Riding through this world

Motorcycle culture dies down as the winds take over Minnesota.

by Hemang Sharma

As the leaves begin to change and the cold winds start to blow, one thing will no longer be in our rearview mirrors:

Yes, it’s that time of the year when leather jackets, tinted helmets, club patches and the vroom sounds slowly begin to recede. That means less admiration for a blacked-out Harley Davidson in your neighborhood, or a glimpse of a sexy, fast sports bike like the Hayabusa or Ducati in Uptown, or the happy Harley campers by the St. Croix River.

Motorcycles are an integral part of the American experience. The feeling of ultimate freedom that comes from the open road, having the wind test the structure of your face and being with your friends and brothers is exhilarating. It doesn’t matter the kind of motorcycle one is on, what matters is how you ride it. Whether you ride fast or slow, with people or alone; that motorcycle at x mph takes you beyond the road. As a character in the popular motorcycle-club drama “Sons of Anarchy” says to himself while journaling his experience, “You’re not on the road, you’re in it.”

I’m more of an all-American Harley worshipper than an aficionado of the imported speed-machines. The Wisconsin-based HD celebrates its 110th anniversary next year, marking more than a century of the dominance of American ingenuity and technology. As a person who has ridden both cruisers and sports bikes, I can testify that cruisers, such as Harleys, look, sound and feel different. It’s not just Harley Davidson when it comes to Choppers. Other retailers like Indian Motorcycles, Johnny Pag Motor Company and others have mainstreamed these mean machines. Motorcycles stand as the last American identity, reminiscent of cowboys peering into the mysterious West. An example of the camaraderie, strength and proud ownership among motorcyclists can be seen each year at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, S.D. Each year, thousands of motorcyclists from all over the nation ride and descend upon this small town in a show of strength. The 2012 rally brought more than 500,000 riders to this sleepy Midwestern town of 6,000 people.

The cold weather means fewer riders on back roads, thinner crowds in remote bars on the freeway and no more charity rides for Veterans and Children. Motorcycle enthusiasts elsewhere, outside Minnesota, can enjoy that for a longer period of time. In Minnesota, our time and days are numbered.