Art on Wheels - An Enthusiast's Event
Ride 'em, Don't Hide 'em
As I walk through Stanley Lynde Motorsports, Art on Wheels in Brattleboro, a shirt catches my eye: “Ride ‘em, Don’t hide ‘em”. That’s it! That is why I love this event.
Art on Wheels is part bike show, part street fair, part family reunion. During the August Gallery Walk, Brattleboro shuts down Flat Street and turns it over to Stanley Lynde and his motorcycle friends. Bands play on a flatbed truck parked at the far end of the block. Folding chairs line one side of the street; motorcycles line the other. Old friends talk and children play.
It is a true enthusiast’s event -- a chance to see something you have never seen before. This year, there was a 1917 Harley Davidson and a custom made, drag bike powered by a small block Chevy V8 engine. There were Ducati’s, Indians, Harley-Davidsons, Suzuki’s, Hondas, BMWs, Kawasaki’s and Vincent’s. Last year there was a Brough Superior, a 78 Harley Davidson XLCR and a Moto Morini 3-½ Sport.
The bikes come from Stanley’s customers and friends (if you’re one, you’re likely to be the other). Most are not pristine, classic show bikes. They have not led the garage-kept, privileged life of a meticulous collectible. They have been modified, ridden, crashed and repaired. Each has its story.
Like the 1973 Honda CB750 that was entombed in a basement for twelve years. The bike was an unwanted annoyance. It’s owner had purchased a house and the bike was stuck in the basement.
Enter, Steve Eisenhauer, from Route 100 Restorations in South Londonderry. “There is a fine line between a passion and a sickness,” Steve says of his love late 60’s and early 70’s Japanese motorcycles.
Steve rescued the CB and got it running again. He rode it to Art on Wheels. Friends rode two of his other CB’s to complete the “three CB’s from ‘73” – the 1973 CB750, a 1973 CB 350G and a 1973 CB 350 Scrambler. I found the bikes neatly parked next to each other and talked to Steve.
“You can’t expect them to perform like a modern bike,” he says about riding these older bikes. “Every bike has a unique way about it.”
Harold Smith’s 1978 BMW R100 is as unique as bike can be. A layer of dirt and rust hides a bunch of “go-fast” goodies. “It’s a sleeper,” Stanley says of the bike. He tells me that its capable of 3rd gear wheelies, if asked.
Stan did some work on the bike three-years ago, rebuilding the motor and putting in a Luftmeister clutch. It has a big bore kit, dual-plugs, re-worked valves and other performance modifications. Harold says he hasn’t washed it in all the years he has owned it.
The bike has been with him for 100,000 miles – or something like that. Harold is not sure exactly, because the speedometer stopped working 20 years ago at 75,000.
“If you ride a bike a hundred thousand miles, you’re bound to have a lot of adventures on it,” he said. Harold was riding the bike when he first met his wife and the two have since ridden it two-up to Nova Scotia and across country. The bike was his daily rider, taking weekend trips around New England. It’s been on high-speed ferry rides and up Colorado mountain passes.
Harold recalls taking his nephew to Laconia on the bike, back when the boy was 10 and the races where the AMA Nationals. His nephew is twenty-seven now. These days, he rides the Beamer more than Harold does. “He’ll probably end up with it,” Harold says. It will definitely stay in the family.
This year was the fourth Art on Wheels. Lynde got the event onto the Gallery Walk schedule, mainly just to see what would happen and 100 bikes showed up the first year. The event now draws around between 200 and 250 bikes, which is as large as he hopes it will get.
“It’s at the point now where it’s manageable. If it becomes too big, then I’ll just have to stop it,” Stan says.
I hope it continues– at least until next year -- because I can’t wait to see what will be there.
Where to Stay in Brattleboro
Looking for a great place to stay in Brattleboro so you can enjoy Art on Wheels to it’s fullest? The Latchis Hotel on the corner of Flat Street and Main is an ideal choice.
The Latchis Hotel is an Art Deco style, downtown hotel with rooms ranging from simple twins to full suites. The rooms have character and style and include wifi, TV and unique pieces of art (not flea-market hotel art). The location is ideal. Park your bike and walk to Art on Wheels and Gallery Walk.
When you get hungry, enjoy good food and drink in Brattleboro’s downtown. The Fireworks Restaurant is an excellent choice for pizzas and pastas with fresh, local ingredients. The Pizza Bella with garilic shrimp, tomato, fresh mozzarella, arugula and shaved Parmesan is a great choice.
A continental breakfast with breads, oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, muffins, coffee and tea is included with your stay at the Latchis -- a good thing, since most of the breakfast places downtown seem to open late.