Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Submitted story: My favorite Harley shirts

by Mike Chlanda

Since I've been a screenprinter of my own line of t-shirts most of my life, I've always noticed what shirts other people are wearing. Of course, the Harley shirts stand out, and I'm not talking about the ones from the Honolulu dealership either. No, I'm talking about the ones with the great slogans on back. Not sure if they're all officially licensed, but they got a chuckle out of me.

First there's the classic "I ripped this shirt off from (name of dealership)." Cute the first few times I saw it. Or the one that has a picture of the sign in front of the dealership - "Harley parking only. All others run over". Then there's the one to answer any questions about the hog's mechanical performance - "Harleys don't vibrate - they throb". Guess he wore that one to remind his old lady. I offered to trade him 3 of my t-shirts for that one, but he wouldn't do it.

My all-time favorite is the call and response one, or the he said she said pair of shirts. His shirt back reads "If you can read this, the bitch fell off". Of course, her response, and of course it's the only approriate one, "This bitch hangs on". The funniest one I saw of this one had bloody fingerprints on the back as if she really was clinging on for dear life.

I'm sure there's tons more of great shirts out there - please submit your favorites and we'll add them to the collection!

Submitted story: That "got it!" moment

I knew that my Grandfather rode a Harley Davison back in the very early days of "Harley-dom". I knew my father rode a bike of generic background until he tried to go up a steep hill on his parents horse farm and had a bad accident, flipping the bike and injuring himself. No more motorcycling for him, said my Grandfather!

Years went by, my Father grew up, married and began to have the first of six children. I am the second eldest, the first "Daddy's Little Girl."

When my Father was in his forties, he and my mother divorced. One of the first things he did was to go out and buy himself his first Harley. He had Lone Eagle painted on the gas tank and every spare moment found him riding everywhere he could. He couldn't get enough of that bike and couldn't ride far enough away, from the pain and the memories.

Each and every year, he rode down to Daytona, FL. My Father spoke to me of a feeling that you get when you are riding. I tried to understand what it was that he was trying to share with me. He said it was like to other feeling on earth and he wished he could explain it better. Perhaps it was one of those things that you just had to feel to understand. Try as I might, I just did not understand what he meant. Although I was darn glad that there was joy in his heart again.

My father eventually remarried, happily and raised us kids to adulthood. A couple of the boys also rode Harley's for a number of years.

When I was in my early thirties, I decided that I also wanted to learn how to ride. My then-husband had wanted to learn too, but it never seemed to fit his schedule. I got tired of waiting and went ahead with my own training. I took the local Defensive Riding Class offered by the State Police and passed with fying colors. I practiced riding almost daily, never straying too far from home. I really needed to ride to build my confidence up. It was also the first time working with a clutch!

After about 6 months, I found myself on a back road, on a Sunday morning and I was coming up onto a hill. The sun was shining, the temperature was perfect, it was a mid-spring day and I was feeling confident on my bike. When I crested the hill, a feeling that I had never felt before came over me and I knew in an instant it was that feeling that my Father had tried to convey to me so many times. I had never felt so free, so one with anything before that moment. I will never forget that moment that I finally "got it!"

I also remember telling my Father about it the next time I saw him. His smile was from ear to ear.

Submitted story: Life in Sturgis

Harley-Davidson motorcycles are definitely a family tradition for my husband and his father. Located near Sturgis, S.D., we have grown up with the summertime rumble of 100's of H-D's roaring thru our town on their way up to the hills.

My husband and his father each year attend the rally on their respective H-D's. Even in the bad years' like the year my father-in-law's shop burned - he "ratted" his dresser for that year - burnt windshield, faring, and lenses - still made it.

H-D definitely makes Sturgis what it is.

Submitted story: Homemade fix

I've been using my '89 sportster as a daily commuter for about 2 1/2 years, and while it's had some problems, it's never left me anywhere. I thought this had changed the other night, the starter had been making some strange noises when the bike was cold, but it had always started.

But when I tried to leave work, it wouldn't crank the motor. It made a noise that indicated that something was turning, but not the motor. Eventually I was able to push start it, and ended up taking the 55 to work for the rest of the week. Last weekend I pulled the primary cover.

When I hit the starter button, the ring gear turned, but not the rest of the clutch basket. It wasn't obvious from the manual how the ring gear was attached, so I pulled the clutch as an assembly. The manual gives instructions that involve disassembling the clutch (using a special tool to compress the clutch spring), but not removing it as a unit. First I removed a snap ring and the clutch adjuster bolt and bearing.

