Oxford (12 June 2012) - The sixth Ireland Bikefest promised to be the biggest and best yet and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Even the relentless rain didn’t deter the thousands of Harley-Davidson® enthusiasts from descending on the town of Killarney for a weekend of two-wheel fun, live music and Irish craic!
The four-day event, which kicked off on Friday 1 June, attracted riders from all over the world in search of that fun festival atmosphere the Ireland Bikefest has become synonymous for. Daily organised ride-outs on bike-friendly roads across the rolling landscapes of County Kerry were undoubtedly a big hit with many visitors, while the parade on Sunday drew more than 2,000 participants! There was also a fantastic line-up of live music, a jam-packed Bike Village and 12-category custom bike show!
We caught up with Harley-Davidson® owner and H.O.G® member Glenda Stack, to see how she first got involved in the Harley® lifestyle and what she thought of her visit to this year’s Bikefest…
“I met Eddie (my now husband) in 2001 and he was a real motorcycle fanatic. He rode a Honda Goldwing at the time so it wasn’t long before I ended up hopping on the back and joining him on many trips around Ireland, the UK and further a field – including a nine-day holiday to the south of France. At the time, I was happy to be just a pillion passenger.
“However, in March 2008 I needed a new pair of riding boots, so we visited new motorcycle dealership Dublin Harley-Davidson. We were so impressed with what we saw and Eddie ended up buying the Screamin’ Eagle Ultra Electra Glide 105th Anniversary Edition! And, I didn’t even get my boots!
“When we purchased the Harley, we had no idea what we were getting into – we didn’t just buy a bike… we bought a lifestyle. We joined the H.O.G.® Gaelic Chapter a week later and met so many like-minded people, who we have come to regard as part of our family.
“Although I was originally happy to be a pillion passenger, curiosity eventually got the better of me – I wanted to ride for myself! I bought a 125cc motorcycle to learn to ride but it wasn't long before I really got the bug and Eddie bought me my first Harley-Davidson® 1200 Sportster 105th Anniversary Edition for my 40th birthday. I couldn’t stop smiling when I returned from my first ride-out – it was amazing.”
Glenda and her husband have participated in a number of two-wheel trips since her first ride-out – including a weekend away to Ashford Castle in County Mayo where he proposed! A year later, the couple were married in a Harley-Davidson® themed wedding before honeymooning (on their bikes) to the Harley® Festival in Lugano, Switzerland, and then traveling through Austria, Germany and back home through France covering approx 3,000km in total.
Glenda has recently upgraded her Sportster motorcycle to a Heritage Softail Fire Fighter Limited Edition model and has just been awarded Road Captain status in the Gaelic Chapter.
“One of the events I most look forward to every year is the Bikefest in Killarney, which I have attended every year – except in 2010 when we were married. Bikefest is the main Harley-Davidson® event of the year in Ireland and definitely not to be missed. The scenery in the south of the country is mind blowing, and nothing else compares to experiencing it with a group of like-minded Harley® enthusiasts.
“I was a little bit strapped for cash ahead of this year’s event and didn't think I could attend. However, on the Saturday before the festival, I was listening to a local radio station and the DJ was giving away a weekend at Bikefest as a prize. All you had to do was text in the bike you ride. Needless to say, I thought my text just might grab his attention, and it did! So, I made it to Killarney this year after all!
“Despite the relentless rain, everybody remained in high spirits and the atmosphere was palpable, the craic was mighty and the bikes roared! Following my competition prize win I was also interviewed on the radio – much to the amusement of my children (who listened from home)!
“For me, the highlight of the Bikefest event is the Gaelic Chapter ride-out, which takes us out around the ring of Kerry, or sometimes to the Dingle peninsula. Last year we enjoyed a super ride with some friends to the Beara Peninsula, which is an absolutely amazing part of Ireland with scenery that is unparalleled anywhere in the world. I also usually take part in Celtic Thunder’s ride-outs and of course the parade, which takes place around Killarney town on the Sunday.
“The best thing about this year’s event was – surprisingly – all down to the rain! One day I decided I wouldn’t go on the ride-out and would staff the Gaelic Chapter stand in the Harley-Davidson® tent instead. As it turned out, most people were of the same opinion and stayed in the Bike Village. I met some fantastic characters from Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Scotland and England as well as even further a field. Two new members were signed up to our Chapter and I even sold a few pins and badges!
“Bikefest has something for everyone, but if you really want to know what the craic is all about, you'll have to visit next year’s event and see for yourself!”
If you missed this year’s Bikefest but would still like to join the camaraderie of a Harley-Davidson® event, there are many more festivals and ride-outs to look forward to on the calendar this summer. The following events – and more – are taking place over the coming months.
Hamburg Harley Days (22-24 June)
In excess of 50,000 motorcyclists from all over Europe are expected to head to the heart of Germany to experience the fantastic carnival atmosphere of Hamburg Harley Days. www.hamburgharleydays.de
Barcelona Harley Days (6-8 July)
The sun is always shining in Barcelona and for three days in July, tens of thousands of visitors will flock to the vibrant city to experience one of Harley-Davidson's biggest European urban events. www.barcelonaharleydays.com
South of England Rally (3-5 August)
The annual SOFER rally gets bigger and better every year. Open exclusively to H.O.G® members and their guests, the Bisley event is surrounded by picturesque countryside and rolling hills – perfect for those summer ride-outs with like-minded Harley® owners. www.sofer.uk.com
Thunder in the Glens (24-27 August)
With its Bike Village, organised ride-outs, live entertainment, bike show and more, TITG in Aviemore, Scotland has it all. www.dunedinhog.com
Check out our events calendar for even more inspiration or visit www.hogeuropegallery.com for a run-down of some of the forthcoming H.O.G® member events.