by Mary Ruth Rodel
David Rodel graduated from High School in 1966. Buying a new 1966 305cc Honda Scrambler he started on his first motorcycle camping trip around Lake Superior. Forty years later, retiring from teaching public school, he graduated for the last time. To celebrate the event he recreated the trip around Lake Superior on a 1967 305cc Honda Superhawk. “This trip was more fun as I had friends along”, said David. “ It really seemed like a 305cc motorcycle was much bigger in 1966 than in 2006. I don’t think I’ll try it again in forty more years.” Joining David on the trip were; Dennis Weinhold, Cascade WI (1967 Superhawk), Brad Anderson, Clear Lake WI (1965 Benly), Kevin Hahn, Cameron WI (1964 Honda Dream), Frank Haney, International Falls MN (1967 Honda Scrambler) and Sherry Haney, International Falls MN (chase truck and trailer driver) and me, Mary Ruth Rodel, Butternut WI (1963 Honda Dream).
Day one started as a brilliant sunny day. All were anxious to begin the ride as record setting high temps were predicted. First Stop was the Elkhorn restaurant in Clam Lake, WI. This was planned as a 20-mile ‘shake down’ ride. Brad on the Benly ‘shook’, first blowing fuses, then stopping altogether in a puff of blue smoke – no problem here, he had carefully packed a spare engine for the CA95 and a spare bike to ride until it was repaired.
Stop two was Aerostich in Duluth, MN. Sally and crew provided a royal welcome and tour. The riders were made to feel like movie stars when the Aerostich photographer took pictures of the line up.
Day two started with breakfast at Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors, MN and a scenic tour of the Minnesota’s North Shore. The bikes were running well and drew crowds at every stop with interesting comments and questions. “Are these the Shriner Bikes?” “ I used to own a 305 Honda … ”. Arriving at the Chippewa Campground in Thunder Bay, the games began. Teamwork by Kevin and Brad saw the engine out and back in the CA95, timed at less than 3 hours. Success! Brad was driving around the campsite and he wasn’t blowing a lot of smoke. However, the bike ran the same. Back on the trailer it went.
Day three had us leaving Thunder Bay and stoplights behind; now the ride became more challenging. The hills of Ontario have incredible views, but the 305’s now worked a little harder. The circle tour is filled with big hills requiring a run in order to make it to the top of most without shifting into third or second in the case of my 1963 Dream. Winds off Lake Superior and from passing semi’s required concentration and a close watch on the road conditions. At one gas stop, an onlooker asked what the biggest challenge was. When told the big hills, he stated “what hills”? Your perspective changes when driving a 43-year old motorcycle.
Day four saw clear skies again. A bikers dream. The bikes were running well after the nightly tech time and tightening of anything that vibrated loose during the previous day. The hills got even bigger and the bikes got even smaller. A stop at the giant goose statue in Wawa, Ontario was mandatory. It is not often a group of vintage Hondas gather at its feet. People were drawn to the group of bikes, shaking their heads when they discovered the total trip would be over 1200 miles.
Day five and the hills were even bigger, or is it the strengthening winds off the lake? There was a small craft warning; perhaps it should have included a small bike warning as well. The vistas are amazing. Ontario’s beauty is enhanced from the seat of a 305 Honda. The group crossed back into the USA across a bridge over the St. Mary’s River, which connects Lake Superior to Lake Huron. Traffic was delayed for customs checks, a slow ride across the double suspension bridge.
Day six found life a little easier. Michigan was flat compared to Ontario, it was a pleasant cruise, beautiful riding with little traffic. Weather was great; no rain, just sun and wind. Today we rode into clouds with a threat of rain, but that soon disappeared. While attracting the by now usual on-lookers at a gas stop, it was discovered there were vintage bikes for sale in the area. A detour was required and the trailer was filled. There are treasures around every corner. No breakdowns allowed now! That night was the last night out on the road. Future plans were discussed. Or should we ignore responsibility and jobs and just head for California right now? Decisions, decisions!
Day seven, the final run. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula offers beautiful scenery, open roads and a variety of wildlife. Today at a gas stop the lookers are drawn like magnets to the group. “I used to own one of those 305 Honda Dreams; I bought it new, only it was bigger than the one you are riding”. Age changes perspective, in its day it was the biggest bike Honda made.
With the ride over, the bikes were loaded on trailers for the trip to their various homes. For us, this was an experience of a lifetime. We proved that our vintage Hondas were more than just pretty bikes, for us they were running works of art. A group of six 1960’s 305cc vintage Honda motorcycles had completed a tour around Lake Superior, riding 1226 miles in 7 days.