Behind it was another snap ring, this was all that held the clutch on the transmission shaft, but I also needed to pull front primary sprocket. It's held on by a nut that is torqued to 165 ft/lbs, so I used an air wrench to remove it (for all I know this is a terrible thing to do, maybe it wrecks the bearings or crank or something, but it's what I did).

When I got the clutch off, it looked like the ring gear was just pressed on. I used an aluminum drift and hammer and gently tapped it off. It was fairly tight, but it was obvious that it had spun ruining both surfaces. Now I could have bought a new primary sprocket and ring gear, but left to my own devices I just rig stuff up. So I decided to just tack weld the gear on.

I spotted it in 4 places with the mig welder, then cleaned up the welds and any weld beads. The blue tape is covering up the alternator magnets, weld beads and grinding dust would stick to them like crazy. So far this fix has worked fine, but who knows, maybe the welds will cause the ring gear to crack and come apart, wrecking then entire motor and trans.

Submitted story: Top heavy

In 2003, my wife bought a new 100 year edition of the Harley-Davidson 1200 Sportster. When she bought it she had never driven a motorcycle but had ridden on a Harley with her stepdad. She had it for about two months before she took a riding course at the same Harley-Davidson dealership where she bought it. Of course, I rode it a few times to keep it lubricated and keep the battery charged, or that is what I told her.

She successfully completed the riding course and began riding it often. I ride another brand of cruiser.

She has dropped it twice. Both times it was while stopping or while stopped. Apparently the 1200's are a little top heavy when you turn the handle bars sharply and don't have much power or speed on the bike. Both times the falls were complete surprises to her. Neither time was the bike damaged.

However, the second time she dropped it, it fell to the right side and nearly trapped her foot. Realizing the bike was going to fall on her foot she jumped away from the bike. Unfortunately, the way the dip stick is stuck into the oil tank allowed her heel to catch it and pull it out of the tank. Since the bike was tipped over she lost quite a bit of oil before getting the bike upright.

Thankfully we were about .2 of a mile from the dealership and I rode up there and bought some oil and refilled the tank. Some other readers might like to be warned about the top heavy tendency of the bike. A male could probably wrestle it and keep it from falling but it tends to be hard to do for some ladies.

Submitted story: Want to be like Dad

The Harley Davidson is seriously the most respected motorcycle and most impressive bike out on the road today.

When my dad first brought home his Harley he was like a little kid all over again it was like nothing I had ever seen before I had never seen a grown man so happy about something in his entire lifetime. When he got off that bike after riding it around for hours it only made me want a Harley even more.

My dad has taken that bike to work and every day since he got it he is a true Harley rider. He loves to ride he is not one of these people that trailers their bikes into Sturgis and then rides it around for one week a year. No that is not a true Harley rider.

The true Harley rider wants to ride that bike every chance they get and that is what my dad is a true lover of the Harley Davidson. When winter finally does roll around and he can't ride his bike anymore its like taking a toy away from a four year old.

The day he puts a tarp on that bike and puts it in the garage for the winter is one sad day at our household. But like a five year old that knows where the cookie jar is he inevitably ends up taking that bike out again at some point during the winter when there is at least one nice day when the roads are clear.

All I can really say is I hope that some day I can own a Harley and enjoy it as much as my dad enjoys his Harley Davidson.

Submitted story: Long Live Harley!

I know that people who are writing about their Harley experiences often are ones that have had years of love and knowledge of what it feels like to be on a Harley. I do not fit that category. I am 41 years old and spent years afraid of getting on a motorcycle of any type. I had a cousin killed in a freak accident many years ago and my parents beset in me the fear of motorcycles. This all changed a year ago. I met an avid Harley rider and that changed my world. I know this may sound odd, and perhaps unbelievable but my first experince on his Harley was life changing. He talked me into hopping on the back of that bike, and within that moment I found a whole new world. It was as if I had always been meant to be on a Harley. The wind in face, the landscape passing by, the chill in the air, all worked together to create an almost surreal experience. I haven't been able to stay away now from riding. It is an intergal part of my life, my relaxation, my concept of the world. Long live Harley!!!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Harleys and the Super Bowl

I guess I'll go see it (or maybe watch it on HBO when it comes out), but the new movie Wild Hogs, advertised during the Super Bowl, doesn't look that promising.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Submitted story: First ride

My first motorcycle ride was on the back of Jeff's Harley Davidson. I felt like an astronaut with the helmet plopped on my head. My stomach turned over as though I was climbing onto a roller coaster. All the warnings my mother ever interjected into her lectures spun through my mind: "Wear your seat belt. Be careful. Don't ride with strangers. Don't make stupid choices. And be careful."

