As I write this letter, the sun is shining brightly on another beautiful Spring morning. It is my day off and I am thinking of going our for a ride on my Harley a bit later. What a fantastic way to relax – cruising through gorgeous countryside, enjoying the sights and the smells, being in the forest, being in the valleys, rather than being in a car driving through them. A completely different and wonderfully exhilerating experience. As well as getting out riding on my bike, I also enjoy going to Harley rallies and events. Attending such gatherings may not seem like a subject that would provide material for a Church magazine article, but you might be surprised.
Firstly, let me tell you a little about such rallies as most of you have probably not been to a Harley rally. They are often held at rugby clubs or some other site that provides camping and some basic facilities. Often there is a range of accomodation on site or nearby. Some rallies are quite small, but others will attract several thousand attendees. There is often a parade involving most of the bikes and there would always be various organised ride-outs. There are typically live concerts each evening – very loud. There would be a whole range of stalls selling just about every type of Harley paraphernalia you can image. You could even get a tattoo. (No, I haven’t. Not yet.)
Everyone would be wearing Harley gear. Leather, boots and tattoos galore! Nearly everyone wears a leather waistcoat with patches and badges commemorating the different HOG (Harley Owners Group) Chapters (Clubs) that people belong to and different rallies and events that had been attended. T-shirts from Harley dealers from around the world are mementoes of visits made and trips taken.
Most of the attendees travel to the rally with members of their Chapter and spend most of their time in these groups.
The sense of camaraderie between Chapter members is obvious. The sense of belonging to something significant and important amongst all the people attending the rally is tangible. And very attractive.
I have seen this at many rallies and events in the UK, around Europe and in the States. The marketing people at Harley-Davidson know exactly what they are doing. The Harley Owners Group offers an instant, accessible and very attractive sense of belonging. With the purchase of a Harley you are (at least potentially) buying a whole new lifestyle and identity.
Obviously lots of people like the bikes and enjoy riding and buy Harleys for this reason. I would include myself in this group. I love my bike and love getting out and riding. But the sense of belonging to this new ‘family’ is very powerful as well. Although I am not really involved in a Chapter anywhere and never really ride in a group, there is something quite wonderful about being part of such a large ‘community’.
So what is my point? Well, it strikes me that the sense of ‘family’, ‘belonging’ and ‘community’ offered by the Harley Owners Group, wonderful though it seems and often is, is somewhat transitory. If you sell your bike, you are not a member any more. It strikes me that the sort of fellowship that is offered by a good Church is deeper, more meaningful and definitely more long-lasting – having eternal consequences! Membership doesn’t require buying a Harley, or anything else, and is open to anyone, of any age, male or female, of any social, academic or financial background.
I love my bike and I love being out riding and going to Harley rallies and events. But I would not trade the fellowship I have found through Church with anything.
Why not join us? It’s not as if you need a bike or leathers or patches or a tattoo to fit in.