Monday, January 11, 2010


By Rocky Marks
Western Pennsylvania is home to some of the most beautiful riding terrain in the world. It is also home to some of the most fickle weather conditions in the world. Last January, we were able to sneak out for a quick ride here and there. I don’t think that’s going to be the case this year. I’m afraid we’re stuck until it warms up and some of this salt is washed off of the road.
That being said, there are many ways to get your motorcycling fix in during the winter months.
I’m an advocate of reading about motorcycling. I’m looking at the shelf in my office right now where I have carefully cataloged subscriptions to over 25 magazines. I also have a special box of vintage 70’s Easy Rider magazines that I’m saving for my boys—when they are old enough.
Next to my collection of magazines, is a book shelf loaded with some great stories and how-to advice. The book that I’m currently reading is called “The old Man and The Harley”. It was a Christmas present that I haven’t been able to put down yet.
It’s about a son who takes his aging father on a last ride across America—and discovers a riveting national history. The father originally took the ride in 1939 on an old Harley-Davidson from the New York World’s Fair and San Francisco’s Glittering Golden Gate International Exposition.
It is a truly amazing book. If you’re into American History it’s a good read. If you’re into American History and motorcycles, then this is a must read. When I finish the book, I’ll be sure to share my reflections in a forthcoming article.
There are other books that are less nostalgic but very helpful. There is the updated and expanded “Proficient Motorcycling” book by David L. Hough which is very informational and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles” now in it’s fourth edition and endorsed by Jay Leno.
If reading isn’t your thing, motorcycles are no stranger to the silver screen. There have been many great movies over the years about motorcycling. You can go all the way back to the 50’s and check out The Wild One (1953): Starring Marlon Brando, Mary Murphy and Lee Marvin. Brando rides a Triumph into town, and thousands of guys buy black leather jackets the next week.
Easy Rider (1969): The greatest motorcycling movie ever made, despite some weird, incoherent sequences in New Orleans. Peter Fonda was never cooler. Dennis Hopper writes, directs and stars alongside him as they ride in search of America.
On Any Sunday (1971): Bruce Brown's Oscar-nominated documentary about motorcycle racing across the world, featuring Malcolm Smith, Mert Lawwill and the great Steve McQueen.
Mask (1985): Cher stars as a motorcycle enthusiast with a deformed son in this Peter Bogdanovich film. Sam Elliott as Gar is the leader of a biker gang - but the good kind of biker gang, the kind with a heart. Some great motorcycles, and a kinder, gentler look at motorcycle culture.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991): Is James Cameron's second Terminator film. It is memorable for the scene where Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator walks naked into a biker bar, and announces, "I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle." Beautiful!
The World's Fastest Indian (2005): Roger Donaldson's dramatic version of Burt Munro's attempt to set the land speed record on a 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967. Anthony Hopkins gives a great performance as Munro, a man whose obsession led him to risk everything to reach his goal.
It is my hope that some of those books or movies get you warmed up to thinking about your motorcycle all snug and cozy in the corner of your garage.

If you have a favorite book or movie, I’d love for you to share it with me by sending me an e-mail. My e-mail address is

Rocky Marks is the operations manager for Hot Metal Harley Davidson in West Mifflin and Host of the weekly radio show “On the Road with Rocky” on 1250 AM WEAE.