I experienced Carmel Valley Rd as I never had before. I could smell the flowers, strawberries and horse manure instead of the fake vanilla air freshener I bought at 7-11. Cut grass wafted our way as we drove past the high school. The heavy grease of a restaurant drifted our way. The flowers popped, their colors bright. I had never seen them like this before. Their beauty had always been obscured by the dingy car windows.

There was no music, only the sound of the engine and occasionally a sound from nature would break through the steady rhythm of the motorcycle. I felt the wind of passing cars as we waited to make a left turn.

As we approached the next traffic light we by passed the waiting traffic, riding right up to the light. At the first sight of green, we cut off the waiting cars. Jeff was a very considerate driver. He didn't take turns too fast or drive to fast. He was more concerned that I had a good time than showing off. We got returned to Jamie's house, my best friend and his new girlfriend.

Soon after, Jeff moved to Japan, taking Jamie and his bike with him. I always wondered what Japan looks like, smells like and feels like from the back of a Harley.

Submitted story: Any weather

I love to ride my HD often and in any type of weather. These bikes were really meant to be on the open road.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Submitted story: A son's memories

The earliest memory I have of riding a Harley is when my dad used to own one when I was around 4 or 5 years old. He would take me riding around the neighborhood and I can remember thinking it was the most exciting and fun thing I could ever do. definitely a treat for good behavior. He wouldn't go fast like I always wanted him to but it was still awesome riding on that hog. He sold it before I knew it for reasons still unknown, and the guy that bought it promptly crashed it. I'll never forget those early days of my life with my dad on that bike.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New windshield bag

New windshield bag
Originally uploaded by Seattle Dave.

Thanks to my father-in-law, Joe, for this awesome new Harley-Davidson windshield bag!

Submitted story: The day I learned to forever respect a Harley

When I was a young kid, I had an Uncle that always seemed to have more than a few Harley Davidson’s parked in his garage, as well as sometimes parked in his kitchen, living room, and even down the hallway. Looking back now that I’m older, I can see where he was coming from.

He once had two of his Harley’s stolen out of his garage at the same time, even though they were parked behind a car that was broke down and fairly difficult to move. The thieves actually picked up the bikes and carried them over the hood of the car to get them out. Apparently when it comes to stealing a Harley, nothing is too much to overcome.

After I graduated high school and being a typical seventeen year old kid who of course knew it all by then, I had moved in with that same Uncle and within six months had him talked into co-signing on either a new Harley Sportster or a new sports car. Being that the winters in Illinois can be brutal and the fact I couldn’t afford to have a new Sportster and pay for even a beat up car to survive the winters, I chose for the latter of the two. This would be a decision I would regret ever since and probably for the rest of my days. I look back and wonder where I would be now if I had gone for the Harley and not the sports car.

During the year or so that I lived with my Uncle, I did get to learn a lot about his Harleys as well as plenty of others. On more than a few occasions I would spend hours upon hours detailing his bikes, of course after I had finished with my nice shiny black Mustang parked out in the front yard. Back in the day during those times, regardless of having a driveway off the main street, when you wanted to show off your rides, you didn’t park them in the driveway, you pulled them onto the front yard for everyone to take notice.

Even though I never learned to ride and had never ridden a motorcycle, I was allowed to move my Uncle’s bikes in and out of the garage, either after he had finished riding or if I was cleaning them for him. Surprisingly enough, just cleaning and detailing a Harley seemed to make a difference in the way I felt, I could only imagine actually owning one and taking one out for a ride.

Well one day after my Uncle came back from one of those oh so enjoyable rides, I asked if I could park it in the garage for him, which I had done countless times. Of course he let me, although I always asked before just touching one of his bikes. That was something that never needed to be explained, you never touch a man’s Harley without permission.

As luck would happen, that day I was wearing shorts, and after hopping on it and just as it started going forward, as the second step from my right leg had gone back, I was immediately aware of my mistake. I had just for a half a second made contact with the exhaust pipe with my right calf and immediately smelled the burnt flesh which was about three inches wide and roughly eight inches long. The only good part of it was I had managed through the pain not to drop the bike and for some reason continued on to move the bike into the garage.

