Sunday, July 30, 2006

How did it all begin?

People have asked me why I've taken 3 weeks unpaid leave from work to ride my Harley Davidson across America on my own. It's a bit like those T-shirts that Harley riders sometimes wear. "If you have to ask the question "Why?" you probably wouldn't understand the answer." It just felt like something I had to do. I'm a little too old to call it a mid-life crisis, but in some sense it's a journey of self discovery. I'm stepping off the hamster wheel for a few weeks and just setting my own agenda. You might think that someone of my age has pretty much discovered everything about themselves, but you'd be wrong. I don't think we ever stop finding out new things about ourselves. And it's only when we set ourselves a challenge (or some twist of fate sets the challenge for us) that we discover hidden reserves and end up surprising ourselves at what we are capable of.

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This self imposed journey of discovery is not completely unstructured. I have a basic outline plan starting with picking up my bike from the Milwaukee Harley Davidson dealership on 3rd August and dropping it off several weeks later at Rapid City in South Dakota. What happens in between is the adventure. That's not to say that I don't have any plans. Along the way and in no particular order I plan to visit the Harley Davidson rally at Sturgis, see Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the Crazy Horse Memorial, visit the Devil's Tower (from Spielberg's 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind), the Badlands, the Needles Highway, Little Big Horn Battlefield and the Wind Caves. And probably several other sites that will catch my eye along the way.

It was also important to me that I was riding my bike (rather than renting one), so I've had it shipped over from the UK at considerable cost. If you know anything about Harley Davidson motorcycles you'll know that each one is different. Every model leaves the factory to an identical specification, but as soon as you buy one you start the process of customising it to your requirements. A new Harley is simply the starting point, a blank canvas on which you hope to express your individuality. So that's why it had to be my bike that I rode across the US.

My plan is to keep a written diary of my journey and publish it here as and when I have access to a computer. I'm also taking a digital camera and hope to add some (but not too many) pictures of some of the highlights of the journey. So watch this space.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Harley Davidson Road King Classic

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This is the bike that I am taking around America. Haven't ridden it for a month as it is in a box some where between home (Ipswich) and New York, such is life. For those interested in the technical details it's a 2004 Harley Davidson Road King Classic, 2 cylinder, 4-cycle 45 degree V-type, air cooled with a 1450cc displacement.