Five hundred Harley owners had ridden from cities all over India for this year’s Western HOG Rally in Aurangabad, a weekend of fun and frolic. Even though I was a stranger in the group, the group riding from Pune were very warm and welcoming and treated me as if I was always a member of their group. It felt good to be accepted so quickly into a closely knit group and over the next few days I’d feel I was a part of an even bigger family. Whether I walking down to the event or clicking pictures, everyone would smile at you, give you a firm handshake and also offer you a beer.
Being a member of the HOG community was a very unique experience as each Harley-Davidson showroom has a group of customers who form a ‘chapter’ which is normally named after the name of the showroom. For example, the HOG in Pune are a part of the Two Rivers chapter. Similarly, the Mumbai owners are a part of the Seven Islands chapter. Each chapter has a hierarchy beginning with the director of the chapter, its secretary, treasurer and a road captain (for organising and co-ordinating chapter rides). These office-bearers are all elected by the members and everything from special events to weekend rides and gatherings are organised by the chapter heads. I suddenly found myself a member of this very large family of HOG, who treat everyone like a brother or sister and are also respectful towards the senior members.
In the three days that I spent as a HOG member, I spoke to a number of people and there was only one question that I asked all of them: why did you buy a Harley-Davidson bike? The people I spoke to ranged from doctors to pilots to engineers and although a few answers were unique and different, the general answer remained the same: to be a part of the brotherhood of Harley-Davidson riders, to live and breathe the kind of culture it instils, and to ride together. I even met a lady who is an international luxury and fashion designer living in India, and who rides a customised Nightrod. She has ridden her motorcycle all over the country and in Bhutan as well. She mentioned that the notion that only macho men can ride Harley-Davidson bikes was not at all true. She was a prime example of that. Incidentally, the HOG community have a growing number of woman riders all over the country.
Spending three days with the HOG was a fun experience and I learned a lot from it. The are a wild bunch of people with a strong sense of brotherhood. Now I can hardly wait for the next ride.