Day Eighteen

   

"Father and Son Reunion"

Sunday
September 22, 2002

Long Beach, CA -
Mojave, CA

112 miles

1:57 riding time


I've been looking forward to this day for more than a month.  When we laid out the schedule for The Great Divide Tour, I told Whiz that I wanted to make sure we ended up in LA on a Sunday morning so I could visit my son Korey, who's been working on the Carnival cruise ship 'Elation'.  After graduating from college this spring, he went to work playing sax in the ship's band.  As Whiz mentioned yesterday, the ship sails a seven-day cruise from LA south to Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, then to Cabo San Lucas, then back to LA.  This happens each and every week, and Korey has been working the circuit since June.  In fact, the last time I saw Korey was at his college graduation in May, which was also the last time he had any direct contact with any family members.  I think it's fair to say that we were both looking forward to today.

Carnival Cruise Ship 'Elation' Father and Son Reunion Korey at the Crew Center

After a brief tour of the Crew Center (the place where crew members get mail, pay bills, make phone calls, and generally reconnect to their 'on land' world), we headed off for a great breakfast at Grinder's in San Pedro.  Korey filled us in on what it's like to sail to Mexico twenty-four times in six months.  He refers to the boat as his "floating prison, with liquor and lights".  We heard interesting behind-the-scenes stories about what it's like to be in the entertainment business on a cruise ship, with magicians, dancers and nearly famous personalities like Jessie Lopez (you know ... Trini's brother). 

Telling tales about life on a big boat

Korey with
crew mate Amy

Trying out the K1200

After bidding Korey a fond farewell, we loaded up the bikes and prepared ourselves for a short hop to Mojave through downtown LA, then the Angeles National Forest.  Our route out of the LA basin started on the infamous Los Angeles Crest Highway, an extremely twisty road popular with local motorcyclists.  Since it was a weekend, we saw hundreds of bikes on the road, despite the 90+ degree temperatures.  It even briefly topped triple-digits!  It appears that we've in for some very hot weather riding on our way home and early-morning night-riding is definitely in the cards for the next couple of days.

Downtown LA skyline

Angeles National Forest, aka
'Twisty Central'

With so many new readers online this year, we've been remiss in sharing the details of how and when the Whizmo & Gizmo phenomenon started.  We've been working on this backgrounder piece so the PR folks will have an easier time coming up to speed when we finally get our moment of fame.  Those of you who think you know the true history of W&G may be surprised to learn that you really don't know it all.   Here, for the first time in print anywhere  ...

Many of you have asked about the history of Whizmo & Gizmo.  (Well actually only one of you, but who's counting?)  "How long have you been doing this?"  "Which one's Whiz?"  and the recurring "How do you convince your wives to let you do this every year?"  I thought it might be worth some airtime to give you some background on our motorcycling careers.  I  need to rehearse it anyway for when the History Channel calls.

Let me tell you something.  Motorcycling runs in my family blood.  There is even a connection way back to the late 1800's, when steam-powered bicycles were beginning to show potential as a form of mechanical transportation.  My great-grandfather Geoffrey Gizmarelli was intrigued with the possibilities, engaging boiler technician Gottlieb Daimler to build a steam-powered conveyance from plans published on the Internet.  Daimler went to work, building the bike pictured in the center below.  Unfortunately, sitting on the steam pipe was not comfortable for more than a few moments, so it was back to the drawing boards.  In a huff, great-grandpa Geoff fired Daimler, who returned to Germany and built the first gasoline-powered motorcycle.*

Steam Cycle Plans*

Prototype steam motorcycle*

The first actual motorcycle, 1885*

Undaunted, great-grandpa Geoff rounded up some VC funding and a partner, a Mr. W. Stuart Jinngens of Spencer Iowa, who was equally intrigued with powered bicycle technology.  They figured if Gottlieb could do it, they could too, so they designed a 'Steambike For Two'.  During this period, the duo became known as 'Wheezer and Geezer'  Why?  Well, probably because the steam-powered part of the contraption was pretty unreliable, so they did a lot of pedaling.  I'm sure their advancing age played a role as well.

