Motorcycle fest lures 2,000 to Owls Head

Posted Sept. 05, 2009, at 12:42 p.m.

OWLS HEAD, Maine — Mount Desert Island High School student Emily Schaefer could write a book if asked what she did over her summer vacation.

And the book would be a repair manual — for a 1976 Yamaha RD 400 motorcycle named Green-Eyed Girl.

Emily, 16, who has green eyes herself, rode Saturday with her mother and stepfather, who also were on motorcycles, to the Owls Head Transportation Museum’s annual Vintage Motorcycle Meet and Antique Aeroplane Show. Emily’s glossy, refurbished bike didn’t go unnoticed, her mother, Carol Schaefer, said Sunday.

“[Emily] gets so much attention, it’s amazing,” Schaefer said.

Emily seemed to take the attention in stride, as she discussed the repair job she did on the Yamaha.

Her stepfather found the bike at the beginning of the summer, after it had been abandoned on a large estate in Bar Harbor. He tracked down the owner and purchased the bike for $1.

“They left it in a Dumpster,” Emily said. “We took everything apart, cleaned it up, did everything.”

“She did everything,” Schaefer corrected.

That included making a lot of parts for the vintage bike, but it didn’t hurt that her stepfather, Eric Davis, is an electrical engineer and can fix “anything,” Schaefer said.

Emily, who was clad head-to-toe in protective, and tough-looking, black leather, also learned how to ride a motorcycle over the summer, getting her permit but not yet her driver’s license.

“It’s fun to ride. In a car, you’re closed in,” she said. “On a bike, the world’s around you and you can see everything.”

The Schaefers were among the more than 2,000 motorcycle enthusiasts who came to the two-day festival. Black leather, Harley-Davidson gear and noisy engine revving were greatly in abundance Sunday afternoon, as spectators admired the huge diversity of motorcycles inside and outside the museum.

“The gamut is here,” said Kerry Altiero of Owls Head, who brought his son Evan, but left his Italian-made bike at home. “We were joking about it. Riders of the Italian ones have the best sunglasses. And Harley guys are like villains on the weekends — and accountants on Mondays.”

Cathy Hardy, the development and community relations director at the museum, said this is the first year they’ve held a two-day meet — and estimated that there might have been 1,000 bikes both on display and outside in the parking lot.

“It’s huge,” she said, showing off some of the museum’s antique machines — which include an 1898 Leon Bollee tri-car from France and a 1922 British Royal Enfield Model 200.

Mike Ross of Thomaston sat on his shiny 1975 Harley-Davidson chopper, which he built from “pieces.”

“It’s as much fun to work on them as it is to ride them,” he said.

Many in the enthusiastic crowd snapped photos of bikes they found particularly interesting. Scott Gibson of East Waterboro documented an elegant, Italian-made 1975 Laverda 750 SFC.

“There’s some really wonderful old bikes here,” Gibson said. “You see things here you really don’t see anywhere else. It’s a lot of fun to come up.”

The Laverda’s owner, Paul Cote of Limestone, said the orange-and-silver racing bike — which appeared to be in mint condition — attracted its share of attention during the meet. He bought it in 1977 for $1,350, a Marantz turntable and two speakers. It was a good investment.

“I’ve seen them from $40,000 to $55,000,” he said. “I got a very good deal.”

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