Tag Archives: Harley Davidson

Ride To The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Well here I am at one of the Great Wonders of the World – and wow, what a wonder it is! My whole life, I’ve wanted to see Arizona’s Grand Canyon but nothing prepared me for just how beautiful – and how BIG! – it really is.

The ride up from Flagstaff was in itself an experience. I took the long way round – historic Route 66, then up Interstate 89 to Cameron, then westwards on the I-64, along Desert View Road, approaching the canyon from the east. At first the land was volcanic, with the San Francisco Peaks, still capped with snow, visible in the wing mirror for miles. Then the landscape turned to arid reddish-brown desert – it really reminded me of Namibia and immediately called to mind my journeys to the Fish River Canyon, which is second in size only to the Grand Canyon.

Look what I borrowed! :)

Look what I borrowed!

Oh and when I say “ride”, as luck would have it, on arriving in Flagstaff, I got chatting to a lovely guy who, it turned out, had a lovely bronze-coloured Honda Rebel gathering dust in the garage. Hearing about my plans to head for the Canyon, he immediately suggested I take the bike. It was an offer too good to resist and so, alongside all the ubiquitous Harley Davidson riders plying Route 66, here I am on a small-but-perfectly-formed Honda Rebel, tearing up the landscape with the best of ’em! 🙂

The first views of the mighty Canyon from the Desert View lookouts were absolutely breathtaking. I have to admit, a shed a little tear: I could barely believe I was here after so long dreaming about coming one day. The vast expanses of deep red, brown, cream and pale green rock, the intricately-chiselled cliff edges, and the sheer drops down the side of the canyon (it’s a mile deep!) left me breathless with wonder. At certain points I could see the rapids of the Colorado River gushing through the canyon far below, while up above condors circled and swooped, surveying the massive gash in the earth underneath them. I’ve seen many natural wonders in the world, but this has to be one of the most awe-inspiring, truly.

Contemplating the scenery...

Contemplating the Canyon…

I’ve been here a few days now, staying in a lodge (Yavapai) buried deep in sweet-smelling pine forest. I’ve hiked many different trails, breathless in the searing heat (101ºF) and altitude (7,000ft). And anywhere I could ride to enjoy yet another vista, believe me, I’ve ridden there!

I leave tomorrow with a happy heart – and some brilliant photos. And more adventures await! Next I’m off to the Overland Expo just south of Flagstaff (via the scenic route, of course!) to mingle with the great and good of the adventure motorcycle and 4×4 overlanding world. Before then, I’ve got a bit more riding to do… 🙂

Advertisements

Aussie Motorcycle Expo 2012

Volty at the front of the pack! (front, left) at the Australian Motorcycle Expo 2012

Well here I am at the Australian Motorcycle Expo in Melbourne. I’ve just rolled up on Volty to find an array of KTMs, BMWs, Harley Davidsons and other generally very large flash motorbikes parked outside. It’s ok – a couple of Harley blokes give me an appreciative nod as I park up my modest 250cc retro-style Suzuki, throw the side stand down, and try not to notice that the bike next to me (a BMW GS 1200 laden with Touratech luggage) utterly dwarfs my own ride!

Love the Bonnie – but purple paintwork?

Inside, the place is absolutely heaving. I make a beeline for my favourite marques – Triumph, Royal Enfield and Moto Guzzi. There’s a Bonneville T100, gleaming and beautiful –  though I can’t decide if the metallic purple paintwork is stylish or just a bit tacky. There’s a sturdy old Enfield C5, army green, beautiful design – and I have a pang of wishing our UNICEF India trip hadn’t been cancelled earlier this year: how I would love to ride one of those Enfields.

Moto Guzzi V7 – the object of my affection (till I saw the price tag!)

But all bets are off when I hit the Moto Guzzi stand – there’s a gorgeous red and white V7 Special, shiny and new, right there on display. I can’t resist and throw a leg over: aw, the seat’s so incredibly comfortable, the handlebars and footpegs just the right height…

I hop off before an over-eager salesperson swoops to get me talking about putting down a deposit (I wish!). That’s the trouble with these expos – too many temptations!

Volty – my pride and joy

After a couple of hours’ ogling, I’m all motorbiked out. Volty‘s sitting in the sunshine outside, metallic bronze paintwork gleaming, chrome all glinting…reminding me that I already have a perfectly decent ride! A quick burst on the throttle and we’re off – skimming through the city streets of Melbourne, taking some well-practised shortcuts, dodging the traffic, beating the lights, then heading out along the coast road. It’s a beautiful day for a ride: the sun is warm and Volty’s humming.

Who needs a Guzzi when I’ve got my Suzuki?

Love my bike. 🙂

Solo But Never Alone

More fuel? Yes, please!

It’s been a little while since my last post – sorry, guys! After getting my new wheels at the beginning of August, I’ve been out riding every spare moment and revelling in my re-discovered freedom. Volty and I have clocked up over 1,000kms this past month, exploring coastal Victoria from the gorgeous wine valleys and beachside villages of the Mornington Peninsula to my favourite local ride, the scenic and wonderfully twisty Great Ocean Road.

The novelty of owning a brand new bike really hasn’t worn off. I know it sounds silly, but my Suzuki TU250X is the first thing I’ve owned since my beloved 1973 VW Beetle (back in London over 10 years ago!) that I’m really rather proud of. And just as happened when I owned the Vee-Dub, everywhere I go on Volty I seem to make friends.

Neighbours who previously never acknowledged me now give me a friendly nod or wave when they see me donning my helmet and gloves as Volty’s engine warms up in the communal garage. At roadside cafés or petrol stations, total strangers come over to chat, admiring the Suzuki’s classic retro-style look or telling me they wish they were on two wheels on “a lovely day like this”. At traffic lights, car drivers wind down their windows to chat to me as we wait for green – and yes, it turns out there are some bike-friendly motorists! (probably closet motorcycle riders…)

“Arty” shot of Volty’s front wheel in the sunshine

On the road, the “biker’s nod” from other motorcyclists still gives me a little boost every time it happens. By getting back on a motorbike, I’ve re-gained my automatic membership to a very special secret society: It doesn’t matter what you ride, it just matters that you ride. I like that. Today, about 20 balaclava-ed Harley riders on bikes five times the size of mine nodded and tooted and thumbs-upped to me, one after the other – quite a sight, I can tell you! As they roared off down the coast in the opposite direction, I gave Volty a quick burst on the throttle for good measure, buoyed up all over again.

By its very nature, motorcycling is a solitary activity – but it’s just about the most sociable thing I’ve ever done in my life.

This sunny Sunday morning, I stopped off at the Sandown Racecourse to say hi to my old Ridetek riding instructors, Mel and Al. Two years ago, they saw me through my heady days as a wobbly scooter rider right through to passing my test on a 250cc motorbike. As we stood talking in the warm sunshine, admiring Volty’s sparkling chrome and gleaming bronze paintwork, I thanked the guys yet again for putting me on a road that now gives me so much happiness and enjoyment.

Before I became a motorcycle rider, I didn’t know what I was missing – but now, I wouldn’t be without it for the world. 

Oh and to any non-riders reading this, wondering what on earth I’m talking about but thinking it sounds damn good – go get yourself a motorbike licence: it will change your life! 🙂