Tag Archives: Harley-Davidson WLA Liberator

Last Ride…

In my book 1943 Road trip! Searching for Miss Betty on a WWII Harley-Davidson, one of my “characters” is a 1943 Harley WLA Liberator military motorcycle that my main character, Mac McConnell, bought and ends up taking on a road trip across much of southwest America in search of Miss Betty. That motorcycle is a central part of the story and the inspiration for the title—that and the fact that the backstory took place in 1943.

Well, I stumbled upon a video on YouTube of someone taking a ride on a 1943 Harley-Davidson WLA, which is linked here. It is a fun eight-minute video of the owner of the bike taking one last ride before selling it. Evidently, he lives in Great Britain because he is driving on the “wrong side” of the road. If you watch the vid, notice how he has to shift gears, using a hand shifter on the left side of the gas tank. Modern bikes use a much more convenient foot shifter so your hands stay on the handlebars. The siren you hear during the vid is on the bike itself and not some cop trying to pull him over.

I owned a motorcycle for only a few years and began riding at age sixty. For the very brief time I rode with two close friends, I really enjoyed it and wished I had started much younger. As Mac says in the book, which was a quote from my friend and fellow rider, Buck Roy, “Riding is the closest you can get to flying and still be on the ground.” I really miss those lazy trips up and down the winding River Road along the Mississippi River. Watching this vid brought back those memories.

As bikers are fond of saying, “It’s the ride, not the destination.”

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1943 UPDATE (And FREE Excerpt!)

OK, I am a little behind on this—like two months! But it will be worth it. Beta readers have had their say, and I made changes accordingly—at least where I agreed, which was almost all suggestions. The manuscript has been edited and re-edited, but I’m sure something snuck through. The files have been uploaded both to Amazon and Createspace (paperback). I am waiting on a proof copy from Createspace before I hit the publish button. Most likely date now is before the end of January. So, hang in there.

1943 is very different from the Catahoula Series. It takes place in contemporary times as a retired sheriff’s detective attempts to solve a 70+ year old mystery and find two people from WWII. All he has to go on is an old Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a photo of the woman, and a V-Mail letter from her fiancé serving somewhere in Italy in 1943 (of course). Mac McConnell is drawn out of his grief over the death of his wife by what becomes an obsession to find Miss Betty and Alvin. This leads him and his little dog, Pug, on a cross-country road trip on the old motorcycle as they go in search of Miss Betty.

Along the way, they meet some “strange” people who become their traveling companions on this journey of discovery and recovery. The excerpt below is from when he meets the first of his new traveling companions. Also, note the redesigned cover. Enjoy.


PrintWith the sun going down and a few hundred more miles behind them, Mac pulled into a gas station in Vail, Arizona and popped the cap on the gas tank while Pug ran off to relieve himself in a grassless patch of sand beside the paved area. As he stood there fueling the bike, Pug rejoined him and begged for a drink of cool water. Mac opened his last water bottle, took a long pull himself and then offered it to Pug, who eagerly drank right from the bottle.

And that’s when they showed up: four bikers, wearing their “colors,” and all riding a Harley in some form or another. One was a trike, pulling a small trailer.

“Oh, joy,” muttered Mac under his breath as they pulled up to the island he was using. A gas station with twelve empty pumps, and they come to my little fuel island.

The rider of the trike had his “bitch” on the back, and she was on the hefty side with weather balloons for boobs. Both of them were heavily tattooed, including full “sleeves.” The other “bitch” was riding a chopper with ape-hanger handlebars. She was a tall, lanky woman in tight-fitting leather pants and snug leather vest with her shirt open just enough to reveal ample cleavage with a tattoo of a black widow spider crawling from out of the crack. A lizard tat was wrapped around her neck and looking as if he might be after the spider for lunch. She was made-up like she was auditioning for a porn movie. Except for that, she was down right good-looking.

The one who turned out to be the leader, a hard-looking stout 180 pounds on a five foot nine frame with a sparse beard, pulled it up to the remaining open pump and shut down his tricked-out Fat Boy and stepped off. Both ears were adorned with a series of rings along the edge. Another pierced his left nostril and looked like it might interfere with a good sneeze. He was also tatted and was wearing faded jeans, traditional high-top harness boots and black leather jacket over a tee shirt. His helmet, not required in Arizona, was strapped on the sissy bar above his sleeping bag. The do-rag he wore on his head sported a flame pattern.

He smiled, displaying bright white teeth, somehow not what Mac was expecting. “A WLA! Classic iron! Outstanding, man!” And he proceeded to walk around Mac’s bike, admiring it as Mac put the gas cap back on. The others shut down their bikes and while waiting their turn at the pumps joined the classic iron fan club.

“They call me Darth Trader,” said the leader. “What’s your handle?”

“My name is Mac.”

“No, man, what’s your riding handle, you know?”

“No, I don’t know. Mac has always worked, at least until now.”

“Man, you need a handle. I guess Mac will have to do. Nice ride. You restore it?”

Mac looked around at his new groupies and replied, “A friend did most of the work.”

“Beautiful bike. How’s she run?” the lone “bitch” asked as she knocked the kickstand down on her chopper. She stepped off and leaned closer for a look at the WLA’s motor. “Name’s Loco,” she added casually.

“Runs like she came off the assembly line yesterday.”

Loco noticed Pug then. “A Pug. Sweet dogs. I had one once. He yours?”

“More or less,” Mac replied.

“Where ya headed, man?” asked Darth Trader.

(REDACTED to avoid spoilers)

“Cool, you and the dog making a road trip to (REDACTED)?”

“Um, yeah. Where you headed?” Mac asked, hoping it was maybe north or south or west, anyplace but east.

Darth looked around at his friends and shrugged. Some of them shrugged, too. “Don’t know, man. Wherever the road takes us. You know, man, it’s the journey not the destination when you’re on two wheels?”

Mac nodded. “Yeah, the ride,” he replied while thinking, If he says “man” one more time, I might have to slap him. But then he thought better of that, seeing as he was outnumbered.

Darth put a reassuring hand on Mac’s shoulder. “Say, I have a great idea. We’re headed in the same direction.”

Crap! thought Mac.

“Why don’t you ride with us?”

Double crap!


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