Still rid­ing at 90

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY MELISSA JENK­INS melissa.jenk­

Since the first time Frank Harvey got on a mo­tor­cy­cle over 20 years ago, he has trav­elled sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand kilo­me­tres on two wheels.

In fact, the 90-year-old Bay Roberts res­i­dent still takes his bike out for long rides. This year he has trav­elled to Gan­der, East­port, Terra Nova and Glover­town.

But rid­ing isn’t just a fun pas­time for Frank; it’s an ac­tiv­ity he has de­voted his re­tired life. He used to spend a lot of time rid­ing with his late wife, Mary. Now he rides with a few of his close friends.

“Ev­ery day we get a fine day, we’re gone,” Frank said from his home last week.

Since 1995, Frank has been a mem­ber of the Gold Wing Road Rid­ers as­so­ci­a­tion. To be­come a mem­ber one has to be the owner of a Honda Gold Wing mo­tor­cy­cle. Frank drives a GL 1800, the largest bike made by Honda.

Get­ting started

In his mid-60s, Frank was re­tired and look­ing for a hobby. He used to run a ma­chine shop, so he had plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with me­tal. That is when he de­cided to fix up an old Honda V45.

The pre­vi­ous owner ran it off the road and struck a culvert. But in­stead of be­ing dis­posed of, Frank de­cided he would take it on as a project.

“I said, ‘I must buy it and re­pair it,’” he ex­plained. “And I did.”

It was then he de­cided to get his mo­tor­cy­cle li­cense.

For prac­tice, the former Up­per Gul­lies res­i­dent went to the old rail beds in the com­mu­nity. He owned a cabin in the area and thought it was ideal for learn­ing to ride.

Be­ing in his 60s never slowed him down. Nei­ther did be­ing in his 70s and 80s. His love for bikes just con­tin­ued to grow each time he hit the open road.

When he had a leak around the gas­ket of his bike, he de­cided to head to Honda for parts. He had no idea that would be the day he would pur­chase a brand new Gold Wing.

The sales per­son told him to take it for a spin, and he was hes­i­tant at first.

“I told him, ‘I’m only a begin­ner,’” he said.

But the sales­per­son said that didn’t mat­ter, so Frank de­cided to give it a test drive. When he re­turned, he bought the GL1500 on the spot.

Un­for­get­table travel

That bike did a lot of sight­see­ing. He re­placed it af­ter putting some 100,000 kilo­me­tres on it. In fact, he put over 100,000 kilo­me­tres on the three Gold Wings he has owned. His cur­rent bike has over 140,000.

“We used to go down to the states,” Frank said of him and Mary, who died in Fe­bru­ary of this year. “She used to love it too.”

On one trip, the cou­ple trav­elled 11,000 kilo­me­tres across 20 states.

He has also made sev­eral trips to other Cana­dian prov­inces, in­clud­ing one he will never for­get to Prince Ed­ward Is­land.

“I was hav­ing some pin­strip­ing done,” Frank re­called. “So I walked down over the hill from the ho­tel to see if the bike was fin­ished.”

It wasn’t. So he de­cided to head back up the hill to the ho­tel.

“Be­fore I got up to the ho­tel, oh the hard pain in my chest,” he de­scribed. “I had to stop. By the time I got up to the ho­tel I had to sit on the pa­tio. That’s where I re­ally took sick.”

Frank had two sig­nif­i­cant ar­te­rial block­ages. He had by­pass surgery and took a new look on life. He started to eat bet­ter, and still does to this day.

“I threw some­thing out this morn­ing be­cause it looked like it had too much fat in it.”

Un­for­tu­nately, be­cause of his health is­sues, Frank no longer qual­i­fies for travel in­sur­ance to go to the United States, so his trips have been lim­ited in re­cent years.

A love story

Al­though his late wife didn’t ride a mo­tor­cy­cle, she was al­ways on board when Frank rode. She shared his en­thu­si­asm for the love of the road.

“She never once com­plained,” Frank said, smil­ing.

Mary was Frank’s sec­ond wife, but was with him through­out all his mo­tor­cy­cle days. The two held a spe­cial bond that dates back many years, and it led to a rekin­dling of their re­la­tion­ship.

“My sec­ond wife was my first girl­friend,” Frank laughed.

He drove a bus in Up­per Gul­lies, and Mary worked for the same com­pany. One day he de­cided to move on to big­ger things for work, and left. That’s when he met his first wife, moved to Bay Roberts in 1953 and started a fam­ily. He stayed in Bay Roberts, which is where he and Mary lived as well.

Old­est rider

When Frank at­tended his first mo­tor­cy­cle meet when he first be­gan rid­ing, he was given the award for the old­est rider. For years, he has taken home the same ti­tle. Frank is the old­est ac­tive mem­ber of the Gold Wing rid­ing club in At­lantic Canada to still be tak­ing his mo­tor­cy­cle out for spins. In fact, Frank reck­ons he might be the old­est in Canada.

But age is just a num­ber to Frank, and has no in­ten­tions of putting down his kick­stand per­ma­nently.

“I’ll take it one day at a time,” he said.

Af­ter he was fin­ished chat­ting, he went to the shed in the back­yard where the Gold Wing stays. As of last week, it had not taken its last trip of the year.

“It’s sup­posed to be nice Satur­day,” Frank smiled. “I’ll take it out then. We don’t have many nice days left.”


Frank Harvey sits on his Honda Gold Wing GL1800 out­side his home in Bay Roberts.

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