Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Shark Week X - Fuck You, China!

Shark Week X is on! 

For the uninitiated, Shark Week is not about fish and (so far) has nothing to do with the Discovery Channel.  It's a namesake given to an event attended by fans of a particular motorcycle.  My motorcycle is a 2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide.  I named her Hester in reference to the paint color - Scarlett Red.  There's a bit of double entendre in the name, but you have to have read The Scarlett Letter and think deep about bikers to get it.  But I digress.

Shark-Nosed Hester

Road Glide fans refer to our bike as the "sharknose" or "shark" due to the shape of the fairing. [pic]  Back then, appreciating the Road Glide was an acquired taste.  In fact, many people hated it.  I am a function-over-form rider and there are numerous physical and functional aspects of the Road Glide that I appreciated.  I knew in 2009 that I wanted to upgrade my ride to a touring platform (some call it a Geezer Glide) and it wasn't long thereafter that I could comfortably ride 1,000 miles a day - repeatedly.  Beyond that, I like the distinctive look.  Turns out, I discovered I was in good company through on-line forums and other dedicated Road Glide groups.  Then in 2015, Harley-Davidson released a redesigned version of the Road Glide and its popularity skyrocketed.  Prior to 2015, spotting a sharknose was uncommon.  Now, it's the most popular Harley-Davidson model.  As I mentioned above, Hester is a 2010 with the original (less popular) fairing.  I hang on to Hester for four reasons:

  1. We've ridden to 49 states together on all the scenic routes.  We have history.
  2. I have plans to retire in four years and dropping $30,000 on a new motorcycle is not in my financial plan.  I plan to ride Hester till the wheels fall off.  New wheels are cheaper than a new bike.
  3. I rebuilt and repainted Hester in 2016 after totaling her in an accident and rebuilt the motor in 2019.  She's a beauty.
  4. Riding a pre-2015 year model reminds the world that I knew the Road Glide was cool before the masses caught on.
Back to Shark Week.  Every year, a group of us gathers somewhere in the country to celebrate favorite motorcycles, ride the local scenic routes, bust each others' balls, and most of all, just enjoy each others' company.  As this is our tenth year, this is Shark Week X; hereafter referred to as SWX.

The first Shark Week (SWI) was held in Gettysburg, PA in 2011. Roughly 30 Road Glides showed up from as far away as California, Florida, and even some from Canada.  I missed it.  I wanted to go, but had just returned from my Alaska trip.  Had I known then what I know, I would have made the trip.  The camaraderie is as close to family or military bonds as I have ever experienced.  Outsiders think it's just a small rally.  Shark Week has to be experienced to be understood.  Just as I was content riding the "ugly duckling" in 2010, I am equally content being part of the Shark Week weirdo crowd.  A review of the first nine Shark Weeks follows:

SWI       2011    Gettysburg, PA
SWII      2012   LeClaire, IA
SWIII    2013    St. George, UT
SWIV    2014    Gorham, NH/ME
SWV     2015    Kerrville, TX
SWVI    2016    Canmore, Alberta, Canada
SWVII   2017    Cherokee, NC
SWVIII  2018    Durango, CO
SWIX    2019    DEadwood/Sturgis, SD
SWX     2020    Gettysburg, PA

I've been fortunate to attend all of the Shark Weeks except SWI and SWVI.  I already discussed SWI.  I missed SWVI because I was recovering from shoulder surgery after my Australian Outback adventure.

Thanks to the Wuhan China virus, SWX almost didn't happen.  In fact, as of this writing it still hasn't.  I'm typing this on Tuesday night and am scheduled to ride out Friday morning.  Our country's politicized handling of the China virus has thrown a wrench into our tenth anniversary event and many of our attendees have canceled.  Some bailed out of financial hardship.  Some bailed on legitimate fears of the virus. Others can't go due to work restrictions.  A few others refuse to go because they say wearing a mask infringes on their personal liberties.  I call bullshit on that.  Not going to Shark Week because of a silly mask is a far greater infringement on my personal liberties.  Again I digress.

SWX is heading back home to Gettysburg - where it all started.  I will ride out Friday, July 10th and head back home Friday July 17th.  My itinerary will have me stop somewhere in northern Kentucky Friday evening with a shorter ride into Pittsburgh, PA on Saturday.  There, I'll join a group of riders from all over the country for a pre-SWX get-together and then on Sunday, we will all ride to Gettysburg via the historic and scenic Lincoln Highway.  Those who know me know that I don't do well in large crowds of bikers riding slow and stopping often.  I make exceptions for Shark Week and the ride into Gettysburg is only 300 miles.  I can handle it for one day.  I'm mulling over the idea of riding straight home (1,400 miles) on Friday.  That will depend on how the week goes.

Here are some images of my previous Shark Weeks.

SWII - LeClaire, Iowa 2012

SWIII - St. George, Utah 2013

SWIV - Gorham, Vermont 2014

SWV - Kerrville, Texas 2015

SWVI - Canmore, Alberta Canada 2016

SWVII - Cherokee, North Carolina 2017
SWVIII - Durango, Colorado 2018

SWIX - Sturgis, South Dakota 2019

If you want to follow along as I ride to, from, and around SWX, you can follow the link below.  It requires me to remember to enable tracking form my phone and updates might be delayed a bit as I ride in and out of cellular service.  But if you want to play along at home, use this LINK.

I'll try to upload pics and updates from the event during the week, but I promise nothing as I tend to get sidetracked by the activities.