A motorcycle Love Story part 3

I am Carbon

shade tree mechanic
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Fort Myers,Florida
By Tim Anderson

Over the years, the Manka’s have lost track of how many motorcycles they’ve owned, but it’s fair to say the total is more than a few.

“I suppose if we sat down and really thought about it we could figure out how many bikes we’ve had,†Jerry said. But really what matters is the one you’re riding, and the one you really like. Our problem is that we like ‘em all! At one time or another we’ve owned just about every make of bike—Indian, BSA, Sunbeam, Norton, Ducati, Vincent, Honda, Harley, Yamaha, Cushman, Laverda, race bikes, road bikes…I don’t know how we’d keep track of them all.

“I get these Harley guys asking me why I didn’t have more Harley’s,†Jerry continued. â€I tell ‘em I had one, and we rode it on a Gypsy Tour from Pueblo to Salida in the 50’s, and that son-of-a-bitch was so rough it ruined my love life for two weeks!

“Right?†he asked Barb.

“That’s true,†she answered. “It was rough. That was a really rough ride on that trip. It wasn’t too comfortable. It was fun thoughâ€

The couple has around a dozen bikes now.

“But we only ride the Can-Am now,†Barb pointed out.

But there is one bike hat has a special place in their lives. It’s that 1948 Sunbeam Jerry gave Barb on her 16th birthday…the one they traded for their first home together, a 28-foot trailer.

A few years ago, Jerry spotted a classified ad in the Pueblo newspaper selling a Sunbeam. Always on the lookout for rare finds, he called first, and then went to check out the bike.
It was the very same bike he’d given Barb some 50 years earlier. Not one like it—the same bike!

“Well, I had to buy it,†Jerry said. “It was beat up, hadn’t been ridden for many rears, and needed a lot of help, but I brought it home. I thought I’d get around to restoring it. It’s sitting right now, but I gave Barb her 16th birthday present all over again. That’s kind of special. How often to you get the chance to do that?â€

While their riding time has been scaled back, Barb and Jerry’s intensity has not. The couple is very active in the Colorado Springs motorcycling community. The two of them serve as curators of the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Hall Of Fame in Colorado Springs, spending several days a week there. (The museum is scheduled to reopen in its new location in December 2010.)

The couple are active—not just members—in numerous motorcycling organizations including the Colorado Springs Touring Club, Bikers United For America (BUFA), the British Motorcycle Association of Colorado, the Motorcycles Riders Foundation (MRF), the American Motorcyclists Association (AMA—since 1948) and Barb formed the Colorado Springs chapter of Women On Wheels—the Mountain Shadow Riders, and founded the group’s annual breast cancer ride ten years ago.

“We used to be members of ABATE,†Jerry said, “but we quit that when all the officers of the local chapter quit. We don’t want to be part of that crap. Motorcyclists need a group like ABATE, but not the way that crew in there now is running things. They’re not helping any of us.â€

That statement, as much as any, demonstrates the straight-shooting approach to life Barb and Jerry have taken.

“I don’t have any regrets,†Jerry said. “There’s nothing in my life I’d trade. We’re motorcyclists, we love bikes, we love to ride them, and we’ve had a wonderful life so far with motorcycles being a big part of who we are.â€

“I was interested in motorcycles before I met Jerry,†Barb said. “Since then, it’s been a lot of fun.â€

She added, laughing, “I just thank him for getting me out of Pueblo! It’s been wonderful, but we’re not done yet.â€

“You meet such wonderful people in motorcycling,†Jerry opined. “Really, you meet great people, and you all have great stories, and the best ones revolve around motorcycles. It just makes for such a good time.â€

As for Barb and Jerry’s favorite story….

“There are so many,†Jerry said, “but there’s one I like. In1964, we were on a trail ride up to Bulah, Colorado, riding along this creek. There was a section where a rockslide took out part of the trail. Me and another guy were ahead of Barb, and rode right through it. Barb got there and couldn’t reach to put her foot down, and tipped over. She went head first into the creek. We turned around and got to her just in time to see her pull off her helmet, and all these minnows and water came out of the helmet and fell all down her face and the front of her. It was the funniest thing we’d seen. We laughed so hard…she was mad at first, but then she was laughing, too. That’s one of the stories I like. Just the way she looked. It was great. That’ good one.â€

With a slightly sheepish look, Barb said, “Yeah, that’s a pretty good one.â€

Then, Jerry tenderly grabbed Barb’s leg again, and said, “But this, right here—she’s my favorite story.â€

And Barb smiled sweetly at Jerry…just like she’s done so many times.

Happy Anniversary.