Harley-Davidson celebrated its 105th Anniversary in 2008. I was one of the 105 execs designated to start a ride from a Harley-Davidson dealer to the big party in Milwaukee.
Thursday, August 21
“Missoula to Billings pardner. But to get there, we gotta cross the continental divide. Better saddle up early.”
Sounds like a line from an old western movie, but that was our day on Thursday.
As a guy who grew up in Wisconsin, I’m always amazed at the wide open landscape, the mountains and passes, and the views that one gets while traveling through the west. I could have filled up a couple of SD cards full of pictures if we hadn’t been cruising along at a brisk pace behind J. T. Hasley, our Route Manager.
This was my first day riding with the other H-D employees on the trip. Our departure this morning was a continuation of the ride yesterday, at least as far as the weather was concerned: heavy rain and high winds. (Though, I watched the weather reports and our brethren in the southeastern part of the country are in a pretty similar situation. I hear they’ve coined a term for wearing rainsuits. It’s now called “dancing with Fay.”)
But as the group headed out, I dropped in behind JT, Ron and Maureen Hutchinson and John Olin. The swirling clouds overhead added to the drama of the departure and the landscape.
The hotel manager mentioned to me before we left that there was some talk on the news about possible snow at elevations over 6000 feet, a comment I didn’t think too much about, except to think that might make the scenery even more beautiful.
I thought more about the comment when I saw that our route took us uphill as we pulled out of Missoula. When we crossed the continental divide at 6393 feet, I was glad that the sun was making occasional appearances through the clouds and the roads were starting to dry.
There are several Harley riders who are sticking close to us, friends that were made as the group was leaving Seattle. I’ve met them all, but the ones I spent a little more time with on Thursday are Noel and Yvette. Both are riding Softails, her Fat Boy has 80,000 miles on it.
They run basketball camps that focus on ball handling and dribbling skills. Noel tells me that his group of kids has performed at halftime of several Denver Nuggets games, but he was particularly proud of having performed at a Lakers game.
After the 105th, Noel and Yvette head for the east coast and then head home to Colorado. They will have spent almost a month on the road by the time they get home. I’m jealous.