To this day I have a scar about half that size and will forever remember the day I forgot, even for less than a second, to respect a Harley, even if it wasn’t mine.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Submitted story: Little Harley Girl

by Cindy Holcomb

I have a ten-year-old daughter whom I consider to be one of Harley Davidson's biggest fans. She can hear one approaching long before anyone else in the family can - if we are outside, she will tell us (before we even hear the motorcycle) that one is coming - and sure enough, a few minutes later everyone else hears it.

No one in the family rides - so, her love for Harley's is all her own (although, personally, I love motorcycles).

How did it all begin? When she was two, we lived in an upstairs apartment. The man who lived below us owned a Harley Davidson. This is where it all began! She loved to be outside when he cranked the motorcyle - she would clap her hands and you could just see the sparkle in her eyes! On the weekends, this neighbor would come home sometimes at two or three o'clock in the morning - but, she heard him before he even turned onto our street. She would run into my room and shake me awake - "Mommy! Mommy! Mo-cycle!! Wet's go!"

Now, some Mom's would have sent her back to bed - but not me! Oh no! I would get up, take her onto the porch, and wait for the motorcycle to pull in - just so she could get a glimpse of it and dream of Harleys all night! Our neighbor always looked up and waved because he knew that we would be standing there waiting for him! He even had a special polishing cloth just for her - and when he cleaned his motorcycle, he let her help him shine the chrome!

To this day, she still has that same love of Harley Davidson's! Each year, Santa brings something "Harley Davidson" to put under the tree for her. And, she loves to talk to the people who ride the motorcycles that we see! One of the biggest thrills in her young life happened a couple of years ago - when our landlord gave her a ride around the block on his Harley! You could see her shaking with excitement!

We went into a store that sells Harley Davidson's - and she had to touch each motorcycle on the sales floor. The owner of the store thought she was adorable - he said you could see the sparkle in her eyes as she approached each motorcycle. Just yesterday, she and I were in the van and passed a restaraunt. She began to bounce in her seat, shouting - " Mommy! Mommy! Look!" I looked - and what do you think I saw? The entire parking lot was filled with Harley's!! She said - "Oh my God, Mom! That is like Hog Heaven!" I thought I might actually run off the road laughing at her.

So, of course, there was only one thing that I could do. I turned that van around and pulled into the parking lot so that she could get a close look. The riders were outside, so I stopped and asked if they were just getting there or leaving. One said that they were just getting there - and I explained that I had to pull in because she wanted to hear them crank the motorcycles. So, he called his buddy over - the owner of the motorcycle nearest us and asked if he would crank it up for her. Of course, he did! And, I think the pure, unadulterated excitement displayed by this little girl at the sound of that motorcycle revving up will stay with those riders for a while. They couldn't help but laugh when she began bouncing in her seat and clapping her hands - that special gleam in her eye! I am sure you all know exactly what gleam I am speaking of - the one each of you had when your love for Harley Davidson first began!

So, if you are ever driving through a small town in Northern Alabama - and you pass a white van carrying a little girl who is so excited she can barely stay in her seat, you know that you have met my little Harley girl - living in her little Harley world! Harley riders - meet one of your future sisters! Now, if we can only talk her out of painting her room black and orange!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Submitted story: Jury Duty

Around the middle of his life, my Dad bought a Harley and began to embrace the riding lifestyle as a serious hobby. Mind you, during the day, he was a mild-mannered engineer for a big company whose name I'm sure you have heard. In fact, he became so immersed in motorcycle culture, my mom felt forced to by her own Harley and learn how to ride, just so she could spend time with my Dad.

Anyhow, at some point, as happens to us all, my Dad received a notice in the mail informing him that he was required to report for jury duty. If there was anything my Dad detested, it was jury duty! Don't get me wrong, my Dad would do anything for the good old USA, he just didn't want to "get involved" with the justice system. He spent many hours pondering how he could get excused from the duty, legally of course.

But Dad wasn't a student, didn't have an airline trip booked, and so on -- basically he was going to have to report for duty. So, his only hope was that he would somehow NOT get chosen to sit on a jury. What could he do to stack the deck in his favor?

He took the entire afternoon off from work that day. He went home at lunchtime (he was scheduled to report to the courthouse at 2 pm) and began the transformation: he put on all of his riding gear -- black leather chaps, black leather vest, bandana, and all the rest of his riding gear -- and THEN proceeded to the courthouse. Guess what? He didn't get picked.

