>“Wheels Through Time” A Rode Stop in Western North Carolina PART II
>I last left you guys staring at the “SLANT” exhibit. The display is in honor of HILL CLIMBERS. What a fantastic sport that is! The guys and gals who climb these almost perpendicular slopes are amazing! Have you ever watched a competitive hill climb? Just a wholesome display of skill and luck….
I’m going to bring you back down the aisle we first started down. There is so much to see between the hill and the board racers. So much to write about, so much to snap pictures of in a hope of being able to capture the true FEELING of the exhibits. Not all the bikes between the board racers and the hill climbers are bikes of true note, that is unless you can FEEL the atmosphere being generated by the souls of these machines: grouped together to form a short story. A story left unfinished, left for you to pick up the strings and carry with you. You won’t always have a guide with you when you walk these ghost filled aisles. So it’s up to you to take the time to really look at the display, to read the documentation that goes with it, to actually SEE the photographic history lying at the wheels of the display. It’s up to us to remain curious; even after we leave, curious enough to take time to come back to our memories: performing our own investigation of the magnificent machines here.
To the left of Main Street, as you are walking to the rear of the building, your eye will be caught by an old shed. What? Yes, I said an “old shed”. This building is the remains of an old machine shed left on the property. If I remember correctly, Matt, Dale and their legion of volunteers dismantled this old shed board by board. Saving the materials the shed was made with as well as what was found inside. Once the huge barn like alum structure of the museum was built, the guys came back and rebuilt the machine shed inside the museum. It’s set up as an early bike repair shop and service station. Oil soaked shelves and work benches holding cylinder heads and other motorcycle parts of the day. It’s quite the trip into the past. Many people don’t walk inside, but I recommend you do. There is much to see in there as well as outside this great old shed!
Casting about the shed from the exterior, your eye will rest on this very cool side car rig. At first you won’t notice how it’s set up. But with close examination you will see it does not have a seat for a rider on the BACK of the motorcycle. The steering has been reconfigured so the passenger in the sidecar is he actual operator of this unusual machine. On top of that, there is very short leg room in the sidecar, which causes one to muse about the original owner, the person who ordered this machine. It’s from Harley Davidson. As of YET, Dale and Matt’s digging THROUGH the factory records have produced nothing about this “special order”. But the clues the bike does let go, suggest it was built by the factory…sidecar, special steering and all. It’s a head scratcher of a mystery, and it’s a wonderful display of early HD history. This photo depicts Dale sitting in this superb historic piece.
Moving along from here, up the lane on your right you’ll see this sad display. I felt cheerless when I saw this. To me it represented a mass grave of old bikes, containing motorcycles from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Parts of parts, strewn here and there, waiting for someone to come… claim this part or that part. Waiting…waiting. Yes, I felt sad here and quickly moved along. The girder front ends, the old pan tins and the peanut tanks all whispered to me…you see they represent my own past. It’s not that distant, not to me…yet here were bits and pieces of my life put on display and I realized: I am getting primal…older, am I almost extinct too?
I hope you will be lucky enough to arrive at the museum during a time when either Dale or Matt are there to guide you around, because at some point they will invite you back to their own restoration garage, and you will be able to see what the guys are working on. While I was there, I saw their entry for the Cannonball Run. It’s still in the rebuild stage. The engine is being worked on…and all I saw of the bike was basically the frame. So I didn’t take a photo of it. Matt is working on an old flattie to be his personal ride… whew, I would really like to be you Matt! And of course there were at least two other bikes in various stages of restoration up on lifts! I know guys who would have to be dragged from this place crying like babies… wanting to stay and help.
Back from the restoration shop, I return to my exploration of the museum goodies. There are so many things to see, I’m astounded. It’s like going to the Smithsonian: There is no way to see everything in one day. There is no way your senses could HANDLE seeing all these things in one day! Sensory overload, my dear…could send you into a very happy motorcycle dementia; it would take days to recover from it.
Have you ever watched a sidecar race through the trails of a wooded countryside? Today this kind of racing is called “SIDECAR CROSS”. These guys are like early trail blazers: carrying winches and hatchets, pulling and cutting their way through the brush, making their own trails. These intrepid explorers of our wilderness are exciting characters of our motorcycling world. Maybe I’ll get to meet a few guys and gals who do this kind of riding! I’m not sure, but I don’t think there is much racing in the old style anymore. I believe most of the sidecar cross racing is on man-made tracks, and there is little need for the wenches and hatchets that were placed on sidecar racers of the 50’s and 60’s like this neat little Panhead.
Everywhere you look; there is something to catch your eye. Check out this odd double ported front cylinder. Do you know the reason to do such a thing?
Here is another example of the engines waiting for your perusal…is this one on your wish list? It’s one mine!
All right boys and girls…they say to always leave them “wanting more”…are ya drooling yet? I’m going to leave you here…hopefully wanting more! See ya again soon, as I take you for a final round on the “WHEELS THROUGH TIME” TOUR!