I enjoy riding motorcycles, but I’m still a novice. I also don’t have many opportunities to ride so I haven’t purchased a bike of my own yet, My first experience with a Harley Heritage Classic Softail was much better and less scary than I’d anticipated. I was impressed by the smooth and quick acceleration, and the ease of handling as soon as I gave it gas.
My next experience was similarly eye-opening and impressive.
My wife and I rented a condo in Scottsdale, AZ for a couple months. There is a Harley dealership there that has a rental fleet, all new 2015 rides.
I’m finding out that Harley dealerships have a higher standard. Their showrooms are huge, full of beautiful bikes, lots of gear, and hot women. Sure, some are in their 30’s and 40’s, but hot none-the-less. In visiting other dealerships, it’s a mixed bag of not-so-great show-rooms with much less attention paid to merchandising. I haven’t been to a mediocre Harley dealership yet. I don’t think they exist. Harley dealerships create a comfortable environment to just hang out and lots of things to tempt you while you’re there.
Wanting to spend my time experiencing a new geographic area, rather than getting to know a new ride, I went, again, with a Heritage Classic Softail.
My destination for the day’s ride was the Tonto Natural Bridge near Payson. I had to cut through Fountain Hills, which gave me some time to warm up, deal with traffic, and, yes, accelerate from a green light with smooth spirit.
Then I hit highway 87, which is much like a typical interstate. On my first ride, I noticed that when I broke 55mph, the wind coming over the windshield would cause my helmet to shake from side-to-side ever so slightly. If I ducked down just a bit, that would stop. On highway 87, I was hitting 65 and 70 pretty quick. My head shook, I ducked, and felt like a total dork when other motorcyclists would zip by at 80 or so WITHOUT helmets (AZ is a non-helmet state).
Things that crossed my mind…
My feet are about six inches above the pavement over which I’m going 70mph. If my foot slipped off the running board (as opposed to pegs), I’d be a goner and in the hospital. I should be more scared, but I put it out of my mind.
It’s a long stretch to Payson, but I got accustomed to winding curves, inclines, narrowed lanes for construction, all the necessaries of road travel.
Slowing down through Payson was weird. 35mph used to feel very fast. Now it was a snail’s pace. Stopped for a leg-stretch and quick check-in to my insurance benefactor, and I’m off to the Natural Bridge state park. I would say that the natural bridge was pretty “mehhh”. It’s a good destination for a ride like mine, but not an interesting enough attraction to go seek out otherwise. Arizona has tons of amazing things to see, with the Grand Canyon being a 10, the Tonto Natural Bridge was about a 2.
Now the long ride back… Driving into the sun took away from the visuals.
I wound up with my mind drifting a bit, and noticing the sound of the beast I was riding. When I hear Harleys day-to-day on the road, they’re incredibly loud. But it seems the tailpipes are constructed in such a way that the loud “batt-batt-batt” goes to the sides and behind. At the harness of this orchestra of iron, the sound is much different. It sounds like a large heater with the fan on full blast.
No, on second thought, it sounds kind of like being on a rocket engine. In fact, it kind of feels that way, too.
John Murphy is the author of Mission Veritas, a science fiction adventure.
“Candidates for an elite fighting force must qualify on a planet of truth. Killian must hide his past as a ruthless rebel fighter at the risk of imprisonment.”