Aug 19, 201312:00 PMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
I got chicken on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle
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Here are some great things about Harley-Davidson motorcycles:
- They’re made right here in Wisconsin (and York, Pa.) USA.
- They’re iconic. They have a great 110-year history. Nothing sounds like a Harley, although they have many imitators.
- The machine work is meticulous, even overbuilt. Not a corner cut. Or a piece that can’t be swapped out for something unique — and more expensive! They hold their value; there’s a market for 20-year-old machines. Outside of BMW, that can’t be said for many motorcycles.
- They get you out of the house and into the open air.
- There’s a culture — a little Tea Party rebellion is mixed into every bike. Harley riders are free-range people. If they liked cages, they would ride the bus. Individuality — I must have seen 300 bikes over the weekend, not one alike. The riders and their passengers, the same.
- The people. Ride a Harley and you’re in a club. Even down to the secret hand wave when Harleys are passing in the other direction. The machines, the rides, and the clothes are meeting points — something in common.
Put on about 300 miles over a gloriously sunny, low-humidity weekend. Saturday began with Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney leading a great cause: Safe Harbor, a shelter for abused children. Also saw his predecessor, Gary Hamblin. Both are longtime Harley guys.
Let’s face it; cops love Harleys.
The ride attracted 180 bikes (not all Harleys, but 90%) whose riders paid $25 and $30 apiece for the cause. We convened at Badger Harley-Davidson (formerly Capital City HD and now owned by Terry and Josh Doughty) just off U.S. 12-18 on the southeast side of Madison for an uninterrupted — and very safe — 100-mile ride through the back roads of Dane County. We encountered not one stop sign or light, thanks to six police departments guarding the intersections for us. (Dane County Sheriff; cities of Madison, Middleton, and Fitchburg; UW Police; and Sauk County.) Working our way around Lake Waubesa, we stopped at the Mount Horeb Fire Department for its open house, then worked northward to end at Quaker Steak & Lube for music, eats, and barley pop.
The only mini-incident — grist for much discussion — was the cow loose on the road to Oregon. Riders used hand signals to indicate slowing down, riding single file, etc. Normally, we rode staggered, never two abreast, at a safe 50 mph — slower in town, of course.
(BTW: Sheriff Mahoney took your humble Squire aside to assure him that he in no way intended to encourage the lawlessness of the Solidarity Singers in not getting the required Capitol permit. Much appreciated.)
The Lovely Lisa, another guy, and Johan check out the ancient Indian at Rockton.
On Sunday, cousin Johan and Deb Blaska of rural Sun Prairie expressed a hunger for fire-roasted chicken grilled outdoors at a place called Rockton. Took me awhile to find the tiny dot on the map — it’s in Vernon County, closer to La Crosse than Madison! We were joined by Chuck and Cheri Miller (Fort Atkinson) for the drive to Spring Green, where we met up with Al Jewell of Dodgeville, Jim Smith of Dodgeville, and Jean Bindl of Reedsburg. The Lovely Lisa rode shotgun on John’s full Screamin’ Eagle dresser, as my Sportie SuperLow is a solo job — and I’m still getting the hang of the thing.
John and I are grads of Harley’s Rider’s Edge training program — me at Sauk-Prairie Harley. (Good people there, as well.) Most of our riding over the weekend was on what William Least-Heat Moon calls the blue highways. (BTW: Blame for my latest obsession rests on the shoulders of Fred Milverstedt and his book One More Ride, which I discussed in early July.) At this rate, I may have enough courage to head out on the superhighway to Milwaukee’s Summerfest Grounds for the 110th Harley anniversary blowout over Labor Day weekend.
Chuck, our pathfinder, set an ambitious pace around the twisties, up and over the hills and under the overhanging trees. Wisconsin is a seriously beautiful state, especially its unglaciated and more rustic southwest quadrant. God’s country, for sure.