Late start hasn’t slowed local man’s motorcycle mania

Audrey Caro

Ian Mowry normally travels solo, but after finishing a six-day motorcycle ride with the Santa Barbara Wind & Fire Motorcycle Club recently, he’s already looking forward to another group tour next year.

“It’s the best experience I’ve had in my entire life with a group of people,” Mowry said. “I’ve always been a loner. They all accepted me.”

Mowry, 80, rode with two of his stepsons, Robert Coleman and Randy Coleman, the latter a retired firefighter from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. The motorcycle club is made up mostly of retired firefighters, Mowry said.

They rode 2,500 miles through northern and southern California.

Mowry took plenty of photos along the way, including one of a movie theater in Susanville, Calif. where he and his late wife Barbara saw “Jaws” when it came out.

They lived there before moving to Sweet Home about 40 years ago, he said.

Mowry met Barbara Coleman, who had seven children at the time, when he retired from the Air Force in the early 1970s.

“They have all taken me as their stepdad,” Mowry said. “We all are family.”

During his 20 years in the Air Force, he rode different types of motorcycles in Europe. Of those BMW was his favorite.

“I stopped riding after I got out of the Air Force and got married,” Mowry said.

Following his service career, he earned an associate’s degree in gunsmithing from Lassen College in Susanville and worked as a gunsmith for a couple of years. After that, he did security work in Sweet Home and worked in the warehouse at West Coast Industrial.

Mowry also was a longtime member of the Elks Lodge in Sweet Home and served as photographer for the organization for many years.

A lot of that came to a halt when his wife Barbara died in December of 2014.

“After we lost her, I was lost as to what to do, so I decided to start riding again,” Mowry said. “I bought a motorcycle and the rest is history.”

He bought a Honda Goldwing trike.

Mowry bought his first Harley-Davidson motorcycle before the motorcycle club ride.

“Randy had been after me for years,” he said.

He took his black 2015 Tri Glide Ultra Classic on the motorcycle club ride at the beginning of May and traded it on the way back for a red 2017 Tri Glide with a Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine.

That’s a step or two up from his first motorcycle, which he bought when he was 15 or 16 years old.

“It was an old, old motorcycle, with a pedal start,” Mowry said. “I bought it used. (It was in) a bushel basket in pieces and I had to put it together.”

While Mowry is looking forward to the motorcycle club ride, he won’t be sitting idle.

His summer calendar is quickly filling up. He plans to ride to Seattle in June, to the Miner’s Jubilee in Baker City, and to Pendleton Bike Week in July.

Some day, he said, he would like to see Monument Valley, the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.

“I’m open to suggestions for anything else,” Mowry said.