I went to the motorcycle event in Reno this weekend called Street Vibrations. It's primarily Harleys. There are a lot of people out there with more money than they need. Lots of $25K+ bikes. It was estimated there were 30,000 bikes there. I know that they were everywhere. The main drag was blocked off for motorcycle parking, 2 deep on each side of the road for about half a mile. Every other street and parking lot in Reno was also filled with bikes, as well as Sparks and Carson City. Most likely every other town within 50 miles was the same but I only witnessed the event as it was in Reno.
This was my first "run" and it was a lot of fun. Street vibrations is a very appropriate name for it because with so many bikes running, the street does rumble. It sounds like continual rolling thunder.
The ride up and back was perhaps the most interesting part of the trip. I went with a guy I recently met who bought his Harley FX new in '72 and has just ridden the hell out of it since. It looks like a rat but runs very well. It sits about 4" off the ground and has high handle bars and a few degrees more rake to the front forks. Straight pipes give it a very loud and sharp sound and a little intake vacuum leak make it shoot out blue flames when he decelerates. Bob has never been a club member, he is the definitive lone wolf biker. He is my age, 46, has about a foot of beard and no upper front teeth. He has a leather jacket that has definitely seen better days and will no longer fit around his gut so he has to leave it open no matter how cold it is.
We went up I-80 from Sacramento. We rode 2 abreast (1 lane), which I've never done before. It feels somewhat dangerous, but at the same time feels very cool!! You have to maintain an awareness of your buddy at all times so as not to collide or stick him (or her) in a bad situation. If there is an obstacle in the lane or an errant "cager" (car, or "cage" driver), you have to be sure the other rider has room to avoid them. So you have to be watching not only your line of travel but theirs too.
After a while, you get tuned in to the sound of their bike beside you and it gets to where you can anticipate when he or she is going to change lanes or accelerate and you twist the throttle at the same time and just roar past a car, or away from a stop sign while in formation. I can see why motorcycle clubs (or gangs) can seem so intimidating. Being right on the edge with your senses also makes you very sensitive, and maybe a little intolerant, of stupid cagers who do something that endangers both of you. Bob said he has taken his gas cap off and thrown it at cars a few times. But then had to hold his hand over the tank to keep the gas from splashing out. I don't think I'll try that but there are times when I feel like doing something that would wake a driver up and let him or her know that they did something stupid!!
There are lots of yuppie Harley riders these days (catalog bikers) who ride new (read EXPENSIVE) bikes, who frequently will trailer their bike to within a few miles of an event, then unload them and ride in, looking all bad with their new leathers and fresh tattoos. I'm glad I rode with a real biker.