I went for a ride in America and ended up doing 21,475 miles in 4 months.

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Gary France, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. Gary France

    Gary France Rider and Writer

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    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.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8533831650/" title="Gary at the 10,000 mile point of the trip, in the Wasatch National Forest, Utah by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8102/8533831650_d57b0d1dec.jpg" width="500" height="280" alt="Gary at the 10,000 mile point of the trip, in the Wasatch National Forest, Utah"></a>

    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.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8532793555/" title="Garys USA Road Trip Map by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8097/8532793555_f6faccd839.jpg" width="500" height="303" alt="Garys USA Road Trip Map"></a>

    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.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8533806460/" title="Monument Valley 4, Arizona by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8387/8533806460_4ca32ce9f0.jpg" width="500" height="334" alt="Monument Valley 4, Arizona"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8532703473/" title="Main Street, Sturgis, South Dakota by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8251/8532703473_e7468f40a5.jpg" width="500" height="334" alt="Main Street, Sturgis, South Dakota"></a>

    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....

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8532702087/" title="Monument Valley 1, Arizona by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8247/8532702087_fe0b773076.jpg" width="500" height="334" alt="Monument Valley 1, Arizona"></a>

    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....

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8532667973/" title="Yellowstone National Park 3, Wyoming by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8245/8532667973_7a5752bbe8.jpg" width="500" height="330" alt="Yellowstone National Park 3, Wyoming"></a>

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

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8533788304/" title=". by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8247/8533788304_26bb539ba1.jpg" width="500" height="375" alt="."></a>

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

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8532682597/" title="Road at Moki Dugway, Utah by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8365/8532682597_66e684c9c3.jpg" width="500" height="334" alt="Road at Moki Dugway, Utah"></a>

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

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8533805674/" title="Monument Valley 5, Arizona by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8252/8533805674_2bd3517b6d.jpg" width="500" height="308" alt="Monument Valley 5, Arizona"></a>

    The town of Deadwood, South Dakota....

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8532734563/" title=". by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8377/8532734563_66ab4bca17.jpg" width="500" height="306" alt="."></a>

    Bryce Canyon, Utah....

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8533853840/" title="Bryce Canyon 2, Utah by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8522/8533853840_b160086f8d.jpg" width="500" height="334" alt="Bryce Canyon 2, Utah"></a>

    Big Sur coast, California....

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8532753693/" title="Big Sur coast, California by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8532/8532753693_0b8e7a83e4.jpg" width="500" height="334" alt="Big Sur coast, California"></a>

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

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8532713633/" title="Harley-Davidson Cafe, Las Vegas, Nevada by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8387/8532713633_e3db2745fe.jpg" width="334" height="500" alt="Harley-Davidson Cafe, Las Vegas, Nevada"></a>

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

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8532680159/" title="Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8230/8532680159_8191090683.jpg" width="315" height="500" alt="Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado"></a>

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

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8533802388/" title="Needles Highway in the Black Hills, South Dakota by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8381/8533802388_04eb6143a1.jpg" width="357" height="500" alt="Needles Highway in the Black Hills, South Dakota"></a>

    Hollywood, California....

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8532706143/" title="Hollywood sign, California by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8529/8532706143_52bb74a0fb.jpg" width="309" height="500" alt="Hollywood sign, California"></a>

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

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8533856932/" title="Bison drinking from lake in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8227/8533856932_388c57d659.jpg" width="334" height="500" alt="Bison drinking from lake in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming"></a>

    Antelope Slot Canyon, Arizona....

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8533871912/" title="Antelope slot canyon, Arizona by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8087/8533871912_5f2a149e4c.jpg" width="334" height="500" alt="Antelope slot canyon, Arizona"></a>

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

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8532673847/" title="Times Square, New York by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8109/8532673847_f6460a2c8d.jpg" width="500" height="357" alt="Times Square, New York"></a>

    Gary France
    www.garysfrance.com/motorcycle-touring/21000-miles-in-the-usa-motorcycle-tour
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Sounds like a great trip... hope you can fix your photo links. You need to "hotlink" your images from a photo hosting site.
    #2
  3. rgon

    rgon explore cordilleras

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    hoorray! i like the introduction. i am eager to see those photographs. :clap
    #3
  4. scbison

    scbison Adventurer

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    Flickr no longer allows for linking to the photo. You need to click on "share" and then on "grab the HTML" Copy and paste that entire section into your post. Great photo's btw!

