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Thread: The history of BMW Motorrad clubs in the USA...

  1. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by HSVPhil View Post
    Additionally, I crossed John Hermann's path at the Red River NM RA Rally after his seminar about "Riding in the Alps." He autographed the new 'color-edition' of his book "The Alps and Corsica" on page 205, Trip 50, titled "I Dare You; 17 Passes in One Day." It did inspire me and my future bride to Ride His Challenging Dare across northern Italy back in May of 2007. Certainly a very memorable trip as it was during that Adventure around Southern Europe that I proposed and Mrs-HSV accepted my Proposal!

    Fourteen years later, the AlaBeemers promoted me to 'el Presidente' and Mrs Karen to 'la Secretary' of MOA Club #5. We just held a 50 year Anniversary Bash at our scheduled October meeting at the Lake Guntersville State Park Lodge. The founders regaled us with some of their stories regarding the organization of various clubs into what became the BMW Motorcycle Owners Association [BMOA back then]. I'm sure Mr John Harper was introduced to John Hermann when he rode his R750 /5 to San Diego for a club coordination meeting. Here are the AlaBeemer founders just last Saturday with John Harper second from left. Sure hope that John Hermann's still kicking around the SoCal breakfast meetings [although it was mentioned he no longer is riding BMWs].

    Attachment 85711
    Great post!

    The Alabeemers were my favorite club and I was a member and went to lots of Chicken Rallies. Even when I was Prez of the Georgia Club I preferred Alabeemer meetings because they were far less dramatic! I really wanted to go to the 50th at Lake Guntersville but I was out of the country riding.

    With the mention of the Alabama club, John Harper and San Diego, you are touching on where I am going with this.

    In addition to Alabama, there were numerous local clubs popping up, the Detroit Touring Club, the NorCal club, BMWBMW, Chicago Region, BMW Riders of Western New York, the Wisconsin club, San Diego, Indianapolis and even a BMW Owners Association in Pennsylvania with their Four Winds Rally.

    There were also some crazy issues in motorcycling, such as Ralph Nader's safety push, grooved highways, no-fault insurance, motorcycles banned from the NJ turnpike/Garden State....

    Your mention of John Harper riding to San Diego is part of the story involving the formation of a national club. It gets pretty crazy... more to come in a bit!

    Ian

    ps -> I had a conversation recently about John Hermann... he is now 90 years old, not riding but still going to club meetings. I, too, read his books. Turns out that a lot of the roads he references came from him riding on BMW tours led by Bob Beach! (I would like to try his "17 passes in one day" challenge!)


  2. #17
    One weekend I rode down to Southern Cal, spent the night in Big Bear, then started for home. I was on Highway 101 near King City, on a clear, breezy day, traveling 15-over, about 85mph. The road was lightly brushed, not grooved. My R75/5 began slowly shaking its head, then wobbled itself to full steering lock and pitched me over the bars into the highway. As I rolled and flopped, I could hear the road grind away the side of my helmet. I watched my bike flipping behind me, sparks flying, bags breaking apart, their contents scattering over the road. Wasnt big fun, any of it. Without sounding overly dramatic, I believe I was never the same after that crash. Id always trusted the machines, never doubted that my bikes were stable and on my side. Now, if a bike shakes its head even a little, I get spooked.
    This is one of hundreds of anecdotal stories about early /5 speed wobbles. I personally witnessed one event myself... my friend's dad's brand new 1971 R75/5 did this on the way to Daytona and I was riding right behind him. Fortunately he was able to roll off and back out of it, but it sure scared the poop out of him, and me!

    The quote is from Maynard Hershon, and he was talking with well-known beemer expert, Duane Ausherman, who was a BMW dealer in California's Bay Area at the time. Duane's site also has an extensive discussion of speed wobble, along with tons of other interesting reading about the bikes we love. At the time, very few people knew why the /5s were wobbling and Duane was one of them. The Distributor, Butler & Smith, denied that these motorcycles wobbled. The whole issue was surrounded by a confusing cloud of legal liability and technical uncertainty.

    You'll notice the words "lightly brushed" in the quote, that is a reference to California's decision to put grooves or other texture on the roads, which was causing motorcycle handling problems. Add to that helmet laws, federal laws, Ralph Nader, Harry Reasoner and a number of other issues causing motorcyclists great concern. The question in some minds was "how can we, as riders, do something about all this?"

    Above in this thread is an article by Roger Hull of Road Rider Magazine (known as Rider today), calling for the entire motorcycling community to align to do battle. (as if that will ever happen!) Turns out that Road Rider was somewhat peripherally involved with the formation of a national BMW motorcyclist club, more about that later.

