Harley-Davidson Invades Hickstead
Swapping horses for horsepower at Sussex Showground
Article by Benedict James
Five Chapters of the Harley Owners’ Group (H.O.G.™) banded together once more to organise the 11th South of England Rally (AKA SofER) – a collective knees-up and homage to all things Harley – held this year for the first time at Hickstead Showground.
Chapter members came from all over the UK and from as far afield as France and the Netherlands to raise a glass and twist a throttle together, with hundreds of bikes roaring in concert through the Sussex countryside on orchestrated mass ride-outs.
Showground car parks ordinarily populated by horseboxes and authentically-muddied 4x4s were awash instead with a sea of gleaming chrome and dark custom masterpieces, some of which were proudly displayed at the Ride-In Bike Show (the Crufts of the H.O.G.™ world – in which the only stipulation is that a bike must have been ridden to the rally rather than cosseted in a trailer).
A huge Harley-Davidson artic had brought 24 ’15-model bikes for people to drool over and take out on marshalled demo rides. Unable to resist, I signed up right away for a spin on the latest incarnation of both the Street Bob and the CVO Street Glide.
A number of H-D dealerships and independent traders had set up shop and did good business, with Harley devotees keen as ever to add to their collections of kit, clothing and memorabilia.
The Chapter Challenge saw participating Chapters competing in events such as archery, rodeo rugby, pole joust, slow-riding and other “motorcycle games” – with the local 1066 Chapter taking the trophy.
Whilst ride-outs thinned the crowds at the site in the daytime, the whole rally came together on Friday and Saturday evening to rock out in the main tent to a goodly line-up of bands and DJs, before stumbling fuzzily back to the extensive campground to prepare for the next day’s hangover.