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Old 03-06-2013, 01:32 AM   #1
Gary France OP
Rider and Writer
Joined: Mar 2013
Location: London, UK
Oddometer: 17
I went for a ride in America and ended up doing 21,475 miles in 4 months.

21,475 miles in 4 months, on an American Road Trip.

Somewhat reluctant to burden these pages with a tale of (wait for it) .... riding a touring motorcycle on paved roads, I share my story because of one reason. It was one heck of a journey!

Having had the dream to ride across America for a long time, I decided to go for it. As I sat at home in London in the UK thinking about the trip, I wanted to make sure I achieved something memorable in my life and this seemed like the ideal way to do that. The trouble was, I had never previously ridden in America. Many questions buzzed around in my head, but there seemed to be more reasons to do the ride than not. Where would I go? What would I see? Where would I stay? What gear should I carry? Would I be safe?

I spent too much time thinking about these things and soon enough, the time for action arrived. I wanted to do the ride on my own bike on the trip, so I shipped my own Harley-Davidson to New York and set out on a remarkable journey of discovery.

My ride took me on a seemingly bizarre route through 27 states and included such iconic places as Yellowstone, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, New England, the Great Lakes, the Rocky Mountains, Yosemite, Death Valley and many more. I didn’t book any accommodation in advance. Finding a place to stay for the night was much easier than I thought as there are motels, B&B’s and cheap hotels everywhere. Wherever I stopped, I enjoyed talking to the locals. America is amazingly diverse, with so many things to see and people to meet. Almost everywhere I went, people greeted me warmly and wanted to hear my story about travelling across their country. They were genuinely interested in understanding what an outsider thought about where they lived.

Gary at the 10,000 mile point of the trip, in the Wasatch National Forest, Utah

I got to ride some of America’s most stunning roads. The Million Dollar Highway in near Ouray in Colorado is spectacular, but the Beartooth Pass, on the border of Wyoming and Montana, is just breathtaking. I also took my Harley-Davidson to the top of the highest road in America, at Mount Evans on the outskirts of Denver. Like most bikers, I like to stay away from long straight roads and seek out those that twist and turn, and inevitably this meant I spend a great deal of time in the Rocky Mountain states. The map of the route that I took certainly bears this out and explains why I was able to ride over 21,000 miles crossing a country that is a little over 3,000 miles at its widest point. My route bizarrely snakes through the western half of the country as I sought out the most wonderful roads in the mountains.

Garys USA Road Trip Map

I am sometimes asked what are the most memorable places I saw. There were so many, but Monument Valley, with its rock buttes sticking out of the red sandy ground was very impressive and being at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with half-a-million bikers was a blast.

Monument Valley 4, Arizona

Main Street, Sturgis, South Dakota

My Road King proved to be an ideal motorcycle for the trip and other than needing the normal servicing and replacement tyres, performed exceptionally well. Before leaving London, I had the bike repainted with portraits of 1940’s and 1950’s actresses and the motorcycle became known as ‘The Leading Ladies’. After riding the motorcycle on such a memorable journey, I will never be able to part with it. Here is the bike in Monument Valley....

Monument Valley 1, Arizona

Having ridden 21,475 miles in the USA, I was struck by a few things. I had no idea that America is so beautiful, with so many great places to see. I rode over high mountains and across deserts. I went to big vibrant cities and tiny towns. At one point I saw almost no cars in 78 miles of riding and at another, I saw 78 cars on the road in one second. I saw extraordinary wealth and extreme poverty. I saw old things that should be cherished and I saw brand new things to marvel at. At times I was boiling hot and at others I was freezing cold. What an amazingly diverse country the USA.

I would like to thank America. All of it and all of its people. As a nation you have some extraordinary qualities and Americans are a very special people. I was touched by your generosity, politeness and overwhelming friendship. Just about everywhere I went, bikers greeted me like a brother. We shared road stories and a few beers and it seems bikers are almost the same the world over, going out of their way to help a fellow motorcyclist.

I was so impressed by America and the people I met, I wanted to record the journey in some way and a book seemed the obvious answer. Having now written that book, ‘France In America’, I can only hope I did justice to a wonderful country. That book has now been published and is available at my website (address beneath my signature).

Here is a small selection of other pictures from the trip....

Steaming Blue Hole, Yellowstone....

Yellowstone National Park 3, Wyoming

What a road – Skyline Drive, Colorado....


I had just ridden this gravel road, Moki Dugway, Utah....

Road at Moki Dugway, Utah

Rear view mirror, Monument Valley, Arizona....

Monument Valley 5, Arizona

The town of Deadwood, South Dakota....


Bryce Canyon, Utah....

Bryce Canyon 2, Utah

Big Sur coast, California....

Big Sur coast, California

My bike outside the Harley-Davidson Cafe, Las Vegas ....

Harley-Davidson Cafe, Las Vegas, Nevada

Riding in the Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado....

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Needles Highway, Black Hills, South Dakota....

Needles Highway in the Black Hills, South Dakota

Hollywood, California....

Hollywood sign, California

A bison drinking from a lke, Yellowstone....

Bison drinking from lake in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Antelope Slot Canyon, Arizona....

Antelope slot canyon, Arizona

Finally, the bright lights of Times Square, New York City....

Times Square, New York

Gary France

Gary France screwed with this post 03-07-2013 at 10:44 PM
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