|By KEVIN PASSON - Special to TimeOut||
April 18, 2013
Local author Bob Michel has self-published a memoir that is his
personal reflection based on more than 40 years as a
Harley-Davidson enthusiast, 14 years as a Harley-Davidson
corporate employee and 13 years as a Harley-Davidson dealership
“It is the
‘inside story’ of H-D. I have had a spectacularly wonderful
life and needed to tell that story,” said Michel, author of
“Who is the Real Hog?” “I was motivated to write this book
to educate and to dispel preconceived ideas about Harley-Davidson.
It was the most turbulent time in Harley-Davidson’s history.
I’m a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, boy and believe that the three
different perspectives about Harley-Davidson would be a good
includes personal experiences including numerous motorcycle trips
around the world, Harley-Davidson events and corporate operations
from the only American motorcycle manufacturer in existence.
book is divided into chapters of about 10 pages each. Each chapter
deals with a specific topic, such as “To Harley or not to
Harley,” “The Glory Days,” “To Russia (and back) with
Love,” “The Working Man” and “It was All a Lie.”
favorite experiences on a Harley-Davidson trip have to be my first
trip to Europe and my first trip through Central Europe on a
Harley-Davidson by myself,” Michel said. “The second one was
my trip with Harley-Davidson co-workers through northern Europe,
Finland and into Russia. But it’s hard to discount my trip with
the same gentlemen, including their significant others - and my
sister - through southern Europe and to Tangiers, Africa.”
“Who is the
Real Hog?” is getting good reviews from those who have read it.
“I have to
say it was probably the most interesting and funny book I have
ever read,” said Chris Laabs, a member of the Milwaukee HOG
Chapter. “The book kept my interest so much I could not put it
down. I read the whole book in one day. It was very interesting
hearing all of the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff about Harley
Davidson. I also enjoyed it because I have known Bob for years, so
a lot of the people he was talking about in his book, I knew who
is a former district manager with Harley-Davidson. He was employed
with the company for 30 years until his retirement. He was in the
field as a district manager since 1977 and was there when Michel
joined the company in 1984.
through some of the toughest times while both were employed as
district mangers in separate parts of the country,” Lear said.
“I was in Texas when Bob was on the East Coast.”
Michel on the Russian and African motorcycle trips.
recollections of his time with H-D are incredibly accurate. I like
the way he interwove his personal life with the business side of
Harley-Davidson,” Lear said. “Many of us wanted to tell the
Harley story, but Bob took the initiative and did a great job. He
has spoken like many of us, as former H-D employees, who didn’t
know how to tell the story.
“There is no
doubt where Bob’s heart is when he dedicates his book to three
deceased district managers. He is a class act.”
Homer, there wasn’t a part of the book she didn’t enjoy.
“I found the
book remarkably fascinating,” said Homer, of Janesville. “I
was mesmerized by the author’s life, which includes some of the
funniest stories I have ever heard, which almost literally made me
pee my pants, because I laughed so hard. There were some very
frustrating stories that got my blood pressure rising. There were
a fair share of naughty stories, too, but I will leave that one
alone, the reader can take from that what they will. There were
also some sad stories which brought tears to my eyes, and I could
feel the author’s pain and sadness. I had a gamut of emotions
when I read this book, which truly kept me on edge, because I
never knew what to expect next.”
encountered Michel on Facebook, without knowing he had just
released the book. She discovered his book, and being a former
Harley rider herself - she has since sold her bike - she said she
could not wait to read the book.
offers information regarding the ins and outs of Harley-Davidson,
but it is not just for Harley-Davidson riders or motorcycle
enthusiasts,” she said. “The story is told in a way that makes
the reader feel like they are a part of the ride, the journey. The
author has lived a life that most of us can only dream about. I
have recommended and will continue to recommend this book to
everyone. I couldn’t wait to turn the page to see what happened
next, but I also did not want the book to end.”
Michel have struck up a friendship. They talk or text each other
nearly every night, Homer said.
love of cycles started at an early age
nine years as a partner and vice president of Milwaukee
Harley-Davidson, the only Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership
located in the birthplace of Harley-Davidson. He became sole owner
in July 2003. Under his direction, dealership sales nearly
been treasurer of local and state motorcycle associations. He is
also co-author of the “Executive Sales Academy Manual.” He
started riding when he was 12 and has owned more than 20
motorcycles. At 57, Michel is now retired.
“I have had
a motorcycle since the time I was a young teenager, even before I
got my driver’s license,” Michel said. “The first motorcycle
I purchased was a deep, plum-colored XLH Sportster. I bought that
bike to replace my 1971 Triumph Tiger 650. I have never been
without a motorcycle.”
The first new
Harley-Davidson he bought was in 1984 from House of
Harley-Davidson in Greenfield.
difficult to put into words the immense pride that I had in my
heart and soul as I rode that motorcycle home from the
dealership,” he said. “It was my first Harley, and it made me
feel like the king of the world.”
Michel said he
decided to write the book about 10 years ago.
detailed notes of my experiences and thoughts during that time,”
he said. “After being the sole caregiver for my father, who
passed away two years ago, I began writing the book. It only took
me six months to write and another six months of editing.
chapters to write about were the motorcycle trips. The most
difficult chapters were writing about the loss of my mother and
father, my ex-wife and other loved ones.”
great that Bob shared all of his memories and travels with the
readers. He portrayed it in a very interesting way,” Laabs said.
“I have to laugh, now yet, about some of the stuff that he did.
For someone to put their life out there like that, for all to
read, was wonderful. ‘Who is the Real Hog?’ is a must-read for
anyone with or without a Harley. Like I said, one of the best
books I have read. Now, I am waiting for his next adventure.”