Best Western and Harley-Davidson Team UpI'm fortunate enough to ride motorcycles just about every day of the year. That is primarily due to the moderate California weather and the summer trips I get to take around the country. Unfortunately, I get much less time for leisure riding and with the hectic magazine schedule we keep just less time in general to soak up the world. There are numerous invites through the year to ride new motorcycles and to check out new destinations and experiences but I'm usually left unsatisfied with the quantity and quality of the riding. There's usually too much talk, too many photo stops, too many rules, too much time to eat, and an ambitious schedule that just doesn't fulfill my pleasure riding needs.
When I received an invite from Best Western International-the hotel people, to go on a four-day motorcycle tour of Northern California I was a bit reluctant to unchain myself from my desk and make the trek. It was billed as a FAM trip referring to a "familiarization" trip, so I could familiarize myself with the location of the trip, and in this case Best Western hotels. Here I had an invitation from someone I never met to go on a ride sponsored by big business. I'm sure you can relate to my initial skepticism.
Before I accepted the offer I researched the link between Best Western and Harley-Davidson. It turns out that a partnership between the two companies has existed for some time. The Best Western Ride Rewards is an exclusive program for Harley-Davidson enthusiasts offering travel benefits and discounts when staying at one of more than 1,200 "rider-friendly" Best Western properties in North America. Guests staying at one of the rider friendly properties will have access to a host of amenities, such as complimentary wipe-down rags, and access to a washing station. Additionally, some hotels offer extra benefits, including reserved parking spaces, bottled water, sunscreen, and lip balm.
Within Harley-Davidson's Ride Planner program you can get help planning and mapping rides. The planner makes it easy to book a stay at a Best Western hotel by indicating where each is located in correlation to the trip being planned. Each hotel listing includes descriptions along with a directory of services and amenities. All of this can be done while surfing H-D's or BW's websites. Membership in the Ride Rewards program is free and H.O.G. members can earn extra benefits such as free room upgrades.
That all sounded pretty good to me. My only question was, "what kind of bikes would we be riding?" The answer: all 2009 H-D Touring bikes rented from Bob Dron's Harley-Davidson in Oakland (bobdron.com). That was it, I wanted in. Normally I would have just ridden the 400 miles up to the Bay Area but my schedule was tight, so a barely one hour plane ride got me to Oakland. Waiting at the airport were two lovely BW representatives that were responsible for planning the week's events. Each of the five eclectic journalists arrived and we were whisked away via minivan to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. After arriving for our short first night's stay at the Best Western Tuscan Inn (tuscaninn.com) we were introduced to two BW and one H-D representative. Following a brief intro we all walked to Firenze by Night a great Italian restaurant tucked away along one of SF's many hilly streets. We all ate and drank ourselves to contentment, followed by after dinner cigars. It was a relaxing evening without any pretense or propaganda.