Munroes still rolling after half a century

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Cherished Harley: Bud Monroe says once he took a ride on his first Harley-Davidson motorcycle, he could never go back to riding any other brand. He keeps his 2001 bike in tip-top shape, including the engine, pictured here, so he and his wife, Marian, can ride for as long as he keeps his license.

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

“It feels like freedom,” says Bud Munroe, of riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, along with his wife, Marian. The couple has been biking for more than 50 years, with no plans to stop anytime soon.

ALTAMONT — Raymond Munroe, who goes by Bud, and his wife, Marian, have been the proud owners of four motorcycles over the course of the past 40 years.

Even though Mr. Monroe is now in his eighties, he and Mrs. Munroe find any excuse they can to take their Harley-Davidson motorcycle out for a ride. He drives, and she sits behind him.

The Munroes built a house in Altamont in the 1950s, and, at that time, one of Mr. Munroe’s friends owned a motorcycle, which he sometimes borrowed.

“It was fun,” he said. “But, we were having kids at that point, and we didn’t have the money for a motorcycle.”

In the late 1960s, the Munroes bought their first motorcycle, a Honda. In the 1970s, they decided a get a Harley-Davidson.

Mr. Monroe said it was a “full dresser,” meaning it had all the “bells and whistles.” The two bikes they have purchased since then have also been Harley-Davidsons.

“After the first Harley, I just couldn’t go to anything else,” said Mr. Munroe. He said he loves both the look and the sound of the Harley-Davidson, and even tried to make his first Honda motorcycle sound similar to a Harley.

“I couldn’t do it,” he said.

The Munroes have ridden a motorcycle to the Pacific Coast and back, twice, and to Sturgess, South Dakota and back three or four times. They’ve ridden to Milwaukee and back to visit the Harley-Davidson headquarters and museum, and celebrate the brand’s 100th anniversary. They’ve ridden a motorcycle in every state except for Minnesota, Louisiana, and Alaska.

They have also ridden in all types of weather. The riding season, according to the Munroes, runs from May to October. They don’t ride in the winter because of the salt on the roads.

They’ve ridden in the Mojave Desert where the temperature reached 114 degrees; across the Golden Gate Bridge, in California, where the fog was so dense it blocked the famous views; and, in their trip to the Pacific Coast, they rode in the pouring rain.

“That was fun, though,” Mrs. Munroe said.

“It’s freedom,” said Mr. Munroe, of why he loves riding his motorcycle. “It’s like riding a horse out west 200 years ago; you feel the wind in your face and get bugs in your teeth and stuff like that.”

Mrs. Munroe said she loves riding because of the smells and the views.

“You can smell dampness in the morning, and you can smell flowers, fresh-cut hay, and the ocean,” she said. “We’ve seen so much, and I used to carry my heavy Panasonic camera on my shoulder and take pictures of all the landscapes.”

There is almost nothing that could stop the Munroes from riding their motorcycle. Even an accident Mr. Munroe had in 1983 didn’t slow them down for long.

Mr. Munroe was riding home alone from a family picnic when he misjudged a turn and hit soft gravel. He said he was flipped up in the air, and, when he landed, the bike landed on top of him, crushing his pelvis and breaking several other bones.

After spending two months in the hospital, Mr. Munroe said he repaired his bike “slowly but surely,” and, when it was ready, he took it for a short ride down the hill from his house.

“I wasn’t home at the time,” Mrs. Munroe said. “But he had to do it, because, if he hadn’t gotten back on then, he never would have.”

Fear didn’t stop her from riding, either.

“She’s loved it from the beginning,” Mr. Munroe said. “I can’t get out of the garage without her on the bike.”

In recent years, the Munroes added two wheels to the rear of their 2001 Harley-Davidson.

“My legs are getting weak,” said Mr. Munroe. “It’s getting kind of tough to hold the bike up.”

“We can’t lean into the turns anymore because we have too many wheels,” Mrs. Munroe said. “But you should see us; we make believe we’re leaning on that trike.”

“I wish we could get out and ride cross-country again,” she said.

But she’ll settle for trips to get groceries or short rides with no particular destination in mind.

“As long as I can keep my license,” said Mr. Munroe, “we’ll keep riding.”