Sidecar motorcycles invade Tahoe for rally

From "Side-car (sid'kar) n An extraordinary form of transportation that brings diverse people together for a multitude of reasons, the most prominent, sheer enjoyment."

I was in one of the more than 250 sidecars that descended on Camp Richardson in South Lake Tahoe on Thursday for the United Sidecar Association National Sidecar Rally. The hosts of the rally were longtime Tahoe residents Bob and Penny Fleisher.

You can ask sidecar enthusiast what makes them want to be a sidecarist and they will almost always say that you can belong to a car club, a Harley club, a gun club or a fitness club, but what makes a sidecarist different is that you attach a "rig" even if it is prefabricated like a California chair, a Hannigan, a Watsonian like mine, a homemade chair, or any other chair, you get to make all the changes to make yours unique. There was one this past weekend that I thought for sure was a bath tub. It belongs to a really nice couple with two children and it was the only way that all four of them could travel together.

People from all over the United States, Canada and Mexico came to join in on the fun-filled weekend of events. Arthur Cohen and his bride Luz came all the way from Mexico City. At the young age of 84, Arthur flew in to this rally instead of driving his rig from that far away. I found him to be very interesting as he has been riding motorcycles for 72 years. When he was just 12 years old he built a scooter with half-inch iron water pipe with a three-quarter horsepower Lausen useing a gasoline engine from a milking machine from Sears.

Ulrich "Rick" Huemmerich and Freddy Christiansen posed for my favorite pictures of the weekend's events, with a 1937 Nimbus, definitely the oldest rig at the rally. Freddy is one of our Carson Valley Care flight nurses.

Rick wears a 1950s jacket that his father bought to ride his first BMW R-51-3. His dad rode this motorcycle to work and would give Rick rides on the weekends, that how Rick became an enthusiast. He's been riding sidecars for over 20 years now.

The show 'n' shine and field events on Saturday at the South Lake Tahoe Airport were a kick. The first field event was where the driver had to go around an oval course while the passenger placed three tennis balls on top of road pylons without stopping. Then on the next circle around the passenger had to toss three rings on three other pylons and on the next half the passenger had to toss three smaller rings in the pylons that had the tennis balls on them without knocking the tennis balls off. The second event, toss bean bags into a sidecar chair as it was being driven in a figure eight, and we drove clock wise in an oval, that was hard. Lastly, the dreaded blindfold the driver while the passenger tries to tell the driver where to go. Yes, wives, this is the time your husband has to actually have to listen to you. It is my favorite event at the rally. I was my dad's passenger and he did great!

Thank you Bob and Penny for taking on such a huge event. It was the best!

Lisa Welch is a Johnson Lane resident and can be reached at 267-9350.


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