    This article in the "BMW New-O-Gram, dated March 23, 1972 spells it out:



    The name "Bill Harmer" is new to me until this week, and I have been a member of the BMW motorcyclist community for over 45 years.

  3. #18

    About this time, 50 years ago...

    There were guys in California -- Bill Harmer & Mike Randall of SoCal clubs and John Moore of the NorCal club -- A fellow named Chuck Smith in New York, who began writing and distributing the inter-club newsletter called BMW News, -- a magazine editor, Roger Hull of Road Rider, who published a story about Harmer & Moore's planned meet-up at King's Canyon NP for the purpose of exploring ideas for a national BMW motorrad club -- Frank Diederich, Vern Hansen, Jeff Dean and T.J. Sheridan of various local clubs in the east all read the article and responded with letters (one assumes to Harmer and Moore). According to Frank, they were the only people that responded to Bill Harmer and John Moore's ideas.

    After the event, the word went out regarding membership and a "Guidance Committee," there would be no formal titles. Everyone who had responded to the original call was in.

    So, which way? Is this club about representing BMW riders wrt motorcycling issues, technical/warranty support and community representation or is it weighted more toward socialization? How would leadership be determined? How would club decisions be made?

    Membership cards, newsetters, letters between leaders, the Anonymous book(let).... things were on the move!




    Quote Originally Posted by HSVPhil View Post
    The founders regaled us with some of their stories regarding the organization of various clubs into what became the BMW Motorcycle Owners Association [BMOA back then]. I'm sure Mr John Harper was introduced to John Hermann when he rode his R750 /5 to San Diego for a club coordination meeting.
    Phil - do you know when John Harper rode out to San Diego?

    I am dealing with relatively incomplete info, so anything you can add would help.

  4. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Visian View Post
    ... to anyone who can identify these two beemer peeps. Hint: the G/S International Club and the Darien Gap. Additional hint: western NC.

    Last hint:


  5. #20

    The AMA was supportive, as well.

    As mentioned in a previous post, there was something of a coordinated effort to overturn the state of New Jersey's ban on motorcycles riding the Garden State Parkway, and the AMA was trying to align the efforts of clubs, in an effort to generate the biggest political bang.

    The image below shows one event that was part of this long-running effort, it's a little ahead of the story, but it's being shown because John Harmer and John Hermann are both in it. Ben Harroll is the AMA's "traveling Ambassador of good will."


  6. #21

    OK, maybe there are just a bunch of n00bs here!



    On the right is Turkey Tom and on the left is Ed Culberson.

    They're at Tom's High Country Motorcycle Camp in western NC and the event is a meeting of the first dual-sport BMW motorrad club in the USA: The GS International. (I was the newsletter editor )

    "From the end of the highway to the international byways, the GS experience is a way of life" - GS International's slogan. Tom was the club's founder and totally understood the then-new "G/S thing."

    Ed Culberson rode his G/SPD, named "Amigo", the entire length of the Pan American Highway and wrote a book about the experience: Obsessions Die Hard. I have an autographed copy, Ed was selling them off the back of his motorcycle (they were in the orange box in the pic below) at my first MOA rally in Duquoin, IL. Ed was a Space Coaster (early BMW motorrad local club) and iirc, so was Tom.



    Last edited by Visian; 11-04-2021 at 05:31 PM. Reason: Added link to Ed's book.

  7. #22
    Registered User Ed_Jorgensen's Avatar
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    Amigo

    Ed Culberson's Amigo in my garage being prepped for Barber.

    Photo-4.jpg
    Ed Jorgensen
    MOA# 19152
    Florida's Space Coast
    2016 G650GS, Aprilia Scarabeo 50 2T

  8. #23
    Turkey Tom’s campground was near the Blue Ridge if i recall correctly. We stayed there and he was a very accommodating host. I also remember Ed Culberson selling his book at Paonia. He was very proud of his accomplishment. Did he haul his bike through the Darien or ship it around? I read the book but it was a long time ago.
    Last edited by OldCamper; 11-04-2021 at 04:26 PM.
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  9. #24
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Dave Swider
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  10. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by OldCamper View Post
    Turkey Tom’s campground was near the Blue Ridge if i recall correctly. We stayed there and he was a very accommodating host. I also remember Ed Culberson selling his book at Paonia. He was very proud of his accomplishment. Did he haul his bike through the Darien or ship it around? I read the book but it was a long time ago.
    Ed was a great man and a mentor of mine. He lugged it through the Gap... and the whole story is in his book. It's one of great dedication and.... persistence!

    Helge Pedersen also performed this feat, on the same model of bike. Being a photographer and a superb multimedia creator, he recently published a video about the experience.



