Hundreds turn out for Poole motorcycle rally

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 27, 2011

By Hugh Fisher
GOLD HILL — In the years since Tyler Poole’s untimely death at age 19, his legacy his continued to grow.
The East Rowan High School graduate died in an automobile crash in 2004.
Since then, friends and family have honored him with a series of events, including an annual motorcycle rally at Gold Hill Park.
Antique and collectable bikes, some very rare, lined the shaded paths and the lawn at the park.
This year’s rally drew about 1,000 spectators throughout the day, organizer Gary Poole said.
In addition to raising money for the Tyler Poole memorial scholarship, which helps a local student attend college, this year’s event memorialized two other young men, in addition to Poole’s son.
Saturday afternoon, after the riders took part in the first Kyle Allen and Chase Hatley Memorial Ride.
Both were the sons of men Poole knew through membership in regional motorcycle clubs. Both died in motorcycle accidents.
Sitting at the event with several other members of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, Chan Hatley said it was tough to describe how he felt.
“It’s an awesome feeling, really indescribable,” Hatley said.
Rick Allen, Kyle’s father, was also at the event.
So were many who’ve made a habit of attending these rallies in recent years.
Saturday was a day to swap stories, retell the histories of favorite motorcycles and meet those who’d traveled from neighboring counties.
Now that the Tyler Poole rally has become an established event, many are putting the date on their calendars and taking a trip to Gold Hill.
Melissa Comer, of Locust, sat near her restored yellow ’57 Harley Davidson ST-165.
It’s not most people’s idea of a Harley.
With a small frame and engine, Comer said it’s modeled after Italian motorcycle designs popular after World War II.
For Comer, an antique cycle show is more than a chance to show off her own bike, which she said she purchased in Texas.
“It’s the thrill of finding something original,” she said.
And there was plenty of original history on the lot.
Lynn Godwin, of Peachland, S.C., had what might have been the oldest motorcycle on display, a ’32 Harley still in original condition.
Its faded dark-blue paint, dinged fenders and worn headlight were a far cry from the bright chrome and fresh colors of other motorcycles.
That didn’t stop Godwin and his bike from drawing a crowd.
The same went for Jimmy Brown, of China Grove, and his curiosity: a handmade mo-ped.
Brown’s machine is a 1940’s-vintage bicycle with a Briggs & Stratton engine bolted to the frame.
According to the story he heard, Brown told onlookers, it was made by a soldier to get around his military base in a hurry.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Brown said of the rally. He said he’d met many other enthusiasts and made some interesting contacts.
Which is part of what’s good about this rally, Poole said.
“It’s all about the machinery,” he said. “We don’t allow vendors, not that we have anything against them.”
Instead, he said, the emphasis is on gathering for fellowship and getting to know one another, and the machines.
Harley Davidson was well represented, but far from the only make on display.
Indian, BMW, Yamaha and other makers were also on display.
And, along with the classics, Steve Stirewalt of Dirt & Street Cycle near Rockwell showed off one of the newest motorcycles — something totally different.
Stirewalt’s Zero dirt bike doesn’t have a gas engine. It’s all-electric, with a battery compartment instead of pistons and valves.
The Zero plugs into a wall socket, and has an advertised range of about 60 miles on a full charge.
“But you’ll get about 25 miles if you just run flat-out,” Stirewalt said.
All told, the new and classic bikes represent most of a century of motorcycle history.
Poole said he wouldn’t know right away how much money was raised for the scholarship fund at this year’s event.
But the stories shared and new friendships made, are as priceless as the classic American, European and Asian machines that were on display.
“It’s a good gathering,” said Bryan Reece, of Charlotte. “Not only honoring the men’s sons who’ve passed on, but just having a chance to put your kickstand down and talk motorcycles.”
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.