Tom’s Cripple Creek Story

I first became interested in Harley’s when I was a little kid in the 1960’s. My older sister was married to a member of a club who used to come by and pick me up on weekends on his bike. When he passed away in 1979 he left me a “basket case” 1953 Panhead that was in pieces in around 15 or 20 “milk crates”. I saved ever penny I had from my paper route, Grange sales, and other odd jobs buying the various replacement parts and pieces I needed to make the bike run.

When I joined the Army in 1980 the bike went with me to the Auto Crafts shop of my first duty station (Ft. Bragg, NC) and I continued to work on the bike until I had a running, restored ’53 Panhead in the spring of 1982. That bike went with me to every duty station in had from Ft. Bragg to Germany to Ft. Benning and everywhere in between until I got out of the Army in 1992 after the Gulf War (the first one).

In 2007 after returning from contracting overseas in Iraq we moved to Colorado and I rode the ’53 up the mountain to the Cripple Creek Veterans Appreciation Rally held there every year in Cripple Creek, Colorado from my house at Ft. Carson, Colorado. After spending the day at the rally I was on my way back down the mountain when the bike started to smoke from inside the headlight bucket. The wiring harness had caught fire and ate itself! I was lucky and got the fire out before the bike was damaged beyond repair and back home.

My ex wife and I were splitting up and I made the decision to sell the bike and buy something newer so I could hit the road as soon as possible and be away from that situation. I bought a 2003 Street Bob and hit the road, traveling all across the country over the next few months until finally settling in Key West, Florida where I ran onto a the woman who would become my new wife for the second time,I met her the first time as she was modeling at the Cripple Creek Veterans Rally in 2007 for a calendar company on various bikes.

I still have the Street Bob and Night Train and I am looking at getting another ’53 Panhead to restore. Ever since I was a little kid Harley Davidson’s have been a huge part of my life and has allowed me to see and appreciate parts of the country,and the world, in a way that a car just doesn’t allow for!

Thanks for your time!


Tom Sweet

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