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My American Ride (in Harley T-Shirt Fashion)

T-shirts and Text by Chuck Riddle

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I've been fortunate enough to get to ride all over the United States and enjoy the roads, towns and people everywhere I've traveled. For many years, I would buy a tee shirt at every Harley dealer I visited. After 100-plus tee shirts, I stopped buying at every one and now only buy a tee shirt if I think the dealership has a cool name (Bald Eagle, Grand Canyon, things like that). But, I got a wild hair this weekend to take pictures of a lot of the shirts in my tee shirt collection to see what kind of story they told. They tell me that I've traveled a lot of miles on a motorcycle over the years. Enjoy the trip and the tee shirts:

My first Harley tee shirt from Battlefield Harley-Davidson in Gettysburg, PA. I bought my first Harley there and rode it home to Texas. I like to tell people I had 1500 miles on the bike before I got it home from the dealer. It was a 2004 Fatboy that I retired in 2009 with 95,000 miles on it. It was a couple of weeks shy of being 5 yrs old. Jerry Evans bought his 2nd Harley at the same time and we rode them back taking excursions down the Blue Ridge Parkway and Natchez Trace. Great ride!

Mancuso became my "home" dealership.
Mancuso became my "home" dealership.

Of course, once I got back to Texas, there were Harley dealers all around the state. Each one had to be visited--the code of the West.

Stubbs was also a regular stop while I was living in Houston.
Beyond that, every dealer in Texas was fair game depending on where I was going and what I was doing.

Then of course, there were the cross country rides that I tried to squeeze in every chance I got. Like the trips from Texas to Florida to attend Bike Week and Biketoberfest activities in Daytona Beach over the course of several years. This meant finding new routes through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida to break the monotony of a dreaded ride across I-10. Between Harley dealerships and Hooters, we always managed to keep it interesting even if it meant riding a few hundred miles out of our way (like when we came back by way of Tennessee one time.)

Chattanooga - Home to one of the best Hooters in the US.

2004 was particularly special for a ride down Route 66. I was working in Milwaukee and decided to ride up for a couple of weeks of work, then ride back along Route 66 as far as I could cover until I ran out of time and had to roll home. I made it from Chicago (Route 66's origin if you are headed west) to western Oklahoma, Clinton, OK to be exact, where I finally turned south for Texas. Of course, you can imagine that Harley-Davidson didn't miss the marketing opportunity presented by Route 66 as you'll see from the shirts below.

In 2006, I made an epic trip from Texas to California to meet my favorite biker, Bandit, of It was a great ride even counting the couple of days where I was sick as a dog, but still riding because I didn't have time to waste sitting in a hotel tossing my cookies. Even though most of the shirts from the trip came from Texas, the ride along the Mexican border was awesome.

The author on his Fatboy.
The author on his Fatboy.

I remember the shirts from Barnett's and Sierra Vista were long sleeve because the ride was in January and I was freezing my butt off in the desert when the sun would go down. On the way home I met Jerry in west Texas and we made a stop at Bone Daddy's for BBQ and cute waitresses. I remember Jerry looking longingly out into space and saying, "This is my favorite place in the whole world."

My California trip was one last run before I moved to Virginia in February 2006. But, not to worry, the motorcycle went with me and the rides continued. 2007 included my first trip to Laconia, New Hampshire for their bike week (which Jerry and I agreed was lame, but did give me the opportunity to ride my Harley to Maine) and my first ride to Sturgis, South Dakota for the Black Hills Rally (NOT LAME!) The Sturgis trip meant a couple of days at the Buffalo Chip Campground, a rode into Wyoming and spent the afternoon drinking beer and hanging out in Deadwood.

Of course the move to Virginia meant acquainting myself with my Virginia dealers with Grove's winning out as my dealer of choice.

In 2009 I found the opportunity for a couple of rides to Alabama to visit the folks, that included a breakdown in the rain in southern Virginia where New River Valley H-D took good care of me. I also managed a visit to Ocean City for their version of Bike Week that year, but I was only there for the day, so I can't really offer a rating for that one.

2010 included another epic 6000 mile ride out to Las Vegas to get my oldest son married to his beautiful wife. The trip out gave me a chance to ride a little more of Route 66 west to Kingman, Arizona. The return trip included meanderings through Texas, Alabama, Georgia, South and North Carolina.

The 2011 summer's ride was a trip out to Iowa for a family reunion and then a return up through Minnesota and across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Of yeah, 2011 also included a few months back in Texas working, so why not throw in another tee shirt from the Great Republic of Texas! That's a wrap.

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