Readers and their Rides

Bob McDaniel – On the Road Again

Written by  November 30, 2004

It’s not unusual for someone to buy a motorcycle. More folks are doing it all the time. During the summer months, the highways these days are well traveled with motorcycle riders.

So why take notice of a local man and his wife buying a motorcycle? Well, Bob McDaniel is 73. His wife Alberta is 74. They’ve been married nearly 60 years, and it’s been 13 years since they last rode together.

“I’ve been riding since I was 14 or 15 years old,” said Bob, who lives at 231st Street and Spooncreek Road. “My first one was a 1945 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead. I had it a couple of years, and then I traded it for an automobile, then I went back to a motorcycle. I would jump back and fourth, but when I got old enough to date, I figured I needed a car. When I got married, I knew I had to have a car then. But I wish I still had that 1945 Harley.”

Luckily, for Bob, he married a woman who also enjoys riding a motorcycle. “I never did want to drive; I just like riding with him,” Alberta said. “But it’s getting scary because there is so much traffic out on the roads.”

Bob, who lost the sight in one eye, said he never likes to drive in large cities. “Too many street lights,” he said. “I never like to travel that far. It’s either too hot or too cold, or it’s raining.”

So why did he buy the 2002 Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Edition silver-and-black Ultra Classic? “It’s about the best form or relaxation and entertainment I can do for myself,” he said. “We’ll ride to Osawatomie, Lawrence, Belton, Strong City and around that area. We rode to Oklahoma City and back once. I like to ride on a cool day rather than a hot day as long as it ain’t too cold. One of these days I would like to go to Sturgis. Not ride there, but trailer the motorcycle and ride up in our RV.”

Bob purchased a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide in 1971. “It was red,” he said. “It was nice. We kept it 20 years, and then sold it in 1991.” He’s had other motorcycles, too. “I’ve always had a dirt bike, so I could ride on the farm,” he said. “I’ve had Hondas, Suzukis; I had a Honda Rebel for awhile. It was pretty nice. I wish I still had that one, too.”

The McDaniels have lived their lives on the 266-acre family farm, raising their two daughters and one son; none of whom ride motorcycles. They now live on seven acres. Most of the rest is under the water that makes up Hillsdale Lake.

“They would ride with me when they were younger,” said Bob, who worked for Rose Construction in Olathe for 47 years. “But then they got too old.” Their children might have been taken aback when they were told about the motorcycle purchase, but they probably weren’t surprised.

“I called our daughter, Lexilou, and told her we had spent some of her inheritance,” Alberta said. “She kept guessing things, and then she asked, “Was it a motorcycle book?” When Alberta told her it wasn’t a book, her daughter said, “Don’t tell me! You bought a motorcycle?” “When I told her yes, she asked if it was a Harley,” Alberta said. “I told her it was, and she said that was OK, then!”

His new motorcycle is far more advanced with technology than his 1945 Knucklehead. “I ain’t smart enough to run all the electronic stuff,” Bob said, and then laughed. “There’s a CB, a weatherband radio station, AM/FM cassette player and cruise control. There’s so much there, they would show me how to do something, but by the time I walked out the door, I forgot.”

Bob recently bought his first pair of leather chaps. “Yeah,” he said, “I bought them, and I bought some Harley boots.” He sat down, kind of smiles, then added, “It think I paid 50 dollars for the boots and a 100 dollars for the Harley name!”

But there is one thing that hasn’t changed; the freedom Bob feels when he rides. “There’s nothing like it,” he said. “You just can’t describe it. I’m going to do it for as long as I can.”

Interview and photos by Chuck Kurtz