Harley-Davidson celebrated its 105th Anniversary in 2008. I was one of the 105 execs designated to start a ride from a Harley dealer to the big party in Milwaukee.
I’m a very lucky person. I’ve got a job that I love and, through that position, I am able to participate in once-in-a-lifetime activities, like the 105th Anniversary Ride for Harley-Davidson.
I’m one of 105 H-D employees who are fortunate to be entrusted with the responsibility of taking the excitement of the 105th Anniversary to 105 different starting cities round the United States. We get to ride our motorcycles, hang out with Harley riders and attend parties and picnics in more cities than I’ve tried to count (but I know somebody has).
I’m going to try blogging my trip from the Great Northwest (or Ride #1, as it’s known internally) to Milwaukee. I have no idea if I’ll have enough time to continue after today or if, in mid route, a cool beer at the end of the day takes precedence over creating a posting. Call it an experiment. So here we go….
Monday, August 18, 2008
When the alarm went off at 3:15 this morning, it wasn’t that hard to roll my self out of bed. That’s a sign that something big is going on, and the start of my Anniversary Ride Adventure is about as big as it’s been in a while…..well, at least five years.
Today (Monday), is my day to head out. Many of the 105 riders will ride to their starting point. Some will fly to their start city and pick up their bike, but I was selected for a pre-ride ride.
I flew into Portland, Oregon to pick up my bike (shipped out while I was at Sturgis), and then rode to my start city, Kennewick, Washington.
Paradise H-D in Tigard, Oregon did a great job getting my Electra Glide Classic ready for me. They installed a couple of accessories that I had asked for and then cleaned it up better than I ever could.
At the dealership, I loaded the bike with all my gear, then I actually caught myself procrastinating on my departure. I guess the gloomy grey, on-the-verge-of-rain sky wasn’t as inviting as I had hoped the start of my ride would be.
When they closed the overhead door in the service department while I was outside, I took that as a sign.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have a great route to Kennewick, though.
East through the Colombia River Gorge for almost 180 miles, weaving along the curves of the river all the way.
I made a stop at the Multnomah Falls scenic viewing point (previously seen on a family vacation), then headed up the gorge. Fifty miles later I was venturing through territory I had never seen before—I love that!
The scenery was awesome, transitioning from green coastal mountains to rocky hillsides then dry rolling (but big) hills.
My gas stop was at a Shell station—Official Sponsor of the 105th Anniversary. Make note of that Paul Devine and Amy Hagen!
The rain held off till I was about half way to my destination. The first sign was the big drops at the edge of the storm. And that smell that you only get when rain first hits dry pavement.
I enjoyed the smell and the mostly dry pavement, and put up with the raindrops on and off for about a hundred miles. When I headed north into Washington, I thought I was turning away from the rain, but boy was I wrong.
The dark clouds followed me north, seemingly getting closer with every one of the 21 miles I traveled.
Maybe I was lucky that I wasn’t sure how to get to my hotel in Kennewick, because with the big drops of rain turning to small ones that were starting to come down pretty hard, I turned off the highway and pulled into a coffee shop to get my bearings.
My timing couldn’t have been better. As I walked in the door of the Starbucks, the rain came down and the wind blew so hard that my bike was rocking on its sidestand. The barista got soaked when he opened the drive through window to hand somebody their double, half caf, grande something or other, and everyone in the parking lot made a mad dash to their car or the closest store. And just then, the lawn sprinklers went on.
I waited for the heaviest part of the storm to pass, the wet barista wrote down directions to the hotel, and I was off to the Garden Inn. The rain got worse as I rode through town, so I ended up smelling like wet leather as I rode into the hotel lot.
The final note on this whole story is that as I was unpacking my bike, the sun came out. Ah, what a start!