Friday, 25 February 2011

The Leading Ladies are back!

I had a message earlier this week that my bike, the Leading ladies, after spending 5 or 6 weeks at sea, was about to arrive back in the UK.

It had been raining all week and I wasn’t looking forward to collecting the bike in the rain. However, the weather played ball and I awoke on Thursday morning to a gloriously sunny day – one of the few so far this year.

I was dropped off at the shipping agents yard near Heathrow and a few minutes later my bike was bought outside, still in its crate. I had told the shippers that I wanted to take some pictures of the bike being un-crated and they had duly obliged, with Jim and Steve being ready to take the crate apart. Evidently, the office had told the guys I was going to take some pictures, as they were adorned in some silly hats, ready to be photographed. I did have to laugh!

The crate was very substantial and was bespoke made to fit the bike. The top came off first, having been held by many screws.... There was my bike.....


Next, the sides came off and Jim and Steve posed by the partially dismantled crate....




Finally the structure of the crate was dismantled and after re-fixing the windshield and putting the mirrors back the right way around, I hit the starter button and the bike fired into life, as reliable as ever...


The paperwork was swiftly dealt with and just a short time later I climbed on the bike and rode of down the road. The great feeling of riding that bike came back to me in an instant and it felt really good to lean the bike into corners once more and to use the full power range. I forgot I had left the bike with almost no fuel in the tank, so I hastily had to find a petrol station to refill her.

As I neared my house, Jackie had heard me approach and threw open the front door to snap a picture of the Leading Ladies returning....

Can you tell I was pleased to have the bike back?.......

The Leading Ladies are now in for some special attention. First, the bike is going to have a deep clean to remove the inevitable grime that builds up during a 21,000 mile ride and then it’s off to Warrs, the London based Harley-Davidson dealer for a full check over.

What a great bike! Welcome Home!!!!

26 comments:

SonjaM said...

What an odyssey. Glad to see the Leading Ladies are finally back home safe and sound. I bet you couldn't stop smiling on your way back home. Welcome home, Ladies!

steve.collins said...

Hoooray... Home at last and with fine weather, couldn't have been better!

Mr. Motorcycle said...

I'm glad you got your Baby (Babes) back!

FLHX_Dave said...

Welcome home ladies! (They loved the U.S. so much they tried to stay.) You have more patience than I possess. I would have been pissed off beyond reason. Glad your girl is back home.

bobskoot said...

Gary:

You look sooo happy similing under your helmet. The Leading Ladies are smiling too. Even the sun came out to welcome you back

bob
Wet Coast Scootin

Chris Luhman said...

Congrats on getting your bike back Gary! Lucky to get such a nice sunny day to ride around on as well!

-Chris @ everydayriding.org - year round riding

motoroz said...

Good to hear you have been reunited. Also, good to see that there was no mishaps or damage. Enjoy your ride.

Arkansas Patti said...

Finally. I agree with Dave. You showed remarkable patience with bureaucratic nonsense.
Safe and sound and back on the road. All is well again.

Donna aka Froggi said...

Welcome home to the Leading Ladies...hate that it took so long for you to get the bike back, Gary. Enjoy the riding....and please keep blogging, no matter where you are or what you are doing!!

Canajun said...

And a big Welcome Home to the Ladies.

I have to say that was some crate! If the ship sank there was enough wood in it to float the Ladies back home.

Geoff James said...

Great stuff Gary! Good to see you reunited at long last and delighted that the weather played ball.

Beck said...

Congratulations to you and your Ladies! You look like you are just bursting with joy! Glad it was a wonderful day for your ride home. Hope you have many more days like this to ride her. Looking forward to the posts. Take care and stay safe

BeemerGirl said...

Yaahooo!!! I'm smiling for you!! I'm so happy to see she is safely back in the stable!

-Lori

George F said...

Finally, I'm glad the "baby" is back where it belongs, I see the smile :-) now I want to see the ladies tour Europe ;-)

Lady Ridesalot said...

I was just wondering... did you ever check your mileage? I'm sure the Ladies would tell you, but I'd be curious to see if they had the good fortune to tour more of our USA... without you!

Glad she's back where, and with whom, she belongs. Congratulations on your reunion!

bluekat said...

Now things are as the should be! I'm glad the Leading Ladies are back home.

Charlie6 said...

Outstanding news!

dom


Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Redleg's Rides

Doug said...

Ha! Love smile on your face as your rode in your driveway. Very perceptive of your dear wife to capture the moment.

Gary France said...

Sonja – You are right, as I do remember smiling a lot.

Steve – I couldn’t believe the sun came out for the occasion!

Mr M – The babes are back in town!

Dave – Sometimes I am patient, but my wife says I am not most of the time!

Bob – I didn’t realise I was smiling that much until I saw the picture!

Gary France said...

Chris – Since then, the rain has returned....

Oz – The bike had some saw-dust on it where they had built the crate around it, but that was all. I had half expected some wear and tear as it had been on a ship for 5 or 6 weeks, but there was none at all.

Patti – Some days I was steaming inside, but overall I could see there was nothing I could do to get the bike back earlier so why worry? Actually my motto is “Illegitimi non carborundum”, so I kept to what that means.

Donna – Thanks and don’t worry, I will keep blogging.

Canajun – I too was impressed with the crate. The shippers in LA told methey ship about 40 bikes a week, so they know what they are doing when it comes to building crates for bikes.

Gary France said...

Geoff – Reunited yes. I have my ladies back and I was pleased to see them all.

Beck – Thanks. I was happy to get them back! I am planning 3 long rides on the Leading Ladies this year. Nowhere as near as I did in the US, but a long way all the same.

Beemer / Lori – Yaahooo indeed! Like me, all 10 of the ladies seemed to be smiling when I rode back to home.

George – Tour Europe? Yes! I have three trips across Europe planned for this year! To St Tropez in Southern France, to Croatia way out east and to southern Spain. There will be a few more miles clocked up on the Leading Ladies this year.

Lady R – I did check it and the mileage was exactly as I when I left the bike in LA, so there was no extra-curricular marriage activity for them!

Gary France said...

bluekat – Yes, all as they should be – just like you and Natasha!

Charlie6 / Dom – I agree!

Doug – I agree, very perceptive indeed. Apparently she heard the bike when it was still some way away!

Chuck Pefley said...

Wow! That was some crate made for the Ladies. Glad to hear she is home from her cruise -:)

cpa3485 said...

Max wanted me to tell you that he is very glad the ladies finally made it home safe and sound. Max is sorry they had to be cooped up and crated for so long because he knows how much they like to get out and run.
It's great to hear they are back home safe and sound.
Jim

Eve said...

OH horray!! How did I miss this post Gary?!!! It's great to see you back on TLL!! Fantastic! I haven't forgotten my challenge...time is running low! hahaha! I just want the photo to be perfect!! Looking forward to more posts on your riding adventures!

Gary France said...

Chuck – I agree, it was quite something. It is great to have the bike back. It has now been thoroughly cleaned to get 21 thousand miles of grime off and I am sure I saw the ladies smiling more now are clean once more!

Jim – I am very grateful that Max was so caring. I hope you are feeling better.

Eve – Each time I visit your blog to read your posts I look to see if you have managed to get your bike in your header picture. I have three trips planned across Europe for this year, so you will get to read more about my riding adventures this year.