Submitted story: California ridin'

Here in sunny Temecula, in Southern California, Quaid Harley-Davidson is the hub of hog activity. On a typical Saturday, a group of us will gather there or perhaps down the street a bit at the Swing Inn and eat breakfast before we hit the road (Highway 79 South) and wind our way up through the hills on our way to Palm Springs. The scenery is a bit sparse, brown and dry most of the year. But further up the highway, pine trees sprout from the rocky soil and there are a few organic farms and even a winery!

When you reach the summit and start your descent toward Palm Springs, the terrain becomes harsh and dray again. There are huge boulders and few plants other than cactus and sagebrush. But the stark, moonlike landscape is hauntingly beautiful particularly at night on a Harley. Definitely keep your eyes and your wheels on the road as it twists and turns on a fast descent. This stretch of road is a great one to let loose and lean into the curves on. Be sure you and your Hog are ready for it if you try racing down the mountain.

This is great ride, even for a beginner, but you do need to exercise caution on some of the sharper turns. The views are spectacular and if you go in the winter, sometimes there's even snow. In the summer, this ride is a great way to ride up and out of the heat of the valley and experience the real joy of riding. There's nothing better than feeling the vibration of a twin vee motor beneath you and all around you as you make another journey with your friends.

-- Diann

Submitted story: She's a little runaway

Well I'm pretty young in the biking world. My father was a biker he rode a H.D. so I'm a product of a rider. When I was 18 I decided to go on a soul searching tour of the big U.S.A.

I set out on a Sunday when my mama was at church I left her a note saying "I'll be back whenever" and I stole my dad's Harley. I had $250 in my wallet and I intended to go far with it. I started out in Kansas the sun was to my west and I got a hell of a suntan on left side.

That first night I slept in rest stop bathroom stall. I ate the crappy stale potato chips from the vending machines. I continued to do this for about 2-3 more days and on the third day I stopped I think it was highway 27 somewhere near Florida or Georgia when I saw a group of motorcyclist. I asked them "where ya'll going" when the oldest cyclist, a 58 yr. old man by the name of Bill said "down to the Indian reservation for a bike reunion."

I asked if I could go and they said if I wanted too. So from that day on I was traveling down highway 27 in Florida. I instantly fell in love with the pine trees in Florida, the sloping hills of green grass, and we had even passed through a city called Sebring that had a beautiful lake in the center. We had finally come to the reservation where we joined up with some more bikers.

It was my first experience with matured bikers other than my dad. They were burly men and beautiful suntanned women all sagacious and full of humor. I couldn't tear myself away from these people and I was something of an oddity to them. I was only 18 yrs. old, I was a single female, and they started calling me "purdiest li'l angel out in the wild."

I spent a week in their company when they departed. I couldn't go nowhere because I had no money so I stayed in that town until I had collected enough money to make my way back home. I had experienced my first bike ride and I was ready to get my life started. I went back to Kansas where I went to school to study mechanics and got a job fixing up old bikes. I ride everyone in a while but I'll always remember my first ride.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Submitted story: Too many hogs in New Hampshire

Living in NH is a visual and outdoor bonanza. The great outdoors call to many people in many ways, and not only state residents.

We welcome a lot of visitors, two especially famous groups. The first group that comes to mind generally speaking annoys the entire state on a local level, but interplays with the economy of this tiny sliver of land to such an important level that we welcome our 'Leaf Peepers' with open arms. And just drive slowly and patiently through October 10th or so through the next couple of weeks. The folliage turns from North to South, and in reverse duplicates the path of our other visitors: The bikers.

Bikers Week. Laconia. Harleys. Tatoos. Weirdos. NH is one of the most conservative states in the union. So whoever thought up this place for Motorcycle Week? It is wonderful watching the local news. The videographers seem to be having the most fun, tight shots of the clothing, piercings, tatoos, and best of all, traffic jams. Oh, I didn't mean traffic jams. I meant monster traffic jams, caused by all the local merchants putting up no parking signs in front of their shops.

Now why the bikers keep coming back for so much more rude treatment I don't know, but I suspect it is something like a tradition. The bikers against the locals. The locals make plenty of money off of the bikers. And just how many of those bikers are what we called bikers when we were kids in the 50's? Man, we'd run in the house if one of those scary looking guys was across the street. And there was no doubt-these those folks didn't have another identity as an accountant during the rest of the week. Call me weird but isn't that odd? Those bikers back then seemed to hold their hogs together with bailing wire and spit, but they could do it all themselves.

