I didn’t pack the bike and ride off. Instead I put my backpack and suitcase in the car, then drove to Providence, RI. This was not the typical beginning of one of my motorcycle trips. Nor was checking my suitcase and boarding an Airbus E320. But the trip to Orlando, FL was very easy, with no waiting at the JetBlue counter and no trouble getting through security. (I always breathe a little sigh of relief every time they let me through, which means I’m not on some Do Not Fly list. Thanks to a shortwave radio reception report I once sent, I was on Radio Moscow’s mailing list for a few years before the fall of the Soviet Union, so I figure there must be an FBI file on me somewhere.) The flight was rather empty. I had an entire row to myself, and there was ample room for my long legs between my seat and the one in front of me, so it was very comfortable. We landed half an hour early, and my suitcase was one of the first ones down the conveyor. I got a cab, which cost twice as much as the online estimate, and checked into the Red Roof, which I chose based on my 20% AMA discount.
When I went for a walk – in pleasant 70 degree temperatures – to find dinner, I was pleasantly surprised to see “Orlando Ale House” staring at me in bright red letters directly across the street. I walked across the street and enjoyed dinner and more than one beer from the extensive selection, since I wasn’t driving or riding anywhere. I ended up having dinner here each night of my stay.
I had trouble sleeping that night. This was no fault of Red Roof – I was too excited to begin my motorcycle adventure, and to see what this Harley thing was all about. I’d never ridden a Harley Davidson before. Of course I’ve met many diehard fans of them, as well as many diehard critics. Either you love them or you hate them, it seems. Since the least expensive rentals from EagleRider‘s Orlando location with any cargo space whatsoever were Harleys, I figured why not give it a try. I also got a 15% AMA discount on the rental, as long as it wasn’t more than two days. I would’ve preferred a little longer, but the cost of doing so went way up once the discount no longer applied. Still, with the discounts I got on this trip, my AMA membership has already more than paid for itself this year.
Tuesday morning I got a cab over to EagleRider. When we pulled in, I saw a bright yellow Street Glide parked out front – my bike for the next two days. Though all of the pictures I’d seen were of black bikes, I was actually happy to see the screaming yellow zonker, or as one friend called it, the motorcycle version of Bumblebee. What a beast! (I’ll give it a full review in a later post.)
The folks at EagleRider were great to deal with. The required paperwork was kept to a minimum. They went over the entire bike with me, particularly because I’d never ridden a Harley before. This was good, or I wouldn’t have known about the turn signal controls on both handlebars instead of just the left like every other bike I’ve ever ridden. My only disappointment was in the type of loaner helmets available – all half shell “brain buckets.” I certainly didn’t expect anything as nice as my Nolan modular helmet, but since it would’ve been a carry-on bag all by itself, I opted to take EagleRider up on their helmet that’s included with the rental. So be aware of this if you should choose to rent a bike through them.
This was not quite a brand new Street Glide, likely a 2013 version, so it didn’t have a USB port to integrate with my iPhone like the newest model does. But I was happy to see a cigarette lighter, and soon had my TomTom plugged in and RAM mounts set up. My backpack and camera bag fit perfectly into the saddlebags, and before long I was riding a Harley in warm weather in January. Oh yeah!