France returns its World War 1 Harley Davidson to Wisconsin 100 years later

“If you were in France this morning it would be exactly the same: people like you, people like us sharing the passion of Harley Davidson,” — Christophe de Goulaine.

Clse-up of flags WW1 bike

Harley in WW1 France

Motorcycle riders say it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. Riders welcome the unexpected and what a surprise treat we found late Sunday morning 07-29-18 as the Madison Harley Owners Group assembled for their ride to Baraboo.

France returns HD 100 years

Christophe de Goulaine, Anais, and their 100-year-old motorcycle stopped in Madison WI on their 5,000-mile Operation Twin Links tour

At the Madison Harley Davidson dealership at Highways 12 & 18 and I-90-39 we encountered HOG riders from France. Even more special, they were touring the U.S. on a 1918 Harley Davidson and sidecar that first arrived on their shores 100 years ago with American doughboys to help France fight World War 1. 

Christophe de Goulaine and his riding companion Anais (sorry, did not get her name) and his mechanic, Pierre Lauvergeat, and his companion Mary had just arrived from Milwaukee midway through their 5,000 mile trip through the U.S. It’s a trip that began June 21 in Mobile, Alabama, ran over to Jacksonville, Florida, up through Birmingham, Nashville, Indianapolis, and Chicago. When they left us they were headed for Route 66 and Los Angeles before returning to their home in Nantes, France, at the end of September. (The family chateaux is located on Loire river, famed for its chateaux and minerally white wines.) 

On its front fender, the American and French flags — both red, white and blue. Americans up on their history know that the U.S. may never have won its freedom without the help of France.

Monsieurs de Goulaine and Lauvergeat purchased the motorcycle 10 years ago and restored it. “We thought for her birthday she would be pleased to go around America,” de Goulaine related.

The 1918 bike, nicknamed “Bonnie,” is a 61-inch V-twin, with one overhead valve, one side valve, side by side exhaust. It’s all original, even the seat, except for the magneto and carburetor. “Sorry, we have been putting on a French carburetor from 1938,” de Goulaine said. 

Madison H.O.G. group president Dennis LeMoine (who boasts French Canadian ancestry) presented the touring foursome with two stickers, one of the Madison H.O.G. group and another declaring “All for Freedom.”

Hear them take off from Madison.

Platinum Subscriber Exhaust Notes:

• You can follow their journey at Operation Twin Links.

• The French consulate in Miami posted this here.

• De Goulaine is French nobility.

• Here is their Chateau du Goulaine.

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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5 Responses to France returns its World War 1 Harley Davidson to Wisconsin 100 years later

  1. COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  2. Cornelius Gotchberg says:

    Speaking of motorcycle tours, the lovely and long-suffering Mrs. Gotch and myself met and hoisted (my daily Iron County 40!) with John Sharp on his nifty Ural at Saxon Harbor on The Gitch ~ 4 years ago.

    He was talking about starting a motorcycle museum in, of all places, Algoma, WI


  3. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    The Chateau de Goulaine rivals the Stately Manor in its old-world charm; all it lacks is a herd of Holsteins grazing on the greensward.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. madisonexpat says:

    Vive La France!

    Liked by 1 person

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