Ageless on a Harley–that’s me | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

There is no way a man can defy age and time, except—in my totally biased opinion—when his passion is riding a Harley-Davidson, the iconic, heavy cruising bike of chrome and steel with the unmistakable, syncopated rumble that captures all ears.

On my Harley, I transcend age and time, creating my own space. There’s only me, the bike and the road ahead. Forget Marlon Brando, forget Steve McQueen, that was the movies. In real life, I’m the man on a Harley.

At age 55 (okay, almost 56), my choice of transport is a Harley. There are more impressive bikes than my black 1999 Softail Heritage Classic with a stock 1340 cc Evolution V-twin engine and weather-beaten saddlebags. But she is mine alone, an extension of me.

As a relatively late starter, I acquired my first Harley at age 48. No way could I know what kind of impact she would make on my life. I have become the sort of biker who can take off for a solo run at 3 a.m. on a Sunday from Makati to Angeles City and back, because it feels like the thing to do. If I’m on the bike and it starts raining, I will not stop for shelter, because in my book it isn’t done.

The truth is, I did not know how to ride my first bike, a Harley, when I bought it. Friends said I was crazy. But I did set out getting to know that bike. We had many an adventure together. Everyone who has ever owned a Harley decides, sooner or later, whether or not to pursue the relationship. If not, there is a parting of ways, no hard feelings. In my case, the relationship turned increasingly passionate.

In 2008, the Harley-Davidson Company said that the median age of US owners was 47, with industry research revealing that on average, riders buy their last new bike at age 62, and stop riding at 70. The data would put most of my brethren and me squarely in the Harley age range.

Mad Dogs

I can’t talk about Harleys except as a member of the Mad Dog Motorcycle Club (MDMC). Mad Dogs are highly individualistic men and bikers, but drawn together by a common psyche. In their day jobs they practice diverse professions, run their own businesses, and lead corporations. But all are united in a bond forged by hard-core biker values and hard riding.

Mad Dogs, who are not café bikers, form a closely knit brotherhood within the international motorcycle community. As a Harley-Davidson tagline would put it, “If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand.”

Dogs come from all over the world, with chapters in the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. While we do have younger members, a good number are in their 50s and 60s. The maturity stands us in good stead on and off the road, tempering the testosterone.

While the MDMC doesn’t require Harley bikes, most members prefer them, especially on our regular runs that range from a few hours to two weeks. Some runs, and what happens in them, become the stuff of legends, to be treasured forever.

There are Harleys, and there are other bikes. That’s the point of view of just about anyone who loves Harleys. Originating in the United States more than a century ago, as the 20th century began and an old way of life ended, the Harley is heir to the cowboy and his horse. Harley-Davidson is not merely a brand, but a lifestyle that celebrates rugged independence and individuality, with a whiff of the outlaw in it.

Exhilaration and fear

A good friend and Philippine-based brother Mad Dog, Peter Brown, 50, has flown planes and owns a sports car in Canada. He bought his first bike in 1998 and joined the MDMC in 1999. Peter says that to his mind, riding a Harley, a massive bike with its powerful torque in 800 lb of metal and rubber, is the ultimate riding experience: “The mix of exhilaration and fear creates an adrenaline rush that translates into a pure sense of being.”

He talks of a run he made alone one day in South Korea, where he worked in the animation industry, on the highway from Songtan to Seoul. The day was sunny, rice fields lay on both sides of the road, traffic was light, a nice breeze blowing in his face.

He recalls looking down at his bike, a Harley Night Train, and thinking: “This is how it should be. I feel great, I’m happy. And that’s what life’s all about.”

Riding a Harley on an open road, taking joy in the drumming rhythm of its engine, savoring the rush of wind, listening to that heady roar unlike any other sound, becoming one with the machine’s vibrations—each time, the thrill of the experience puts me in a unique zone of living. In that moment I become ageless.

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