Sometimes I wonder, when I see the new 'bikers', if they don't stop somewhere and throw dust over themselves and their $25,000 hogs. Those aren't hogs, those are BMWs with two wheels missing. Airconditioned, music, what other options I can't even think of.

Now as I am a grown up feminist I would say the way that Bikers' Chicks were said to be treated in the 'old days' was not healthy. I have seen some photos of new bikers partying that look pretty much like New Orleans used to look for Mardi Gras, only complete with hogs all over the place. Listening to the rumbling is the first sign I have that the crowds are coming. The sounds of both tuned and needing tuning engines are coming through town for a rest, food, whatever, first just a half dozen or so, then more, then suddenly they are all over the place, and talking.

I listen and whoa; they sound just like everyone else planning a road trip. And they look very well groomed under their $1,000 Harley-Davidson duds. The conformity of looks in automobiles is spilling over into motorcycles, with any number trying for the retro Harley-Davidson look. I know a doctor who bought two special edition Harley-Davidsons for some reason or another - I forget. But a legendary bike has turned into another object of conspicuous consumerism, and noise pollution.

Does this mean I don't love riding? I love riding, but have stopped because I feel that in all good ethics, the planet cannot afford any more sullying with carbon based petrochemicals. Since the general riders of today are educated, savvy people, involved in politics even, I would propose to work together to save this country we love to cruise, and worry a bit less about the cruisers and the cruisees.

Not ten miles from Laconia there are huge lakes, dead from acid rain. A dead lake is so butt ugly it makes me want to cry. Just black tree stumps sticking out from along the edges, and then black water. Nice camping goal, hey? Just boil the water forever, because you can't ever drink it.

Submitted story: Fresh from the Factory Floor Experience

By A. McMillan

A one time propeller factory in Wauwatosa Wisconsin, is now the home of Harley-Davidson Powertrain Operations. Bought in 1947 for the manufacture of miscellaneous motorcycle components, the spacious 450,000 square foot facility is now devoted to the manufacturing of Sportster and Buell powertrains.

Those motorcycle enthusiasts who wish to reminisce on Harleys rich history will not be disappointed. This tour features a Harley-Davidson engine timeline that takes you from the beloved “Flathead” to the modern Twin Cam 88. You want to take a seat on the newest Harley–Davidson and Buell models? Well you will get the chance, not to mention visiting the gift shop where all kinds of tour–related merchandise can be found.

Next, it’s on to the theatre where you see a video on Motor Company history.

Then the real fun begins as you reach the factory floor. Sportster and Buell powertrains come to life before your very eyes and your going to witness the rather loud birthing pains, as engines are hot-tested to make sure they meet strict Harley –Davidson standards of quality.

As the only Harley–Davidson facility in Wisconsin that allows public tours, it is a one hour experience that truly can’t be missed. So drop what you’re doing and come see where 600 hundred employees bring the most famous motorcycle in the world to life.

Tours begin at 9:30 a.m. and run at regular intervals through to 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tickets, as always are distributed first come first serve so make sure you arrive early to avoid any problems.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Submitted story: One good ride

I am not much of a motorcycle rider, but I have a very fond memory of one Harley-Davidson ride I took sixteen years ago.

I was about seven years old, and I lived in rural Pennsylvania. A friend of my parents came to visit on his motorcycle. I don't know how he did it, but he convinced my (somewhat overprotective) parents to let him take me and my brother for a short ride on his motorcycle. It was a beautiful black Harley with lots of gleaming chrome. I don't remember what kind of bike it was or any other specifics, just that it was a beautiful machine.

Being the oldest, I went first. My parents' friend gave me a helmet and lifted me onto the bike. He started the motor and off we went. I'll never forget that exhilarating ride. It felt as if we were flying. The roar of the motor was loud and majestic, and the world just fell away. All of the admittedly minor concerns of a seven-year-old girl were blown away as we flew down the street.

It was only a short ride, but it was a marvelous and thrilling experience that I still remember vividly to this day. I have never felt anything quite like it before or since. Whenever I encounter a gleaming black motorcycle in the street, I remember that thrilling freedom I experienced ever so briefly, and it makes me long to experience it again. I am a penniless graduate student right now, but some day I will have my own gleaming black Harley and experience it again.