The thrill of the ride

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Jim Brownlee stands next to two Triumph motorcycles he restored. The green bike took him three years to complete, as he had to find all the parts to build it. He has restored 17 motorcycles over the years.

They may have put away their racing gear years ago, but last Saturday, members of the Twisters Motorcycle Club relived their glory days at a reunion.

“Motorcycles create a bond,” organizer Bob Meredith said. “I believe it is a closer bond than any other type of racing.”

This theory certainly seemed to prove true, as bikers from several states made the trek to Meredith’s Fern Prairie home to attend the event.

Laughter, tall tales, food and of course, motorcycles, were a big topic of conversation at the reunion for the more than 30 club members and their wives, the “Twisters Sisters.”

“I think every time we have one of these, my race times were better,” Meredith said.

Co-organizer Jim Brownlee said he enjoys stretching the truth just a little.

“The older I get, the faster I was,” he joked. “I love talking with these guys and rode with most of them.”

Brownlee, 76, is long retired from professional racing, but has found another way to keep his passion alive: Restoring old motorcycles, the Triumph models in particular.

He had two on display at the reunion, and enjoys riding both.

“I still love it,” Brownlee said.

Despite nearly having his leg severed in a race, he’d do it all again.

“It was so much fun,” he said. “Amazing, exhilarating and such a rush.”

Meredith, 78, also raced professionally in the 1960s.

“When you’re on a bike, you’re elbow-to-elbow with other riders and when you hit that curve, it’s a rush because you don’t always know if you’ll make the turn,” he said.

Meredith, Brownlee and many of the Twisters have suffered numerous broken bones from racing.

“But you don’t count the little bones,” Meredith joked.

Doyle McNatt, the other reunion co-organizer, raced professionally for almost six years.

“The thrill of it really attracted me,” he said. “It was incredible.”

McNatt enjoys the reunions because of the opportunity to shoot the breeze with his friends.

“I like meeting up with all the guys I used to ride with,” he said. “We used to meet up at a gas station, then ride up on Larch Mountain, when you still could. There have been four of us here for three days now and we’re still telling stories.”