by Martin Allred, guest blogger
As a professional photographer, one of my greatest desires had always been to take my camera and cruise the Rockies on a Harley-Davidson. And after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, I knew it would take years for the infrastructure in Louisiana to be repaired.
So I packed everything and moved to Colorado, inching one step closer to fulfilling that dream. Shortly thereafter, my desire became a reality with the purchase of a new cherry and merlot Harley Ultra Classic Electra Glide, a “Bagger,” as many refer to it. A tour bike with all the bells and whistles including satellite radio, GPS navigation, cruise control, and plenty of storage for my travel necessities.
I named the bike “Chéri,” and she would provide a significant part of many photographic journeys to come throughout Colorado. Besides, “Chéri” sounds like “Cherry” when you pronounce it, and she’s cherry in color.
OK, I was thinking, now that Chéri and I have become acquainted, with cameras strapped and both of us ready for action, what now? Where do I start? Where are the best areas to ride? What if I break down, who would I call? The questions were mounting. How could I get answers to these questions?
The light upstairs flickered, but the connection didn’t register, until one day I received a package in the mail from Harley-Davidson. It was the one year complimentary membership to the “Harley Owners Group” that you get when you purchase a new Harley.
I eagerly read all the literature and figured it would be a good idea to meet some locals that knew the lay of the land. If I was lucky, I would get some answers to my questions. After a brief trip back to the local Harley dealer, I joined the “Pikes Peak HOG Chapter 405.″
I eventually discovered that this group is one of the finest Harley Davidson Motorcycle Clubs in America. The “405″ is made entirely of volunteers that host events and fundraisers throughout the year. Many of the fundraisers are “poker runs” with the proceeds going to a non-profit or victims of a particular need. I feel very fortunate to have made that connection and to be a member of a group that gives so much.
The “405″ also plans some amazing rides, such as the annual “5 in 1 High Altitude Poker Run,” which covers five mountain passes — all over 10,000-feet elevation — in one day.
This year’s 5 in 1 will forever be etched in my memory. My normal touring partner couldn’t make the trip, and my niece Sarah from New Orleans rode with me instead. In addition, we had the poker run’s winning hand — the top prize, first place, $500 in cash. A wonderful treat to top off a long, beautiful ride.
Another of the group’s annual runs is called “I Didn’t Go To Sturgis.” Despite its name, you can actually do the ride on your way to or from the Sturgis rally, since it happens near the end of the big event.
A recommended ride for the aspiring photographer is the imaginatively-named “How’s UR Aspen,” an annual mountain trip during the fall, when the Aspen foliage starts its magnificent golden transformation.
We have toured much of the Colorado back country and enjoyed some of the state’s most beautiful scenery with the “405.” I have met many knowledgeable people, and they’ve become good friends and riding buddies as well.
Many of the rides are open to non-members; the only qualifications needed to participate are a two wheeler with good tires, payment of a small registration fee, and of course following simple basic safety regulations and rules of the road. If you are unfamiliar with the route or looking for someone to ride with, you’ll be able to tag along with a small group led by an experienced road captain.
Next time you’re passing through Colorado check out our Facebook page, or simply inquire in a post about our planned rides. I’m sure one of our members will be glad to help, or to answer any questions you may have.
It’s a great way to see Colorado and meet a great bunch of people along the way.
Martin Allred is originally from New Orleans, and currently lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is a professional photographer and travels extensively throughout the country on commercial and editorial assignments.
You can follow’s Martin’s Colorado travels on his website: http://www.coloradoconcierge.com