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HOG Lewis And Clark Touring Rally

Lewis And Clark Touring Rally

Harley Owners Group registration is now open!

It starts on July 10th in Portland, Oregon and ends July 21st in St. Charles, Missouri.

It’s a throw back to 2002 when HOG led a contingency of riders along the route made famous by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during their 1804 – 1806 expedition.  I didn’t attend the original ride, but wrote about it in a post HERE.  I’m sure the box of commemorative “swag” from HOG only contributed to the adventure and road stories.

From the Pacific Ocean to the banks of the Mississippi River in Missouri, the touring rally will take Harley-Davidson riders to 9 cities along the famed route, numerous museums and interpretive centers, as well as some spectacular wind in the face riding.  It’s an especially great opportunity to ride the famous Bear Tooth Pass and explore Yellowstone National Park.  Here is a post with some photos from when I traveled this route back in 2013.

It’s not an inexpensive touring rally as registration on the members.hog.com website is $450.  It does include numerous meals, commemorative merchandise and special gatherings with fellow participants as part of the event package.

Notes from the website state: Maximum Capacity for the rally is 300. Full members may invite 1 guest on the tour.  The member must register the guest under his/her member number and purchase one of the above packages.  Cancellation: Prior to May 1, 2017 there is no cancellation fee. May 2, 2017 – July 3, 2017 a 50% fee will be imposed ($225).  If the Rally Package has been mailed to members they will need to return the rally package before a refund will be issued.  Cancelation deadline is July 4th, 2017.

Alert: You might not have this issue, but I was registering for the Pacific Northwest Rally earlier in the day and had numerous issues with the HOG website hanging.  I was using a MacBook with Safari browser, but couldn’t get the site to work. I called the HOG Support phone line and it was suggested that I use Google Chrome browser, which I did and it worked fine with that browser.

Photo courtesy of HOG website.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Semi-Truck Fire closes I-90 at Sturgis Rally - 2010

Semi-Truck Fire closes I-90 at Sturgis Rally – 2010

At the 2012 Sturgis Rally attendance was up 7% (official est. at 450K) and in all, the city of Sturgis spent approximately $960K to host the 6-day event which generated nearly $1.4M in revenue.  Nearly $400K profit for the city which has more than double the net profit from the 2011 rally at $197K.  There were 1,012 vendors registered vs. 976 in 2011 and gross sales by vendors were $13.1M compared to $12.6M in 2011.

sturgis-flagAnd the man who made Sturgis?  There are several who come to mind, but one near the top of the list would be Steven Piehl, the Harley executive who invented the Harley Owners Group (HOG).  In 1983, Mr. Piehl worked under Harley’s General Sales Manager, Clyde Fessler, and was given 3 months to launch the program.  They promoted the rally to hundreds of thousands of HOG members and is at least in part responsible for the transformation of Sturgis from a biker party into a profit center.  Mr. Piehl was inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame last year and received the JC “Pappy” Hoel Outstanding Achievement Award for establishing HOG.

HD-Sturgis3Motoring USA is the consultant group that essentially coordinates the Sturgis rally for the city as they help line-up sponsors (Harley-Davidson, Dodge, Jack Daniels, Geico etc.), vendors and publish the official rally magazine.  For their 2012 services they were paid more than $308K ($163K commissions/fees and $145K to publish the official guide).  Ironically, the city of Sturgis paid the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc., $26,944 in licensing fees to use the “Sturgis” name!  Clearly corporate America has found the motorcyclist market and made the profit driven transformation.

Sturgis-night12

Main Street Sturgis at Dusk

Those are a few of the financial aspects of the motorcycle rally.  Sadly, 9 people died at last year’s rally-related accidents and collisions.  In 2011 there were 4 deaths.  And you might have been one of the unlucky riders trapped on the freeway in 2010 after a semi-trailer caught fire (video HERE) and closed the interstate (see above photo)?

