The roar of Harley Davidson engines brings financial boost to Lynchburg

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LYNCHBURG (WSLS10) - Nearly 1,500 Harley Davidson riders are in the hill city for the 2016 Virginia Harley Owners Group Rally. The Lynchburg Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau expects a nearly $1.3 million dollar economic impact. We're told this is the first year the event is being held downtown.

Hundreds of bikers made their way to the rally's opening ceremony. Rally organizers told us there are riders from across the state, some even traveled as far as Europe to make the four day celebration. Each rider has a unique story.

"We're not motorcycle cops, we're not professionals, we're just a bunch of guys that enjoy riding," said Fairfax Motorcycle Drill Team Captain Larry Zabel.

Harley enthusiasts from across the county told us it's the rush of adrenaline that's got riders hooked. And it's a hobby that attracts people from all walks of life.

"After a couple years of riding I got a phone call from a guy named Tom McGrath who has a law firm that represents motorcyclists in injuries," commented Matt Danielson, a motorcyclist and co-owner of law firm.

"He said ‘hey Matt, I know your dad, come to work with me. You can ride you bike and practice law. If you're not in court you're in jeans and boots'."

Now, Danielson is co-owner of Tom McGrath Motorcycle Law Group in Richmond. He said the firm only allows workers who actually ride to represent other motorcyclists in court cases.

Danielson never guessed what's started as an interest would lead to a successful career.

And Halifax Drill Team Captain Larry Zabel shares a similar story where he began riding later in life at the age of 60. Now 71, he's performing near miss maneuvers.

"At this particular practice session I made my corner really tight, my partner didn't make the corner as tight as he really should and so, he went that why and I went that way," said Zabel.

Although it can be a sometimes dangerous sport, Zabel and others told us it's a passion worth the risk.

"We show people what we can do on a motorcycle," said Zabel. "If we can do it, anybody can do it."

As part of the rally, there will be several motorcycle tours though out the week to local attractions.