New York, NY – If I Can Ride There, I Can Ride Anywhere!

Diana cruising on 2010 Nightster

October 7-9, 2009.  The Harley-Davidson Motor Company held a 2010 Model Launch Party in New York City.  My husband and I were invited to attend, though due to our work schedules we could only swing an 18-hour jaunt.

We arrived in Manhattan on Thursday evening, and attended the private party held at The Ainsworth in Chelsea.  There were several brand new 2010 models on display at the club (including the CVO™ Street Glide® shown below), DJ, open bar, fabulous hors d’oeuvres, a tattoo artist, and free airbrush tattoos.  It was a splendid evening spent making new friends with members of the press, fellow riders, and some local Harley-Davidson® dealers not to mention Paul James, Director of Communications for Harley-Davidson.

CVO Street Glide

Diana and Paul James from Harley Davidson

Jose and Diana

But the best part of the trip was Friday morning.  Amidst a light drizzle we arrived back at The Ainsworth where our choice of eight brand new Harley-Davidson® models awaited.  The models available included the Cross Bones™, XR1200™, Nightster®, all-new Fat Boy® Lo, the newly redesigned Wide Glide®, V-Rod Muscle®, Road Glide® Custom, and the first ever CVO™ Softail® Convertible.  The Convertible comes with easy-detach sissy bar, saddlebags, & windshield so you can convert from a full touring bike to a street cruiser in a matter of seconds!

The line up of 2010 Harleys

CVO Softail Convertable

Fat Boy Lo

I had never ridden a bike with floorboards and heel-toe shifter before, and I decided that the streets of New York City were probably not the best place to be trying out something new!  I currently own a Dyna® Super Glide®, so I opted for the Wide Glide® because it was most similar to what I was used to riding.  Jay chose to ride the Fat Boy® Lo.  We got geared up, took a few photos for posterity, and threw our legs over the iron steeds. 

Diana on Crossbones

At that point I realized we had a problem…my feet could not comfortably reach the forward controls!  Alright, now we were on to Plan B – I had to ride the Nightster®.  Not that there is anything wrong with a Nightster®, mind you…but I had begun my riding career on a 2001 XLH883 Hugger.  I have since moved up to my big-twin, and was a little disappointed that I had to go back to a Sporty.  Alas, they handed me the keys, and we were off for an amazing ride.

OK, the first block was a single lane, one way, construction zone with beat up pavement – we pretty much duck-walked the bikes up to the corner.  Maneuvering around the next few blocks was even more stressful.  There were pedestrians, taxis galore, traffic lights, and all kinds of distractions…not to mention the fact that I had no idea where we were going!  Construction and road closures made our trip “around the block” quite unnerving.  Then just as I saw a sign for Rt-9A, my husband and I got separated by a red light.  I probably could have made it through, but given that I thought we were going to die that morning when our cabbie tried to play chicken with an oncoming fire truck, I was not going to try.

Once the light finally changed, I found Jay waiting on the Fat Boy® Lo in a median area marked off with diagonal yellow lines.  Our turn was immediately to the right, and there was no way he could make it back across the traffic to make the turn.  So we continued straight and ended up going south on Rt-9A.  For a few moments I felt at ease.  I actually got into third gear and cruised for a few blocks past the Chelsea Pier toward downtown.
Soon we hit traffic and stoplights.  As annoying as this normally would have been, it allowed me to take in some of the sights and sounds in the area.  At one point, Jay turned over his shoulder, pointed, and called out to me “Go left!  Go left!”  So with every ounce of my being I managed to eke out a position in the left lane for us.  After that very stressful move (cutting in front of a taxicab), I became even more stressed that my husband was not moving over even though I had blocked the lane for him.  We were stopped in traffic again, and then he did move over.  But then he said “LOOK left, not GO left!”  He pointed emphatically to the left side of the road and said, “It’s Ground Zero!”  Oh my goodness, we were at Ground Zero!

A few blocks later we reached the U-turn at Battery Park.  Coming back up this section of the road we spent more time with our feet on the ground than the pegs, and the air-cooled engines began to get hot.  We were stopped so much that we were able to pull out the cameras while on the bikes and snap a shot or two as we motored back past Ground Zero.

ground Zero

Now heading north (as was the original plan), we were able to cruise fairly well going past the ship terminal where we had boarded a cruise ship for our honeymoon to Bermuda two summers back.  We continued almost all of the way to the George Washington Bridge as the traffic eased up and it didn’t really seem like we were in the city any more. 

Diana in new York on 2010 Nightster

We tried to turn around and found ourselves on Riverside Drive.  The shoulder was closed off to parking at the time (perhaps for street cleaning or something), so there was plenty of room to easily pull over and snap a few pics.  Jay asked me if I wanted to switch bikes and try the Fat Boy® Lo for a bit.  At this point I was feeling pretty comfortable, so I agreed…but not until I got a quick lesson in heel-toe shifters!

This bike really is low!  It was very comfortable, and I could reach all of the controls easily.  I very nervously took off for the first block or two.  It took a bit of getting used to when I needed to reach my foot forward in order to shift, but all in all it was great.  The floorboards were so comfortable that as I approached the first stop sign I almost forgot to put my feet down on the ground!

I rode the Fat Boy® Lo about 5 miles or so down Riverside.  Then we started to get back into some heavier traffic, and I decided to trade back to the Nightster®.  It was good to be on a bike I didn’t have to think about riding while maneuvering through the streets & traffic that needed my undivided attention.  There was one point where two streets were merging.  Jay managed to jump to the left and zip up the street while I was stuck between two cars each trying to push me out of my lane from opposite sides at the same time!

I had a fantastic time.  The rain didn’t even phase me.  At times the traffic stressed me out, but mostly it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated.  Looking back I still can’t believe that I was riding a brand new 2010 Harley-Davidson® with Wisconsin manufacturer plates on it through the streets of New York City!  The whole 18-hours still seems surreal.  Now I can’t help but feel that if I can ride a bike there, I can ride anywhere!