Gold Wings roll into Hersey

HERSEY – When Sheila Teesdale watched eight 1,000-pound motorcycles come within inches of crashing into one another, she couldn’t help but cheer on the riders.

The Reed City resident was amazed by the accuracy of the Great Lakes Wings Motorcycle Drill Team during the group’s performance in Hersey on Saturday.

“I thought they were just outstanding,” Teesdale said. “It was the equivalent to the thunderbirds flying in the sky, but on land.”

More than 100 people lined Main Street in Hersey to watch the precision skills team maneuver their Gold Wings motorcycles, performing stunts including riding in the shape of the letter “V,” the letter “S” and a butterfly.

“You have to know where you’re going and trust that your partner next to you knows where he’s going so you don’t overlap,” said Terry Hammond, drill team lieutenant. “You have to pay attention. You have to know what you’re doing and just be careful.”

During the show, each rider wore an earpiece to hear instructions from captain Bill Neubeck - the only person who speaks while the bikes are in motion.

“If two of us talk at the same time, we’ll get bleeding on the CB and we can’t have that,” Hammond said.

The team is in their 19th year performing together and practices twice a week from mid-March to the end of the summer. This year, the group will perform in Missouri and Pennsylvania as well as participate in local motorcycle events, automobile and air shows, and parades.

The event in Hersey was the group’s first performance this year.

Ernie Clark, of the Hersey Group - a nonprofit organization focused on building up the Hersey area - said holding the event in Hersey served as a great way to bring people to the growing town.

With the opening of Q’s Plants earlier this year, River Junction restaurant and the Hersey Roller Mills store in 2011 and Blodget Landing campground a few years ago, the town has a lot to offer visitors, Clark said.

“Events like these (help) business owners. They’re the ones who brought people back to Hersey,” Clark said. “We’re just trying to get people to come to sample what Hersey has to offer.”

The performance was part of the state Gold Wings Touring Association Rally, held in Evart for the 10th year in a row.

Hammond, who also serves as a co-director of the Gold Wing Touring Association, said 120 bikers came to the annual state rally at the Osceola 4-H FFA fair grounds.

The group made a special appearance at the Osceola County Relay for Life, took a 120-mile ride around the countryside and spent time visiting with fellow riders from nine chapters around the state.

The GWTA will hold their state rally in Evart again next year. The drill team may perform in Hersey next year as well.