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Harley riders due in city

Ginner Boswell is reflected in the rearview mirror of her Harley Sportster Thursday.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[10/12/01]People who ride Harley Davidson motorcycles are strapping men who stand more than 6 feet tall and weigh 200 pounds or more.

Well, not all of them.

Ginner Boswell is 5 feet tall and tips the scales at nowhere near 200 pounds and moreover, she’s a she, a mom and a spouse of an airline pilot. But many weekends will find the petite woman happily astride her Harley Sportster 883 riding with a group of friends that includes local physicians, an orthodontist and an engineer.

Boswell said she has been interested in motorcycles since she was 17 and growing up in Texas.

“I had a girlfriend, and her boyfriend had a bike. The whole group that he hung around with had bikes and they let us ride their bikes,” she said.

After that, other things intruded and Boswell’s interest was put on the shelf only to be taken down about 1994.

“I thought, OK, every time I see bikers on the road they all look like they’re enjoying themselves so much, have such peace about what they’re doing. I want that again,” she said.

She began telling her sons she was going to get a Harley one day, but they did not think she really meant it. Then she found that Paul Banchetti had a bike.

“I told him I wanted to ride, but I wanted to ride my own bike,” she said.

Banchetti then helped her look for a Harley, which are not readily available. They found Boswell’s 1989 Harley Sportster advertised for sale by a man in Terry. They went to see it, he test rode it and she eventually bought it.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history and now at least two or three weekends a month finds Boswell and her friends riding somewhere.

Boswell said the years between her teen-age forays on friends’ bikes and when she bought the Sportster created a problem, of sorts. To renew her knowledge and regain the confidence needed to ride again, she took the three-day course offered by the Mississippi Motorcycle Association and with Riders Edge. From those courses, she learned the skills needed to ride safely and ride in a group.

Riding in groups is safer, she said, because there’s someone there to help in case of trouble and drivers of other, larger vehicles seem to be able to see groups of bikers more easily than a lone rider.

Riding is relaxing, she said. “You can’t imagine all the smells, good and bad, you experience when you ride in the country,” she said.

Motorcycles aren’t for everyone and Boswell suggested the best way for a person, man or woman, to find out if it’s really for them is to take the MMA course. When she took the class, there were a number of women in it as well as men. A number of the students dropped out once they’d tried riding and found out they did not like it.

Boswell is a member of the Mississippi State Harley Owners Group, an organization that will have its 2001 H.O.G. Rally here at the Vicksburg Convention Center beginning today. More than 1,000 H.O.G. members are expected to spend the weekend in Vicksburg enjoying entertainment, seminars, games and competitions for members only. About 500 of the bikes are expected to participate in a Parade of Harleys beginning at the convention center at 4 p.m. Saturday and proceeding through the downtown area of Vicksburg.

This is the second year the Harley Owners Group has met in Vicksburg. Last year’s meeting was at the Rainbow Casino and Hotel and attracted about 1,300 people.