Escape: The Long and Whining Road

Harley-Davidson and Best Western team up to offer riders discounted lodging-but that's just part of the story

By Jack Lewis, Photography by Jack Lewis

Now herding a Road Glide, I had leisure to fiddle with its Harman Kardon stereo on the way to Alice's Restaurant, where my order of a BMW Burger with Jack cheese met the same gung-ho perkiness we enjoyed throughout the trip. Waitresses don't love Harleys just for the motion. When you burble in on $150,000 worth of shiny new bikeware, you ain't the Fringe, baby. You're the Tip.

In our diminished age of extended warranties and Harleys that don't even leak oil, biker intimidation seems a distant anachronism. Our sole authentic biker, Boozefighter Bill, nearly became our One True Casualty when a Mercedes SUV cranked a no-look U-turn in front of him while we were clicking along at (elided) mph. Pounding the brakes, Bill jumped the Benz's wake, pulled up alongside and addressed its driver in no uncertain terms. With hand signals. And feelin'. When I passed her moments after she nearly killed Biker Bill, she was still laughing. Be careful out there!

Mission debriefs should end with lessons learned. Here are mine: The Road Glide rode tightest, the Electra Glide was easiest to pack and I was wholly smitten by the Road King. H-D's new frames are rigid, and their 96-inch fuelie engines are dope-proof. Whine-crack-BOOM-thumpa-thumpa, drop 'er into gear and meditate on down the road. Big Twins shift like Kubota tractors-i.e. much smoother than my BMW twins.

Wear earplugs to cut down the windshield buffeting. You'll hear the music better.

While riders of any marque are welcome to polish rags and wash stations at 1250 "rider-friendly" Best Western hotels (www.bwrider.com), Harley folk get H.O.G.-tied into extra spiffs, plus Gold Elite status and pointage galore.

Harley-Davidson knows something motorcycle journalists forgot long ago, which is that riding never was just about absolute speed-ask a cowboy sometime, or a barnstormer.

All motorcycles go to Heaven.

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