Destination: Motorcycle Hall of Fame

Motorcycle Destination

The editor of UltimateMotorCycling.com, Ron Lieback, recently contributed the following story to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, which is supported by the AMA.

"Motorcycle Hall of Fame: Destination Ride" was first published on the Hall of Fame’s website, and was written before RL became editor at UltimateMotorCycling, a time when he was freelancing and tossing packages around inside a brown truck…

The late June sun was directing her rays on my thin, anyone-can-buy glass filled with Pale Ale. The condensation was beading, creating a Jackson Pollock-like effect that brought about new thoughts, as art simply does.

From the porch that Thursday, I glanced at my newly purchased ’98 VFR, the V-4 ticking as it cooled, the sounds resonating with my thoughts.

And then it hit me – the next time I returned from a 140-mile ride I should enjoy the best of spirits out of a symbolic glass, one with significant overtones to who I truly am. And I knew what the mug should symbolize: my love for two-wheel machines.

Always a believer in everything the AMA does for us motorcyclists, I decided on an AMA mug. Since the AMA is the largest supporter of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, which lives on the AMA campus in Pickerington, Ohio, I decided on the Hall of Fame for a destination ride.

It had to happen soon…so the following morning, I called off work and packed within minutes, just enough for a short, 1,400-mile two-day trip from Northeast, Pa., to Pickerington.

Out of the many solo trips I’ve taken in the past years, this one will forever be emblazed into my skull. After a 12-hour, rain-soaked ride that took me through the Poconos, State College, the Alleghany Mountains, Pittsburgh and an almost-drama-filled ride on boring Interstate 70, I reached the exit for the Hall of Fame.

I pulled off, but was bored with the surroundings, so I continued west on I-70, taking the following exit. I descend on the first hotel I saw, a Super 8 behind some Japanese steakhouse.

It was 9 p.m. when I checked in and dropped off the luggage. Since I was beat — and I’m not in my 20s any more — I decided against any nightlife scene. Instead, I grabbed some sloppy gyros from Jimmy the Greek and took a slow ride back to the room.

After I ate, the sky put on the most beautiful light show, the thunder echoing from the thin hotel walls. After pushing the VFR under a walkway at the hotel, I started pumping my emotions for the following day’s tour into motorcycling history.

The next morning I awoke early, but it was still pouring. I decided to take advantage of the continental breakfast, and sat around reading some Walt Whitman until the skies cleared. By 11 a.m., the VFR was packed, and I was en route.

Once you reach the signs for the Hall of Fame entrance, you’d think you were driving into another business development. But when you ascend the driveway, you’re suddenly witnessing a sheet of golf-like green glistening grass, which is laid out around a historical-like college campus atmosphere.

I was the only rider there upon arrival, and it felt comforting knowing I had all that motorcycle history to myself.

After signing in, leaving my AMA number next to the signature, I proceeded through the Hall of Fame. The first bike along the self-guided tour was a replica of an 1885 Daimler "Einspur," the first known, gasoline-powered cycle.

Literature next to the well-polished wooden machine, which looked like it came from Amish country, said its inspiration was designed and built by Gotlieb Daimler as a test-bed frame for a prototype automotive engine. The antiquated replica Daimler that resides in the museum was purchased through donations from AMA members in 1985.

After some vintage Harleys came my favorite motorcycles contained within the museum, the road-race machines. You must visit to feel the aura that these GP machines exude, especially the 250cc Honda RC161, Gary Nixon’s 1976 Kawasaki KR750, Don Emde’s Yamaha TR3 and of course Wayne Rainey’s AMA Pro Racing winning 1983 Kawasaki Superbike.

Then came Scot Harden’s Dakar KTM 660 Rally machine, John Penton’s 1968 Six Day motorcycle, Doug Domokos’ 1984 Honda XR500R wheelie machine, and Dave Barr’s 1971 Harley FXR that assisted in his 250,000-miles of Easy Rider travel…my mind was in scrambles.

And those were just a few from the first level at the facility. A true motorcycle enthusiast would need at least two days of mind-soaking for absolute absorption. After about three hours, I needed more, but I knew I would be back. The time was getting late, and I had some riding to do.

But first, my whole reason for traveling there: the symbolic AMA beer mug. I found it quickly in the store, and once I held the thick glass in my hand, I knew many spirits would flow after long rides in the future. I paid for the glass, along with two T-shirts (one way too small for me, but it made a nice last-minute gift for the girlfriend), and said my goodbyes to the lady working the counter.

After discussing the relevance of maintaining tire pressure with another motorcyclist from Indiana on a BMW GS 650, I geared up, realizing how much motorcycling history is contained within those walls. Someday I’d hope to be part of that, I thought to myself as I remounted my VFR. I had another night to burn, but due to excitement from those spirited machines, all I wanted to do was ride.

So it was decided: I was going all the way until I hit home. If Barr — who, by the way, did it with two prosthetic legs — could ride 250,000 on various oil-leaking Harleys, what should stop me from a short 12-hour jaunt home?

And one with tinges of ADD like myself could never travel the same path twice, so studying the map I got from the Hall of Fame, I decided to snake some roads around I-70 until I hit my state’s capital of Harrisburg, and from there I knew many country roads home.

This ride was a bit shorter, about 10 hours. When I arrived home around 11 that night, and pushed the Viffer into the garage, I left all the luggage mounted. I’d remove that in the morning after a good breakfast, and then do the necessary post-ride checks on my VFR over an Earl Grey tea.

But before closing the garage door, there was one more thing to do: welcome the AMA mug to its new home. I unzipped the saddlebag and pulled the glass out. The lady from the Hall of Fame wrapped it so well, I think that even if I took a spill the mug would have remained intact.

After unlocking the house door, I realized I was alone; the woman and my lab named Bostrom (yes, after AMA Superbike’s Ben) were staying with family. I went into the fridge and grabbed one of the few Pale Ales I had left. The mug filled beautifully, and I glanced through semi-dark amber while holding it before a light, knowing the sip would be very soothing.

I re-entered the garage, immediately engrossed to the music of the cooling V-4. I pulled my stool over near the bike, and sipped slowly, unwinding after a mind-relaxing, 10-hour ride.

Once the glass was drained, I nodded, giving silent thanks to the AMA for helping motorcyclists like me remain actively enjoying our machines, and, of course, giving thanks for the new mug.

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