Pittsburgh Rides: 2009 motorcycling season is starting to take shape ...
A chopper cruises down Main Street during the first weekend of the 2006 Bike Week in Daytona Beach, Fla. The event brings motorcycle riders and fans from all over the world the first full week of March each year.
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Ahhh, the holiday season is finally over. No more hustle and bustle and crowded stores. The candy will soon be gone to make way for more healthful choices so that we can begin our traditional New Year's resolution, which usually lasts for only a few short weeks.
All over the region, chrome goodies that Santa brought are being bolted on, batteries are being plugged in to be trickle charged, and on the occasional sunny day, guys and gals are rolling their bikes onto the driveway to tease their two-wheeled pride and joy with a taste of the sun.
Although there are riders like myself who don't have an end or beginning to the season, the vast majority of motorcyclists put their bikes away at the first sign of snow and get them out sometime after the April showers wash all of the salt off of the road. Even though many bikes are in hibernation, it's not too early to start thinking about the 2009 riding season.
As the year progresses, rides will start appearing in magazines and on the Internet. You can find everything from national rides and rallies to local poker runs and swap meets to everything in between.
The biggest start to the riding season nationally is Daytona Bike Week, which kicks off this year on Feb. 28 and lasts until March 7. Being that we are from the Northeast, there is always the threat of snow. Many riders choose to trailer their bikes down and get them out once they are out of Jack Frost's icy reach. To many in the riding community, this is one of the only times where it's acceptable to trailer your bike.
Welcome to Pittsburgh Rides, our regular feature on motorcycling. Here we bring you the latest in rides, trends and events, but we need your input. We're looking for voices from the local biking community willing to share (in roughly 500 words) your experiences on the road and what you think is hot on wheels.
• Send your story or pitch to Weekend editor Scott Mervis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Want to answer our Burning Questions? Send to the same address and include your name and neighborhood.
Rolling Thunder is a ride that takes you to the nation's capital over Memorial Day Weekend, and it's a very emotional ride. The premise of the ride is to call for the government's recognition and protection of prisoners of war and those missing in action. Typically 400,000 veterans will roar across Washington, D.C., on their motorcycles as a tribute to American war heroes. You don't have to be a veteran to ride in the parade; you just need to love the United States of America.
Locally, you can head over to Johnstown for Thunder in the Valley June 25-28 to take in some great bike rally activities. Some like to make it a quick day trip while others like to spend at least one night in the flood city. There you can test ride the latest and greatest bikes from many manufacturers, visit part and accessory vendors on hand, and sample food from many local businesses that support the motorcycling community.
If you are looking for something longer than Johnstown but shorter than Washington, D.C., you can always take in Gettysburg Bike Week, July 9-11. I've been out that way many times in both a vehicle and on my bike. I prefer riding my bike because you can take your time looking at the monuments and battlefields. It's much easier to park and maneuver around the tourists. Not to mention the ride along Route 30 is beautiful in July. You can make a full weekend out of it and stop at the Flight 93 Memorial, go through Old Bedford Village and pull into Gettysburg all in one day.
Whether you're a Harley-Davidson fan or a metric motorcycle fan, there is something to be said for the manufacturing of an American icon. I would strongly recommend making reservations for a tour of the factory in York on your way out to Gettysburg. During your visit, you can walk along factory catwalks, take a guided tour through the various work stations, and end up at a museum.
There are way too many rides and rallies to cover in one article. The Pittsburgh Rides Web site is a valuable resource for rides and rallies. It is updated often, so please check it out weekly. I would also encourage you to go online or pick up a copy of a local bike magazine. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
The best part about motorcycle rallies is that you don't have to be a motorcyclist to enjoy the events. Bikers come in all forms, shapes, sizes, races, and backgrounds. Riders welcome anyone and everyone to share in the events. Whether you ride an American or a foreign motorcycle, whether you have two, three or four wheels, the events are about brotherhood and sisterhood.
Let's face it, everyone has daily worries and things going on in life that may be a little stressful. During these events, you can't help but set those thoughts aside even for just a few hours and be part of a community that truly embraces freedom and unity.
First Published January 8, 2009 12:00 am