Harley rally draws 2,000 bikers to Cape

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Thousands of sun-tanned bikers -- many sporting tattoos on their biceps -- rode around Cape Girardeau Saturday, celebrating the joy of hopping on a thundering Harley-Davidson.

The state rally of Harley owners drew more than 2,000 bikers.

While they may look like leather-clad rebels without a cause or the stereotypical Hells Angels, those who rode into Cape Girardeau for the HOG -- Harley Owners Group -- rally said they're law-abiding people with regular jobs.

Many are middle-aged. Some are bankers and lawyers.

All of them enjoy the open road and a chance to down a few beers with fellow Harley riders.

Richard Moore, 39, an electrician from Sedalia, Mo., said young adults can't afford these Harleys, which typically cost at least $20,000.

While Moore enjoys hanging out with fellow riders, he admits that nothing compares to traveling the open road. "It is a journey, not a destination," he said of motorcycle rides.

Terry Yount, a 45-year-old meat cutter, rested on his shiny, polished black Harley parked on Main Street Saturday afternoon only hours before a scheduled motorcycle parade and the start of a street festival.

Balding and with a long wiry beard, Yount sported tattoos on his thick biceps. He wore a yellow T-shirt celebrating the "Kirkwood Wrecking Crew" in honor of the Harley chapter based in that St. Louis suburb.

The chapter has about 1,000 members, the most of any Harley chapter in the state. A couple hundred members of that chapter rode down to Cape Girardeau for the rally.

"We like riding around," said Yount. He and his wife, Judy, 52, both rode down for the weekend.

Judy Yount, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, rides a three-wheeled Harley. "It's my only recreation," she said as she steadied herself on the sidewalk with a cane.

John Smith, 42, a branch manager for a bathroom remodeling company who lives in the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights, said some passers-by view bikers with alarm. "We are still stereotyped," he said.

But Smith, who partied with fellow bikers Friday night, said Cape Girardeau residents mostly have welcomed the Harley riders.

Terry Yount agreed. "They are really nice to us," he said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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