HOG Policy on Drinking and Riding

Yesterday evening, the wife and I hopped on the Ultra Classic and took a ride down to Biggs Harley Davidson to attend their "New Harley...

Yesterday evening, the wife and I hopped on the Ultra Classic and took a ride down to Biggs Harley Davidson to attend their "New Harley Owners Event".

I wasn't sure what to expect.

They had several members of their HOG chapter there (North San Diego County). I met some of them, and they were selling memberships. They mentioned their upcoming meeting and their upcoming new members ride, and asked if I would attend. I'm already in a riding club, but didn't tell them that. I just told them I'd think about attending.

The lady in charge of HOG membership at this chaper said they have about 500 members, and said so quite proudly with a smile. I asked her how many people usually show up for a ride. She answered, "usually about 60 to 70. On January 1st, we had over a 100 show up".

I didn't say anything about it, but I would NOT want to ride with such a large group. You don't know most of the riders very well, because most of the riders don't ride with the club every week, and you don't know who you're dealing with. Each member can't possibly the know the other 499 members.

Then she said the kicker: "We do not drink on our rides."

Ok, the laws around the States are pretty clear on intoxication.

HOG is a large organization, and it's part of Harley Davidson itself. I can understand the rationale. There's a liability aspect to this which could make Harley responsible, should an accident occur.

Here's how I look at it, on the other hand.

A riding club or motorcycle club should never accept anyone as a member. I realize there are many riding clubs that do. This is bad policy. If you have a member that tends to drink too much, you're asking for trouble. Limit your membership by screening these people out.

Anyone seeking to join a club must be placed into a prospect period so that the club can determine if that person is appropriate for the club. Clubs never guarantee membership, so why should they act as if they do?

If a club's membership consists of people that each member knows well and can trust, then the club no longer needs rules. Think about it. If you know that a particular member can drink three beers and still operate a motorcycle safely, then you can still ride with that person and feel safe.

I suppose you can make the argument that one should never ride a motorcycle after having a drink.

To me, that's like saying "what's good for the goose, is good for the gander". I don't buy it. Some people are capable of operating a motorcycle safely after having a few beers. Plain and simple. Why stop them?

I don't understand how a motorcycle rider espousing the virtues of freedom can tell another rider what he should and shouldn't do. On the other hand, if someone is sloshed beyond their faculties, you should step in. Short of that, let each rider decide.

But HOG is clearly within their rights to set their own policies. I don't mean to sound as if I'm ragging on them. The people I met there were all good people, I have all the respect for them as riders.

I just wanna have some beer. That's why I feel a club needs to limit its members to only those it knows and trusts, so that it can abandon the rules, without putting riders in jeopardy.

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