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PALM SPRINGS, CALIF. Getting people off the plane and on a Harley



Published: Sun, February 24, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The airport rental outlet will store luggage and other items for those who want to hit the road fast.

By MARK HENRY

PRESS-ENTERPRISE (RIVERSIDE, CALIF.)

Now you can step from a plane and roar off on a hog.

The new Harley-Davidson motorcycle rental outlet at Palm Springs International Airport in Palm Springs, Calif., is the first of its kind in the nation, tourism officials say. Airline passengers used to renting cars now have the option of donning helmets and leathers and riding away on two wheels instead of four.

Blain Stanley, a 35-year-old business traveler from Dallas, stopped by the EagleRider Inc. location before his flight to New York and marveled at the Harleys parked outside. He has ridden Harleys back home for more than a decade and didn't know he could rent one at the Palm Springs airport until now.

Maybe next time, he told Don Herborn, co-owner of the Palm Springs outlet.

Subculture: Locals say the new outlet fits the image of the live-and-let-live tourist resort that welcomes snowbirds, duffers, nudists and bikers alike.

"There's a huge subculture here of bikers," said 42-year-old Lee Gahimer of Palm Springs, who paints houses for a living when he's not riding his 1993 custom Harley Fat Boy around town. "You find them from surgeons to street sweepers."

Tourists come to the Coachella Valley, nestled against the San Jacinto Mountains in eastern Riverside County, for a variety of activities -- from film festivals and parades to car shows and gay street fairs. Last year, the city approved a private company's plans to build a pedestrian bridge over a busy downtown boulevard -- to help nudists cross the road.

Palm Springs also is the site each October of a "biker weekend" that draws thousands of mostly well-behaved motorcyclists for leisure rides, rest and relaxation in the downtown.

"We want people to see Palm Springs as a place for every demographic, every group of people," said Jeff Hocker, spokesman for the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism. "This will help that continue."

At the airport, EagleRider has more than a dozen Harleys available just outside the baggage claim, and 50 more can be brought up from the company's rental outlet in San Diego for larger groups.

How it works: Herborn said he opened his outlet at the airport to take advantage of airline travelers who want the convenience of going directly from their flights to their bikes. Many of his customers have the same or a similar model of Harley in their garages back home and can pick out what they want on the Web site or during a telephone reservation, Herborn said.

The outlet will store suitcases and other belongings for riders to take what they want on their rental Harleys, for a day ride around town or a longer outing to Las Vegas or the Grand Canyon.

Available models range from Electra Glides and Road Kings to Fat Boys and Softail Deuces. Each model is a bit different; for example, the Fat Boy has a low-slung look, a wide front tire and is often favored for shorter rides or cruising through town, Herborn said. An Electra Glide Classic comes equipped with a windshield, radio and luggage case and is designed for a smooth ride, he added.

Herborn's employer also sponsors rides into nearby scenic areas, such as Indian Canyons, Joshua Tree National Park and the San Jacinto-Santa Rosa National Monument.

"If I'm riding down the street, it's got to be a Harley," said Tim Dawe, 42, a heating and air-conditioning contractor in Palm Springs who had just returned his Harley rental to the airport.

Rentals start at $99 a day, which includes helmet, leathers and gloves, plus a refundable security deposit, Herborn said.

XFor more information, call (760) 251-5990 or visit the EagleRider Web at www.eaglerider.com.




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