Wheezer and Geezer on the prototype
'Steambike for Two'

Once again, that pesky steam stack proved to be a problem - no one wanted to ride in back.  The boys fell into a violent shouting match.  In a huff, Wheezer departed for France, leaving behind a young family.  In Paris, he launched a startup business printing advertising on sidewalks with a pedal-powered tricycle.  The Wheez enjoyed some initial success, but there is little record of any subsequent achievements.  There is some speculation that the French were not happy with ink on their sidewalks, nor advertising in general, so they killed him, as the French are wont to do.

W. Stuart "Wheezer" Jinngens -- Whizmo's great-grandfather --
on his PDA (Pedal-Driven Advercycle)

Geezer went on to marry and have a son, Walter P. Gizmarelli, my grandfather.   A bright lad, he was intrigued by motorcycles from the beginning.  In fact, while hanging out at the local motorcycle hangout, he met, by pure chance, Erwin G. "Cannonball" Baker while Baker was completing his first coast-to-coast 3,379-mile cross-country marathon ride.  “Cannonball” became a symbol of the American motorcycle rider, synonymous with wild journeys.  Walter was fascinated by Cannonball and vowed to ride a motorcycle himself.  So at seventeen, Walter bought his first motorcycle, and seven years later he became a motorcycle cop.* 

"Cannonball" Baker

Grandpa Walter at 17 with his first bike

Walter as motorcycle cop

Meanwhile, Whizmo's grandfather Zachary Whizmarelli, of Spirit Lake Iowa, had a budding career training animals for motion pictures.  In this 1952 publicity photo, Zach is shown training 'Chip, the Fearless Feline' for the 1953 Disney feature "If Cats Had Wings".  It went straight to video.

Whizmo's grandfather Zach

Fast forward to 1956, Oakland California.  I was a precocious three-year-old, receiving a kid-size motorcycle for Christmas from Grandpa Walter.  In a fit of prescience, I demanded that the gas tank be painted with an American flag, holding my breath until my parents complied.  Years later, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper adapt my patriotic paint scheme for the movie "Easy Rider", but do not credit young Gizmo.  Gizmo still isn't talking to Peter Fonda or Dennis Hopper, although Jack Nicholson did call once (it was a wrong number).

My first bike, and my first ticket, circa 1956

 

Peter and Dennis still haven't called

My patriotic fervor continued throughout my adolescence and into my high-school days beginning in the late 60's.  Whizmo and I were pimply-faced West Lafayette Indiana high-school sophomore geeks who decided that the best way to attract girls was to ride motorcycles, since the chicks didn't seem to be digging our impressive record collections.  I recreated my now-famous flag motif on my helmet, and sewed flags to all my clothing.  Whizmo went to work for Eddie's Mobil so he could get a discount on all his petroleum and petroleum accessories, and work on his bike while getting paid to pump gas.

Whizmo circa 1973, with his fourth bike,
a Suzuki GT 550

Gizmo circa 1970, with his first bike,
 a Yamaha 360. 

As fate intervened to bring us, the young descendants of Wheezer and Geezer back together, we planned extensive adventures to far-away Otterbein and the mysterious Pine Village, thus laying the groundwork for a life-long love of open road adventures, which continue even today, surprising considering our advanced age.

After high school, we split up for a number of years.  I auditioned several riding partners, including Bingo, Woody-O and Lyle-O shown below, but no riding partner generated the original open road magic of Whizmo & Gizmo.

Bingo

Woody-O

Lyle-O

Whizmo had a brief rebellious period coinciding with the "Punk Era".  After adopting the leather look, he realized that he might be able to impress his punk girlfriends with his punk attitude and a punk motorcycle.  He pulled together some spare parts piling up in his parents' garage and built his first custom bike, the WhizmoPunkCycle, pictured below.

Whizmo's 'Punk Era' yielded the
WhizmoPunkCycle

Inspired by the genuinely great feedback to the PunkCycle, Whiz hung out his shingle as a custom motorcycle designer.  The cycle press paid attention, and before long Whizmo designs were hot, hot, hot.  Whizmo quickly established a reputation as a skilled designer of custom motorcycles.  His first major success came when BMW commissioned the Whiz to create a sport bike for Mary Kay cosmetics. 

Whizmo's initial design success, the BMW MK1200 RS

With his momentum established, Whizmo went on to create such noteworthy benchmarks as the Whizmo2000 and the WhizBurger.  Most critics agree that Whiz peaked with the MK1200RS, and probably should have left well enough alone.  Always head-strong and cantankerous, Whiz continued with ever-weirder bike designs.

