This is a tight knit group. The people I’m riding with have ridden together for years, and it is obvious when we get to the bikes this morning. Brian’s bike has been… well… TP’d. Artfully wrapped from fender to fender, the few of us there chuckle and shake our heads. Just then, Michael Davidson walks by and says, “Please don’t squeeze the V-Rod…” Someone else says it’s a good thing this happened on the last day of the ride. With the threat of retaliation severely lessened, we laugh and move on.
Tim calls our morning meeting together; he mentions that it will be our last one. He has some nice words to say and chokes up a little. Everyone feels and echoes his sentiments. We haven’t clicked mile number one yet for the day, and I’m sad to see it ending. None of us are eager for this ride to be over. Heading out, I replay the experiences we’ve had thus far and know a day of the unknown still lays ahead. It’s good to be moving again. I think about what I’ve been a part of and what is now a part of me.
Something that I’ve suspected for a long time about the Motor Company I now know to be true. Its authenticity stems from the top down. This is not some gig, it’s their passion. For instance, I’m sure Coca-Cola’s Chairman of the Board drinks Coke, but I have just watched Jeff Bleustein and his wife ride their Electra Glide Classic for miles upon miles. They have led the pack for as many days as I’ve been with them. Hardly the same thing, right? Ask Jeff which of his bikes is his favorite and he likens the question to which grandchild he loves most. I wonder what the guy from Coke would say if asked about Coke vs. Sprite.
We have perfect weather as has been the case for the whole trip. Riding smaller roads through smaller towns, our morning’s ride is another great one. Lunchtime upon us with not many options presenting themselves, the pack pulls into a parking lot of a chain sandwich shop. Getting off the bikes, a Mexican restaurant with signs in Spanish, is spotted across the street. We split up. Some stay for subs, some go south of the border. Apparently, into the sandwich shop walks an excited man wearing a shirt and tie. Going straight up to Willie G., he says he can’t believe he is seeing him, what an honor. It seems he was on his way by and recognized the bikes in the parking lot as the same ones he’s been following on the H-D website. He calls his wife and says she’s gotta leave work right now and come to the sandwich shop. She does.
Gas in our tanks and food in our bellies, we motor on. There is one more stop to make before we hit our target: Milwaukee. Bill has a last telephone interview to do and, more importantly, his nine-year-old daughter is going to join us for the ride in. We stop. She throws her arms around Bill’s neck and gives him a big hug. Reacquainted with loved ones and an interview complete, the littlest Davidson climbs aboard her father’s motorcycle. We’re ready to go.
We get our motors running and head on down the highway. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) There are more bikes on the road now and, overhead, there are people on overpasses waiving with signs welcoming us Home. It’s electrifying until we hit traffic and have to scratch and claw our way to the secret route that will take us to Juneau Ave through a back way. The back way is scenic, or at least quiet, little streets with lots of brick houses. Two more turns and we are where we’re supposed to be. Crowds and cameras line the streets to welcome the Davidsons home.
Thinking over this adventure, trying to come up with a favorite moment is difficult. If I must, I would say my favorite part of the trip was the last 144 hours.
On another note… To my niece or nephew: C’mon out! There are a lot of people waiting to meet you.