hip8by Dan Hartman

A friend I work with just returned from a vacation in Asia. He spent ten days in Thailand visiting a friend. When he returned, he brought back a copy of the Bangkok Post dated Sunday, April 6, 1997, and threw it on my desk his first day back in the office. The headline in the Outlook section of the paper read, “Born To Be Wild.” There was a picture of a young man sitting on a Heritage Softail Harley-Davidson motorcycle on a street in Bangkok. It was an image par excellence. Even in Bangkok, Thailand Harley-Davidson has its fans, and they call themselves “Immortals.”

They are usually young businessmen who take off their suits on Friday night after work and slip into T-shirts, leather vests, jeans and ankle-high leather boots. A pair of sunglasses and gloves complete the picture. The businessman has become an “Immortal.” He heads for the “Hard Rock Cafe” in Bangkok to join other riders who are also “Immortals” for the evening.

The “Immortals” are a group of riders who formed a club a few years ago. They plan trips up country in Thailand on routes that offer breathtaking views and a chance to rev up the bikes. The roads are pretty bad, but the views are great. For many of the “Immortals,” it’s a family affair. They take their spouses and children with them on their long weekend trips.

Each year in April, more than sixty bikes leave Bangkok to join 200 to 300 other bikes from neighboring countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong at Phuket Bike Week. The “Immortals” also visit an orphanage each year and hand out food and clothes to the children.

Now tell me; haven’t you heard this story many times before? It could be any club in this country. Bike week could be in Daytona or Sturgis. The help programs for kids happen all over this country on a regular basis. Let’s face it; it doesn’t have to be Harleys either. Gold Wing clubs and BMW clubs exist everywhere, as do other clubs.

It’s great to read about other countries and find out they are a lot like ours. We are all “Immortal” when it comes to riding our motorcycles. It’s a love affair we all have with the road whether it’s a freeway heading into South Dakota or a road up country in Thailand.

Now that spring has finally come to Minnesota, we can all ride again. Don’t forget that half-way around the world others are doing the same. I must admit I will be thinking of the “Immortals” as I ride and wanting to be one of them. Ride safe and be free, my friends. The riding season is here.

 

M.M.M.

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