Old biker sees more of life astride Honda Gold Wing

April 07, 1993|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

Frank Crockett, 72, likes to appreciate the beauty of nature firsthand, which is why he goes places on his brand new, six-cylinder Honda Gold Wing motorcycle instead of a car.

"A car obstructs your view of nature, but on a motorcycle it's different. You feel like you're closer to everything," he explained. "You feel closer to nature and you'll see places you never saw before," he said.

Mr. Crockett, of Severna Park, is one of the oldest members of the Anne Arundel County Gold Wing Road Riders Association, a group of Gold Wing bike owners, most of whom are over 50.

"These older members, like Frank Crockett, put their priorities on their bikes," said Bruce Mayer, area representative of the Glen Burnie chapter. "They have the time and money to shine the chrome and take those three-day trips. This is what they endure."

Mr. Crockett's bike has taken him thousands of miles, from Maryland to Kentucky to upstate New York. He and his late wife, Alice Crockett, who died in 1991, used to travel as much as 1,500 miles at a time. They participated each year in about 12 rallies, at which local Gold Wing club members give visitors bike tours of the best sights in the area.

"We ride and polish chrome and lie like heck, telling tall tales like a sailor when he gets off a ship," said Mr. Crockett. "But it's a lot of fun. I have friends all over the country now and I see the same faces year after year."

Mr. Crockett bought his first bike in 1937 for $25. Five years later, he proposed to his wife-to-be as they were riding down 32nd Street in Baltimore on his newest bike.

But biking isn't just a hobby for Mr. Crockett. In 1938, he rode a bike, with a side car, delivering parts for a motorcycle retailer. And during World War II, he rode a bike for the Maryland National Guard.

For many years, Mr. Crockett taught a motorcycle safety course for the Motor Vehicle Administration. "A bike is dangerous. People should get proper training before jumping on a bike," he said.

Mr. Crockett bought his first Gold Wing in 1976 and joined the club a year later.

He said he hopes the club will help dispel the stereotype of motorcycle riders as outlaws. Biking is a form of rebellion, he conceded, but bikers "are not all like Marlon Brando" in "The Wild One."

"We're not out to get anybody," he said. "We just want to ride and be free."

He and other members of the local Gold Wing chapter have participated in charity events, such as the annual Christmas Toy Run for children and the Poker Run to benefit children with muscular dystrophy.

In June, he plans to travel to Kentucky for an International Gold Wing rally. His bike will bear a shiny plaque reading, "In memory of Alice," his wife and riding partner of 50 years.

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