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#136 John Roppel

Bayfield, Ontario Canada

1935 Harley Davidson VLD

My name is John Roppel. I am a retired CPA. My wife Sheila and I live on the shores of Lake Huron in Ontario Canada. This year, 2023, marks the 56th year I have been riding motorcycles. After participating in the Cross Country Chase 2022 on a 1949 Harley Davidson FL I wanted to try an older motorcycle the next time around. The next time round came with the creation of a new class in the Motorcycle Cannonball 2023. The motorcycle I will be riding is a 1935 Harley Davidson VLD that has been in the family since 1936. This motorcycle was ridden in all 4 seasons of the year from 1936 till 1948, when the previous owner my Uncle purchased the 1949 Harley Davidson FL. Selling the 49 in the mid 50’s he again rode the 35 till he bought a brand new 1961 Harley DuoGlide. I have that motorcycle as well. The 1949 Harley FL is the motorcycle I rode in last year’s Cross Country Chase. Both the 1935 and 1949 Harleys required extensive restorations. Each restoration took more than a year to complete. The 35 Harley has been ridden over 9000 miles since the restoration. I got involved with motorcycles when I was little kid watching my Uncle repair Harley Davidsons and Indians in his shop during evenings and on weekends. The first motorcycle I owned was a Yamaha 100 Twin and then, while in university, a 250 Harley Sprint. After university and working for a year, I bought a 72 Harley Davidson Sportster. Since the 72 Sportster, came a 69 Sportster XLCH and a series of Hondas. One of those Hondas was an ST1300. The ST1300 went to the edge of the Arctic Circle twice and had 170,000 km on the clock when I sold it. My Uncle passed on in 2008. He quite simply gave me the passion for riding old motorcycles. I have been asked many times, “Why don’t you just ride the new bikes? It’s a lot easier”? My answer is: “You know they are just old motorcycles. But I like them!