Wednesday, July 11, 2012

1968 Wards Riverside by Benelli And A Road Trip I Took On My Motorcycle From Washington DC To Mobile Alabama And Back In The Summer Of 1970.

In 1968 I owned one of these motorcycles just like the one shown above.
Jim was working at DC Duplicators on P St. and when I went in one morning Roy(the shop owner) told us that Montgomery Wards was having a closeout sale on their entire line of motorcycles. There was a large ad in that mornings Washington Post newspaper. It said they were getting out of the motorcycle business and selling off their inventory at a large discount.
A 250 cc like the one shown above was selling new for 250.00.
And a 350 cc was selling for 350.00 dollars.
So Jim and I went out to the Montgomery Wards in Arlington, Va. on Route 50 near Seven Corners.
  The motorcycles were selling fast.   Some people were buying two or more at a time.
I bought a blue 250cc and Jim bought a  red 350cc.  
We went to the place where they checked out our credit and sold them to us. As I recall I paid it off at 15.00 a month.
These were brand new motorcycles with the name Riverside on them but made in Italy by Benelli.

I remember going back to DC the bike stopped. I had forgotten to turn the fuel petcock to the on position.
    From then on I did not have any problems.
I got a large Esso Sunflower decal and put two of them over the Riverside decals on the fuel tank.

Some time later Jim rode his bike all the way from DC to Miami to visit two of our former college class mates. They were getting a divorce and he must have thought he had a chance. But he later told me that when he got off his motorcycle he knew right away he had made a mistake. He said later it was the craziest thing he had ever done. A 2400 mile mistake.

I  later rode my motorcycle from Washington DC to Mobile, Alabama.  And back. Except for a sore backside I think it was worth it. I was a nutty thing to do but gas was cheap. 30 cents a gallon and the motorcycle got 100 or so miles to the gallon. About 30.00 in gas for the roundtrip.

Somewhere in Georgia the chain got messed up but some friendly automechanic fixed it for me.

Also I got lost in the woods of Georgia. Small roads leading nowhere and I ended up staring at some kids right out of the movie Deliverance. I asked the directions to Atlanta. One of them said, "You goin' to ride that thing all the way to AT-lanta?" I said yes. He gave me directions. Turned out I was only 80 miles from AT-lanta.

South of Tallahasse Florida I rode all along the Gulf through Sopchopppy and Port St.Joe and Appalachiacola.
Then on to Panama City and Pensacola. By the time I got to Mobile I had taken my shirt sometime ago and in the month of June or July I got a really good suntan.
Again some kid in a service station in Pensacola saw the DC license plate on the back and asked me, "You rode that thing all the way from DC?" I told him yes.

The ride back to DC later that summer was a long a painful on the rear end ride.

The ad above was from 1967. So we got a great deal. More than half off in the sale in 1968.

Later when we moved to Mobile in 1971 I sold the bike when we moved to Fla. in 1973.
In 1977 I bought a 250 cc Yamaha six speed motorcycle new for 823.00. It has six forward gears.
I was a beauty white with chrome fenders. I was getting old and my reflexes were going and the DC area is no place to ride a motorcyle. The motorists will wipe you out if you don't do it to yourself. So I sold it to a young man who was a courier. I told him I did not want anyone to get hurt on it. It only had about 1400 miles on it. He bought it for what I paid for it.

I forgot to take the tags off. I think he lied and said he would take them off.
A couple of years later I got a card in the mail from Call Carl auto repair shop in DC on Wisconsin Avenue telling me I could come pick up my motorcycle.
I went just to take a look. When I got there they could not find it.
They told me some young guy had killed himself riding it. So it was either the young fellow I sold it to or someone he sold it to.
Oddly I never heard anything from the DC police about this and I dont really know how Car Carl got my name and address to send me the card.  
Sad story.