You can hear the rumblings off in the distance at any given moment these last couple days, no matter where you are. Seriously, it’s almost nonstop. But in a good way.
It’s the unmistakable sound of motorcycles rolling through town for the Harley-Davidson 110th anniversary celebration, and you see them in packs or solo, but they are e-v-e-r-y- w-h-e-r-e. Which, quite honestly, is both exciting and surprising. Exciting because, let’s face it, you don’t even have to be on a bike to feel a little bit of the thrill those machines invoke, but surprising because we are located in West Bend, Wisconsin, about 45 minutes north of the Harley “center of the universe” in Milwaukee where the greatest beehive of activity is pulsing away. That’s a pretty long arm of influence.
More than 100,000 people overall are expected to show up for this year’s events, which includes four days’ worth of music (more than 60 bands, including Aerosmith, Toby Keith, ZZ Top and Kid Rock), multiple street parties, dealer events, a parade and even a UFC matchup. But visitors looking to camp during the celebration have found their way here to our community of 30,000+, and they’ve been welcomed with open arms. In fact, West Bend has scheduled entertainment at the county fairgrounds as well as downtown just for them, including music, food and VIP parking for their machines. Many satellite locations throughout southeast Wisconsin like West Bend have made similar arrangements.
It’s really quite something to see the grand scale to which the Harley-Davidson Anniversary celebrations have escalated, though Milwaukee has, as a city, become very good at hosting such extravaganzas (reference Summerfest, State Fair, an ethnic festival for every walk of man). I believe the first “Harley Fest” was in observance of the company’s 85th year, and I surprised myself by suddenly realizing I attended that inaugural event. I honestly don’t have much recollection of the festival, other than the guy I attended with paid our admission ($17 per person, if memory serves, though I’m not positive) in quarters! That, and the uncomfortable feeling of being the only two people on the entire grounds who were dressed in obnoxiously bright colors, set off by a sea of solid black. I’m sure we had fun, though.
Our company does a lot of its business with people who drive and repair their own motorcycles, of course, so these events currently igniting our little corner of the world are of an even greater interest. I even learned that we have a particular motorcycle stand especially suited for most Harley-Davidsons, regardless of the model, though it can also be used for many other makes as well, including Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and BMW. The Harley Motorcycle Stand lifts bikes up to 1800 lbs and will elevate either the front or rear tire for repair. What’s especially nice about this motorcycle lift, though, is that it only weighs 10 lbs and is available in a portable model that disassembles small enough to fit into your motorcycle saddle bag. That way, you can always have it with you on any road trip. Pretty cool. And if this particular motorcycle center stand is not the one for you, there are plenty of additional lifts, jacks and stands to choose from, plus, tons of other motorcycle products, from ramps to carriers to accessory items.
It’s exciting to see such beautiful, decked-out bikes in our neighborhood for these next few days, as well as playing host to so many visitors from around the country. What’s the best rally you’ve ever attended? Think you’ll make it to Milwaukee for the Harley-Davidson 115th?