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Revved up to wheel and deal

The Baltimore Sun

Army Maj. Dave Gill expects to restore the classic 1967 BMW motorcycle, ridden by three generations of his family. Army 1st Sgt. Michael Kist might trade his 10-year-old Harley-Davidson for a newer model. Charles and Allie Ginter just want to get the custom-built chopper she won in a raffle out of the house.

They all converged at Fort Meade's motorcycle trade show and display competition yesterday. It drew more than 500 visitors who were shopping, swapping or just gawking at models that ranged from vintage to 2007 customized.

"I am new to the area and looking to see what dealers have to offer," said Kist, who recently transferred from Hawaii.

The spacious Fort Meade Pavilion opened to the public with 15 vendors exhibiting their steeliest six-speed models, the latest gear, the most suitable parts, even the coolest shades.

Gill inherited his bike from his grandfather. After a few years in storage, the bike might not be as eye-catching as the display models, but it piqued collectors' interest.

"There is no way I am ever getting rid of it, and I'm not changing a thing on it," he said.

The Anne Arundel County base is marking its 90th anniversary this year with several events in the 26,000-square-foot enclosed pavilion. The base's Morale, Welfare and Recreation directorate sponsors flea markets, craft shows, pet expos and holiday gatherings "solely for troops and families," said Alissa Santoro, pavilion events planner.

"We are getting a wide variety of events to appeal to all," she said. "Today I am learning the motorcycle lingo and seeing a lot of beautiful bikes."

Among the most beautiful was a royal-blue, customized and patriotically detailed Harley Devil Dawg, the official USO bike that is making the rounds of several bases before it is auctioned. Its gas tank features hand-painted decals of Bob Hope, the Andrews Sisters, and an autographed image of Jay Leno. Its fenders boast paintings of fighter planes, battleships and screaming eagles.

"I tried for an image timeline with every branch of the service represented," said Sheila Mace, who created the detailing.

The show promised trophies and plaques in several categories and encouraged visitors to vote for their favorites. Entry ticket holders were eligible for a $400 grand prize: several articles of heated clothing that plug into a bike's battery.

"It will make your ride safer and give you a year-round feature," said Michael Vlahos, who has sold the products for 12 years.

Bob Tyson of New Windsor, owner of 17 bikes, brought two military models to the show. The "U.S. Public Dispatch Service" logo was still visible on the gas tank of an Army brown World War I cycle. A 1941 Harley glistened with a fresh coat of glossy black paint.

Army Cpl. Roger Faggen eyed a teal Triumph that he said had "all the bells and whistles," but he lingered longest at Tyson's "really neat collection."

Dennis P. Keppley, safety specialist at the base, snagged "ghost rider" specs and posed in them on the Ginters' chopper.

Allie Ginter, mother of six and a grandmother, thought she had scored a food processor when she was notified that she held the winning ticket to the Mayhem Chopper, the only thing she's ever won.

World Wrestling Entertainment had the bike built with a 100-horsepower engine, sold nearly 1 million raffle tickets at post exchanges across the country and donated the proceeds to troop support.

Neither Ginter has ridden the motorcycle since taking it home last year, storing it in the breakfast nook of their Crofton home.

"It's a bit hard to work around," she said.

They offered the sleek black machine - which many showgoers assured them could exceed 120 mph - to their sons before putting it up for sale. In a nod to WWE, they displayed it within a replica wrestling ring, and Allie Ginter posed astride it a few times.

"She looks some kinda cute on that," said Fred Billingslea, who had his own Honda Super Bike on display nearby. "I would have loved to have won that myself."

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