HD 105th Parade
This is our 3rd day in Milwaukee and it has me in a bit of a head spin and this isn’t my first biker event!
There’s so much to see and do that even the best laid plans get changed or thrown away. To top it off, there are so many people and the venues are so crowded that you’ve got to be willing to take a step back and make alternative plans. Picture (right) is Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the 105th Anniversary.
We gave some thought to either riding in the Harley parade or sitting on the sideline doing a bit of people watching, but after hearing stories that it was going to take about 5 hours to do the 4 mile route we thought better of that idea. With over 40,000 hotel rooms booked and 150,000 people in the area the last thing we wanted to do was “melt” in the 90 degree heat while trying to keep our bikes running so we opted out. I found this cool parade slide show put on by MKEimages. It was estimated that more than 7500 bikes participated in the parade.
State Fair Park
Instead we started the day in line at the State Fair Park waiting to ride the 2009 Harley demo motorcycles. After looking at the SE “pumpkin orange” Glide the previous day I wanted to get some time in the seat to try it out. I’m not a fairing guy, but have always been curious about that fixed fairing on the bike and I really wanted to feel the power of 110 cu in!
On our walk into the fairgrounds there was a gal putting a sticker on her bike which caught our attention. It’s unusual to see people putting stickers on their bike fenders and this gal was dressed like few others. After some discussion about our ride out from OR and her interest in relocating to Seattle along with her “unique” profession at the Mad Planet…she gave us her card which provided a link to her website. Miss Nix turns out to run a fetish fashion show for the dominatrix crowd which features bed of nails torture and whip cracking. At 10AM and only one cup of coffee under the belt it was a bit much to absorb, but we tried…
At any rate, we made our way to the Rider check-in and it was easy enough. The $5 shell card and discount coupon at any Harley dealer was a nice bonus. It was rather odd that Harley forced the no helmet, no ride rule in a state that doesn’t require it, but we complied. After check-in we waited in the touring line which took another 45min to finally get onto the bikes. During the entire wait I was thinking this is taking forever for little 10 minute demo ride around the State Fair park, but it turns out the demo rides were 20-25 minutes long and included a combination of city and Interstate driving giving everyone a chance to try out the handling and performance of the motorcycles.
2009 SE RoadGlide
Love it or hate it, the frame-mounted fairing is the center of what makes this touring model a pleasure to ride mile after mile. Unlike the popular batwing fairing found on the Street or Electra Glide models, the Road Glide’s fairing is attached to the bike’s frame rather than the front fork, much like the design found on many sport and racing motorcycles. It provides greater stability and less rider fatigue at highway speeds, especially in crosswind situations.
Roadhouse at the Lakefront
The route took me out S 76th Street then right on W. National Ave then after a couple miles I was routed onto I-894. The demo ride team had the route well marked with orange arrows which was excellent since I’m not a Milwaukee native and the roads can be confusing. After a couple of exits the tour route put me back onto city streets where I looped around to the Fair ground. When entering the on ramp I throttled up in 2nd and 3rd gears and the bike quickly hit 80MPH in just a few seconds. Fast! There was little exhaust note from the stock pipes, but I could hear the intake groan for more air. Very fast for a stock bike.
I returned approx 25 minutes later to hear the Harley rep ask me if I had a problem with the bike. I said no it’s a terrific bike, why? He then went on a rant… “Dude, you’ve been gone over an hour…did you stop for gas?” I had a stare down with the guy, but I was gone less than 25min and told him he wrote the departure time down incorrectly or something, but he was in error. After a few tense moments he backed down especially after I told him the bike I left with came in at the same time in the standard time frame. Other than the accusation it was an awesome demo ride and wanted to provide a shout-out to the Harley team for providing the motorcycles to ride.
Santiago, Eastwood, Mac
We all departed the demo rides with smiles on our faces and headed off to a local Mexican restaurant for lunch and re-cap our riding experiences. By mid-afternoon we were looking for some relief from the heat and humidity. It was in the mid-90 degrees and we headed to a Harley dealer to pick up some refreshments.
Around 6PM we headed downtown to Veterans Park and the Roadhouse at the Lakefront venue for the Bruce Springsteen concert. The lawn seating opened at 5pm so we thought a couple hours prior to the concert and we’d have a good view. We thought wrong! By the time we hit Lincoln Memorial drive we knew there was going to be issues. Super long lines of bikes park on all sides of the road including many who navigated the middle divide curb to park on the street. After a long while and several heat related stalls on the Road King we finally found a few bike slots to park. We made the long walk back to the entrance and were shocked at the crowds who were all ready posted up waiting.
We made our way into the middle and moved forward, but it looked like we were still 2-3 city blocks away from the stage. Springsteen was ending his World Tour, but you would have never known it was the end. He played more than 30 songs which lasted over 3.5 hours. Incredible concert! About mid-way through we move much closer to the stage and got a lot better view of the concert. He didn’t play “Born in the U.S.A.” or his “Devils to Dust” anti-war ballad about Iraq. However, he did make several comments about things that are basically at the heart of being un-American.
It was after 12:30AM and we headed out of the city via the East Side which looked like and had a feel of just arriving in a “hood”. Arriving back at the hotel in the early morning it was clear that the 105th Anniversary celebration was an incredible success which was topped off by the Springsteen concert.
It was a breath of fresh air riding out to this event. The celebration was awesome and was put on by a great company. Most important was the great city and all the Milwaukeeans who welcomed us riders with open arms.
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.
Flags on motorcycle photo courtesy of MKEimages.com and the 105th Anniversary parade. The motorcycle belongs to Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the 105th Anniversary.
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