Two-Wheeled Fun

Riding with Motorcycle Drill Team requires precision, hours of practice

The show demonstrates the versatility
of these large bikes

OSGOOD, Ind. – (September 2014) – What is it about Motorcycle Drill teams that we find so fascinating? Is it the tricks and maneuvers? Is it the growl of the machines? Maybe it’s the increased level of confidence that a spectator feels after watching a drill team perform – after all, the worst did not happen.
Vehicles weighing approximately 1,000 pounds were twisted and turned within inches of other riders with no catastrophic consequences. The knowledge that these feats can be achieved makes us feel that the world is not as chaotic as we imagined.
A dose of this kind of re-assurance will be available to all in Sept. 13 at the Ripley County Fairgrounds in Osgood, Ind., when the Great Lakes Wings Motorcycle Drill Team comes rolling through town to show off its low speed precision maneuvers. The 10 a.m. performance is being offered as part of the Gold Wing Touring Association’s Indiana State Rally.


Photo provided

Members of the Great Lakes Wings Motorcycle Drill Team perform their version of “Chicken” during a recent show. They will bring their machines and talent to the Ripley County Fairgrounds for a show on Sept. 13. The public is welcome.

According to Terry Hammond, lieutenant of the team, a good performance that shows observers what can be done with practice on a large motorcycle is very satisfying.
Team Capt. Bill Neubeck, 54, adds that making a crowd aware of the control that one can have over a large touring motorcycle is what motivates him to perform. It is important “to handle these heavy motorcycles with a positive sense of mind,” he said. It is the captain’s hope that this will in turn create a positive feeling in the mind of the spectator.
The Great Lakes Wings touring group was formed in July 1993. He and a few others had attended a GWTA national rally in Chattanooga, Tenn., where they watched an exhibition of a team from Washington State. This team showed Neubeck and his friends how to operate their Goldwings in a more controlled and safe manner. This inspired the group to form their own drill team to promote safe motorcycling to benefit other riders.
Hammond, 68, has been a member of the drill team for 18 years. He said the team is entirely from Michigan at this time. Tryouts are open to GWTA riders from northern Indiana and northwestern Ohio. Members are required to practice twice per week with one practice being held during the weekend. Some members drive as many as 80 miles one way for practice. In addition to practices, the team will perform from New York to Georgia and have even traveled as far as Colorado.
Neubeck said it is a commitment that some find tough to handle. However, these practices are instrumental to the team. Members must be able to operate a very heavy machine within inches of one another.
“You have to trust the person next to you,” Hammond said.
The tryout process is rigorous. First, a citizens band radio, or CB, is required, since this is how Neubeck will call the next maneuver. Over the next four to six months, the potential member is required to attend a certain number of practices. When this is complete, he is permitted to perform at an official event. Following this performance a vote is taken among the team members as to whether or not a new addition will be made. The vote is required to be unanimous. All members must feel comfortable with the abilities of the new rider.
After all, the group must be able to execute such maneuvers as “Chicken.” Neubeck said this is one of the more intense drills that the team performs. It splits the team into two groups that ride toward one another. At the last moment, the bikes will turn in front of the oncoming bikes just missing each other. It is a testament to the extreme maneuverability of the bikes. It is considered good form for a drill team to design its own moves.
Hammond said the team tries to come up with new drills every year. He laughingly adds that this is sometimes an exercise of trial and error, since some moves will be more successful than others. “It’s all well and good as long as you keep it on two wheels,” he says.
The motto of the GWTA is “Destination Friendship.” Both Neubeck and Hammond say encountering the friendliness of others while touring the United States is one of the most enjoyable components of being a Goldwing rider. Hammond recalls one trip made with his wife during which they met another couple riding their Goldwing through the back roads of America. The couple was from Sweden. This has proven to be a lasting friendship. The couples still keep in touch.
Neubeck adds that riding is a relaxing time for him. He says everyone needs to enjoy time away from the normal grind of everyday life.
The GWTA Indiana State Rally is one of those opportunities to get away, and the Great Lakes Wings team is happy to be included as part of the festivities. Indiana State Director Bill Lutz said the State Rally has been held at the Ripley County Fairgrounds in the past. This year’s rally will be held in this location as a result of numerous requests to return to the area.

• For more information about the show, call the Ripley County Fairgrounds at (812) 689-6535.

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