Harley Davidson is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year with a host of events worldwide
And even though the tour won’t be making it all the way to Ireland, this famous motorcycle will be remembered at another event in Ballina, County Mayo.
The Old Heads Harley Rideout will kick off on 10 May with musical performances and on 11 May, over 200 bikers will get on their Harleys and ride off into the beautiful Mayo countryside.
The Old Heads are a group of friends who have been riding motorcycles together for many years. Their name evolved out of an old 'Shovelhead' club to which most of their members previously belonged, according to member Jon O’Neill. He explains, “Shovelhead was a nickname given to the Harley Davidson engine manufactured between 1966 and 1984, due to its shovel like rocker covers”.
The iconic motorbike company was created by childhood friends, William S Harley and Michael Davidson, in the early 1900s and it has become an internationally recognised brand. Shipping almost 250,000 motorbikes last year, the world’s admiration for Harleys is still going strong.
For Jon, “the appeal of Harley Davidson is legendary. It evokes freedom, which sits nicely with the laid back nature of the west of Ireland.” True to form as a Harley appreciation club: “our members own and ride a good cross section of Harley Davidsons, vintage, classic and custom, and have all been riding motorcycles for anything between 25 and 40 years.”
These Ballina bikers “customise, restore and ride Harley Davidsons and organise custom shows, 'rocknites' and rideouts in the west of Ireland”. They decided to organise their own rideout after attending plenty abroad for “something a little bit different and off the beaten track”, says Jon.
Ballina’s location in the west of Ireland means it’s not necessarily on all tourists’ radar but it should be. The rideout route will showcase the region wonderfully as it “weaves its way along the beautiful North Mayo coast stopping at scenic and historic locations en route and then returning to Ballina in the afternoon,” says Jon.
More than 200 visiting bikers will experience what Jon considers to be a great local asset: “Ireland, and the West of Ireland in particular, has lots of scenic, uncluttered, quiet roads. Friendly people and bikers make for top motorcycling country.” Well you can't ask for much more, can you?
The Old Heads Rideout will depart around midday on 11 May. And even non-bikers should attend, the epic sight of 200 or so motorbikes setting off into the scenery shouldn't be missed!