Antique Motorcycle Club tours coast

Posted June 17, 2009, at 11:20 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — For members of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, there’s nothing better than getting their motors running and heading down the highway.

Club members started rolling into the city Monday for three days of rides and relaxation. The coastal tour was sponsored by the club’s Yankee Chapter, and 155 members on 110 antique bikes were primed for the daily excursion of more than 150 miles from their base camp at the Belfast Harbor Inn.

Riding in groups of around 20, members on Wednesday headed toward Deer Isle and Stonington and points in between. Thursday it will be Port Clyde with a stop at the Owls Head Transportation Museum for rides in antique airplanes. Members will cap their visit with a ride to Mount Desert Island on Friday.

“This is a riding event. This is where we get to play with our toys,” said Robin Gazza of Windham, Conn.

Gazza and his wife, Arlene, were touring the state on a 1937 Indian with a sidecar.

“We love riding from town to town,” he said.

Most of the members were riding either antique Harley-Davidsons or Indians, although there were a few old BMWs. The majority brought their bikes on trailers, but some members, including a group from New Jersey, rode them to Maine. Members came from as far away as California and Texas, said Jessie Aikman, a former club president and organizer of this year’s event.

“They’ve come from far and wide,” she said. “We usually have three road runs every year and eight other events in various parts of the country. These are people who love motorcycles. We love it — it’s not about the ride; it’s the adventure.”

Aikman said members come prepared for any mechanical problems, and there is always someone hauling a parts and tool trailer just in case. She said most owners enjoy the camaraderie of the fellow riders and working on each other’s bikes.

Don Schmidt of East Meadow, Long Island, has been a member of the club for 30 years. Schmidt said old bikes might look nice in a museum, but there’s nothing like seeing them on the road and feeling the wind while roaring from town to town. Schmidt rides a 1936 Indian Chief that had been owned by the Pennsylvania State Police. He said motorcycles were part of his heritage and he could not imagine life without them.

“My dad was an Indian rider in the ’30s and ’40s before he was in the Navy, and his father was an Indian guy at the dawn of the automobile age,” Schmidt said. “My other grandfather, when he came here from Europe before the First World War, the first thing he got was a Harley with a wicker sidecar. I have a picture of him and his girlfriend on that bike. His wife was still in Europe, I might add. He needed companionship until she came over.”

wgriffin@bangordailynews.net

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