More and more comfortable
It may be a function of life, or perhaps it’s just having a couple of kids, but it seems like there is always something to do and something that never gets done. My boots died in Sturgis and that’s where they stayed. After being away from home so long, new boots aren’t a priority – until they’re needed. Trying to plan ahead, I buy a pair at the beginning of the week, which would have been smart if I hadn’t done it in a rush. They hurt so bad I have no choice but to return them and, of course, no time. I load my… um, Harley’s… 2008 Road King Classic with my gear and strap on a shoe box. I have one stop to make before I can get on the road.
Feet in a familiar brand, I start to make my way to Lakewood, NJ. The local H-D dealership there is having a party to kick off the 105th Anniversary (it is also their 8th anniversary.) The guest of honor is Bill Davidson, and this is to be the start-off point for our Ride Home.
The first three-quarters of the tank of gas has gone to picking up the motorcycle, getting it home, packed and returning to the dealership. This gives me time to notice some major differences between this ride and my own. This bike sits much higher than my Softail, which has a custom low-profile seat. The riding position is reminiscent of my ’90 Fat Boy, which someone stole, but one I always thought was very comfortable. The engine is rubber mounted and the front end has a windshield; this combination makes my first glance at the speedo (on the highway) a surprise. I’m doing 80. I back it down and note the smooth ride. I get lost in the six-speed transmission a couple of times, but quickly learn it and find the extra gear enjoyable. The carburetor gone, the fuel-injected motor helps me to look like an idiot each time I shut the bike down. Old habits die hard, I still reach to turn the gas off. That said, the Road King gets more and more comfortable every mile. This is going to be a good place to sit for the next five or six days.
Arriving at the dealership just as the party is beginning. I find Bill and get introduced to John and Brian who are making the journey with him. It is this small group that will be riding out tomorrow and I am honored to be joining them. Riding with a group of friends is a special thing; strangers are not casually invited. While the circumstance is unusual, I still respect the situation I am joining.
The turn out for the party is good. H-D/Buell of Ocean County is obviously a dealership with a loyal customer base, and it’s not hard to understand why after meeting the employees. They are a fun-loving bunch with personalities that win you over immediately. They remember everyone’s name, know what they ride, as well as their history. Bill is kept beyond busy signing people’s bikes, books, shirts, jackets, helmets and whatever else can support a signature. Never really having paid attention to the relentlessness of one of these ‘signings,’ I must say it is truly relentless. Bill’s stamina never wanes, he does it genuinely and without effort. It is later in the back office he tells some of the staff that he really enjoys these events. Acknowledging and appreciating the brand’s loyal following in a way that leaves one with the impression that he really gets it.