there are any interesting side notes that don’t really fit into the main story, I will, as usual, be telling those stories here.

Additionally, you can follow the team’s progress during the race in real-time on their SpotAdventures.com website.

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Biker Quote for Today

I’m sure I look a sight, with my filthy off-road gear and motocross boots on, drooling and staggering to the metal detector.

Recovery Update on 30K for MDA Rider

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

This is an update on Jim Campbell’s condition. I reported this on Examiner.com so rather than rewrite just for the sake of making it different I’m just going to copy/paste what I put up there. The photo is by Beth Egan, Jim’s wife.

Jim Campbell moves to physical therapy wardMy phone rang this afternoon and it was Jim Campbell on the line, calling from the Fort Worth hospital where he is still recovering from his horrific crash three weeks ago. Four weeks ago I wrote about how Jim had ridden 30,000 miles in 30 days to raise money for muscular dystrophy.

Jim was very upbeat and said he hopes to be released from the hospital next week. He suffered a broken neck, hip, and pelvis in the crash but feels fortunate.

“Not too many people would have walked away from what I went through,” he said. “I’ll recover fully.”

The accident occurred when traffic in the left-hand lane slowed abruptly. Jim pulled into the median but just after he did the car that had been in front of him did the same, hitting Jim and his Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic. This drove Jim into the road divider and, as he said, “I went from 70 to zero in one second.” A hole in his helmet attests to the force of the impact.

“That guy threw a card in my deck that I wasn’t ready to play,” he said.

While so many have been concerned for Jim’s well-being, Jim was feeling bad about his failure to get back in touch with people trying to reach him. The woman he had been working with at the Muscular Dystrophy Association had not heard about his accident until he called her yesterday. Of course she was shocked. And he was calling me to apologize for not returning my emails. Believe me, I told him not to worry about it.

Jim’s wife Beth had this to say on Jim’s 30K for MDA Facebook page: “Jim finally got moved to the PT floor in the hospital. He had a rough 1st day and was in a lot of pain today. Recovery is coming along, slowly but surely. Time and prayers are what Jim needs. Thank you to all who have sent flowers, cards & well wishes our way. We really do appreciate them and all of you.”

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Biker Quote for Today

The rubber parts are supposed to be on the bottom.

Park Fee Changes for Riders Going to Sturgis Rally

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Small news here, not big, about some changes in park fees for bikers going to the 2010 Sturgis Rally.

Sturgis during rally weekUp till now, motorcyclists going through Custer State Park, which means a heck of a lot of the folks going to the rally, paid $6 for one on the bike, or $12 if riding two-up. That pass was then good for 7 days.

Under new rules approved last week by the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Commission, next year the fee will be a flat $10 and it will be good from the start of the rally, Aug. 9, until Aug. 22. So if you’re riding solo it will cost you more but if you’ve got a passenger you’ll save money.

Just thought you might like to know.

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Biker Quote for Today

On a bike it’s more cool to be seen than to be seen being cool.

Rider Report on Trip to Colorado

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Clint Parsons sent me an email awhile back asking about riding conditions in the Denver area toward the end of October. He was going to be making a trip out here and hoped to ride his bike, but wondered about the weather.

snow along the road in Colorado
    Colorado got some snow

I told Clint, in brief, that October is often the most gorgeous time ever in Colorado but that we can and do get snow sometimes during the month. I also told him it was good he was coming the week before Halloween because we almost always get snow on Halloween.

Well, we had some great days this October but we had snow early and I had Clint in mind as I watched it fall, wondering if he was getting slammed. I was therefore very pleased to receive this report from him.

Ken,

Don’t know if you will remember these e-mails or not, but just wanted to let you know how your advice turned out…

As you predicted Oct was glorious in CO up until about the last week (which happend to be the week before Halloween, which was the week of my trip…..) so on Wed. Oct 21st as it was snowing across CO I headed out. The snow wasn’t going to stick on the roads at least. I-70 across KS was closed so I went across OK into NM and up I-25 on Oct 23rd I made it into Denver. I had hit snow covered ground down around Des Moines NM up through almost Pueblo and again from just south of Fountain Co (Colorado Springs) on up into Denver proper (in town it was gone, but out in the burbs it could still be found).

Clint Parsons
    Clint Parsons

Sat, Oct 24th was BEAUTIFUL and worth everything I rode through to get there and back!!! in the mid 50’s blue skies and I was in DENVER (and surrounding areas)!

Sun Oct 25th as I headed out it sleeted and snowed on me all the way across E. CO and W. KS to Hays where it stopped and I stayed the night. Mon it was clear and I made it home.

Never had any even questionable roads. Had wet both directions, had cold both directions. But it was a good ride, and that one beautiful day made it worth it.

I appreciated your advice and prognostication prior to the trip, and will keep your e-mail handy for the summer months when I am sure the wife will want me to go again and take her with me, after seeing the pictures. Again, thanks.

Clint

p.s. I have attached a couple of pics just to show I am not just blowing smoke….

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Biker Quote for Today

An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.

Snafu Cancels Baja 1000 Trip

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

I’ve been telling you for awhile that I would be going to this year’s Baja 1000 race in Ensenada, Mexico, but that will not be happening. I had been following the Rsenal Racing team as they prepared for their first-time competition in the event and was going to be riding down with them to present the up-close story of their effort.

Unfortunately, when they read my most recent post on the ongoing story of planning and preparation, they seriously misconstrued what I wrote and informed me that they didn’t want me.

So I won’t be going to Baja but I’m trying to work out arrangements where I can still provide some coverage of the race, although obviously not through the Rsenal Racing folks. You’ll see it here if I’m successful.

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Biker Quote for Today

Motorcycles are better because: Motorcycles don’t whine unless something is really wrong.