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyfrance/8532662001/" title="Zion National Park, Utah by Gary France, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8102/8532662001_3eb34a5f9f.jpg" width="500" height="334" alt="Zion National Park, Utah"></a>
    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Just click Edit and fix it that way.
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  6. Gary France

    Gary France Rider and Writer

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    Thanks GB but it isn't that easy. My original post is no longer there, so I cannot edit it.
    #6
  7. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    As a noob, every time you edit your post, your posts are moderated and have to be approved.. this is to keep spammers out.
    #7
  8. Slatz

    Slatz m00b

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    Looking good now Gary, can't wait to see the rest of the report.
    #8
  9. RudyS2MT

    RudyS2MT Rudy in MT

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    Helena, MT; mountains and dirt roads all around...
    We're not afraid! Bring on your trek!!


    (looks like you found the Beartooth Highway NE of Yellowstone. A world class ride!!!_)

    thanks for sharing your adventure!




    Rudy in Montana
    #9
  10. poolman

    poolman Gnarly Poolside Adv.

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    Gary,

    Looks like an amazing trip! Thanks for posting.
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  11. jmcg

    jmcg Turpinated..

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    Awesome journey.

    Great pics.

    Thanks,

    JM.
    #11
  12. BlackBeast

    BlackBeast Been here awhile

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    Pics are amazing.:clap
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  13. Gary France

    Gary France Rider and Writer

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    Thanks for your comments.

    The question I am most often asked about the trip is "was was your favorite area?" That is relatively easy as northern Arizona and southern Utah has so many fantastic places to see and ride, it has to come out top of my list.

    How could you not love this area, with the charming Sedona, the best parts of route 66 near Seligman, the awesome Grand Canyon, beautiful Monument Valley, stunning Bryce Canyon, the wonderful Arches National Park, huge Canyonlands and the impressive Zion National Park all nearby? All of these places are just a few hundred miles apart - a must for any biker wanting to explore some of the best America has to offer. Include in there one of my favorite gravel roads, Moki Dugway, and it is a wonderful area to ride.
    #13
  14. betitou

    betitou Thumperized!

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    What an amazing intro!!!!!!
    I was so delighted reading it, and staring at your amazing pictures... :eek1

    Keep on posting!!! :lurk
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  15. betitou

    betitou Thumperized!

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    BTW, thank YOU, thanks for sharing! :thumb
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  16. Aidan1150

    Aidan1150 Call Me The Breeze

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    I found the same to be the case when I rode coast to coast in 2010 Gary. Like you I wandered around some, covering 6500 miles in four weeks. It is an amazing country populated by great people. :1drink
    #16
  17. Spirit_Rider

    Spirit_Rider Been here awhile

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    The book looks good but have you thought of a ebook version?
    #17
  18. Gary France

    Gary France Rider and Writer

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    Aidan1150 - I reckon you were therefore doing about 230 miles a day average, which is slightly more than me. I found daily mileages to be a balance between wanting to keep riding and wanting to stop and take pictures / meet people / see things. Mainly sticking to back roads, I found it difficult to get any more than about 200 miles a day in. Sure, I could have done more, but that would have been at the risk of failing to see what America is really like. 6500 miles in 4 weeks sounds about right to me!
    #18
  19. Gary France

    Gary France Rider and Writer

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    Spirit rider - I am looking at that very thing at the moment. I am old-fashioned when it comes to books in that I like to hold a real book and turn its pages. I totally accept there are people that like ebooks but I wonder how well mine will work, with some many pictures? I previously thought ebooks were mainly for text, but I imagine things have moved on now.
    #19
  20. Gary France

    Gary France Rider and Writer

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    Just thought some may be interested - A short while ago, I launched my book about this amazing ride. Full colour, crammed full of pictures, includes maps of the route I took, organised state-by-state, and coffee table sized, this 400-page book will appeal to many thinking of doing the same sort of trip.

    Click on the link beneath my signature for details.
    #20