Full Bore Rally
Who needs excitement when boredom is this much fun?
"I don't think you go to the john at Sturgis and find two guys crowded around the same mirror, flossing," our new buddy Mike said coming back from the restroom on Saturday night. Dinner was barbecue and corn on the cob that tends to stick between your teeth.
Then again, Aerostich's Very Boring Rally has nothing in common with Sturgis-or Bike Week, or the Honda Hoot, or any other motorcycle rally we've attended. That's what makes it such a great event. There were exactly zero helmet-less sportbike squids or boozed-up bikers clogging traffic, and none of the crass commercialism or obnoxious activities-no "Best Biker Booty" contest, either-that pass for entertainment at better-known bike events. Just a few hundred serious motorcyclists not taking themselves too seriously at all after ending up in Duluth to celebrate 25 years of Aerostich and some great riding along the way. Just like the company's unassuming founder, Andy "this rally is not about me" Goldfine, hoped it would be.
And, just in case you're wondering, the Rally wasn't really that boring. OK, so the contemporary folk stylings of Nordic Angst had some of us running for the woods, but rowdy world-famous comedian Maria Bamford rattled cages the right way. And damned if Austin icon Junior Brown didn't put on the hottest honkytonk show Minnesota has ever seen. Seminars by super-tourers Ted Simon and Dr. Gregory Frazier were well received, and the final round of the 2008 AMA/NATC national trials championship took place on-site that weekend as well.Too bad Goldfine says we'll have to wait another five years for his company's 30th anniversary and the Very, Very Boring Rally. Brace yourself.
Off The Record
Maybe it's something in Milwaukee's water, but I really love riding Harley-Davidsons. Objectively, there's nothing easier to criticize than a Harley-especially one as tradition-bound as the Cross Bones, and especially compared side-by-side with a motorcycle as good as Victory's Kingpin. But subjectively, there's simply no comparison. Ape-hangers in hand, you can't help but feel like Steve McQueen (the bearded years) barreling toward Salinas on a Saturday night. Handling? Who cares?! Like all Harleys, the Cross Bones has that inimitable X-factor-accumulated over 105 years of popular myth making-that makes every ride, even the painful ones, feel like something magic.
Age: 33 Height: 5'7" Weight: 145 lbs Inseam: 31 in.
A Professional Dirt Donk Goes HOG Wild
Don't ask me how I made it 51 years on this planet without ever once riding a Harley-Davidson. I've ridden and raced literally hundreds of motorcycles, everywhere from Europe to Peru, Brazil to Australia, and enough times up and down the Baja Peninsula to have my own personal lobster tank at some finer taco stands. I've ridden all around the USA too, but not one single mile aboard genuine American Iron. Until now.
I've always looked down on H-Ds. I imagined them all to be hugely overweight bikes with suspension by Wham-O that required a calendar to calculate braking and acceleration figures. Now I know that they're hugely overweight bikes with suspension by Wham-O that require a calendar to calculate braking and acceleration figures -but that's not the point!
If you watch enough cable TV you know all about the "spiritual experience" of riding a Harley-Davidson; all the blather about freedom and brotherhood that turns real motorcyclists' stomachs faster than it turns your dentist neighbor into a Road King-riding weekend warrior. The thing is-and I hate to admit this-there is something different about riding a Harley-Davidson, something that I never experienced on any of the other bikes in my past.
Climb aboard a Harley and you indeed enter another world-one where everyone that looks at you actually sees you, and also has a (usually favorable) opinion of you and your Wild Hog. Sure, a few might hate you as you roar by at 90 mph or do a smoky burnout in the hotel parking (Moy!), but for the most part it's pure envy. True or not, you are seen as the wild spirit that everyone else wishes they could be. Stop for gas, coffee, whatever, and it seems like every man, woman or child within 50 yards comes over to chat about the bike. It's like nothing I've experienced with any other motorcycle. After a while you do start to think it's something special-and pretty damn cool.
Off The Record
The Cross Bones' roguish look and sound are definite turn-ons, but the suspension-or, rather, lack of suspension-really tears you up. Hit a sharp-edged bump and it's like being punched in the face! Little details bothered me, too-the tank-mounted speedo is hard to see with a full-face helmet, and the BMW-type turn signals are odd. The Kingpin is smoother and more refined in every way. The brakes are stronger with better feel, and it certainly corners better and drags less. The Kingpin's a much better ride than the Cross Bones, but in the end just lacks the cool factor of the Wild Hog.
Age: 51 Height: 5'10" Weight: 195 lbs. Inseam: 30 in.