Riding Home for Harley Davidson’s 105th Anniversary was quite an adventure. We covered more than 900 miles in four days on a beautiful 105th Anniversary Heritage Classic, and more than once it was suggested that if I’d just eat more, I’d be a little more “well-padded” for the ride. The dealer in Algona, Iowa offered a far simpler solution and strapped a gel pack to our bike for which I was immensely thankful.
The weather was beautiful Sunday through Tuesday, perfect riding weather and unseasonably cool. Wednesday, however, we woke to dark skies, lightning, thunder, wind and rain. As we gathered at the dealership, the rain slowed, boosting spirits, yet we soon discovered it was merely a lull in a long, strong band of storms we’d be riding through for the next 200 miles.
Mile after mile, rain soaked through every layer of gear, seeping into boots and helmets and drenching gloves. Via cell phones, stories poured in from around the country. A rider coming in from Mankato, MN had stopped at a dealership along the way to buy brand new boots, because he was literally pouring water out of the pair he was wearing, and a group riding in from the south had been riding through days and days of unrelenting rain. Yet no one complained and no one turned back. Riders offered each other warmer layers and dry towels, laughed over hot coffee at rest stops, and graciously offered one another road tips. We were in this together, and come what may, it was all just another part of the adventure.
The rain finally slowed about four and a half hours into the ride, and we stopped at an actual sit-down, waitress-served, real food restaurant. We were all in need of good food and a respite from the rain. Wet layers draped nearly every bike as we headed inside for warmth, comfy chairs, great food, better stories, and for me, pots and pots of hot tea! An hour later, warmed up and well-fed, we stepped out into momentarily blinding sunshine and started to cheer. Blue skies spread far and wide as we rolled up wet gear, pulled on wet jackets, gloves and helmets, and hit the road.
At every rest stop over the next two hours, we peeled off layers of still-wet gear and stowed it on the bikes. By the time we hit Madison, we were down to the last wet layer — t-shirts, jeans and boots. Ninety minutes later we rolled into Milwaukee. Most of the spectators had left the bridges and the welcoming ceremonies were well underway, but it didn’t matter. We were HOME! Home and ready to celebrate a ride that had been worth every single mile!