By Judy Steffes Special to Published Jun 19, 2008 at 5:37 PM

NECKARSULM, Germany -- In 1956 a brilliant German came up with a bicycle factory in Neckarsulm. Bicycles and motorcycles. In 1986 the biggest bicycle / motorcycle museum opened in the same city to pay tribute to NSU motorcycles and the history of the bike.

Over 600 motorcycles and 350 bicycles from around the world are featured on five floors of the building.

The oldest bicycle dates to 1897. It's a single speed, black bike with an old leather seat, drop handlebars and cork grips. There's a red pedal brake and a front hand brake that doesn't pinch the rim, yet pushes down on the top of the tire.

A silver name plate, Neckarsolmer Fahrader, is stamped on the top of the rear fender.

There's a kangaroo bike dated 1884 with two chains that have industrial links measuring one-and-a-half-inches long by a half inch thick.

A bicycle built for five, the Dieses Quintuplets dates to 1894 and looks like it's never been used.

The basement of the museum is a stone cavern with arched doorways and old street lights lining the aisle. The oldest series of motorcycles and cars is featured including a 1964 NSU Spider and a 1953 Rennfox racing cycle.

Of all the motorcycles set up in a mock old time repair shop, it's a 1919 Harley Davidson. The workbench is full of old oil cans and wrenches at the ready.

A 1927 Ardie TM 5000 motorcycle is interesting because of the Shell motor oilcan mounted to the front fender.

A 1935 Indian was donated from Springfield, Mass., and there's a 1987 red, white and blue Harley-Davidson from "Easy Rider." A mural of Peter Fonda is the backdrop on the wall with the saying "American Way of Life."

I asked museum technical director Peter Kuhn if I can sleep there for the night. He initially declined but I said in the States, it's allowed. Robin Williams and Ben Stiller slept in a museum and they made a movie out of it.

I'm so close to convincing him I can feel it, but in the end ... no.

Judy Steffes Special to

Judy is a Milwaukee native who is ever exploring the country. Her favorite mode of travel is her 21-speed, blue Centurion bicycle, which she bought after high school. Judy has worked in the local media for the past 20 years. "I need to do something to support my biking habit."

Judy has an extensive history in radio news, having worked at WISN, WUWM, WTMJ, WKTY in La Crosse and WBKV in West Bend. A strong interest in sports also had Judy reporting for ESPN Radio covering the Packers, Buck, Brewers and Badgers. "One of my first Brewer games at County Stadium the security guy yelled as I walked into the locker room ‘LADY IN THE LOCKER ROOM.’ Now it’s so commonplace. But that story makes me sound really old."

Judy is currently working at WISN-TV in Milwaukee. She is a freelance writer and her pieces have been seen in The Small Business Times and The Business Journal. Her travel journal has appeared in Minnesota Trails Magazine, The Statesman and the West Bend Daily News, to name a few.

Aside from biking, running and being active in her community, Judy is known as someone who is "very, very thrifty." "I get candles for Christmas. My friends call them my space heaters because I normally keep the heat in my house at 40 degrees during the winter. It’s not that I can’t afford to turn up the thermostat, I just hate paying for heat."

Judy said her "conservative attitude" plays a part in her bike tours ... not needing to pay for gas and frequently spending nights camping inside churches. "First of all, it makes me feel safe since I’m traveling alone and second all you’re doing is sleeping, so why pay for that. It’s no wonder I can’t ever get someone to travel with me."

Judy grew up in Whitefish Bay and graduated from Dominican High School and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Judy is the second oldest among seven siblings and spends a lot of her time working as a "park tester" along with her eight nieces and nephews.