This article was originally printed in the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club monthly newsletter.

The Human Crane - A Laverda Owner, by Bob Humphries

For those who are less than Moses in age, it may not seem interesting to listen to stories of those who appear to be that old. Sometimes one of them may ride to a motorcycle gathering or arrive in a four wheeler. These old timers are not usually noticed and probably are not seeking attention. It is enough for them to just be there and look around while blending into the background. They all have stories to tell if someone indicated an interest to hear some. I know because I am one of them. It is not that I can claim remarkable things accomplished by me, but I have known some who did and there has been some interesting experiences along the way. One thing that does not change is the interesting people attracted to motorcycles.

Recently I had a visitor from the past who arrived on a motorcycle. We had a pleasant visit and of course there were memories of the past to recall. We had not been in touch for years. While he was the same in some ways, he was not as I remembered him many years ago when I thought of him being a 300 pound giant, a HUMAN CRANE with the strength to lift most anything not tied or bolted down, a good buddy to have along in any circumstances. Age and time has changed some of that for him, but even so he is in good shape for his age.

Our getting acquainted, much less becoming friends, was very unlikely when it occurred more than 30 years ago. He was a bit of an outlaw type of biker and I was a uniform officer representing the state police who also enjoyed motorcycling. It is another example of how that common interest can bridge differences. In time we both met each other's motorcycle friends, rode together, and learned we could benefit and enjoy being friends.

There was a reason I first had the thought he was a "Human Crane". I received a call from a motorcycle friend requesting me to drive his pickup truck to a location to pick up and load another motorcycle belonging to a mutual friend. When I asked what happened I was told the other friend ran off the road and his Harley was in a steep ditch. My suggestion of having a tow truck to winch it up the steep incline with a cable was refused. Some Harley people can have strange ideas, I guess. With this dilemma I asked Jimmy (the powerful one) to come along to help with what appeared to be an impossible thing to accomplish. When we arrived at the scene, sure enough that big sickle was way down in a deep ditch with four or five big men struggling with it in an attempt to move it up to the road, but it would not budge. The transmission being locked up in gear sure did not help, but it was good to know these men who were just driving by would stop to see if they could help. What those men could not do, Jimmy did and asked only for someone to hold the Harley upright. He then lifted the front end and walked backwards up the incline with the back wheeled locked. This was done in increments of a few paces at a time, he would set it down at times to take a deep breath as is done by weight lifters, then again begin until he reached the tailgate of the pickup truck. At that point he lifted that Harley with the front wheel chest high, set it in the truck bed and shoved it and then lifted the rear end and pushed that big motorcycle all the way in place to be tied down. The only help he required was someone to help keep it upright. We had no ramp to use, but with Jimmy none was needed. He is the only person I have ever seen with the power to do that with a Harley big twin. From then on I referred to him as "The Human Crane", but I had not told him that until our recent visit.

Jimmy has owned various kinds of motorcycle, but I remember best his booming big twin Laverda. He introduced me to a number of remarkable motorcyclists years ago and they became friends with me. The most treasured one of all was Buster Ihlendfeldt, the greatest Guzzi expert I have ever known.

[Ed Note: See Bob's article about Buster in the previous (November, 2003) newsletter. -FW]

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