If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 11 April 2011

All a matter of size

It is often said that American riders like their big, heavy Harleys because of all the straight roads in the States, whereas we like our sportsbikes because we have all the curves. But it's a matter of distance, too. On our crowded little island, we have no idea of how immense the USA really is.

Browsing the Triumph Rat forum, I came across this website: a map of the UK overlaid on a map of the USA. You can click and drag the UK map around, just for fun. I found it interesting and enlightening, and maybe you will too.

I live in the bottom left-hand corner of Wales (that's the bit sticking out to the left of the mainland, to those unfamiliar with British geography), and a good day's ride for me would be to cover perhaps half of that promontory. That would be perhaps the corner of just one state in the US. Riding 'coast to coast' takes on a whole new meaning. I did about 350 miles on the Bonneville last weekend, and it was about enough. It's not a bike built for big distances (the bike is capable of it, but the rider isn't so sure). Looking at the map overlay, you can see why a big heavy cruiser, with long wheelbase and laid-back, feet-forward armchair comfort, is the popular choice for American riders.

The place is huge. I need to go there, hire a Harley, and ride.


  1. Hi Richard. I would strongly recommend you follow your urge and go and do it.

    I'm not any form of motorist - I'm dangerous with a kettle, let alone any form of engine controlled propulsion - but I did the USA/Canada from coast to coast and north to south (a very ziggy-zaggy route) by Greyhound Bus for 4 months.

    It changed my life (for the better). Actually, it probably improved the experience for me by being on the bus because I got to meet all sorts of people that I probably would not have in different circumstances. The conversations were surreal! Anyway, as a motorcyclist, I expect you would enjoy the astonishing amount of landscapes through which you would travel.

    Thanks for your welcome in the previous comments.

  2. A friend did all of Route 66 on a hired Harley. He picked the bike up in Chicago and dropped it off in California. All the arrangements worked perfectly - new bikes, instant break down repairs - he had a great time. As Nike, god of trainers, says: just do it.

  3. I still wonder how the HEL they manage it. The distance between petrol stations is sometimes more than a "good days riding" for us Europeans, and Harleys are not noted as being "economical" on the gas.

  4. Windsock - that's good advice. I reckon you would see a different side to a country by crossing it on public transport compared to the 'road' route, but both would bring you into contact with new and interesting people and provoke interesting interaction. It woulod just be a different cross-section.

    Derf - that sounds like a great trip, and do-able. (My daydream plan is to do what Windsock did and do the full East-West-North-South thing, but that could take months.) If Nike could see her way to providing me with a few grand to achieve my dream that would be fine by me.

    Furor - hadn't thought of that, but you don't read of Harley riders carrying massive spare fuel tanks, so the fuel must be there. Worth finding out before setting off, I would imagine.

  5. Fuel is a particular paranoia of mine, after running out in the middle of Maryhill at pub closing time one night. :-))

    AS to the States. I should imagine the Highways are reasonably enough supplied. But "B" roads, or even possibly "A" roads....

  6. Maryhill at closing time? That's where they send the DRC death squads to toughen them up, isn't it? I can see that experience would leave its mark on a man.

    Tell you what - IF I ever get to the States, and IF I stray off the highways, then I will carry a spare fuel can, OK?

  7. O.K. Ride safe! (Always wear a condom). :-))


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