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WEST VALLEY CITY — Harley-Davidson motorcycles are usually associated with tough people, but that image is changing.
"You know the chrome, the loudness, the excitement of the motorcycle, the rattle, the vibration; all that stuff makes the riding of the Harley that much more enjoyable for the average person riding down the road," says Utah Highway Patrol Cpl. Donavan Lucas.
A Utah Highway Patrol Trooper like Lucas fits one of the personas you would expect to see on a Harley: the motorcycle cop.
There was a time when the other stereotypical Harley rider was up to no good. But bad bikers are now called the "one percenters" because they're vastly outnumbered.
I ride with a group that, I've got a guy who owns a computer business, a guy who's an architect, another guy sells real estate, and (there are some) state employees.
–Lance McDaniel, Harley rider
Today's Harley riders still have a penchant for for a certain biker look — but looks can be deceiving. Both Cpl. Lucas and his biker friend Lance McDaniel work in law enforcement.
McDaniel is an evidence technician at the Utah Attorney General's Office. He's a retired police man and still works part-time as a reserve officer for the Utah County Sheriff's Office.
"I ride with a group that, I've got a guy who owns a computer business, a guy who's an architect, another guy sells real estate, and (there are some) state employees," McDaniel said. "It's pretty much anybody you can think of that's out riding."
Carrie Johansen is the assistant human relations director for C.R. England, and she too is a Harley enthusiast.
"My husband and I went to buy a boat, and I said, 'You know, we could buy two Harleys for the price of this boat,'" she recalled. "I can't swim, but I can ride a bike."
Johansen has a grandchild and is on her third Harley — almost 800 pounds of chrome, steel and fiberglass. "I call it 'She Hog,'" she said with a laugh.
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People typically react with surprise when they find out Johansen handily wrestles a big bike.
"They're just shocked," Johansen said. "They say, 'I can't believe that you rid that. You're just a little girl.'"
Johansen rides all year, but many bikes disappear into the garage for the winter.
Lucas has a particular warning for those riders.
"Make sure that you get your skills back up before you come out here," he said. "We had a motorcycle accident at 9th West and 21st South, and I have a feeling that had a little bit to do with it. The guy's not used to riding yet, and he was injured because of it."
Bikers look out for each other. A rider doesn't have to be on a Harley to be among friends in a group ride, but the Harley still seems to be the anchor for the big bike riders.
"You're in that group that are riding the Harleys; it's really nice," Lucas said. "Everybody's rumbling down the road, and it's really cool."
It's a mystique you can't quite explain, but there's something about a Harley that turns people into a family.