It's about more than the open road for Denver, CO ophthalmologist George Pardos, MD. This biker and Harley-Davidson enthusiast is preserving a part of American history in his restoration work.
Dr. Pardos has amassed a collection of more than 20 antique Harley-Davidson motorcycles, all of which he has carefully restored. "All of my Harleys are first model bikes and have a special place in Harley-Davidson lineage," he explained.
The collection includes a 1911 V-twin (one of four complete bikes left in the world) and a 1936 "Knucklehead," which, according to Dr. Pardos, was the model whose design spawned the design of all other street bikes.
Dr. Pardos said he has always liked motorcycles and mechanical things, learning to work on engines with his dad. He rode motorcycles as a teenager, but through the hectic pace of school and training, put the brakes on his hobby.
Dr. Pardos owned Kawasaki and Suzuki motorcycles, but purchased his first Harley-Davidson when he was in his 40s (when he could afford it, he said).
He is the loner you would expect. "I find it peculiar that bikers are known for being loners, but so many ride in huge groups now," he said.
Dr. Pardos rides a 1999 Harley-Davidson Road King-usually alone, but sometimes with a passenger or one other bike. And he wears the leather gear, but more for function than form, he said.
"Riding my bike gives me that same sense of freedom and escape that flying or sailing does, but always with a focus on what I'm doing," said Dr. Pardos.
Though he doesn't ride with a group, he has been to the classic motorcycle rally at Sturgis, SD a few times. The annual bike week in August draws 500,000 bikers.
Despite the thrill of the open road, Dr. Pardos is happy to stay home in his 1,800-square-foot workshop/warehouse. This building houses his private collection of vintage bikes, all of which are more than 30 years old.
"The hunt for antique bikes is almost as rewarding as the restoration work," said Dr. Pardos. "People get to know what you're interested in and call. Many of my bikes were found through word of mouth." He also looks in magazines and papers for ads. Dr. Pardos has purchased bikes from as far away as New Zealand and Europe. "And, sometimes, you just happen upon a find," he said.
Dr. Pardos found that when he called about print ads, he was always too late. So about 10 years ago, his son created a website for him that functions like a bulletin board for antique motorcycle hobbyists to share bikes, parts, comments, etc. http:// http://www.georgesantiquemotorcycletrader.com. Dr. Pardos said, "The site hasn't changed much over the years; it's really basic. But it gets me first dibs on things that are posted!"
He's involved with Antique Motorcycle Club of America, which supports collectors and restorers. They have swap meets where they rummage for parts, have judging events, and publish a magazine.