ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. — Bikers who enjoyed the thrill of two-wheeled transportation in life now can take one last ride on a hog in death as they journey to their final resting place.
Surgoinsville motorcycle enthusiast David Richards turned a few heads last week in Rogersville, testing out his new "Harley Hearse" in the parking lot of Christian-Sells Funeral Home and along West Main Street.
It's so simple that it's genius.
Just a flat sidecar designed with the sole purpose of carrying a casket with all the same hardware that holds a casket in place in a traditional hearse.
It had people stopping Sunday afternoon, asking Richards questions and taking pictures.
"It's a real attention-getter through town, and it's something that's new and people aren't used to seeing," Richards said.
He had some photos taken with the Harley Hearse and an empty casket at McKinney Cemetery in Rogersville.
"We passed little old ladies at stop signs, and it was like their chins were dropping," he added. "People going by were pulling out their cell phones and taking pictures. They didn't know what to think about this."
Richards said he was trying to come up with an idea for something unique to do to his 2008 Firefighter Edition Harley Davidson Ultra Classic. As a member of the "Wheels of Faith" Christian motorcycle club, Richards has many friends who are motorcycle enthusiasts.
Then the idea came to him that his special edition Harley will be ideal for carrying he and other bikers to their final resting place someday — preferably in the far distant future.
And while he's still in this world, Richards decided he might as well get paid for helping send fellow bikers off in style to their reward.
Richard's calls his new business "Memories in the Wind Motorcycle Hearse Co." There will be a fee for the service, and information about contacting Richards for the service can be found at www.wheelsoffaith.com
It's been a little more than two weeks since Richards picked up his Harley Hearse sidecar from a custom builder in Missouri, and he's not sad to say there hasn't been a call for it yet. It's ready if and when it's ever called upon.
"I got on the Internet looking, and other (motorcycle) hearses that are available are pulled on a trailer," Richards said. "At 'Memories in the Wind' our little saying is we're not a trailer pulled by a motorcycle. We're a true last ride on a motorcycle allowing your loved one the opportunity to leave life the way they loved living it — on a motorcycle in the wind."
Richards added, "Everyone I've spoke to so far (in the Wheels of Faith) thinks that this is the way to go. When they die they would rather be hauled on a bike because that's the way they loved living their life."
Christian-Sells Funeral Home in Rogersville has helped Richards in marketing his new business, including loaning caskets for use in his promotional materials. Christian-Sells welcomes "biker" funerals that would include his Harley Hearse, Richards said.
"If the biker would like to have his motorcycle inside the funeral home beside his casket, that would be fine," Richards said. "As long as it doesn't leak, and if it does, put something down to keep from messing up the carpet."
He added, however, that, he would work with any funeral home that is interested.
Aside from funerals, Richards said he wouldn't be surprised to hear from someone around Halloween requesting an appearance by his bike. It might be a frightening sight on Halloween he said, especially if the lid pops open while he's riding down the road.
"If the door opens up and someone raises up, that would probably startle several people," he said.
One legal question still to be determined is if Tennessee's helmet law applies to Richards' future passengers.
"I would think that the casket would be sufficient for Tennessee law for helmet protection," Richards said.
(This is a great idea! I bet folks will by dying to use it!)