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Rich Lanning – Why I Ride

rlanning-wir-1Growing up I had no real desire to own a motorcycle. I WAS a motor head though. I had a ‘57 Chevy, a ’46 Ford and a ’64 GTO to keep me content. Along came the year 1969 and the movie Easy Rider. After seeing it three or four times, I knew I had to have a Harley.

In 1971 I purchased a new XLCH. Since all of my friends were on metric bikes, I was the bad boy on a Harley. Well, if riding a new Harley was cool, chop-ping it would make it super cool. So that winter I stripped it down, took a hacksaw to the fenders, ex-tended the front end 8 inches, swapped out the seat and painted it candy apple orange.


The next cool thing that I did was to meet the girl I knew I was going to marry. Unfortunately, it was not cool to her dad who hated motorcycles and told her she was not allowed to ride on one – ever. Since love makes us do crazy things, she would drive over to my house and we would go off riding. As all good things must come to an end, so did my XLHC when I totaled it.

After marriage, four kids and a couple of metric bikes, I bought a new 1992 Sportster. After one ride on that bike my wife said: “if you want me to ride with you, that bike has to go”. No problem; I traded the Sportster in on a 1992 FLHS. After spending more money on it than I paid for it, having painted it twice, sending parts out to be chrome plated and powder coated, a complete suspension redo and engine work, etc. and putting over 42,000 miles on it without a breakdown, it is now my son’s bike.


My wife and I always rode alone so in 1995 we joined a HOG chapter. Now we were really having fun. We met so many nice people and started going on trips with people who shared the same interests as we did. The more we got involved with the club, the more enjoyable it was to be a member. There were rides every weekend and there were 2 or 3 trips we would go on every year.


In 1996 we bought an Electra Glide and started pulling a trailer the following year. Now we were do-ing trips that would take up to 2 weeks. There is nothing like opening the lid of your trailer at the end of the day, pulling out your basket of cheer and your blender at the motel for a parking lot party. Just a word of caution here: if one of your buddies shows up with a 2 cycle engine to run a blender, don’t start it in your motel room! After putting over 55,000 on the ’96 Electra Glide, I traded it on a 2004 Ultra.

rlanning-wir-10rlanning-wir-13We had many memorable trips during those years but my favorite one was the trip to Prince Edward Island that we made with the Yeagers and Hansens. Our first stop was Tadoussac, Quebec where we went whale watching by both boat and a 1958 DeHaviland Beaver float plane. We saw dolphins and Minke whales. Minke whales only show their bodies and dorsal fins when they break water.

We then went to Hope-well Rocks which are located in the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world; the tide rises and falls 54 feet. The rock formations are under water, but when the tide is out, people walk the bay bottom searching for geodes to break open. If they are lucky there will be amethyst inside the geode.

rlanning-wir-7Next we crossed the Federation Bridge which is longest bridge in Canada, spanning 8 miles across salt water. We then made a quick stop at the PEI tourist station where we picked up our info for the Tip-to- Tip tour. PEI from tip to tip is 175 miles long and 40 miles wide.

rlanning-wir-9At the tourist station we picked up our map and booklet showing about 15 lighthouse destinations. You must visit all the lighthouses in the booklet and have each page stamped to prove you were there. What a great way to explore the island. If you completed to tour you stopped at the tourist station upon leaving PEI and they verified your stops and mailed a certificate and ribbon as a memento of the trip to you.

We always try to include a little history on our trips so a must see was the Cape Bear lighthouse. The lighthouse was the first to receive the Titanic’s SOS signals. We stayed 3 nights on Brier Island which is a tiny, remote island that requires 3 ferries to get to. We stayed at the lodge which is the only place to stay and eat. There are less than 3 miles of paved roads on the island so you have to hike everywhere.

rlanning-wir-6One morning at breakfast someone came in and told us there was a dead sperm whale at Whipple Point. So we rode our bikes until the rode ended and then hiked 2 more miles until we found the whale. The story goes that the whale was stranded on the rocks during a storm with very high tides. When the tide went out the whales lungs collapsed from the weight of its body. The whale had been there for 2 weeks and birds had picked the skin down to flesh and blubber. In your wildest imagination you would not believe what a whale that has been dead for two weeks smells like.

rlanning-wir-8This is a picture of Reverend Archie who was coming back home to Brier Island, PEI after a 30 day motorcycle trip. He was the minister of two churches and the only motorcyclist on the island. As we headed over to the island by ferry in the pouring rain, he blessed our bikes.

rlanning-wir-12Another history stop was the cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia where the victims of the Titanic are buried. Unfortunately, most were recovered without identification. The White Star Line which owned the Titanic had the victims buried with a small numbered grave marker. The number on the marker matched the bodies in numerical order as they were picked from the sea. If a victim’s family claimed a body they could have a headstone placed at the grave at the family’s expense.

Our life of riding has been good: especially when we were riding with friends with similar interests. Even in the off season we always got together and enjoyed each other’s company. When the grand kids started coming into our lives though, our miles riding really ebbed.


But as we got back into it, in 2012 I traded the Ultra in with just 22,000 miles on it. My current ride is my 2012 TriGlide. Everyone asks my wife if I bought the trike because I could not handle 2 wheels any more. No; I bought the trike because I have always wanted a HD Servicar but never bought one. Riding the trike is a whole new experience and put a lot of excitement back into riding for me.

I am not sure if this rambling on explains why I ride or not. But with over 100,000 miles of riding and all the great places that we have been to, I know without a doubt that we would not have done it if it wasn’t for all the friends we have made along the way. And, by the way, even 41 years later, that Great Lady still rides with me.

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