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110-PostereditedSlicing open champagne bottles with a giant sword is an unlikely refinement that we’ll see during the 110th Anniversary.  That is unless you have a need for a new-motorcycle christening and want to get your hard-partying samurai going.

We’re about 50 days out from the big celebration where the Harley-Davidson 110th Anniversary team (marketing, general merchandising, communication, legal, etc.) have been negotiating rights to feed photos and sound to television stations for broadcast.  Not to mention all the work in venue agreements, performance contracts, vendor contracts, photographic rights, recording issues, publishing deals, leases and the list goes on and on.  Add to that the trademark team that’s traveled around to make sure the H-D marks are properly used and not infringed, and that when folks like me arrive (“customers”) we’re not buying counterfeit merchandise thinking H-D is selling inferior gear!  Yeah, there will be some tired H-D employees who will be looking forward to taking some time off after Labor Day!

I want to thank the H-D employees in advance.

110th Anniversary Commemorative Ticket + Museum Pass

110th Anniversary Commemorative Ticket, “Koochie” + Museum Pass

I received the 110th Anniversary tickets over the weekend.  I opted for the higher priced commemorative package thinking what was coming was gift-worthy or an elegant picture stand.  The package was small enough and arrived via the mailbox.

Unfortunately, the Harley-Davidson Anniversary team neglected to take a page from Apple and pay close attention to the unboxing experience.  When it arrived did it make me smile?  Sure.  Did it create a long-lasting positive experience?  No.  Hey, why sweat the small stuff, right… it was only $118!  And the aroma discharge from that “Koochie” thing is like having a set of motorcycle tires stored in your living room.  Nothing says your awesome like the smell of tire rubber in the house!

110th Anniversary Celebration Schedule Guide

110th Anniversary Celebration Schedule Guide

I’m not sure who from Harley-Davidson sat in a conference room, doing the most mundane task of simply opening an Anniversary sample package to see what the emotional response would be by customers.  But, I’ve digressed.

The 110th “ride home” is just around the corner and starting feel real.  Earlier this week Harley-Davidson announced a NEW two-day party ($79) pass.  It gets you into the Summerfest Grounds any two of the 3-days.  The music headliners (Aerosmith, Toby Keith, Kid Rock (each sold separately)) are an incremental $24.50 purchase.  There is a $95 three day pass and the upsell commemorative package.  I’ve also seen a Chrome Ticket Package online at $522.15 which must pay for a lake-front rental given that unobtanium price.  To be candid, I’m a little overwhelmed with all these pricing options being tossed around on the web, but it does eliminate potential negative feedback for not having enough pricing options.

And how about that “official” Harley-Davidson 110th Anniversary Mobile App (HERE).  Yeah, I’ve allowed H-D to use some memory space on the iPhone to buzz and blink me with updates over the next 50+ days.  Even if you’re not attending the anniversary event, I suggest downloading the app because H-D will be talking to your phone (via the app) and you can enjoy the festivity updates from the couch and avoid “social envy” while tweeting about all the $$ you’ve saved.

Ever wonder what’s it like when motorcyclists take over a town?   Noisy!

Poster photo courtesy of H-D and colorized by author.  Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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At Rose City Thunder - 2003

Rose City Thunder – 2003

There were angry and vocal protests to Mayor Vera Katz.  Two appeals were filed seeking a venue change prior to the event.  There were appeals to the city Noise Review Board.  Police were a little edgy.

I’m talking about the Rose City Thunder.

It’s coming up on the 10th Anniversary of the most legendary and controversial motorcycle event in the city’s history.  Portlandia was one of only four cities in the U.S. chosen for the “Ride Home” tour.  And it all happened in the lazy dog days of summer in 2003 in the South Park blocks.  In celebration of Harley’s 100th Anniversary, the motor company and local dealer, Destination (now Paradise) H-D in Tigard sponsored the event with the purpose to send riders off in colorful fashion to the “Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Ride Home“.

After more than two months of controversy, a unanimous City Council vote along with assists from Harley supporters and the downtown business establishment,  the kickoff party for Harley-Davidson’s 100th anniversary was a go on Friday, August 15, 2003.  There were loud exhausts, public address systems, and rows of the famous “honey buckets” (portable toilets).  Organizers estimated 15,000 visitors, plus 2,000 motorcycles attended pumping an estimated $1.5 million into Portland’s economy.

