MADISON, Ind. (March 2004) For many people, driving is
simply about reaching a particular destination, and little if any
pleasure is derived from the process. But for those who take to the
road on two wheels instead of four, getting there is more than half
by Ruth Wright
Hawkins on his BMW motorcycle.
Harry Hawkins, 59, of Madison, Ind., has been riding motorcycles
since he was 15 years old.
Hawkins, the owner of Transmission Warehouse in Madison, began riding
seriously in December 1980. He took his first long distance trip in
May 1981 with wife, Mary. The couple rode to Dearborn, Mich., for
a transmission seminar, then headed north into Canada, where they
traveled through Sault Ste. Marie, South Baymouth and Tobermore before
Since that time, Hawkins has logged about 300,000 miles. Hes
seen a lot of the country now, said Mary Hawkins, who doesnt
seem to mind her husbands hobby and, in fact, accompanies him
when she can. Last October, the couple spent about two weeks traveling
through Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana.
Bill Hall, who works for the Indiana-Kentucky Electric Corp., has
been riding bikes since 1985. I just like the open spaces, being
outdoors, said Hall, 46. Hall shares his enthusiasm for the
hobby with son Kyle, 17, who got his motorcycle license last year.
The two have since ridden to Yellowstone National Park in Montana.
Roger Allman, the hospital administrator at Kings Daughters
Hospital & Health Services in Madison, said that for him, riding
is an escape. I can put the helmet on, the visor down and nobody
knows me. Nobody calls, said Allman, 50, who often teams up
with fellow hospital administrator and motorcycle enthusiast Larry
Keith in his adventures.
by Don Ward
Allman with his
Allmans goal is to ride in all 50 states. So far, he has ridden
in 33. Allman compared riding a motorcycle with driving in a convertible
with the top down. But even that doesnt quite measure up to
the feeling of being on a bike, he said.
Hawkins, Hall and Allman represent a new generation of motorcyclists
one that transcends age, gender and socioeconomic status.
Motorcyclists are no longer branded as rebels, misfits or criminals,
as they were in the 1960s and 70s when gangs like Hells Angels
and Outlaws ruled the roads. In the 80s, that image started
going away, said Hawkins, who counts doctors, lawyers and teachers
among his motorcycle pals.
Much like drivers of automobiles, motorcyclists tend to circulate
in brand-related cliques.
Hawkins enjoys the quiet comfortable ride of his BMW K1200 LT, with
heated seat, back rest and hand grips, while Hall prefers his Harley
But regardless of what theyre riding, most motorcyclists share
a few common characteristics, including a penchant for long trips
typically alone or in small groups.
He who travels fast, travels alone, said Hawkins, who
has logged many a mile with just his trusty steel steed for company.
Hawkins has visited all 49 states in the continental United States
and most provinces in Canada. His longest trip was in 2002 when he
headed northeast toward Canada with motorcycle pal Darrell Howard
of Owensboro, Ky. The two ended up visiting Labrador and Newfoundland,
what Hawkins called his big adventure. He and Howard traveled
nearly 8,000 miles and spent 18 hours traveling by ferry. The trip
is Hawkins longest to date.
left, Roger Allman and Larry Keith at Daytona's 'Bike Week.'
Hall has traveled solo all the way to the West Coast and back. I
wanted to see the Oregon and California coast, he said.
Allman also has seen his share of the road. He has ridden as many
as 1,600 miles in a 24-hour period, a feat he admitted is unusual.
Some may balk at the thought of traveling so many miles alone, but
most motorcyclists seem to take it for granted. Of course, there are
times when the hospitality of strangers comes in handy. For Hall,
that was when a dead battery left him stranded in northern Montana.
Thanks to the assistance of two local residents, he was soon on his
way. I think that the people that you meet are one of the highlights
of the trip, said Hall.
Motorcyclists can also count on their fellow riders for camaraderie.
Hawkins is a member and an ambassador of the BMW MOA, an independent,
non-profit club boasting 38,000 members worldwide.
Another motorcyclists club is American Bikers Aimed Toward Education,
also known as ABATE, a not-for-profit safety, educational, charitable
and advocacy organization. In Indiana, ABATE offers motorcycle rider
education classes. Tom Buchanan of Madison, ABATEs Region 9
director, said that the club meets in Madison at Bellos Pizza
at 7:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month.
left, Harry Hawkins and Andy
Fountain on a ride in North Carolina.
ABATE is best known for advocating motorcyclists rights, including
freedom of choice in regard to helmets. Indiana and Kentucky do not
require motorcycle drivers or their passengers to wear helmets, although
many still do. I feel naked without (a helmet), said Hawkins.
ABATE membership is open to the public for $25 per year and includes
a one-year subscription to Hoosier Motorcyclist and reduced admission
to more than 180 ABATE of Indiana sanctioned events each year, such
as motorcycle rallies.
Motorcycle rallies, held from coast to coast by many different organizations,
include Bike Week in Daytona, Fla., and Black Hills Motorcycle Rally
in Sturgis, S.D.
Last August in Sturgis, 450,000 people attended the 63rd Annual Black
Hills Motorcycle Rally. The week-long event, the largest of its kind
according to organizers, resulted in the collection of nearly $1 million
in sales tax for the state of South Dakota.
Similarly in Dayton, Fla., thousands attend the annual event, which
will be held this year from Feb. 27 to March 7.
Im not much on bike weeks the big crowds dont
interest me, said Hawkins. He makes an exception each year for
the BMW MOA rally, which he said is much different from typical bike
week extravaganzas. In 1988, the rally was held in Madison and attracted
about 1,500 people to the area, according to Hawkins. This year, the
rally will take place in mid-July in Spokane, Wash. Hawkins said he
plans to attend.
The popularity of motorcycle rallies is another testament to the growing
popularity of the hobby. Since 1997, new unit sales of on-highway
motorcycles have increased approximately 91 percent, according to
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Apparently, many
share Allmans sentiment: Its an adventure,