The Whizmo2000
©WhizDesignz 1989

The WhizBurgerTrikeBike
©WhizDesignz 1992

The last straw with Whizmo's failing cycle design business came in 1995, with the WhizCowTrike, pictured below.  It had a nasty tendency to emit gas in the corners.

The WhizmoCowTrike
©WhizDesignz 1995

With Whiz's design business in decline, and Gizmo's failure to find a new riding partner, the boys staged a reunion tour in 1997, and the magic was back. 

Back together again

And that's (somewhat) the truth. 

* = true fact


Results -- Contest #12 -- Music From the Road III

Here are the contest results from 'Music From the Road III'.  We certainly have some hard-core music fans out there! Congratulations to Glenda Revelle of NYC, who scored 24 out of 26 possible points with her response.  David Grady came in second with 17 points, and Russ Richards followed with 16 points.    Thanks to all who participated.

Contest #12: Music From the Road III
(Click here to listen to the clues)
Song Artist Soundtrack
1. Baby on Board Homer's Barbershop Quartet
(Apu, Barney, Homer & Moe)
From 'Songs in the Key of Springfield'
(From the TV show 'The Simpsons')
2. The Motorcycle Song Arlo Guthrie  
3. One More Ride Sons of the Pioneers  
4. Ticket to Ride The Beatles  
5. Gone Ridin' Chris Isaak  
6. Key to the Highway Eric Clapton & BB King  
7. 500 Miles Seldom Scene  
8. Beep Beep
    (aka 'Little Nash Rambler')
The Playmates  
9. Roadhouse Blues The Doors  
10. That Lost Highway Hank Williams  
11. The Old Men Down
      The Road
John Fogerty  
12. Drive Faster The Vicksburgs From the movie 'That Thing You Do'

 

Results -- Contest #13 -- Count The Clicks

We've concluded that our Whizmo and Gizmo Online Motorcycle Adventure readership is lazy.  How else can we explain that the simpler we make the contests, the better the turnout?

Before running this contest, we briefly considered doing it 'The Price Is Right' style, asking for the closest answer without going over.  Well, it wouldn't have made any difference because EVERYBODY estimated low.  The actual number of total camera clicks through 17 days of our tour is 1,756.  Yes, we've been averaging over 100 pictures a day, with Gizmo averaging about 63 and Whizmo about 40.   How else, besides shooting lots of shots, do you think we manage to bring you ten or more quality images a day that look like they came off the cover of Popular Photography?  And if you don't think digital photography can save you money, consider that if we were doing standard 35mm photography, we'd have spent over $500 on film and developing.  For simple web publishing where image resolution isn't that critical and no need to make prints, digital photography is a huge winner.

And our winner?  David Grady, hailing from Mercer Island, Washington, came up with what might have seemed a ridiculously high number of 1,671 and takes the prize, coming within 5% of the actual answer.  Nice going David!  Your Instamatic is in the mail!

Grand Finale Contest -- Pitch the Pitchmen

Despite our earlier proclamation that W&G readers are proverbial couch potatoes, we're going to take a risk and ask for everyone's participation in the Whizmo & Gizmo Grand Finale Contest.

Here's the challenge:  Despite priming the pump with our featured product placement ad suggestions, we still haven't received a single solitary phone call or piece of email offering us a lucrative contract to pitch products.  We've brainstormed the problem extensively and concluded that we're just being way too subtle, or maybe that we're not drinking enough beer.  What we need is a big advertising blitz that sells the W&G franchise in a big way.  And we need your help to write the ad copy!

So here's your assignment.  We want you to submit snappy ad copy that pitches Whizmo & Gizmo as spokesmen.  We need something to convince those reluctant deal-makers that cutting a deal with W&G will send sales through the roof.  We'll publish your pitches right here on these pages.  Then, we'll have everyone vote for the best pitch.  The pitch receiving the most votes will become the official W&G Pitch.  The winner will be awarded the 2002 Grand Finale prize, become an honorary 2002 Izmo, and receive our eternal thanks, and maybe some leftover Frito-Lay Bean Dip.   We're looking for some pretty great submissions from all of you creative types out there ... you know who you are!  This is your time to shine, or at least glow.

Help us out ... submit your pitch by clicking here.  If you want to look at our earlier product pitches for inspiration (but please don't feel constrained to our styles) click here.