The rumble of motorcycle engines is as sure a sign of spring in Wisconsin as are baseball, open-water fishing or brats on the grill. Unfortunately, this past weekend's weather was not really calling motorcycle riders or anyone else to get outside around these parts.
Whether it’s two-wheel Tuesday events, Thursday bike nights or the seemingly endless weekend rides and parties, Wisconsin motorcycle riders are more than ready to ride. Some, like me, have been riding on the few nice days we’ve had, while the true die-hards have just been riding in harsher conditions.
On a recent Thursday night with some decent weather, I took the opportunity to ride to a few biker hangouts in the downtown and Walker’s Point areas.
Not surprisingly, the biggest and best crowd was at the Harley-Davidson Museum with around 50 bikes, including a few with out-of-state license plates. I talked to a younger couple from Menomonee Falls who had been putting some miles in whenever they had the chance. Another local rider was also enjoying the weather, having covered more than 200 miles that day.
There were only a couple bikes and riders at Steny’s in Walker’s Point, but the bartender said more bikers had been around when the weather was nicer on the weekends. Riding south on 1st Street to the Horny Goat, I found a few more bikes in the parking lot and riders at the bar. A fellow Wauwatosa rider in the group said he had already been on almost a dozen rides on his new Harley Breakout.
While I haven’t gone out to the western Waukesha County roads yet this year, a quick call to the Golden Lake Pub in Oconomowoc confirmed that riders had already been out a few times and are chomping at the bit for better weather and eventually an actual summer.
While we all know that bikers are a bit of a different breed, they are really similar to golfers, bicyclists, fisherman, ballplayers and others when it comes desperately wanting to get outside after a long Wisconsin winter.
One way that bikers do differ from those other outdoors folks is the amount of time and effort necessary to get going each spring. As motorcycles sit idle for most of the winter in garages, storage or even outside, they usually need a lot more than a quick wipe down to get on the road.
So, if there’s a silver lining in this extended winter for local bikers, it's giving them some more time to get their motorcycles ready for safe riding by checking the tires, oils and lubricants, and other equipment. We’ve had a couple more weeks for the roads to clear of salt, sand and leaves. At some point, they might even get a chance to fill those dreaded potholes?
Finally, many bikers and safe riding advocates consider April "Check Your Helmet Month." After prepping their bikes, the riders who choose to wear helmets are advised to check their head gear at least once a year. The reason is that helmets deteriorate over time and are generally designed to absorb one major hit. So, if you don’t take good care of your helmet or have dropped it, it might be worth checking. Not to mention possibly wanting a fashion upgrade.
So, as the weather changes for the better, hopefully sooner than later, let’s have a safe riding season in Wisconsin, whether you’re riding a motorcycle or sharing the road with one.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Mike Morgan
Published July 11, 2015
In the motorcycle and car world, saying that someone "has gas and oil in their veins" means those are folks are either gear heads, or at least have some gear head in their DNA. If anyone is actually capable of painting with gas and oil, Milwaukee artist Mathew "boo" Hintz is the guy to do it. Hintz is building an impressive professional and artistic career combining his passion for painting, drawing, design and motorcycles at Harley-Davidson.
Published July 4, 2015
It's not often that you see portraits of Dave Grohl and Vince Lombardi displayed side by side. However, the art and career of William K. Stidham are pretty well summed up by those contrasting characters on canvas.
Published May 21, 2015
When Mike Morgan started working at Harley-Davidson and riding motorcycles way back in 2001, it was unusual to see women riders on the road, at rallies or just about anywhere. Today, any driver who looks out for motorcycles notices the dramatic increase in women riders.
Published April 15, 2015
As Milwaukee looks to build its third major sports arena in 30 years, we should view dramatic changes in pro sports as a big part of the project landscape.
Published Feb. 19, 2015
The winter months are when most motorcycle riders protect their precious bikes in garages under cover, waiting for the snow, ice and salt to disappear by April - if they're lucky. However, for some riders, Wisconsin winters are a good time to catch up on motorcycle culture, enjoy events at their local dealerships or even ride outside on ice covered waterways. So, let's check in on how Milwaukee motorcyclists handle their winter withdrawals.
Published Feb. 5, 2015
For someone not fitting the typical Harley guy stereotype, Milwaukee's Jim Fricke is one of the Motor Company's most authentic and inspirational brand representatives. OnMilwaukee.com recently took a ride with Fricke as he discussed the Harley-Davidson Museum's mission, local arts and culture, and his musical influences and preferences.
Published Dec. 9, 2014
In the age of so-called "reality" television, there is a local antique Harley-Davidson motorcycle that actually has a real story to tell.
Published Nov. 13, 2014
As a lifelong local baseball fan, some of my favorite pictures are of Milwaukee Braves' players riding in motorcycle sidecars at County Stadium in the 1960s. Of course, there's another classic motorcycle image from County Stadium in 1982 featuring Robin Yount, except he was on a Honda dirt bike instead of a Harley. These really cool vintage pictures show the long-time connection between motorcycles and sports in Wisconsin.
Published Oct. 4, 2014
As the fall colors hit their peak in southeastern Wisconsin and beyond this month, it's easily the best time of year for motorcycle riding.
Published Aug. 29, 2014
This weekend's Milwaukee Rally is a destination for many motorcycle enthusiasts and is a true partnership of five area dealers coming together to stage a Rally every labor day weekend in the Milwaukee area.