Ahhh, the Holiday Season is finally over. No more hustle and bustle and crowded stores. The candy will soon be gone to make way for healthier choices so that we can begin our traditional New Year’s resolution that usually lasts for a few short weeks.
All over the region, chrome goodies that Santa brought are getting bolted on, batteries are getting plugged in to be trickle charged and on the occasional sunny day, guys and gals are rolling their bikes onto the driveway to tease their two wheeled pride and joy with a taste of the sun.
Although there are riders like myself that don’t have an end or beginning to the season, the vast majority of motorcyclists put their bikes away at the first sign of snow and get them out sometime after the April showers wash all of the salt off of the road. Even though many bikes are in hibernation, it’s not too early to start thinking about the 2009 riding season.
As the year progresses, rides will start appearing in magazines and on the internet. You can find everything from national rides and rallies to local poker runs and swap meets to everything in between.
The biggest start to the riding season nationally is Daytona Bike Week which kicks off on February 28th and lasts until March 7th. Being that we are from the northeast, there is always the threat of snow. Many riders choose to trailer their bikes down and get them out once they are out of Jack Frost’s icy reach. To many in the riding community, this is one of the only times where it’s acceptable to trailer your bike.
Rolling Thunder is a ride that takes you to our Nation’s Capital and it’s a very emotional ride that happens over the Memorial Day weekend. The premise of the ride is to call for the government’s recognition and protection of Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action. Typically 400,000 veterans will roar across Washington DC on their motorcycles as a tribute to American war heroes. You don’t have to be a veteran to ride in the parade, you just need to love the United States of America.
Locally, you can head over to Johnstown for Thunder in the Valley between June 25th and June 28th to take in some great bike rally activities. Some like to make it a quick day trip while others like to spend at least one night in the flood city. There you can experience test rides of the latest and greatest bikes from many manufactures, part and accessory vendors will be on hand, and sample food from many local businesses that support the motorcycling community.
If you are looking for something longer than Johnstown but shorter than Washington DC, you can always take in Gettysburg Bike Week July 9th through July 11th. I’ve been out that way many times in both a vehicle and on my bike. I prefer riding my bike because you can take your time looking at the monuments and battlefields. It’s much easier to park and maneuver around the tourists. Not to mention the ride along route 30 is beautiful in July. You can make a full weekend out of it and stop at the Flight 93 Memorial, go through Old Bedford Village and pull in to Gettysburg all in one day.
Whether you’re a Harley-Davidson fan or a metric motorcycle fan, there is something to be said for the manufacturing of an American Icon. I would strongly recommend making reservations for a tour of the factory in York, PA on your way out to Gettysburg. During your visit, you can walk along catwalks strategically placed in the factory, walk through the factory itself in a guided tour through the various work stations, and end up at a museum at the very end of the tour.
There are way too many rides and rallies to cover in one article. The Pittsburgh Rides Website is a valuable resource for rides and rallies. It is updated often, so please check it out weekly. I would also encourage you to go on-line or pick up a copy of a local bike magazine. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
The best part about motorcycle rallies is that you don’t have to be a motorcyclist to enjoy the events. Bikers come in all forms, shapes, sizes, races, and backgrounds. Riders welcome anyone and everyone to share in the events. Whether you ride an American motorcycle or a foreign motorcycle, whether you have two, three or four wheels, the events are about brotherhood and sisterhood.
Let’s face it, everyone has daily worries and things going on in their life that may be a little stressful. During these events, you can’t help but set those thoughts aside even for just a few hours and be part of a community that truly embraces freedom and unity.
The writer is Operations Manager at Hot Metal Harley-Davidson located in West Mifflin and Host of “On the Road with Rocky” on 660 AM Thursdays @ 10AM.