Arizona in the spring…the perfect time to enjoy an outdoor adventure, before those triple-digit days roll in. It was mid-April, and I was fortunate to be able to enjoy my first-ever Harley- Davidson ride in balmy, high-70s temperatures.
My foray into the world of Harley had been carefully orchestrated by Ron Milanovic, the marketing director for the Chandler Harley-Davidson motorcycle store.
It seems part of his marketing strategy is to convert the common people to Harley aficionados one ride at a time.
I was entrusted to the care and expertise of Larry Williams, a retired motorcycle officer. Larry has embarked on his second career as Harley mechanic/tour guide extraordinaire.
In the days leading up to the experience, my logical mind had been a little (actually, a lot) nervous about the impending ride. After all, sitting inches from a total stranger, on the back of a powerful machine with nothing but air between me and the pavement, was more that a little intimidating.
After a few deep-cleansing breaths, I gracelessly hopped on the back. Sitting behind a veteran motor cop, my fears immediately vanished.
I was leaning back, humming the Bob Seger tune “Roll Me Away”, feeling relaxed and ready when I was jolted back into my fear-filled reality as my tour organizer, Milanovic, handed me my camera and told me to take pictures along the way. Did he really think I was going to peel my white knuckles off those handles that were so conveniently placed beside my quivering legs?
Suddenly the bike came to life with the expected roar of the Harley engine. I was ready. There was no choice at this point; off we went with no particular destination in mind. I took a deep breath made up my mind to enjoy the ride.
We pulled out of the dealership parking lot and the film of sweat on my hands made holding on slightly precarious, but as we headed south I was immediately converted. The ride was as smooth as any luxury car I had ever been in. I was able to enjoy the company of my guide as he told me how he ended up in Arizona after a cross-country ride following retirement. I was even so bold as to take a few pictures along the way.
Ask anyone who knows me: I have not been a big proponent of motorcycles in general, but I could feel my opinion morphing instantly. It may sound cliché, but the wind in my hair, the perfect temperature, the sunny day, brought me back to my younger years when I spent time cruising the winding Minnesota byways in my ragtop MGB.
I now see how the Harley mystique can become addictive. The feeling of freedom, even from the back seat, was enough to put any fears I had to rest. My next thought was: if I like the scene from the back, I’ll bet I’d love it from the front. As we pulled back into the dealership’s parking lot after a much-too-short tour of the east Valley, I was a convert. It seems Ron Milanovic’s grass roots marketing strategy is working.
Maybe a few more adventures from the back are in order before I make the investment, but I know I’ll welcome my next opportunity to enjoy the open road.
Coincidentally, for women who have already become masters of the open road, there’s a women’s- only ride on May 16. It is a free scenic trip that includes lunch and prizes leaving Chandler Harley Davidson at 10 a.m.
Call (480) 496-6800 for information or to be a part of this event.