To be sure, there were inconveniences to downtown residents by streets that were closed, as well as the beer gardens, food, merchandise vendors, live music, motorcycles, and the associated crowds and, teeth-chattering rumble of the hogs’.  The South Park Blocks area residents were not impressed and could give two shakes of a unicorn’s tail that the involved bikers were well behaved and left a lot of their money in the city.

None the less, streets were filled with Milwaukee iron, chaps, bandanas, tattoos and ‘If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand’ t-shirts.  Even the Oregon Lottery got involved with a Harley-Davidson Scratch-It campaign and where a Madras man won a motorcycle.

The Portland event was a lead up to the great trek back to Wisconsin and as it turns out the atmosphere in the Park Blocks on that weekend were surprisingly mellow.  Participants were low-key, drank their refreshments and moved about the event in an orderly fashion.

The so called “incensed residents” returned to their usual way of life when the last Harley departed downtown, but continued to grit their teeth and fight another day on the great Fluoride debate of 2013!

Photo taken by the author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Harley-Davidson 110th Anniversary Celebration

Harley-Davidson 110th Anniversary Celebration

Graffiti art originated in the late 1960’s, and it has been developing ever since.

It’s not readily accepted as being art like those works that are found in a gallery or a museum. Most of the opposition to graffiti art is due to its location and bold, unexpected, and unconventional presentation, and that often it involves illegal locations or does it necessarily qualify as art.

H-D is giving all its fans an opportunity to create their own “graphic art” as part of the 110th Anniversary Celebration.

The graphic maker is located HERE where you can upload a personal photo and have it framed within the 110th Anniversary logo.  Once the upload is complete and the photo gets checked/validated it will be shared on the 110th Anniversary “Graphic Wall” and visible to the riding world.

Photo taken by author near Moab, UT and post processed by H-D

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to finalize all my ride plans for this summer.  However, I do know where I’ll be riding in August 2013.

Huh?

That’s right it’s more than a year away, but I’ve started making plans to attend the 110th Harley-Davidson Anniversary celebration in Milwaukee which kicks off on August 29, 2013!  It’s also the H.O.G. 3oth Anniversary celebration.

Back in 2008 the event was called the “The Ride Home” for the 105th Anniversary celebration and in my view was an incredible event which was topped off by the Springsteen concert.  It was a breath of fresh air riding out to this event compared to the typical west coast venues our posse attends.  The celebration was awesome and Harley-Davidson scored big in my book.  Most important was the terrific city and all the Milwaukeeans who welcomed us riders with open arms.

It turns out that H.O.G. members got a jump on the process this past week to make hotel reservations, but it all opens up to the public today so if you’re interested get on the web site and check it out.

If you’re looking to get a feel for the ride out to the celebration you can view my 105th Anniversary posts HERE where we started out on the journey.  If you’re looking for a view of just the celebration then start at this post HERE where we kicked off the event or if you want more detail about Knucklefest then go HERE or for a wrap up of the event HERE.  If you’re looking for a recap and a shout out to the Miller girls then go HERE.

Clearly there is a lot to do at the H-D Anniversary celebration and it’s best to get a jump on planning for it early.

Photo courtesy of H-D and H.O.G.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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White Flag

White Flag

Just two months after the “Ride Home” and a couple weeks after Street Vibrations – it was starting to feel like the world was coming to an end.  Two major hurricanes (Ike, Gustav) scattered riders and dealer personnel from Texas to Tennessee to Florida…all being affected in some way by the hurricanes.  Then as if all those wind “jabs” were not enough along comes this right-handed wallop of a punch with the financial/stock market implosion. People tried to shake off the fear, but it seemed hell-bent to keep stumbling down.

To make matters even worse were the stories of people at the end of their ropes and talk of a plan to see martial law declared with certain scenarios or “trigger” points anticipated!  Those triggers include a continuing economic collapse, bank closures, social unrest, financial institutions shuttered due to withdrawal of cash or a fraudulent presidential election which entices outrage and violence.

