Gum Shoe Trek

10,000 Miles of Investigation and Study

By Chet Billings, Photography by Unknown

From the November 1937 issue of Motorcyclist Magazine

Two years ago when the editor set out to get first-hand information about riders and activities, he carried moving pictures, sent advance notice of his schedule, and openly mixed with as many riders, dealers and fans as possible.

This year, on the 25th of August, he set out from Los Angeles, armed with a camera, loaded with information with which to tell possible advertisers about our motorcycle fraternity, and imbued with an idea of seeing without being seen. Yep, it was well nigh plain old sleuthing.

A car was driven in stead of a motorcycle because a lot of paraphernalia had to be carried. The run from Los Angeles to the vicinity of Chicago was made in three days and three nights. On the entire route, only 7 miles of bad road were encountered. It should have been an easy run and with a motorcycle it would have been. However, a failing transmission dictated conservative speed and as a result that part of the trip was a grind.

All through the trip notes were carefully taken of all motorcycle riders and groups, of traffic conditions, and of general conditions as they pertained to crops, employment, etc.

Although no introductions were made. it was impossible to pass a group of riders without that “Hi, folks” wave out of the window. So, if any riders were puzzled by a salute from the window of an automobile, the above may explain.

The first circle off the main route was a trip to Lansing, Alma, Saginaw, Flint, Detroit and back to Lansing, Michigan. We arrived in Lansing the day before the start of the Jack Pine Run and already were beginning to shape ideas as to how much fun a traveling motorcyclist could have if he were blessed with a fair amount of time and a little money. (Incidentally a very material comparison was made between the cost of motorcycles and other means of travel. Just before leaving the office we had a letter telling how one Lawrence Alzina of Oakland had traveled clear to Springfield at a net cost of $27.00. In comparison with that we spent $75.00 in Detroit on our ‘36 Dodge, then with a mileage of 23,000, installing a new transmission, our third clutch and a brake reline. And our gasoline cost from L.A. to Chicago alone had been $25.00. So, weep, you fellows, when you spend a little on a motor. You don’t know half what grief can be.)

Coming back to the Jack Pine, our report has already been printed telling of the thrill and experience gained in a two-day ride with old Jack Piner Lenz. On that trip 87 photos were taken of the course, riders and general activities of such a run. If you go through Lansing on a trip you will soon see a big pictorial display which tells the story of the Jack Pine by photo. And, films are filed with Oscar Lenz should any of the participants wish a record of the run for themselves.

We cannot but reiterate our earlier statement that it is a fine run, well organized, and it offers more than a passing cross-section of who our riders are, how they act and what they can do. Every motorcycle rider should at one time or another take in this run, whether he rides in competition or not.

By Chet Billings
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