It helps if you’re lucky. I am lucky enough to have been riding motorcycles continuously for over 50 years. I’m also lucky enough to have two tremendous sons who also enjoy riding. Through the years, the sons and father have enjoyed countless conversations, emails, and texts about motorcycles and motorcycling.
Ross lives only a couple miles from me in Billings, Montana, so it’s easy for us to get together and enjoy the many great roads in our area. Wes lives in the Denver area and has miles and miles of great riding just minutes from his front door. As often as I can, I haul my bike to Denver to enjoy some of those roads with him.
As the boys grew up, I rode with each of them to a number of amazing destinations: Sturgis, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Park, the Beartooth Highway, and many more. But it was always one-on-one. The three of us had never ridden together on the same adventure before October 2015.
The Back Story
I got my first motorcycle, a Honda 90, in April 1964 and have never been without at least one bike since then. In 1988, I bought my first Harley, a showroom-new 1986 FXR, one of the last of the chain-drive models. I was actually shopping for a Sportster, since Sportsters were my passion ever since I had fallen in love with a 1966 XLCH at my local dealer. I loved that big Sporty even though it shifted on the “wrong” side. But college and life intervened and I never owned the 883cc beauty after which I had lusted. (There would eventually be a Sportster in my life, but that’s another story.)
Both my boys loved that ’86 FXR, which had languished on the dealer’s floor for two model years. I believe it was overlooked because it lacked any chrome to speak of and because chain drives had begun to fall from favor. Both my boys still say it was the most comfortable Harley they ever sat on. There’s something about one’s first exposure to something wonderful that is inexplicable and life-changing. I think it imprinted them with a love of Harleys.
Fast forward to the spring of 2014. Ross was riding a 2012 Street Glide which he had bought new from Beartooth H-D in Billings. Wes was riding a 1997 Wide Glide which he bought used and enjoyed personalizing. My ride was a pristine 2003 Heritage Softtail Classic, which I had bought the previous year with only 4,000 miles on the clock.
In June that year, Wes bought a new Big Blue Pearl and Vivid Black Road King – which ultimately caused a ripple effect with Ross and me. When I rode Wes’s Road King, I fell in love. I especially loved the easy-access hard bags (a Rushmore improvement) and the cruise control. So, in October 2014 I sold my beloved Heritage and bought a new 2015 Road King from Yellowstone H-D in Belgrade, Montana. It proudly wore the startling Black Magic metallic silver paint scheme. After riding Wes’s and my Road Kings, Ross paid a visit to Copper Canyon H-D in Butte and traded his Street Glide for his own new 2014 Vivid Black Road King.
The stage was set.
It All Comes Together
Now that we each had our own Road King, all that was left was to find to find a way to ride together! Wes did some map analysis and found that Custer, South Dakota was nearly equidistant between Billings and Denver. It was late in the year, early October, which made it pretty easy to find a spot in a campground in Custer. Ross and I loaded our Road Kings into our toy hauler camper and met Wes in Custer. Wes rode all the way from Denver.
On our first full day of riding we trekked to Devil’s Tower, Wyoming, an incomparable destination which I had visited with both boys as passengers on separate Harley trips years earlier. It was awesome riding to that cherished motorcycle destination with both my boys.
The next two days allowed us to visit the Crazy Horse monument, Mount Rushmore, and numerous other Black Hills points of interest. We took advantage of the many photo-ops and back at the campground it was fun to talk about bikes and the day’s ride over a burger or a steak. It was the epitome of father-son time.
The weather was perfect for riding – and mid-70s in October means fewer bugs! By the time we broke camp and headed home, the change of seasons was in the air. But the cold weather stayed away long enough for my sons and me to log some great rides and memories.
We knew were fortunate to have perfect October riding weather last year. We were unable to get together for a ride during the 2016 season, which, in retrospect, makes the 2015 ride all the sweeter!
In 2015, everything just seemed to fall into place, as though our special trip was “meant to be.” As I said at the outset, it helps if you’re lucky. And we can’t wait to see what happens in 2017!