    Here he is at the MOA National in Missoula, 1998... when he started out with his book and his multimedia presentations.


  11. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Ed_Jorgensen View Post
    Ed Culberson's Amigo in my garage being prepped for Barber.

    Photo-4.jpg
    This. Is. Awesome. Thank you for posting it, Ed. I had followed Ed Culberson's bike from the Zentrum in South Carolina, down to your club in Daytona, and was delighted to see the exhibit at Barber... which is the best place in the world (imo) for it to be.

    It must've been so cool to have Ed as a member of your club...

  12. #27
    Registered User Ed_Jorgensen's Avatar
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    Ed was the best. He was all in with the club scene back in the day. His Darien slideshow was a fixture at our Bullow Bike Week Rally. He was also my chief instructor when I received my MSF certification in 1983. On our way back to FL from the MOA York, PA Rally, our first stop was to overnight at Turkey Tom's. Good times.
    Ed Jorgensen
    MOA# 19152
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    2016 G650GS, Aprilia Scarabeo 50 2T

  13. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Ed_Jorgensen View Post
    His Darien slideshow was a fixture at our Bullow Bike Week Rally.
    Have attended that... unforgettable! Wouldn't it be great if it were captured on video?







    Completely side detail about the Spacecoasters' event at Bulow... one year I saw a very young (like, 12 years old) Derek Trucks, of southern rock/Allman Bros. fame, absolutely shred on a guitar... live. Again, unforgettable. Bulow was such a great rally.

  14. #29
    There was truly something very special about the Spacecoaster’s Bulow event.
    The big multicolored balloon along the entrance road set the stage for a very pleasant atmosphere there. 800 BMW riders in the overflow area of a campground packed with 5,000 Harley riders, separated by a white rail fence. In the evening one could wander to the Harley cantina for a beer and watch the bikes in the burnout pits, but watch out for alligators that might be in the canals! Everyone got along and we all had a great time. In the morning, the piles of empty beer cans in front of the 1%’ers club sites were impressive!
    Last edited by OldCamper; 11-05-2021 at 02:37 PM.
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  15. #30
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Visian View Post
    Have attended that... unforgettable! Wouldn't it be great if it were captured on video?

    Completely side detail about the Spacecoasters' event at Bulow... one year I saw a very young (like, 12 years old) Derek Trucks, of southern rock/Allman Bros. fame, absolutely shred on a guitar... live. Again, unforgettable. Bulow was such a great rally.




    Voni
    sMiling


    Susan Buckland wrote:
    What this is.....
    This is Ed Culberson's Slide Show Presentation that he shared with so many motorcycle enthusiasts...all of whom will remember it fondly no doubt. It's the story of his epic adventure riding the entire Pan American Highway on Amigo, his1981 BMW R80 G/S motorcycle. Ed's ride was the first!!!

    The Story behind the video....
    I first met Ed after watching his slideshow at a local rally,..... It was MY first rally (Gator Rally, Tampa Fla). I had just bought my 84' R80RT from Joe Katz's BMW in Daytona.....I'd had it all of 2 weeks! No Lessons, No Experience....I was still learning how to ride the thing. But I wanted to meet other BMW riders so I went in search of camaraderie.

    As I listened to his stories I imagined that I would be riding up to Alaska and having adventures on one of Ed's Poncho Via tours. I was so incredibly excited at my new life direction spreading out before me. Little did I know then, that I had also just met a man that I would marry and start raising a family with....go figure....Different Adventure.

    I came to know Ed personally because he and I ended up belonging to the same BMW club (Space Coast BMW Riders/SpaceCoasties). When he was diagnosed with ALS, I offered to record his presentation so we'd always have it, so Nell his wife and his children would always have it. We thought that maybe it could be sold with profits donated to the ALS Foundation. Nothing ever came of those efforts to my knowledge.

    I recorded Ed in his home on amateur equipment over a weekend with his family around us, and then enlisted Caribiner Chicago & Tapestry Sound along with many others who volunteered their time to help put it together.

    Ed's health deteriorated very quickly after this was recorded . Ed and his family felt that it was important for this story to live on and perhaps inspire others to "Find Adventure", to follow their passion wherever it leads.
    Ed passed way in 1995.

    Epilogue....
    I raised that family, have moved back to New England and I still own and ride BMW motorcycles....Most recently I went on MY FIRST SOLO ADVENTURE....riding from Santa Monica CA to Cabo San Lucas and back!

    Thank you ED, you are missed.....still XO
    Live fully. Laugh deeply. Love widely.
    BMW MOA Ambassador Emeritus / FOM / Roving Forum Moderator/
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