By: Logan D Clark
Bellarmine faculty have lives outside of school just like students. As students, we often wonder about the hobbies of our faculty. For Bellarmine faculty members Alisha Harper, Dr. Kevin Thomas and Dr. David Paige, their hobby is riding motorcycles.
Harper is the chair for the business department and has been at Bellarmine for eight years. Thomas is a structural technology professor in the Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education and has been at Bellarmine for 12 years. Paige is also a professor in the School of Education, and this is his 12th year at Bellarmine.
For these motorcycle enthusiasts, their riding experiences vary. However, the one thing they share is their love for the ride. Harper said, “I love being on that bike. There is a sense of peace that comes over you. It sounds corny, but you truly are one with the road.”
Thomas said it is “very liberating to get out there and feel the wind in your face and kind of lose yourself in thought.”
Paige said people who ride love the “spatial ‘freedom’ of the riding experience.”
Harper said her love for riding came from experiences she has shared with her boyfriend. She said their first big trip together was the 75th Anniversary Sturgis Rally in South Dakota, noting this as her most memorable trip yet.
Harper and her boyfriend have three bikes with, their most recent purchase being her favorite, a 2018 Harley Davidson Road Glide.
“It’s newer. It has GPS, all the bells and whistles, and it’s more comfortable,” she said. Harper said that her boyfriend had “laid his motorcycle down” right before they started dating, resulting in his having surgery to put steel rods in his legs. However, that didn’t stop him from riding.
“Anyone that truly loves to ride, you know that is part of it,” Harper said.
Even though her boyfriend had a serious accident, Harper said she is not nervous when riding.
“There are people who ride, and that’s what they do. That’s us. The scary factor is the others. Cars aren’t trained to watch for motorcycles. You have to watch for them. The other thing we found is that you have weekend riders, or ‘Starbucks riders.’ Those are the ones that you have to watch,” Harper said.
Harper spoke highly of the biker community. She said Harley Davidson does a great job of welcoming riders and that at any shop, “you can find 20 to 30 people with their bikes just talking.” Although she and her boyfriend are not in a group, there are eight to 10 people who ride together, meet up, and often do charity rides. She said the veteran rides are the best and “a great way to give back.”
Harper’s plans include a trip to Panama City Beach, Florida, in May and then going back to the Sturgis Rally in South Dakota in August.
“I am a Harley girl through and through. I can get on that bike and feel my body relax. There is just something about the freedom that comes with being on a motorcycle,” Harper said.
Thomas, unlike Harper, said he always wanted a motorcycle.
In high school, he saved and got his first motorcycle from his friend’s dad in 1980 – a Yamaha 175 Enduro. He quit riding for more than twenty years and then picked back up again in 2005 when his dad bought a Harley.
Thomas was in graduate school and lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, at the time and purchased a bike so that he and his dad could ride together. “We would ride in the Smoky Mountains together. Beautiful and scenic. It was perfect for us.”
Thomas said his current motorcycle is a 2005 Harley Davidson Dyna Custom, a sportster.
Although Thomas isn’t currently in a club, he rides with his girlfriend and Paige from time to time. “This is something I do just to kind of get away. Time to be contemplative and meditative and think. Riding with a bunch of people isn’t the reason I do it,” Thomas said.
Thomas said his most memorable ride was between Knoxville and Louisville. “I didn’t have a GPS, and so I just sort of pointed it towards Louisville and I got on the backroads. At one point, I was in a town and noticed I was in the wrong time zone. I ended up in Elizabethtown and hit the interstate on the way back,” he said.
Thomas noted the treacherous ride because of the “huge grooves” in the interstate. “I had been on the bike for almost five hours because I got lost and then it started raining, and it turned into sort of an epic journey that was not anticipated,” Thomas said.
Thomas said he remembers laying the bike down in some gravel on a trail in the Smokies. “If you’ve ever been on gravel, at one point you’re up and in the blink of an eye, you’re down on the ground,” he said.
Thomas said he prefers short day trips to long rides. One interesting route he’s taken is called “The Dragon.” “It is a road right outside of Knoxville in Black County. People come from all over the world to ride this ‘tail of the dragon.’ It is an 11-mile route with 318 curves in that 11 miles. It is always interesting,” he said.
Paige, like Thomas, prefers the shorter rides. Paige said he has been riding motorcycles since he got his first bike, a Honda CB450, in the 10th grade. He bought a Honda Shadow 800 after college. “For a long time, I didn’t have a bike,” Paige said. “About two years ago, I bought my current motorcycle, an Indian Scout 60.”
In his many years of riding, Paige said he has never been in an accident on his bike. “It’s always a concern. As a rider you are always anticipating the aberrant maneuvers that drivers do, such as running red light and stop signs, changing lanes with no notice, sudden stops, etc. For this reason, I prefer riding on country roads without much traffic.”
Paige, like Thomas, has never been to the Sturgis Rally. He said he has no desire to go where there are thousands of other motorcycles and prefers the winding roads of Kentucky.
Paige said on his memorable trips to India over the years he has noticed motorcycles are everywhere there. Paige said he has seen entire families on a motorcycle. “Mom, Dad, and four kids were on a 250cc motorcycle,” he said.