Wisconsin and the Dakotas are Harley country, no doubt. Milwaukee is home to Harley-Davidson‘s headquarters, and the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, is the largest in the U.S., with a record 739,000 attendance in 2015. And now Ryder, North Dakota, is gearing up to be the first fully motorcycle-licensed town, according to Motorcycle.com.
Ryder is a one-third square mile town in southwestern North Dakota with a population of 85. On Saturday, June 3, 2017, everyone eligible, more than 50 Ryder residents aged 16 to 70, signed up to take motorcycle riding classes this summer at South Prairie School in neighboring Minot, North Dakota.
According to Forbes, only a few Ryder residents own motorcycles and most, especially the town’s millennials, had a perception that riding a bike was hard to learn. Harley brought a JumpStart Rider Experience setup to the event. The “experience” is a special stand that supports a motorcycle so people can get a sense of the controls and what it feels like to sit on a motorcycle.
“The town of Ryder welcomes the roar of Harley-Davidson motorcycles down Main Street,” said Ryder Mayor Jody Reinisch. “We’re excited to see several generations of Ryder residents on motorcycles learning together, trying new life experiences and enjoying the beauty of our town and surrounding area like never before.”
To encourage and support the event, Harley-Davidson paid to have the town’s water tower painted in the company’s orange and black colors with the brand logo. The water tower needed painting and the town couldn’t afford to have it done, according to Mayor Reinisch. In return, the mayor presented Harley-Davidson representatives with a ceremonial key to the city. Ryder is also changing its name to “Riders” until Labor Day.
All sides declare the event a success, even though some townspeople were initially skeptical. “Some citizens thought it was horrible that I was inviting Harley-Davidson to town,” Reinisch said. “All we knew about motorcycles was biker gangs in movies, so they were scared. But Harley came and made a bunch of videos and took a lot of photographs, and before the event on Saturday, 100 percent of the town was behind us.”
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