September 8-13, 2015
Colorado Springs, CO
by Erin Woodward
Colorado Springs, Colorado has been home to the biennial HeinkelFest for 4 years, with each year growing in number and variety of Heinkels present. Every year a dedicated group of Heinkel enthusiasts make the pilgrimage to “the Springs” to enjoy a week filled with incredible riding and timeless memories, all for the love of these wonderful machines. 2015 was a very special year for many reasons,which included record participation. Over 10 percent of bikes still rolling in the US were present at the rally. States represented included California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Texas, Utah and Virginia. Another great surprise was that 3 participants from Germany attended; a first for HeinkelFest.
The first rally day was filled with activity. Hellos parlayed into ad hoc tech sessions at the family-owned Green Willow Motel. The Heinkel group is very active on Facebook and although many of us had never met in person, we felt like old friends.
The Green Willow Motel is a staple in Manitou Springs and has been family owned and operated since 1930. This quaint Motel has been the home of HeinkelFest since 2013. We “claimed” our spot just next to the river and lined each bike up in our tent garage, adorned, naturally, with the Heinkel club flag. The area we chose was central to the property and became our hub for meetings and a temporary garage for tech sessions and repairs. It was also the place we used to discuss our next day’s events, plan meals, or just enjoy the company and camaraderie that followed.
Day two took us to a short sunrise scoot to the Garden of the Gods (we returned later to enjoy GOG), and after a breakfast rally at a local greasy spoon we had another impromptu tech session back at the Motel. Any time any issues popped up with a scoot, the group pulled together to figure them out. After some tinkering we geared and gassed up for our afternoon adventure, which included a picnic lunch and a cruise around Garden of the Gods. Our picnic lunch (packed on the back of each scooter) was from Wimberger's Old World Bakery & Delicatessen. The selections from this authentic German bakery and deli really delighted the group, especially our German friends. After the Garden trip, we reconvened back at Green Willow for a special celebration. Mike McWilliams, founder of the US Heinkel group, and faithful host of every Colorado HeinkelFest on record was proudly presented with The North American Stammtisch Roller for all his dedication, passion, and commitment to the Heinkel Club. After Mike’s noteworthy recognition, we squeezed in another tech session to change jets for the next day’s giant hill climb.
Pikes Peak is 14,115 ft tall, over 19 miles long and has over 160 turns. This is a challenge for a single cylinder motor, let alone one over 50 years old. As our group departed the ranger station on day three, it was evident that some motors were going to struggle more than others. Still, everyone was in for a real treat on the way to the top, and enjoyed sweeping views of mountains and valleys, and an occasional mountain bike or runner. As our machines carried us higher, it was necessary to vent the fuel tanks otherwise, the motor would cut out due to lack of fuel. While venting on the way up, Jan Bradley’s tank shot fuel 10ft in the air! (Mike McWilliams captured this on his GoPro, in case anyone is interested in taking a look.) Slowly but surely, each of use made our way to the top, where we were greeted by raucous hoots and hollers from our group. Our journey to the summit was punctuated by the arrival of “Smokie” who finally crested the hill ahead of a cloud of impressive smoke and a long line of traffic. The ride down the mountain was just as much fun as the way up, and the bikes really shined. Motor braking is a wonderful thing when zipping down a mountain side with an 8,000 ft elevation change. After a rest break at Green Willow, we completed a few more tech sessions, which included jet changes and addressing a few oil leaks. Time after time, throughout the entire event, we would all come together to help anyone whose machine was having issues. Hungry from the long trek up and down Pikes Peak, our dinner at PJ's Stagecoach Inn, hosted by T.I., a local Heinkel owner, was just what the doctor ordered.
Our 4th day of riding consisted of our last long trek up and down hills, through city and countryside, where we encountered just about everything we would see on a typical rally. Our primary destination on this day was Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Anyone can walk across the Royal Gorge Bridge to the other side, what is truly special about this day was that we actually received permission to ride our scooters over the bridge, something the park service rarely allows. After a delicious lunch overlooking the Gorge, we headed out for a ride around the countryside of Colorado. We slowly worked out way up in elevation mile after mile, zipping around farms and pastoral pastures with Pikes Peak in the background. We finally ended up in Woodlawn Park North West of Manitou Springs. We were at an elevation of 8,500 ft. and had a long 2 lane road to cruise on, with almost the entire trip downhill into town. All the work and time it took us to get to this point was well worth being able to tuck down and blast to into Manitou Springs.
Our final day of riding was bittersweet. It had truly been an enjoyable week telling stories, enjoying company with fellow enthusiasts, and seeing the picturesque Colorado countryside. Today our travels took us to Mike & Gretchen’s house for bunch, followed by a stop at Sportique Scooters in Colorado Springs to visit and shop. After gassing up, we made another trip to Garden of the Gods for a group picture and cruised around town, then headed back to Green Willow Motel to get ready for scooter trivia. Mike has a vast knowledge of these 2 wheeled machines and loved to test our knowledge every chance he could get. The trivia test was difficult, but prizes were involved which made the effort worth the reward! It was a very competitive environment. After trivia, since most of us were leaving on Sunday for home, a bit of packing was required. Dinner for the conclusion of the rally was held at Edelweiss Restaurant, an authentic German restaurant and an appropriate place to celebrate the week of fun on our bikes. Our final ride back to Green Willow Motel after dinner concluded the rally. Sunday we would pack up, say goodbye, and head out.
Mike McWilliams invests so much time and energy into this event and it shows. The planning, rally artwork and souvenirs he created for the HeinkelFest are incredible. Mike kept the group engaged throughout the entire week with trips and activities and we thank him and his wife Gretchen for their hospitality. The area of Colorado they live in is beautiful and a joy to ride around - truly a must-see if you can carve out the time. HeinkelFest is a fantastic event and the experience of riding in a group and spending time with fellow Heinkel enthusiasts should be something every owner enjoys. 2017 is just around the corner!
Mark your calendar!