So, over the weekend I vowed to eliminate all the talking-heads or any negative hyperbole and nurse my pessimistic ‘tude back from the abyss.  I learned a couple of things…first was that the mint leaves (in Mohito’s) are not a vegetable.  Second I learned more than 20 nifty things you can do with Alka-Seltzer boxes while making a “surrender flag”.  And lastly I learned that getting out and enjoying the fall weather, ride the motorcycle or do a little wrenching or [your choice here] is about seizing the opportunity, keep a clear head and to enjoy life.

I doubt today’s rally means the worst has passed, but it feels good to have a day that isn’t so grim.  That’s my $0.02 cents (a.k.a. my 401K balance!)

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Miller Brewery

Miller Brewery

The main set of 105th Celebration events are over – now what?  First off a shout-out to Harley.  They know how to throw a party and no one serves as a better host than the people of Milwaukee.  To put on an event of the 105th  size, takes commitment, organization, time, resources and of course, a great product so thank you Harley-Davidson!

It’s Sunday, August 31st, our final day in Milwaukee and it left us thinking about what we neglected to do.  It seemed the only items we opted out of besides the parade was a cheese tour (I had cheese on the way out..) and donating to the Wisconsin Red Cross Blood Drive!  It’s unlikely they would want our blood.

Miller Operations

Miller Operations

Instead we set the day in motion by heading over to the Miller Brewery.  We heard about free samples and knew it was going to hit the mid-80’s again.  To say the Milwaukee weather cooperated for the 105th Anniversary celebration is an understatement.  It was down right awesome.  A bit warm and humid for those of us from the Northwest, but better than we could have hoped for.

Plank Road

Plank Road

We brought our love of beer and stopped at the Brewery tour! We watched the 10 minute video and walked up and down the 4 blocks of the tour.  By the time we hit the Brew Kettle’s I think the gal was just hoping we’d go directly to the R&R area.  It’s an interesting time in the brewery biz.  Anheuser-Busch recently merged with Belgian-Brazilian brewing company InBev for $46B…yes that’s BILLION.   And back in 2002 South Africa Breweries bought Miller Brewing Company and called it SABMiller.  Then in 2005 Coors merges with Molson and then this year SABMiller and Molson Coors entered into a joint venture to form MillerCoors. 

Miller Brewery Girls

Miller Brewery Girls

A long way from the days of when Frederick J. Miller brought his passion for beer to the U.S. and settled in Milwaukee in 1855 where he bought the Plank Road Brewery.

Like all the people we met in Milwaukee it was no exception to find interesting and nice folks at the brewery too.  We sat for a good while and enjoyed our refreshments then said good-bye to the Miller High Life!

On a whim we decided to try a Harley-Davidson Museum drive by.  None of us received tickets to the museum as part of the lottery system, but we thought at least we could hang out on the grounds or if lucky score an open back door. 

HD Museum

HD Museum

The museum is located near downtown and is set on 20 acres of land which is surrounded on three sides of the Menomonee River.  It looks like a part of town that is getting ready for urban expansion and HD will be one of the major tenants of the renovation.

We parked the bikes and did a little fact-finding only to be rewarded with tickets to enter the museum.  Scored!

The museum truly should be on any Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners list of things to see and absorb.  The museum’s steel and glass exterior has an urban elegance and almost seems out of place in this area of town. 

HD Wall of Tanks

HD Wall of Tanks

The exhibits are unique and the stories of those who lived the HD life are remarkable.  From the recreation of the 1920’s board track, to serial number one of the first HD built in 1903 to the “King of Rock”, Elvis Presley’s 1956 KH motorcycle to the extensive and rare collection of vintage advertising and riding gear to the replica of Easy Rider.  Something for everyone.  The “tank wall” is a photographers dream come true! 

All of this only a couple blocks away from the luxury boutique hotel aptly named the Iron Horse Hotel.

In my mind there are two kinds of people in this world:  Those who ride Harley-Davidsons and those who wish they did. That’s not a slam on other motorcycles just a viewpoint after meeting and talking to numerous people on our two-wheelin’ journey “home”.  

Jumped on a plane Monday morning, I take a moment to reflect.  The Ride Home and 2576 enjoyable miles later along with an awesome multi-day music celebration comes to a close…110th anyone?!

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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HD 105th Parade

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

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

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

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

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. 

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

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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