The sun was shining, the temperature was 70-something and It was just my dad and I cruising down the road without a care in the world. That was June. It’s now November, the temperature is 30-something and it’s downright gloomy. Even though the weather doesn’t stop me from riding, my riding buddy thinks otherwise. Dad just put his bike away for a long winter’s nap. I’m going to miss tooling around town with him until spring.
Even though we both have a Harley, we are very different in many ways. He’s a blue collar steel worker and I’m not into manual labor at all. He just upgraded to a CD player and I’m on my third iPod. He grew up on Coca-Cola and I’m from the Pepsi Generation. He doesn’t wear a helmet and I have three. You get the point. We are from two different places in time yet we both share something in common. We love to ride our motorcycles.
It has taken our friendship to a new level. Riding a motorcycle is so much more than transportation. It’s recreation. It’s a hobby. It’s therapy.
Dad and I will go out for hours at a time and ‘get lost.’ Sometimes he’ll take me to where he grew up, show me where he used to ride and sometimes we’ll pull off and just talk. I’ve learned so much about my father’s past and he’s learned so much about me because our little day trips.
We make it a point to do a specific run every year. We like to do the Dog Run in Windber PA. We’ve literally watched the run grow from 100 motorcycles to thousands of motorcycles. The run has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over more than 20 years for my hometown of Windber, PA. It doesn’t matter what else comes up on that particular weekend, we go to the run.
Not only has it brought my dad and I together, my mom tags along too. My wife and in-laws join us along with about a dozen friends that we’ve assembled over the years. It’s a fun weekend where there are no social boundaries. Everyone is equal.
I recently watched a “King of the Hill” episode where Hank and Peggy went out and purchased a Harley to bring them closer together. I had to laugh, because it works. I know this first-hand.
My parents act as if they are dating now that my dad has a bigger bike. He and mom go everywhere together. It’s like they are giddy high-school sweethearts all over again living in 1968. It has done wonders for their relationship. My in-laws recently upgraded their bike and they rode to Washington State and back on what turned out to be a 3-week second honeymoon.
Even though Dad is my riding buddy, my wife is my riding partner. When we can get a babysitter, we give the kids a kiss and hit the road. It allows us to focus on each other without the distraction of kids bickering over toys in the back of the mini-van. My wife and I are physically close on the bike with our bodies pressed up against each other. When she wants to talk to me she has to lean forward and talk into my ear. Her arms are wrapped around me and it feels like a hug that lasts for miles.
I guess my point is to show that a motorcycle is much more than a form of transportation. It has brought me closer to the important people in my life. It has taught me more about my Dad. It brought my parents closer together and it strengthened my marriage and reminded me why my wife is my best friend.
The writer is Operations Manager at Hot Metal Harley-Davidson located in West Mifflin.