The beefy motorcycle glides smoothly along the dips and swells of a rural road in Dearborn County, Ind., sending crisp leaves of orange and yellow airborne into bucolic woods.

The wind rustles through John Maxwell's hair this chilly morning and his hands are gloveless. But he doesn't seem to mind.

Maxwell is driving his 100th anniversary Harley-Davidson Screamin' Eagle Road King. It's decked out, gold-toned with burgundy and black accents, and powered by a 103-cubic-inch twin-cam engine. That's the biggest engine Harley-Davidson makes.

This Harley is one sweet ride.

It's a top-end cruising bike, with a base price of about $28,000 when the 100th anniversary model was produced in 2002, says Nick Hardy, general manager of Tri-County Harley-Davidson of Fairfield. Only 2,000 are made each year.

Maxwell's Road King has about every "extra" you could want. It's got a security system, special mufflers, chrome parts, two saddlebags, and a rear Tour Pak that could hold a romantic picnic dinner, weekend getaway luggage, and a laptop for surreptitiously checking in with the office.

But most importantly for Maxwell, who owns the prominent Dearborn County development and construction company bearing his name, the Screamin' Eagle Road King is a major stress reducer "” one every CEO should check out.

"If someone had told me five years ago I would own leather chaps ..." Maxwell's voice trails off into a hearty laugh.

But it's not just the extra-large chaps (Maxwell is 6-foot-4 with a large, muscular build) or the one bike. This CEO has embraced the spontaneity that motorcycles can bring to your lifestyle.

He and his wife, Linda, speed out on weekly group rides with other couples who attend Dearborn Hills United Methodist Church. The Road King comfortably seats two, with wide cushioned seats and a backrest for the passenger. Maxwell has been five times to Sturgis, the holy grail of motorcycle gatherings, held annually in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He even has a second Road King, a 95th anniversary model that he keeps at his second home on Marco Island, Fla.

"It's a pleasant distraction from the day's work," Maxwell says of his Harleys, with a twinkle in his eye.

How fast does it go?

"Haven't had it over 90."

John L. Maxwell Construction Co. designs, builds, and refurbishes buildings across Greater Cincinnati. The 16-year-old company employs about 60 people, including three of Maxwell's children. Its first project was converting a long-vacant distillery in Lawrenceburg into usable business space. Today that structure, next to the Seagram's plant, has 20 tenants that employ more than 1,000, Maxwell says.

Maxwell, who is 57, and partner Chip Perfect, who owns the Perfect North ski complex, are building a 10-screen cinema near Interstate 275 at Lawrenceburg. They will jointly own the independent theater, slated to open in 2005.

All those projects have kept Maxwell, a civil engineer by training, busy day and night. He has always enjoyed spontaneous adventures "” camping, fishing, and getaway vacations "” to blow off steam.

"He's a very spur-of-the-moment guy,'' says his wife.

But he hadn't tried motorcycles. About six years ago, Maxwell wandered over to a friend's house to watch as he packed his motorcycles and gears for a trip to Sturgis. "I stopped by to tease him'' about the "guys only'' trip, Maxwell recalls.

His friend teased Maxwell back: "The real men are going to Sturgis, while the boys are staying home!'' That night, they tracked down the 95th anniversary Screamin' Eagle Road King from an ad in a newspaper, bought it, packed it up and took off the next day for South Dakota.

He's been back to Sturgis four out of the past five years. If there ever were a biker party not to miss, Sturgis is it. About 400,000 people "” including this year celebrities like Kevin Costner "” hang out in a tiny, rural town for a week to take in street performers, music, specialty vendors, and a general bad-boy atmosphere. It's a see-and-be-seen deal, with some bikers eschewing pants under their chaps and women wearing spiked bras and teensy bikinis. Oh, and, yes, you do ride your cycle out in the Black Hills for some quality touring time.

On the way back from the 2002 Sturgis gathering, Maxwell stopped at a Des Moines, Iowa, Harley dealership. He had seen the 100th anniversary edition of the Road King at Sturgis "” and he bought it on the spot in Des Moines. Most dealerships get only two or three of the Road Kings every year, and finding one can be difficult.

And what did his wife say?

"I called her from Des Moines and told her I'd found a gold Harley that matched the color of her car!" Maxwell says.

Back in Dearborn County on this chilly morning, Maxwell sticks to about 50 mph on the back roads of Dearborn County near where he and Linda grew up, and where they still live today. Their four children, and grandchildren, live nearby. "We are blessed,'' Maxwell says of having his family close by, and of the three children who work for Maxwell Development.

Maxwell motors past country homes with ponds, rolling fields, and lovely, small churches.

"It's nice to see all the back roads that you wouldn't see in a car,'' says Linda of cycle trips. "It's part of the adventure.''

Does Linda Maxwell want her own motorcycle? Her response is swift.

"No. I'll settle for a Jaguar."