The Mountain Times

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Bikers flock to Ludlow

LUDLOW - Motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the world converged on the Jackson Gore Inn on Aug. 22 for a weekend on the roads of Vermont.
The Okemo Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Harley-Davidson Iron Adventure rally this year. While the event is open to everyone who rides a motorcycle, by far the majority belonged to Harley riders.
Lung-Shou Huang came all the way from Taiwan. Organizers said they even had people from Italy.
"It's been my dream to come to the U.S.," he said. "I'll be going to Harley's 110th anniversary in Milwaukee next year."
Marji Graf, the Chamber's executive director, said this was the first event of its kind in Vermont.
"I knew I'd have one shot to bring it here," she said.
The event was created and sponsored by the Harley Owners Group, or, as its members call it, H.O.G., Harley-Davidson's official riding club. The goal was for riders to cover at least 110 miles on their visit to Vermont. Stops included the Vermont Teddy Bear Co., Ben and Jerry's, a covered bridge tour, and a bike show.
Rutland's Bill Borger served as the rally's team leader. He's been riding motorcycles since 1956. He's also been a participating H.O.G. member for seven years, and is a road captain of the Upper Valley H.O.G. chapter.
"This started as a five-state rally," he said. "This has always been a Harley event, but it's open to all bikers. Maybe 10 percent are not Harley owners. That's a first."
A.J. Johnson came over from Penacook, N.H. (A personal note from the author: he turned out to be a cousin I haven't seen for nearly 50 years. It really is a small world!)
"I went to my first one last year," Johnson said. "I've had all kinds of bikes, but I've chosen a Harley."
Borger credited Graf for her approach.
"Marji did a fantastic job of selling the idea to us," he said. "We know we'll be back next year. Not only does the Jackson Gore Inn want us back, the entire valley wants us back!"
Graf said the riders stayed busy.
"We had a four-town scavenger hunt with prizes that was pretty successful," she said. "They got to go to the Coolidge historic site, the Vermont Country Store in Weston, and over to Chester for the Vermont Institute of Contemporary Arts. We had 100 bikes in Chester. I hope to have this one more year before it goes somewhere else."
Milwaukee resident Ken Knuteson is the director of the Harley Owners Group.
"The locations are chosen by our customers," he said. "Bill knows this area like the back of his hand. This is a great facility, and Vermont has great roads."
Knuteson said collegiality is the chief feature of motorcycle rallies.
"For a lot of riders, this is like family," he said. "When they get together, it's like a family reunion."
Borger said that was part of the rally's appeal.
"I could go to just about every state rally and find people I know," he said. "By the time you leave, you have 20 or 30 new friends."
"It's an honor to work with Bill Borger and this team," Graf said.
For more info on the Harley Owners Group and its events visit www.harley-davidson.com.