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2013 Ride to Work Day

2013 Ride to Work Day

Back in the day when a cowboy joined an outfit he threw down his bedroll in a chuck wagon.  When he does that, he gives his loyalty 100% to the outfit.  It’s a cowboy thing.  If you don’t like the way an outfit is run, you grab your bedroll, pony and ride on down the trail.

It was a code established by the rugged pioneers and is just as relevant in today’s world as back then, but I’ve gotten off topic.

I’m talking about riding for the “motorcycle” brand.

Huh?

Yesterday marked the 21st Annual Ride to Work Day—it’s a day when thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts across the U.S. ride their motorcycles to work in a show of mutual support and solidarity. Originally created by Motorcycle Consumer News columnist Bob Carpenter in 1992, the event has served as a way to promote motorcycles and rider safety; combining the ride with numerous activities around the country, including charitable events.

Many riders don’t need another incentive to ride, but the Ride to Work Day is not just something to talk about, but to participate in.  I count myself as one of the thousands of motorcycle riders and enthusiasts across the U.S., so I was up early and headed to the ‘plant’ which in of itself is a rare occurrence since I work remote most days.

Sure, I exposed myself to the situation where someone doesn’t obey the rules of the road… like that beat up Toyota mini-van which made an abrupt 2-lane change as they entered onto Highway 217.  The cars were slamming on brakes which was a little concerning, but not nearly as bad as the dude in the well-worn Ford Escape that cut me off on Highway 26.  His NO SIGNAL lane-change was so close that I thought about asking if he’d check my front tire pressure!  Or how about on the way home the lady in the Red Mazda – yeah you – with heavily tinted windows so preoccupied with her cell phone texting that she nearly rear-ended the car in front of her.

I’ve blogged at length about distracted driving in Oregon and how it’s the norm rather than exception and can honestly say that after being on the road in rush hour traffic I was not inspired, but if nothing else I was there in a “show of force” saying I rode to work today!  It was not only an opportunity to raise awareness about motorcycles, but it also provided me a chance to talk about road safety.

And speaking of transportation, one disappointment from yesterday’s Ride To Work event is the seemingly lack of visible support or promotion of two-wheel transportation by John Kitzhaber, Oregon Governor or the legislators.  You might recall that Governor Kitzhaber met recently with and challenged the Oregon Transportation Commission to create a 21st century transportation system that best serves Oregonians.  And, I’m quoting here… “A transportation system that will attract and grow business, provide mobility, reduce the carbon impacts of transportation and transition into a truly multimodal and efficient transportation system for the state of Oregon.”

I would think that two-wheel transportation is part of that “system” and the absence of visible support is odd given Oregon’s home-grown, Brammo that manufactures electric motorcycles in Ashland, and it’s perplexing given that Senators Ron Wyden and Representative Greg Walden worked to get a tax credit extension for Brammo.

One has to ask if we have the right group of individuals at the transportation table at the beginning of the process to define the problem and solution together?

Photo of author.

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I’ve noticed lately that I’m getting old-r. Maybe ’cause it’s that time of year for a lot of birthdays or maybe it’s my lack of patience?  Anyway I’m standing in the Starbucks line to buy my normal Grande Coffee and it’s like freakin’ 700 people long ’cause the only thing the teenage boy at the register is thinking about is the teenage girl at the other register and some lady has her purse inside out trying to win the “exact change” trophy…Mac, take a breath…it’s only 6:30am so, just drink your coffee and chill…

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, I’m getting old-r and as a “Generation Jones” I’m starting to question if I’m living the dream or just growing old (dis)-gracefully.

When I think about this age gig and demographics I’m sort of hip and fit into the internet generation. I do “The Google“, I blog a bit, I’m on Facebook, I Flickr and Picasa photo’s, I connect with groups on CollectiveX, I’ve planned parties on MyPunchBowl, I’m hip to Wikipedia, I manage calendars online with Eventful, I Digg lots of articles on the web, I jog with an iPod, I ride a Harley.  But, then I get reminded just how “un-cool” I am when I can’t find music on the mainstream radio that I like and I tire quickly of the “10/2-minute” (10 minutes of ads for 2 minutes of content) rule of commercialization.

