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Published: Saturday, 6/30/2001

Toledoan motorcycles through U.S. and Canada

Clement “Lefty” Lewis, 75, of Recamper Road, a lifelong Toledo-area resident, has set himself two ambitious goals for this year:

Before the warm weather ends, he intends to have completed motorcycle trips to 49 states and also to have visited every province in Canada.

A motorcyclist for more than 30 years, Mr. Lewis plans trips to Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey, which will establish his record of visits to every state in the union except Hawaii.

Though he was named Clement, the left-hander has been known always as Lefty. He was given that nickname at age 13 when he was a caddy at the former Sunningdale Country Club, which is now Tamaron Country Club on Alexis Road.

During warm weather months Mr. Lewis makes his Honda Gold Wing motorcycle practically a second home. Sometimes he even tows a camper.

A retiree of the Odland Iron Works, Inc., where he worked 22 years, Mr. Lewis estimates that he has motorcycled at least 250,000 miles since 1970, usually with one or more companions.

Normally he makes four to eight trips a year, most of them on the spur of the moment. Once a decision is made to go, however, he plans details of the journey very carefully.

Mr. Lewis is a member of the Black Hawks motorcycle club and the Flag City Riders, a chapter of the Gold Wing Touring Association. He formerly rode with his wife, Nancy, who owned her own motorcycle. She died in 1991.

Mr. Lewis began motorcycling early in life but gave it up for a number of years while he devoted himself to helping his wife raise five children.

“I've been everywhere,” including Alaska last year, he said. “I also included motorcycle club rallies in various states.”

Mr. Lewis travels light, carrying only one week's supply of clothes and stopping at Laundromats one day a week. During his long career as a rider, Mr. Lewis has had minor mishaps. He recalls only one serious accident years ago when he crashed into a highway guardrail.

“Fortunately, I wasn't hospitalized,” he said. “But it scared me like the devil. I've been very careful ever since.”

After this year he has no special goal, but is certain one will come along.

“Someone will say, `Let's take a long ride somewhere.' Another person will suggest a destination, and we start planning. It's that simple.”

Millie Benson is a Blade columnist.

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