The sounds, and rumbles, of the dog days of summer

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There is something both unmistakable and deeply satisfying about it — that deep, growly, buttery rumble. It starts so low and throaty that you almost think it’s part of you, like the sound of blood pumping through your veins.

And then it expands, filling the time and space around it, stealing a tiny bit of your breath.

It’s not the staggering, swampy heat that lets me know we’re deep in the dog days of summer. It’s that sound. The throttling idle of my neighbors’ vintage Harleys as they gather to hit the road.

While I’m not a motorcycle enthusiast myself, I find I am obsessed by these beautiful bikes. They are works of art. My neighbors are bikers, and these machines are among their prize possessions. They have been lovingly restored and beautifully maintained.

This hot, brilliantly sunny weather must be perfect for motorcycle rides. I hear them gathering early Saturday mornings — believe it or not, I now can tell the difference between the bikes by the sound of them.

I peek out the front door and see them there, all chrome and shine, glistening in the sun. And I feel a pang of jealousy — imagining the long ribbons of winding road ahead, the rush of the summer air, the heat reflecting off the asphalt.

So what, you may ask, do Harley-Davidsons have to do with the Madison County Public Library? Well, we have a pretty nifty collection of books on bikes, all dying to be checked out and pored over on a lazy summer afternoon.

Lily Brooks-Dalton’s lyrical 2015 memoir, Motorcycles I’ve Loved, traces the trajectory of a young woman’s discovery of herself and her place in the world through her discovery of motorcycles. It’s available in print in Berea.

A founder and one of the most famous members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, Ralph “Sonny” Barger offers a basic guide to motorcycles in a way only someone who has logged more than a million miles in six decades of riding can. Let’s Ride: Sonny Barger’s Guide to Motorcycling is filled with useful info, cool facts and first-hand history, and an unexpected bit of wit. It’s available in print in Berea.

If you are looking for even more nuts and bolts of bikes, you might enjoy Greg Roza’s Harley-Davidson: An All-American Legend. Roza’s book profiles some of the company’s most iconic models, from the debut 1911 Model 7D to today’s sleek and modern VRSCA V-Rod. Readers can immerse themselves in details such as horsepower, torque, transmission types, exhaust systems, wheelbase measurements, and speed. For more info, there is also a spec sheet on each model. It’s also available in print in Berea.

If you’re looking for an eBook along these lines, try Doug Mitchell’s Harley-Davidson Field Guide. Featuring eye-popping color photos of more than 250 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, enthusiasts will see the evolution of the bikes from 1903 to today’s most popular models. Each photo is accompanies by a detailed caption with information on options and equipment offered with the bike. It’s available for download through Kentucky Libraries Unbound.

Finally, if you are looking to buy a motorcycle, you might want to check out Jim Bennett’s The Complete Motorcycle Book: A Consumer’s Guide. Available in print in Berea, this handy volume will guide your choice of bikes.

One of the coolest things about the Madison County Public Library is that there is always something new to learn about. Sometimes I just “shop” — browse through titles till something catches my eye. Even though I have worked here for almost seven years, I still discover something new every day.

I hope you will stop by soon and follow your own path of discovery. Let me know what you uncover. I’ll see you soon at the library!

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Craig Ballantyne

I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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