NH Loves Motorcycles

New Hampshire loves Motorcycles

From New Hampshire Public Radio, Raquel Maria Dillon finds New Hampshire residents are awfully fond of motorcycles. Despite the ice and snow, residents of the Granite state own more bikes per capita than residents of any other state.

Listen with Windows Media Player: NH Motorcycles (transcript after the jump)

National Public Radio (NPR)

June 17, 2003 Tuesday

New Hampshire has more motorcycles per person than any other state



Morning Edition (11:00 AM AM ET) – NPR

BOB EDWARDS, host: New Hampshire is first when it comes to presidential primaries and motorcycles. It has more motorcycles per person than any other state. New Hampshire Public Radio’s Raquel Maria Dillon reports that’s despite New England’s chilly weather.

LENGTH: 738 words

RAQUEL MARIA DILLON reporting:  In New Hampshire, there are 5.7 motorcycles per 100 people. The only states that come even close are Idaho and Wyoming. It’s counterintuitive because the whole state is frozen over a good part of the year. New Hampshire is scenic, but why not somewhere warmer and drier?

Mr. DOUG SALLY (Freedom Cycle): OK. Anything else?

DILLON: Doug Sally manages Freedom Cycle, a motorcycle shop in Concord.

Mr. SALLY: We have no helmet laws, so it’s free riding, which a lot of people want; even though it may not be the most intelligent choice. And plain and simple, live free or die. That’s a biker’s attitude. It’s the last of the cowboys.

DILLON: Brand-new chrome glints on the showroom floor. The shop is full of all kinds of motorcycles: cruisers, sport bikes, even a kid’s size dirt bike.

Mr. SALLY: Old Yankees love to be free and do not want to be told what to do. So when you’re on your motorcycle, you’re all alone, you’re by yourself, and you’re running the world the way you want to.

DILLON: Ryan Krodow of Barnstead, New Hampshire, is waiting at the parts counter. He has a tattoo of a motorcycle chain around his bicep, but he doesn’t have any romantic notions about why people ride.

Mr. RYAN KRODOW: There’s nothing else to do around here, you know. Pretty much everybody I know has a bike, or at least one.

(Soundbite of motorcycles)

DILLON: One weekend each June, Freedom Cycle closes up the Concord shop and decamps to a tent at the Laconia Bike Rally. It’s a week of all things motorcycle: dirt bikes, racing, custom built bikes and partying. During Bike Week, this picturesque lakeside resort is a motorcycle parking lot. Harley-Davidsons line the boardwalk next to the lake. The gift shops and arcades become T-shirt booths and leather shops. The dress code is leather, denim and lace, so you can’t even tell the doctors and the lawyers from the outlaws.

(Soundbite of motorcycles)

DILLON: New Hampshire bikers say their state has more per capita motorcycles than anywhere else because hardy New Englanders are actually inspired by the lousy weather. Chris McAllister of Hopkinton, New Hampshire, rides a ’79 Harley Shovelhead.

Mr. CHRIS McALLISTER: Don’t say the weather’s awful. Makes you appreciate the riding season that much more. You wouldn’t appreciate riding if you could ride 12 months out of the year. It wouldn’t be as exciting to ride in the summer.

DILLON: Jim from Salem, New Hampshire, says you have to be prepared in order to enjoy the state’s back roads.

JIM: It doesn’t always snow. Even in January and February, I’ve ridden. It’s cold. That’s why they make leather.

(Soundbite of rock music outdoors)

DILLON: Behind the displays of custom painted Norton’s and Dodge’s motorcycle of the future, there’s a beer tent and a music stage. Waitresses in bikinis pour free shots of Jagermeister and pose for pictures with vintage bikes. Harvey Chernin runs the whole operation out of his office in the Lobster Pound Restaurant. He says motorcycles have a history in New Hampshire. Laconia is the country’s oldest bike rally.

Mr. HARVEY CHERNIN (Lobster Pound Restaurant): New Hampshire breeds motorcyclists. When you’re riding in your car, a family outing, you see these motor–it looks so exciting. It really does, the wind blowing in their face, meandering through these great roads that we have. It’s fantastic. It gives you that feeling, ‘I want to get a bike.’

(Soundbite of motorcycles)

DILLON: After awhile here, the whole question of why New Hampshire has so many motorcycles begins to sound a little silly. The incessant noise becomes a gentle drone, and pretty soon, you begin to wonder why you’re traveling on four wheels cooped up instead of gracefully on two. The clouds race over the green hilltops, the sun’s coming out, and there are 25 miles of winding mountain roads between here and home.

For NPR News, I’m Raquel Maria Dillon in Concord, New Hampshire.

(Soundbite of motorcycles)

EDWARDS: The time is 21 minutes before the hour.