Indianola Bike Night and Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad Ride, June 2005

Had a great weekend here, it was extra-long – I had taken three days off from work with my DD going away to summer camp on Sunday, and told the DH: we are goin’ ridin’!! Friday night we all went down to a “bike night” in a small-town just south of here; we rode with our friends Garry and Shirley… well over 700 bikes “on the square” in Indianola!! Beautiful evening, great ride both directions. On Monday with Stef at camp we set out to ride from Des Moines to approximately Unionville, MO – actually a tiny town called Livonia – where Steve’s folks live. It is a lovely ride mostly down Highway 5, and we know it well because we’ve done it so many times in the cage. So the landmarks seem to fly by pretty quickly – it’s about 100 miles door-to-door, but we had to gas up and also took a lunch break along the way so it took us about 3 hours to do what’s normally a 2-hour car trip. It was a nice ride down, but we were hot and tired when we got there; we visited a bit with the folks and they encouraged us to take a short nap, which we did, so we felt a whole lot better after that!

My MIL gave me the garden tour of their little converted one-room schoolhouse home, then they took us for a late-afternoon snack up the road at an antique-and-general-store place. After that we headed home and rode it straight through – just as we pulled off the interstate, with about 3 miles to go to home, the wind picked up and the temp dropped about 15 degrees. It was gonna rain, and raid HARD!! We pushed through to home with nary a drop, BUT with 40- and 50-mph wind gusts!! Boy my poor little Sporty was drifting all over the road – even Steve said his Heritage Softail was getting whipped around!! Made it home in the nick of time.

Tuesday was a bust for riding because Steve wanted me to go to the auto auction with him (he’s a car dealer), so we did that – it was an eye-opener, that’s for sure, but man is it tiring! (Who’d think that standing on concrete for four hours, with FIVE auctioneers blaring across five lanes of cars rolling through the sale… would tucker me out! LOL)

On Wednesday I had planned for us to visit either the Wilton Candy Kitchen in Wilton, Iowa (original 1920’s soda fountain and candy store) or the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad in Boone, Iowa. We chose Boone because it’s closer, and Steve was still a little sunburned from Monday. (Everyone at the auction commented on his WHITE forehead and RED face… we explained to everyone that his do-rag was the cause of the mid-forehead “split.”) Had a nice but hot ride to Boone about 45 miles north of here… hung around the Railroad museum and took a ride on the “Fraser Line” – a daily passenger/sight-seeing excursion that travels along the Des Moines River and goes over a 150-foot-high trestle bridge… it was beautiful and we decided that we’d have to come back at some point to take Stef on the train, and then come back yet again to ride the Dinner or Dessert train in the evening. It was an uneventful and easy ride home. <p>

I was glad for the opportunity to take a couple of “destination” rides (as opposed to the generic “riding around” I normally do on weekends), and I’m all the more determined now to do some sort of longer bike trip yet this season… I need saddlebags and a backrest though for sure! <p>

Why Harley-Davidson

by on June 24, 2005
in Brands

In one of the Harley discussion forums I visit, someone asked whether there was anyone in the group who had ever said they would “never” own a Harley, and then found themselves owning one anyway. I thought it was an interesting question – certainly there are people who are obsessively devoted to the brand, and then at the opposite end of the spectrum there are folks who claim that HD has “brainwashed” people with their pervasive merchandising.

I worked this question over in my mind a bit, and realized I had gone through a process to get to the point of Harley ownership. When I first started riding I wasn’t concerned a bit about what I rode. I learned and tested on an old Yamaha 250, and as soon as I had my endorsement I suddenly decided that the “learner bike” wasn’t good enough anymore. So the next spring I bought a new Honda shadow 750 – we had looked at an ’03 Sportster Anniversary edition (with the “Gold Key” package – DON’T get me started on that!) but it would have maxed out our available financing options, PLUS I would’ve had to spend another grand just to lower it and get the bars set back enough to fit me. I couldn’t justify that cost even a little bit! The Honda was a gorgeous bike, though not the one I originally wanted… Still, it grew on me and I was just not itching for an HD.

In late ’04, we bought my husband an ’05 Heritage Softail Classic, and joined the local HOG chapter. He is actually the one who seemed insecure about the fact that I was an associate HOG member and yet rode a Honda, and he kept telling me how much “better” it was to own a Harley, how much more “part of the group” I would feel if I rode a Harley. I didn’t really agree, or necessarily care, but it was the second time in two years he had tried to buy me a Sportster, so I said what the heck, might as well let him! :)

And now? Well, my Sportster is my favorite of all the bikes I’ve owned. It just “feels” different, like it has more motorcycle history behind it or something..?? Maybe it’s the residue of the “bad-ass” image… I don’t know, can’t really explain it, but I feel different on my Harley than I did on my Honda. I know that a lot of people have a big issue (or claim that they do) about Harley logos being on everything, but the end result of all that merchandising is that Harley has built tremendous brand loyalty – and therefore, a community of owners. Frankly, the metric bike companies don’t even come close – and as a former Honda owner, I found it very disappointing that I couldn’t walk into the dealership and buy a cool t-shirt, or even get greeted by my salesman, let alone find out about the next Honda Riders Club event. (Contrast that to my local HD dealer, who contacts me at least monthly by email with an owner’s newsletter and who built a huge new building and included a HOG chapter meeting room in his plans just so his customers would have a gathering spot.)

SO – while I never said never, and while I can’t explain very well why being an HD owner is a great experience, and while I certainly owe my entire “biker beginnings” to the metric bikes, I will be a Harley owner for the foreseeable future. I love my Sporty, and I have to admit, I really like the company behind it too!