This was it. The idea that spawned it all. 4 guys, 11 states, 10 days, 1 hurricane and almost 2,200 miles, one way. The idea was to have Motorcycles in the US that could be used every year to travel around this fantastic part of the world. Then, as usual, we decided to bite off far more that we could chew. Boston Bob did all the legwork stateside, procuring 4 Harley 1200s and a pile of luggage to throw over them. Not to mention dealing with all the legal wranglings and shenanigans that go along with non-residents buying bikes in America.
We arrived in late August 2017, keen to see the bikes and ready for a leisurely ride from the top to the bottom of the USA. We spent our first week, servicing and testing the bikes, prepping them for the round trip. The rest of the crew arrived, we threw the luggage across the bikes and headed south, New Orleans bound.
The first days ride was from north Boston, west across Massachusetts and into New York State. Passing through Shelburn Falls and the Berkshires, made famous by James Taylor in his song Sweet Baby James. The weather was fantastic, riding in t-shirts for most of the journey due to the heat. Eventually the miles ended in a small town named Milford, PA and staying at a nice little roadside hotel for a measly $40 each. Day two took us from Milford all the way across the great state of Pennsylvania. Following the Delaware River and passing through Shawnee Indian country, we took as many side roads as possible and diving deep into Amish country. Eventually we crossed into Maryland and jumped onto interstate 68 for a quick 20 miles into Frostburg. Unfortunately we got caught in a torrential downpour in our last 15 minutes, and arrived dripping wet in the lobby of the Gunter Hotel. Luckily they had a large storage shed out back that they let us keep the bikes overnight.
Before we knew it, day three was upon us, so we kitted up and jumped back on the bikes to rendezvous with another friend (and conveniently a Harley mechanic) in Lexington Virginia. It was on this route we stopped in a small town called Monterey to grab some snacks when we bumped into a friendly guy who had spent some years developing an electric Norton, long before the chaps in Leicester set up their firm. it seemed that wherever we stopped people were interested in us and our trip.
After some fabulous riding through West Virginia and Virginia we dropped down into Lexington VA and hooked up with Alan his riding buddies and spend a fantastic night and his cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The following day, after we checked over the bikes and fitted some aftermarket pipes to the blue bike we headed up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, the road we would ride for the next two days and 440 miles. The BRP runs along the high ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains and was built as a scenic highway during the Great Depression in the 1920s. It your archetypal 'two lane black top' with no trucks allowed and very little other traffic. Real free and easy riding, overnighting in Blowing Rock VA before finally reaching our destination, Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort at the start of the Dragons Tail.
The Dragons Tail is a very famous motorcycle road in the US and is a 'right of passage' for any serious US biker. 318 bends in an 11 mile stretch of public road. The photo opposite shows the 'Tree of Shame' decorated with bits of motorcycles owned by riders that didn't quite get it right. The end of the Tail spits you out over the border into Tennessee and a long smooth ride through this most beautiful of US states to a well earned 2 night stop for us in Nashville. Just stop what your doing and go to Nashville, go now... what a town. The nightlife was incredible. A hundred 3 story bars with a live band on each floor, all packed with friendly locals and out of towners. Peddle bars passing you on the street blaring music along side custom bikes thundering down Broadway.
After a great two days in a wonderful city we were back on the bikes again and headed south for the last leg of the trip. We followed the Natchez Trace through the remaining four States in the deep south of the US. The 'Trace' was nothing more than a well worn path ( now a truck free dual carriageway ) from the town of Natchez on the banks of the Mississippi River all the way up into the heart land of the USA. Used by Indigenous Indians, trappers and sailors and boatmen, to get back home once the fishing season was over and the Gulf of Mexico became the playground for Hurricanes.
As we rode south, Hurricane Harvey headed north to meet us giving us a very wet welcome into Louisiana. However, we somehow managed to miss the worst of it and despite experiencing torrential rain the likes of which I have never seen, we managed to keep rolling on to our final destination, New Orleans. Well if I had thought Nashville was a cool town, N'awlins is is in a different league. Sleazy, sophisticated, sassy, dirty, awe inspiring, exhilarating, friendly, dangerous, thrilling, yet incredibly cool and relaxing. We had three fantastic days here and I for one could have stayed for a lot longer. I shall be back.
We checked over and cleaned up the bikes, and as we boarded planes to take us back to the UK, the next group flew into Louis Armstrong Airport. The South to North crew, led by Boston Bob, threw a leg over each bike and headed north all the way back to Boston. And the bikes? They did not miss a beat.
A fantastic trip on amazing machines.