Bob Cogan loves the roar of his Harley 2007 Road King out on the open road. Ditto for Herm Backiel when he straddles his Harley 2015 Street Glide. But when the guys lay their heads on the pillow at night, they’re looking for some peace and quiet. They’re pretty sure they’ll find it at our Salvatorian Sisters’ Residence (SSR) in Milwaukee, while they’re in town over Labor Day weekend for Harley Davidson’s 115th anniversary bash.
Herm’s sister Chris Backiel is a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace in New Jersey. Back in 2000, when Herm and Bob attended a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., Sr. Chris helped them secure lodging at St. Martin’s Monastery in Rapid City. According to Herm, it wasn’t their original plan. “I started looking six months before the rally, but couldn’t find any place that would take reservations until January. When I called back in January everything was filled.” Sr. Chris came to her only brother’s rescue. She says ever since Herm was a kid she and her four sisters teased him that he is “blessed” among women! Herm says the guys really enjoyed their stay at the monastery, and now he’s Facebook friends with the sisters. Fast forward to 2018, Sr. Chris once again reached out to her sisterhood to help out her brother and his friend. Now Herm and Bob are getting a taste of Salvatorian hospitality.
Herm fell hard for motorcycles at the tender age of five, when his next door neighbor took him for his first ride. “I had a cycle before I got my first car at age 20, but it wasn’t a Harley. He bought his first “hog” at age 26. These days, the father of two and grandfather of three works as a mechanic for engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, where he also serves as a union steward. He looks forward to retirement to have more time for his favorite pastime. He also likes to hike, run and root for the New York Giants and Boston Red Sox.
Herm’s buddy “Knucklehead Bob” Cogan caught the Harley bug when he watched a motorcycle cop start his bike every morning and ride past his school. Bob’s been riding for 50 years, and still owns his 1941 Harley Knucklehead that earned him his nickname. Bob is a retired truck driver and furniture mover. His wife Lillian retired after 40 years as a social worker for the State of Connecticut. In the last four years since retiring, they’ve been enjoying every minute, spending time with their four children and four grandchildren — and riding. Bob also likes to hunt and fish and go hiking with Lillian.
Lillian was supposed to ride along to Milwaukee for the Harley rally, but decided to stay home to recover from a 1,300-mile trip she and Bob just completed through Vermont, northern Maine and Connecticut. It’s not their longest trek by far. Bob said he and Lillian once logged 10,000 miles seeing the sights out west and down the coast of California. Like Herm, Bob is an avid Giants fan, but when it comes to baseball, it’s New York Yankees all the way. For the next few days, riders Bob and Herm are living the dream and hopefully, sleeping soundly.