By Jack Ryan
“Where did all of these bikes come from?”
That comment will be heard a lot around Rockford June 9-11 as approximately 1,200 Harley-Davidsons head to the Forest City as Rockford hosts the Illinois State H.O.G. Rally for the first time. (See the Vibe Entertainment calendars for area H.O.G. Rally events.)
The past several years, cities from the southern part of the state have been the host for the event. Last year, it was in O’Fallon, near St. Louis. So, this will be the first year northern riders and visitors from Wisconsin and Iowa will heavily participate in the event.
Residents should not be worried about the bikers. Many may be strange looking and scary, but that is a façade. The Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) is a very experienced riders association that is looking for good, clean fun and a good time riding their machines.
The rally, with headquarters at Best Western Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center on the east end of town, has planned activities at the hotel and trips to scenic rides in the area. The bikers are used to riding among cars and traffic, and know their 800-pound bikes are no match for a 3,000-pound auto.
Since there will be a lot of strangers in town, all the riders ask for is some patience and courtesy. Illinois requires bike headlights be on at all times so the bikers can easily be seen by vehicles. In addition, when you see several bikers riding together, they will be spaced in dual rolls behind each other, not bunched up close together. That is to allow the riders the opportunity to swerve out of their position to avoid vehicles, potholes, downed lines or other potential problems and not cause accidents with fellow travelers.
A special Illinois driver’s license is required by the state for you to legally drive a motorcycle. The driving test shows the examiner how you respond to problems such as quick stops, fast change in directions and the ability to operate the machinery safely.
Bikes have many of the same pieces of safety equipment as automobiles, such as turn signals, horns, a high- and low-beam headlight, taillights, and flashing signals that can be operated. The larger bikes are equipped with radios and CBs. In large groups, it is not uncommon that the leader of the ride and at least the last person in line are in constant contact to maintain a safe ride.
The bikers plan on having a safe and fun time in Rockford, and I think this is a great opportunity to show off the town and its many great venues to our visitors.
From the June 8-14, 2011 issue