Speaking of music, how about that hip-hop Jibb’s song ‘Chains‘.  I was flipping radio channels in the cage and thought…Jibbs who?! I don’t get it. I understand the lyrics and get the thump, thump, thump, but I could hardly change the channel fast enough!  If it’s hip-hop then I’m into the Kid Rock ‘Cowboy‘ style.  Nobody I know is wearing a chain with their ‘NAME’ spelled out in diamonds. They don’t have 26’s (rims) on a Range Rover.  Heck most of us are driving a Pontiac Sunfire or Toyota Corolla’s… on 12’s… and with squeaky brakes…, so why is everyone bounc’n to Chains?

What’s next?  Harley is not “cool” and I’ll need to mortgage the house for a six-figure V-Twin custom that’s overloaded with billet and explosions of flame colors?!

Yep, I’m getting old-r because I don’t care if people want to debate what is or is not cool.  I personally, couldn’t care less.  I’m going ridin’.  Ya comin’?

Bicentennial poster photo courtesy of H-D Museum.

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Miller Park

Miller Park

The Club H.O.G. 25th celebration started Thursday, August 28th at Miller Park Stadium (home of the Milwaukee Brewers).  Free for H.O.G. members the day-long celebration was prior to the start of the 105th Anniversary event.

We departed about 9:30am to get a jump on the day and drove the twenty minutes which came to an abrupt stop on the Interstate near the stadium exit.  Surprise, there’s a huge traffic jam! 

H.O.G. Director

H.O.G. Director

Not knowing exactly what or where we were headed…the delay due to poor traffic control wasn’t obvious until after we got parked in the stadium lot.  Once parked, we waited in a long line that took approx 35 minutes to get into the refreshments and concert area.  Within an hour it became obvious that it was going to be a “sardine packed” day and the heat/humidity was increasing.  The State Police lined I-94 and started controlling access to the exit having people go around the stadium and come in from an alternative direction.  I’ve never seen so many motorcycles let alone so many Harley’s.  Incredible!

DB Bryant Band

DB Bryant Band

While we were in line we made some new friends and shared stories of the open road.   The camaraderie of standing in line meant we all got to chat with H.O.G. members from around the world.   Many seemed surprised we rode out from the Northwest rather than trailer.

Capitol HD Plant

Capitol HD Plant

As the day progressed all you could hear was the low drone of exhaust and see a constant stream of motorcycles snaking their way into Miller Park. Wow, the place was packed! I’d be remiss not saying there was excitement building. Space presented some challenges, but people were laughing, hugging, joking, and having an overall good time. We let the DB Bryant Band rock us for a while with their cool sounds.

Milwaukee HD

Milwaukee HD

Our group wanted to experience some more of the culture that Milwaukee had to offer, so we left for awhile to enjoy some authentic Harley dealer activity in one of the historic neighborhoods and we dropped in on Hal’s (New Berlin).  We did a drive by of manufacturing plant on Capitol Drive (Wauwatosa) where the powertrain operations are located.

I was told that H.O.G. distributed 250,000 pins and ran out in under four hours.  Wow!

H.O.G. Wall of Ink

H.O.G. Wall of Ink

We headed back to the stadium as it was getting time for Kid Rock.  First off we had to sit through introductions of Jim Ziemer (CEO), H.O.G. executives, MDA spoke person (Luke Christie) and Willie G along with his family.  I’m not sure where they all were prior to the speech, but 3 of the 5 people from Harley-Davidson who spoke were nearly DRUNK…their words slurred and barely understandable.  Willie G went off on some motorcycle story about Harley HYPHEN Davidson…reminding everyone that he had the last name in the motor company’s name….odd, very odd rant.  His son (Michael) did a nice job of interrupting the word slur rant of Willie G. and tried to make some sense of the family business and his passion for making the best motorcycles in the world.

Kid Rock

Kid Rock

Back to Kid Rock and man did he rock the crowd.  People lined the entrances excited to see this dude perform. The songs from his new CD (not on iTunes!) are dam good.  “All Summer Long” is terrific, but the live version of “Half Your Age” is one of my favorites.  The crowd was the biggest sea of people I’ve ever experienced at a concert standing at stage level.  The folks at H.O.G. thought ahead to have the jumbo-tron viewing screens under the beer garden tent and in the food vendor areas. It definitely allowed more people to enjoy the headline act.  Word is that Kid Rock is getting set to roll out his own beer and cigar brand.

All told, I thought it was one great day packed with a whole lot of fun and it was a really cool place to be. Great job H.O.G.!

Interested to know more about our “Ride Home”?  Read the road blogs for: Day 1 HERE, Day 2 HERE, Day 3 HERE, Day 4 HERE and Day 5 HERE.

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