It’s also well known that at the Sturgis Rally large numbers of law enforcement descend on the area to make sure those 450,000+ bikers don’t get out of hand.  On any typical week the city has 15 officers to keep the community of 6700 safe.  During rally week it pays a hefty amount for law enforcement hiring people from nine different states.  The city police budget in August is estimated to be in excess of $300K to cover salaries, equipment and other expenses for the event.  Visiting officers are housed and receive two meals a day.  In addition, there are also significant numbers of federal agents (FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshals Service, the National Guard, the Bureau of Land Management and even the National Forest Service) on hand.

loud-american

Loud American Roadhouse (L)

However, budget cuts known as sequestration have stalled the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives attendance and for 2013 there will be fewer federal agents available to keep an eye on things for the first time in 10 years.  The value of announcing this information to the public prior to the rally is interesting.  Is it to alarm the public?  Is it an open invitation for the motorcycle clubs to restart some of the “wild times” prevalent in years past?  Historically, more than 20 ATF agents patrol Sturgis during the Rally.  This year there will one agent in Rapid City who will be on call when the rally officially starts on August 5th.

Remember the 2006 rally shootout between the Outlaws and Hells Angels at Custer?  How about back in 2008 when Sturgis ended with the first shooting in over 20-years where the Iron Pigs (off-duty Seattle LEO – Ronald Smith) had a confrontation with the Hell’s Angels (Joseph McGuire) at the Loud American Roadhouse?  Anytime there is a large gathering of people, there is a potential for an incident, but I would anticipate if any intelligence or threat hits the radar we’ll see it rain law enforcement personnel sequestration or not.

It wasn’t too long ago, the rough, anti-materialistic, anti-authoritarian attitudes showed up on motorcycles en-masse at Sturgis.  The motor company that helped put Sturgis on the map and was once so revered that men tattooed its name on their arms, is now more about demographics, international expansion in China and India and tapping female consumer spending.  For example, Claudia Garber, Harley’s Director of Women’s Marketing Outreach, worked the 2012 rally to convince affluent, professional women that Harleys are really fun to ride.

Yes, the transformation of Sturgis from a quaint biker party into an enormous profit center is fully complete.  Stay classy Sturgis!

Interstate photo courtesy of Renegade Wheels, other photos taken by author at 2012 Sturgis Rally.  The 2012 Sturgis stats are HERE (.pdf).

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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HOG Tablet EditionHarley-Davidson is unleashing the next wave of innovation.

The HOG® Magazine is a perfect-bound magazine published 5 times a year and mailed directly to the members of the Harley Owners Group® (H.O.G.®) as part of their membership package.  The magazine features product information, riding stories, and photographs as well as in-depth stories about motorcycle travels around the world on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

There are a number of good reasons to become a HOG member if you’ve made the commitment to ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  If you’re already a member then you just got a FREE bonus.

I’m talking about the tablet edition of the HOG Magazine.  The tablet edition contains all the same content as the print edition, plus digital-only content such as expanded photo galleries, interactive web links and more.  You can get more information HERE or go directly to iTunes HERE and download the app.

There is no charge for current full and full life members.  The app is included as part of your membership benefits and you don’t need a new account or password for the Apple App Store.  You can use your existing iTunes account credentials to install Newsstand and download the HOG magazine app.

I downloaded the app to an iPad mini this week and the magazine content came to life.  The photo’s pop and it’s easy to navigate the various articles.  I really liked the ability to click on a link and get expanded information from the article.  I suspect there will be a lot more interactive content in future articles such as video and audio.

Enjoy.

Photo courtesy of H-D and HOG.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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“I sure as sh*t seen everything now.” – Bartender

I didn’t start with that quote just because it’s funny….I stuck it in because I can relate.  When it comes to motorcycle “clubs” there is a part of me that admires the so called “outlaw biker”.  They turned riding in the wind into something to live for.  They made the motorcycle the cornerstone of their identity and it’s the metaphor for their personal freedom.  Hollywood romanticizes this image.  In fact, many outlaw bikers envision themselves as social rebels who promote personal freedoms, by exercising their right to choose and their freedom to associate.

