Monday, 29 March 2010

A Harley in Summer

Re-reading my last post about renting an Electraglide reminded me that we (SWMBO & I) have rented one before.

It was a few years ago in the middle of August when we were visiting Las Vegas. We rented the Electraglide for a couple of days during a trip there, from EagleRider I think? Whatever.

Now, when riding in the UK, even on the hottest day there has ever been, you know that once you get moving, with a bit of a breeze in the face, you will be comfortably cool. That's not the case in Vegas in August.

We turned up to pick the bike up, and being ATGATT (all the gear all the time) type riders, we asked about borrowing leather jackets. Well the guy at the rental place looked at us like we were from another planet (which in a sense we were, I guess), and pointed to the rack of gear, which was so full it was clear none of his other punters that day had availed themselves of that service. He muttered something about it being far too hot for jackets, but, if we wanted.......

He was right of course. Even the obligatory crash helmets proved to be almost too much, and soon after we set off we were in t-shirts & jeans, with nothing more than sun-screen for protection. Not much good for gravel rash, I wouldn't think - thankfully we never had to find out.

So we picked up the bike, along with another guy who was from NYC, and asked about a good route that we could take. The guy in the shop advised use to travel out of Vegas, and head for the Hoover Dam, over that into Arizona, and carry on until we got to mile marker 14. "Once there, look for a small road on your right", he said. "That will take you down to the [Colorado] river. When you get there, take off you helmets, watches and shoes and jump right in."

The 3 of us set off, went over the dam, and sure enough, found this small twisty road at mile marker 14 that took us down to the river. It is technically a river at that point, but it is so wide it looks more like a lake! And we did just as he said (except I left my trainers on - you never know what's on a river bed to stick in your foot!). It was bliss. We cooled of in that river, must have been for 30 minutes, and didn't want to get out.

Eventually we decided it was time to get out, and we got back on the bike dripping wet, and set off back the way we had come. I can say, with no word of a lie, that by the time we reached the Hoover Dam again, 14 miles later, we were bone dry, it was that hot. Going over the dam, the traffic was slow, it was the middle of the day, and so, so hot. SWMBO was starting to overheat, I was scared that she was getting heat stroke (I've never seen a redder face!), so we stopped at a place called Boulder City, where the guy from NYC bought her a root beer (yuk!), and then carried on his own way. Instead we found a nice air-conditioned cafe and had a couple cold, cold Buds, before heading back to Vegas.

We went back out on the bike later that evening and cruised up and down the Strip, and went to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and posed there for a bit. But I had learnt my lesson - August is not the time to be riding through the desert on a bike - which is why I'm going in May!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Thoughts on the bike

Recently Gillian (aka SWMBO), and I were talking about the sort of bike I should use for this trip. I mentioned earlier that, ideally, I'd like to take my own over, but  it won't be cost effective for a 3 week trip. So I am going to rent.

Given the above, for this trip it seems to me that a Harley is ideally suited. I've owned a couple in the past; a 1200 Sportster, and a Dynaglide Convertable (FXDSCONV for the Harley buffs amongst you). But I'm not in the market to own another right now. However, the thought of renting one for a few weeks riding through the USA seems right to me.

So, as I was saying Gillian and I were looking at EagleRider's website the other day looking at what's available. There is plenty of choice there, and suprisingly, all of them are the same price to rent, except the 883 Sporty, so cost is not a factor.

Gillian's always liked the looks of a Heritage Softail - all leather and studs and tassles.

I agree they look good in a retro kind of way, and would be great for posing on. But am less convinced of their touring pedigree - those panniers look less than water-tight, and probably don't hold much stuff either. And as for the Softail suspension, well, I'm not convinced.

No, I'm going touring, and whatever I choose has to transport me, and whatever I decide to take with me, over 3000 miles and 3 weeks. It's got to have plenty of luggage space, provide a good comfy ride and protection from wind and rain. In the Harley range, there is only one choice as far as I can see. It's got to be an ElectraGlide.

Its fairings and screen will provide protection against the elements (well OK, not the Sun, granted). Its big comfy seat and soft suspension will give a pleasant ride, and with the large hard-shelled panniers and top-box (oops, sorry, Tourpack, in Harley speak), there should be plenty of room for everything I need to have with me. So yes, decision made, a Harley Davidson Electraglide will be the bike I take across America.