I fell a few feet further down the Harley-Davidson rabbit hole today when I did something I’ve never done before—I bought my first Harley-Davidson dealer t-shirt. When the Best Western/HD110 tour made an early morning supply stop at Ted’s Harley-Davidson in Alton, IL, and I saw even Harley-Davidson employees—who I assume are up to their armpits in bar-and-shield-branded official apparel—buying their own dealer tees, well, I was inspired to grab one of my own.
Collecting dealer tees is a serious sport among hardcore Harley-Davidson enthusiasts, and a dealer tee that advertises the local house of Harley-Davidson is a never-fail souvenir option for any Motor Company fan. Completists like to have a dealer t-shirt from every state, and international examples are big-game prizes. When word got out about my recent surfing trip to Nicaragua, the first thing a friend asked me was if I could get her father—a man I have never met—an H-D dealer tee from the capital city of Managua. I didn’t get a chance to visit the Harley shop in Managua, but I did get an extra tee in his size from tonight’s host, Woodstock Harley-Davidson in Woodstock, IL. Not quite as exotic as Nicaragua, but hopefully it fills a gap.
For myself, I selected a fitted poly/cotton blend in heather gray, with a vintage flattrack action shot on the front and the Ted’s Harley-Davidson name surrounding a winged Evo motor on the back. I really wanted a classic black Screamin’ Eagle motif but they didn’t have any in my size, so I’ll have to save that look for my next shopping trip. I also picked up a bunch of those tiny, tasteless helmet stickers on my way out the door. What’s next for me? The leather pin vest? Chaps?
Not much to report about the day’s ride, which covered 400 miles from Alton to Woodstock (who knew Illinois was such a big state?), except that it was long, wet, and very cold. Much of the mileage was on dull Interstate because recent flooding left long stretches of our planned route along the Great River Road underwater. Even the outlying areas we passed through showed evidence of bad flooding, with sunken fields and a few inundated homes. With temps hovering in the high 40s, I had plenty of time to wonder why the Street Glide, with throttle-by-wire, electronic cruise control, EFI, ABS, Harmon-Kardon audio, and so much other modern technology, doesn’t also include heated grips and seats. At least not stock.
I’ve never been quite so happy to see a Best Western sign as I was when we rolled into Woodstock just before dark. If individual Best Western franchises sold t-shirts, I probably would have bought one right there and then.