MILWAUKEE — Thousands of motorcyclists made their way to Milwaukee on Labor Day weekend for the Harley-Davidson Hometown Rally.
The Hometown Rally is not just about bonding over a love of motorcycling, but also showing a commitment to public safety.
Jeff Dickey, a retired member of the Ohio Highway Patrol, was the emcee for the Harley-Davidson Police Skills demonstration.
He said the purpose of the show is to highlight the different skills that motor officers need to have for the job.
(Phillip Boudreaux/Spectrum News 1)
“Suddenly, you are looking for a lost person and you are actually driving your motorcycle down through a grassy area, or something along those lines. Or maybe you are responding to a traffic crash where there is a lot debris on the road and suddenly, you are driving your motorcycle off the road on a berm,” said Dickey. “It’s basically exposing you to as much varying circumstances as we can.”
And the reason they do this demonstration has a little to do with the history of the company.
Dickey explained Harley-Davidson has a long history with law enforcement, as they sold their first motorcycle to the Detroit Police Department in 1908.
In a more general sense, the demonstration also helps make sure all motorcyclists know the best way to pick up their bikes.
“That’s a big part of it because motorcycles are constantly fighting gravity, and you may pull to a traffic light and put your foot down, and there’s a pothole or something else you didn’t see. And suddenly you are going over, and it’s an embarrassing situation for a person like that,” said Dickey. “We are showing how to pick up their [motorcycle] safely.”
Harley-Davidson spokesperson Tim McCormick said the Hometown Rally is also all about celebrating motorcycle culture.
“I don’t know how many different languages I’ve heard this weekend,” said McCormick. “People really make it a mission in life to make it to Milwaukee to pay homage to where it all began here, with Harley-Davidson going on 119 years now.”
For Dickey, the Police Skills demonstration just reaffirms his passion for motorcycling.
“I’ve been a motorcycle rider since I was 14 years old. Not only the freedom of riding a motorcycle, but the experience is… there is a t-shirt that says if you don’t ride, then you don’t understand,” said Dickey.
He said he encourages others to check it out, so they can understand how special riding a motorcycle is.