At 33 feet by 16 feet with an 8-foot-high ceiling, Room 410 at the Horn Lake Best Western Plus near Memphis, TN, has more than 4000 cubic feet of storage capacity. Plenty roomy for the largest Hog rider, this huge volume is cooled by a low-mounted, through-the-wall Sanyo air conditioner wired to a remote Simple Comfort 2001L thermostat. Best Western, hoping to avoid the red-hot hotel BTU wars, declines to rate the Sanyo. But from the amp draw I'm guessing around 18,000. 410's copy of the SC 2001L thermostat has an overly tight differential, causing the Sanyo to short-cycle. Dehumidifying performance suffers and if I was staying more than one night I'd install the spare Robertshaw 7-day programmable unit I carry in my pocket for just this situation.
Solo riders will find their gear fits easily into 410’s smallish 2-by-5 closet area. But couples riding a three-wheeler with a tow-behind trailer and a large serpentarium may find their gear spilling into the carpeted entryway.
A quick right turn from the entryway brings us to the bathroom. Amenities include a powerful, night-light-equipped, 1600-watt Conair sock and underwear dryer, in-bathroom coffee maker, cake of sunflower and grapefruit soap, and the classic undermount ceramic sink. The excellent selection of unguents and gasket sealants found in a basket atop the vanity were provided at no extra cost, though I prefer nonhardening Permatex.
The Horn Lake Best Western is a new property but 410's shower/tub unit already showed signs of rough treatment at the hands of less civilized guests, like that crazy-ass Gunny who works for Victory. A quarter-sized piece of the ceramic was chipped through to the steel below. Since we're in the tub, allow me to get on my soapbox for a moment: I feel the addition of a grab rail in the shower would increase safety for older riders. Let's face it: With our sport's relentlessly aging demographic and leaking ventricle valves, we'll be desperately clawing for that grab rail sooner rather than later.
But not today. Today, we pick up rental motorcycles from Bumpus Harley-Davidson in Murfreesboro. Assorted Harleys for our Best Western nine-man Apnea-Assault team are parked in front. Harley-Davidson's big 103 cubic-inch V-twin powers them all. Not only does the 103 make potato-potato noises, the popular engine is the modern motorcycling equivalent of Mr. Potatohead. Harley stabs different frames, wheels, fairings and bodywork into this spud creating a pig latin alphabet of models. Pick whichever model tickles your fancy, Fellow American, they all sound like freedom.
I chose the pearl white Heritage Softail mainly because it had the fewest accessories bolted on and it looked like it might not kill me when it fell over. After 60 miles of historic riding I managed to sell Andrew Cherney from Motorcycle Cruiser magazine on the Softail by telling him it made him look taller and more daring. A bit less ginger, even. You'll get used to name-dropping because on Best Western's promotional event to raise awareness of its Rider-Friendly program the motojournalists are thick on the ground.
The benefits of Best Western's program are modest but still useful: Each stay earns points on your Harley Owners Group card, discounts on rooms for members, free shop towels and washing areas to clean the bug guts from your bike, free lip balm, and preferential parking with a nod toward every H-D rider's fear about losing his $20,000 investment in the middle of the night.
Best Western Premier features portals into a fifth dimension where green-skinned, mind-reading nymphs satisfy your basest desires.
A voluntary program, more than 1200 Best Westerns have signed up for the Rider-Friendly designation. This doesn’t mean other Best Western properties are rider-unfriendly, you’ll just have to use Best Western’s ultraviolet-light-treated, hypoallergenic bedsheets to clean the bug guts off your bike, preferably after dark so the hotel manager doesn’t catch you in the act. Best Western’s Rider-Friendly program welcomes other motorcycle brands as well, even though you rarely see other manufacturer’s motorcycles on the road. Metric riders won’t get H.O.G. points unless they ride a V-Rod.