On Thursday, July 15, 2010, the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley played host to hundreds of Harley-Davidson owners and one of the most well known faces in American motorcycling — Willie G. Davidson.
The visit was organized by the Harley-Davidson Motor Company and was part of a 4-day national Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) event beginning in Roanoke, VA and ending in Asheville, NC.
The "Ridin’ the Ridge" National H.O.G. Ride kicked off on Monday, July 12 in Roanoke with a welcome dinner and various rides in and around the area. Tuesday morning, over 400 Harley-Davidson owners embarked on a thrilling ride through the twist and turns of the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway.
Over the next day and a half of their parkway journey, the ride would gain steam, heading toward Asheville, NC and their final destination — Wheels Through Time.
Thursday morning, hundreds of riders made their way to Maggie Valley for a taste of American motorcycle history at its finest. Arriving to Wheels Through Time around 9:30 a.m., a total of 350 H.O.G. members toured the museum for several hours, many citing it as one of the best experiences of the four-day event.
Just after 10:00 a.m., special guest and motorcycle industry icon Willie G. Davidson arrived at the museum, riding a new 2010 Harley-Davidson. Affectionately known as "Willie G.", the Senior Vice-President and Chief Styling Officer of America’s largest motorcycle company rode the entire route from Roanoke to Maggie Valley on the Blue Ridge Parkway with his wife Nancy, who was visiting the museum for the first time.
Wille G. and Knealie at Wheels!Museum curator and founder, Dale Walksler, was on hand for the visit, and gave Willie G., as well as hundreds of other H.O.G. members, a special tour.
"It was an honor to have Willie through our doors," said Walksler. "He’s played such an important role at our country’s most longstanding motorcycle manufacturer, and in the history of American motorcycling as a whole."
In 2007, Davidson visited the museum with a group of Harley-Davidson executives while riding through the Great Smoky Mountains. What was initially planned as a 45 minute visit quickly turned into over 4 hours of taking in over 100 years of motorcycle history. Last week’s visit would take a similar direction, as the group spent the better part of the day at the museum.
Willie G. Davidson’s passion for American motorcycle history is more than apparent. The grandson of Harley-Davidson co-founder, William A. Davidson, Willie G. has over 100 years of two-wheel history in his blood, and seems to get as much a thrill out of seeing and hearing this history as running down the road on two wheels. Author of "100 years of Harley-Davidson", he takes great pride in his company’s ( and his family’s) century-old past.
When asked about his second experience at Wheels Through Time, he mentioned that it only gets better. "This is an unbelievable place, one which can never be duplicated."
For more information about Wheels Through Time and the 2010 "Ridin’ the Ridge" H.O.G. ride, visit the museum’s website, located at www.WheelsThroughTime.com or call (828) 926-6266.