I figured I’ve seen pretty much everything in all my years on this earth, but I was caught off guard by the number of comments  from people who expressed outrage here and on many other motorcycle “boards” about the topic of large 1%er “clubs” trying to dominate thru intimidation and impose their will on other clubs. I didn’t even write the article, but the comments had a life of their own!  Sometimes clubs are forced into, or willingly accept, “support” roles for a 1%er club. Smaller clubs who resist a large 1%er club have “voluntarily” been forcibly disbanded, e.g. told to hand over their colors or risk war.  In turf wars, patches feud not people, but people get hurt.

OVMA

OVMA

Should we care about 1%er business?  Not really.   The “hornet theory” (leave them alone and they will leave you alone) has served most of us motorcycle enthusiasts well.  We’ve certainly read press reports that the larger 1%er MCs are rivals with each other and have fought over territory, patch rivalry and other issues…as the local CoC (Confederation of Clubs) work to eliminate most of these interclub issues.  But this isn’t about 1%er rivalry.  It’s about the Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association (OVMA or cached version HERE), a legally registered non-profit organization with a membership of 600 and 12 chapters state-wide, who have been ordered to close its doors by October 24th by a 1%er “club” in Oregon.

I do care about my personal rights.  I’m talking about the constitution and the right of free assembly, the right to privacy, the right of free association and the right to defend ourselves against oppressors, both foreign and domestic.  These are the very rights that I connected to those social rebels, the so called outlaw biker who has been vocal in evangelizing those freedoms for all.  But isn’t this hypocrisy?

The issue of “clubs” preying on each other which then spills over to preying on all of us…means you and I in the biker community loose.  I grew up in a time when everyday life was simple…you worked, obeyed the law, cared for your family, looked out for your neighbors and respected your country.  At least that was the creed of the working class, which does most of the of the country’s heavy lifting.  How is this any different than the “Crips” or “El Norte” street gang doing their best to instill fear in local area residents?  If certain groups among us are successful of shutting down a legal non-profit veterans organization then who is the next target from the mainstream motorcycle clubs or riding associations?  Is it the Harley Owners Group, Honda Riders Club of America or the BMW Riders Association?  Or maybe it’s the Patriot Guard Riders, who provide funeral escorts for military veterans?

A larger issue is the very real dangers regarding laws and legislation that is not specific and general in nature with regard to “clubs” or gangs and how those clubs are defined. When laws and legislation are not specific or is left to individuals or even the court’s interpretation and discretion… we should have cause for concern. It’s very likely that some opportunistic politician will leverage this situation, evangelize how Biker gangs are out of control in Oregon and use it to introduce a bill in Salem that will limit motorcycle association rights.  They are probably scheduling a press briefing right now to tell us how its “good for the motorcycle economy”!

Don’t believe it’s possible?  Then check out how Myrtle Beach decided to eliminate motorcycle rallies! Where is the line on a rally vs. an event in the legal system?  Well the attorney’s will get wealthy because the litigation is starting and it’s the first of motorcycle association rights that effect you.

So, in the interest to educate the motorcycle enthusiasts of the northwest mark your calendar on October 25th.  It’s called “Free The Colors”, a grassroots initiative in Oregon inspired by “Pappy” and I’m helping to bring visibility.  See more information HERE.  On that day every rider regardless of club affiliation should openly and peacefully support the OVMA’s courageous stand against intimidation.

Let’s exercise our right to peaceful assembly, to choose and defend our personal freedom of association with the OVMA while honoring our veterans.  I’m just one person advocating for a just society.  Now excuse me while I go rent a Mary Poppins video and buy a popsicle for little Billy (before he gets hooked on meth)…

UPDATE: October 19, 2008 – Ride details available HERE for Free The Colors Day.

UPDATE: September 27, 2008 – The ride results are HERE.

OVMA photo courtsey of web site.  Legal books courtsey of  VBI.

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