by James Rada, Jr., photography by Phil Grout
With the weather warming up and the days getting longer, many people are hitting the road and letting the wind blow through their hair as they roll along the highways and backroads of Adams and York counties. They feel each bump in the road more intensely, and with a shift in their bodyweight, they change lanes.
“This is a great area for riding,” said Phil Destethano, manager of Winebrenner’s American Motorcycle in Hanover. “We have lots of country roads, and we’re only 20 miles from the Harley-Davidson plant [in York].”
The same things that make the area a good place to ride also make it a popular area with a growing number of people.
“It’s the only form of recreation where you can come home from work, change, get on the motorcycle and start relaxing,” Destethano said.
“It takes all the stress away. There’s nothing like the feeling you get riding,” said Café Kesselring, who, when he isn’t riding a motorcycle, is working on one.
While you can get started with a used motorcycle that costs around $2,500, a new motorcycle of a higher quality can cost around $30,000, and if you start to customize your motorcycle, you could wind up paying around $90,000.
Besides the motorcycle, you’ll also want to wear protective motorcycle gear. The jacket, pants, and boots that you see many bikers wearing are not to look tough, it is tough. Biking gear is durable to help provide you protection in case of an accident.
You also need a motorcycle license, and Destethano recommends taking the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Course.
“When you are on a motorcycle, you have to be a defensive driver,” Destethano said. “I approach every intersection as if one of the other cars is going to run the stop sign.”
Pancho Lawler likes riding motorcycles both on and off road. He said that he actually feels safer riding off road because riding on roads through towns is defensive driving.
“You can relax and enjoy yourself riding on roads, but you’re still always having to watch around you for cars,” he said.
Motorcyclists have an image of being gang-like in their gatherings and attitudes, but Destethano points out that bikers are very generous to charitable organizations and quick to help out people in need. Also, many of the motorcycle clubs in the area (see sidebar) promote good causes.
Taking it off road
Not everyone with a motorcycle likes to keep it on the road. Other bikers like to race on tracks
“Motocross riding is very popular around here,” said Greg Spicka, owner of Cycle Works Racing in Littlestown.
You can ride in sanctioned races, which require some distance to get to or ride at a private club such as Happy Ramblers Motorcycle Club near Hanover. The club has been around since 1939 and features a motocross track that is clay based with wood chips and sand mixed in. It features double and triple jumps and large tabletops.
“The thing about motocross is that a good rider on an old bike can beat a decent rider on a new bike,” Spicka said.
The rider’s reaction times and ability to judge distances are more important with motocross. Having stamina and no fear of making a jump at 30 miles per hour are also useful traits.
You might be able to get a decent track bike used for $1,000. It will give you a chance to try out this aspect of motorcycling during one of the local open ride days at a motorcycle club. Serious motocross riders might spend up to $10,000 on their bikes.
“A good, decent bike is all you need, though if you want to just have fun,” Spicka said.
Besides a bike, motocross riders also need a helmet, chest plate, and boots. Neck braces are new to the sport, and growing in popularity because of the additional protection they provide riders.
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or just want to relax, motorcycles can fill that need for you.
“I like the freedom,” Lawler said. “You can be your own person. Your bike is a direct reflection of yourself.”
So go out there and enjoy yourself.
Act Like a Biker
While classes will teach you how to ride a motorcycle and the laws involved with it, there are also unwritten rules of the road. Here are a few of the better-known ones.
- Assist other bikers If you see a biker who may be broken down on the side of the road, stop and see if help is needed.
- Greet other bikers with a wave Just give other bikers you pass a low wave with your clutch hand.
- When to share parking spaces Groups of riders will share spaces so as not to take up a lot of parking, but individual bikers shouldn’t try to share a space with another bike.
- Respect the bike Don’t talk badly about someone else’s motorcycle, and never ask to take someone else’s motorcycle for a ride.
- Passing other motorcycles Come up slow behind other motorcycles and don’t try passing them until they have seen you. You should always pass in the passing lane unless the motorcycle you are passing signals that it’s okay to pass in the same lane.
Local Motorcycle Clubs
Once you have your motorcycle, you can become part of one of the clubs in the area and not only enjoy riding, but you can do it for a good cause.
- ABATE of Pennsylvania (www.abatepa.org) is a group that promotes motorcyclists rights and safe riding.
- Blue Knights (www.blueknightsxxiv.weebly.com) are bikers who are also active or retired law enforcement professionals.
- H.O.G. (www.battlefieldhog.com) is for owners of Harley-Davidsons.
- Rolling Saints (www.mjm-rollingsaints.com) are Christian bikers who also assist other bikers with their personal and/or spiritual needs.
- Southcentral BACA (www.bacaworld.org) is made up of bikers who work to create a safe environment for abused children.
Pennsylvania Helmet Law
Most bikers in Pennsylvania have a choice about whether or not they will wear a helmet. The law only requires bikers under 21 years old or with less than two years’ experience to wear a helmet. The latter can be waived if the biker completes an approved motorcycle safety course.
local motorcycle places
Battlefield Harley-Davidson (717-337-9005)
21 Cavalry Field Rd., Gettysburg
Café’s Custom Cycles (717 624-7820)
2630 Hunterstown Hampton Rd., New Oxford
Cycle Works Racing (717-359-5060)
1831 Hanover Pike, Littlestown
Happy Ramblers Motorcycle Club
(717-554-5095) 4340 Hanover Rd., Hanover
Ironhorse Repair (717-334-1007)
2939 York Rd., Gettysburg
Motosports, Inc. (717-632-7093)
2117 Baltimore Pike, Hanover
3672 Route 30, New Oxford
Pancho’s Suzuki (717-646-1005)
1754 Carlisle Pike, Hanover
Sport Bike Specialties (717-630-0800)
910 York St., Hanover
Unique Cycle Supplies (717-624-0900)
426 Lincoln Way W., New Oxford
Winebrenner’s American Motorcycles
(717-637-1150) 50 North Forney Ave., Hanover