The True American Legend
by andy baillargeon
The true American legend has intrigued the public since the early part of the century. We marvel at the original classic machines and the image they have come to portray. This is the legend of the Harley Davidson.
Harley symbolizes freedom. But for many people, Harley represents an outlaw renegade lifestyle. How did this image of the rough and tumble outlaw come about? Well, after the second World War, outcaste veterans found life back in the States overwhelmingly dull compared to the combat zones in Europe. These vets embraced a wild life, and did so with the help of their Harley Davidsons.
"Wino" Willie Forkner joined these souls together and formed on of the first motorcycle clubs in history, "The Boozefighters" (BFMC). The group pushed the limits of their Hog's and themselves, racing to extreme speeds and pushing the danger envelope. As the group's name suggests, you can be sure there was no lack of the forbidden fruits of hops, barley, and wine. This combination of speed and liquor helped the Boozefighters obtain a less than desirable reputation with the common folk.
The media took that reputation to the next level when the BFMC attended the infamous Hollister, CA Fourth of July party of 1947. The party got out of hand and a police car was destroyed-among other things. The tabloids unjustly placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the BFMC; and thus was born the outlaw biker image or the "One-percenters." Not one BFMC member was involved in the destruction, but the image was set and the world was seduced by the outlaw biker.
The "One-percenters" term was coined because it is said that outlaw bikers represent one percent of all bike owners. The most renowned of this group is, of course, the Hell's Angels (HA's). They own chapters around the country and they keep a discrete profile for obvious reasons. You may run into an HA or even another outlaw group in your life. Confrontation is highly discouraged (again for obvious reasons). Outlaw groups are just out for a good time along with the rest of the 99-percenters. Trouble starts with a drunken agressor who thinks it would be cool to start shit with one. But this guy will only find an early grave.
Despite the dark perception, the Harley Davidson still continues to intrigue the masses. The waiting list for a factory Hog is an easy two years. Buying a used one could mean a cross-country trip and a healthy pocket book.
Has this intrigue been fueled for almost a century by Harley's renegade image alone? No way. You can feel the deep crack of the pipes when you kick over the mill, and all your worries are drowned out by the wind chapping your face. What else could you possibly need?
Those of you who have had the pleasure can relate; but for you other poor saps, put this on your "things to do before you die," list. And when you finally come to your senses, add going to a biker rally to that list. You have a few options: the fourth of July extravaganza in Humbolt, Iowa; Datona Bike Week in Florida; or the granddaddy of em' all, The Black Hills Classic in Sturgis, South Dakota. Any of these will do if you're looking to unleash the Harley man or biker mama in you.
And look-how convenient. The 60 year anniversary of Sturgis is right around the corner, August 7th - 13th. You don't have much time to prepare, but all you'll need is a tent, some leather, your free spirit, and an insatiable thirst for that forbidden fruit. If you can't get your paws on a Harley by the 7th, don't fret. You can rent one at Street Eagle Rent-A-Harley in downtown Sturgis.
Sturgis is the once in a lifetime experience that happens once a year. You will enjoy a myriad of live bands and parties 'till he sun comes up. Don't miss out on the biker rodeo events. This may be your only chance to see bikini clad women bite a wiener hanging from a string, from off the back of a moving motorcycle, or watch guys push the limits in the "how slow can you ride without touching the ground" competition. Finally, if you attend Sturgis this year, you will be treated to the grand opening of the world's largest biker bar, "Full Throttle Saloon."
The legacy of the Harley Davidson is a strong one. It has evolved from the first motorized bicycle to a Knucklehead, Panhead, Shovelhead, and to the most current, Evolution engine. We have watched the Harley turn form a bike to a way of life. The Harley image has taken its fair share of blows, but through it all, the Harley Davidson Motorcycle is, and always will be, the most popular bike in the world-and the True American Legend.
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