LincsGeek and I have been talking about, dreaming about, going on a motorcycle tour of the west of the USA for years. Years and years. Probably about ten years. Maybe more.
We have always joked that we probably wouldn’t actually get around to going until we both retired, by which time we would be very old and frail to fly over to America to sit on a motorbike for two weeks riding 200-300 miles a day.
But last year we decided that we were just going to go for it. So we started to research our ideas thoroughly, and when we went to Motorcycle Live at the NEC in November we made a point of speaking to a number of tour operators that offered the kind of thing we were after. We decided on the summer of 2014, decided which company and which tour, and then waited patiently for the dates to be released so we could go ahead and book.
On Friday we got the email we’d been waiting for. The tour dates for 2014. Yay!
So, in June 2014 we will be jetting off to Los Angeles with The Lost Adventure to meet our Eagle Rider tour guide and group before we spend 16 days riding Harley Davidson motorbikes through the South West of America. We will see the Grand Canyon, Bruce Canyon, Monument Valley, Death Valley, Yosemite, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco. We will ride Route 66 and Highway 1, and cover 2,000+ miles of straight and winding American roads.
I am so excited!
Before we booked our trip we had to decide which bikes we would like to ride. This is an Eagle Rider tour and so we had the choice of quite a wide range of bikes, but we both decided we should do it properly and choose an American Harley Davidson over a British Triumph or a German BMW. On Saturday our local Harley Davidson dealer – the guys who had loaned me that Sportster Nightster for our Top Down Charity ride back in 2009 – had an open house event which couldn’t have been better timed. LincsGeek had already chatted with Tim Orr from The Lost Adventure who had made some recommendations, so off we went to Lincoln Harley Davidson to sit on some and make our choice.
With a Sportster 1200 being out of the question thanks to its teeny fuel tank (finding a fuel station every 100 miles on a trip like this would really annoy the rest of the group!) I had a sit on the Fat Boy and the Heritage Softail Classic, the two smallest and lightest bigger Harleys available on the Eagle Rider inventory. But of course small and light they are not; 330kg is rather more than the less-than 200kg I am used to.
We had our free hog roast (most welcome!) and then set to choosing the right bike for each of us. I started with the Heritage Softail Classic. I could reach the floor, I could stand the bike up, but I could not reach the side stand to kick it out and put the bike back down again. Oh dear. I could ride the bike for sure, but it is big and fat and even with a 690mm seat height I am still only on the balls of my feet so I’m not sure I could scoot that thing back into a parking space. Not a chance. Moving on!
Next was the Fat Boy. Actually the same frame and tank as the Heritage Softail, it is the same weight and size but without the touring screen and some of the other bits and bobs. The biggest difference I noticed when getting on it was the seat was more scooped, it was narrower, and so I had a much better footing on the ground. Still huge and very heavy, but better. Unfortunately it seems that wasn’t the standard seat, though. Shame! But of the two bikes I preferred it, so that is the one I have gone with. It is a lovely looking machine, and I simply cannot wait to get to LA and take it for a spin.
Incidentally, LincsGeek thought he’d decided on the Road King before he sat on the Heritage Softail Classic – the Road King is simply enormous, and while the Softail is still a big bike he felt much more comfortable on it. So he’s chosen that one.
I know for a fact that if I am going to have the time of my life then I am going to have to be able to manoeuvre the Fat Boy around. I have 14 months to get much, much stronger. I’ve started running again. And I should get to the gym too. This is one adventure I’m going to have to put a lot of effort into to make sure I get the most out of it.
I have another motorcycling adventure planned for this year… The Graham Homes Memorial Ride will be raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK. Please support us if you can.