Sunday, 11 July 2010

Good Decision, Sweetheart!

I arrived back in New York City (NYC) a couple of nights ago to meet my wife, Jackie.

This is my lovely wife (and me)....

It had been a few weeks since she had dropped me at Heathrow Airport when I flew to the US, so it was fantastic to see her again. We had dinner in New York, intending that we begin to travel north together the next day. However, there was to be a problem....

I should have thought more about this beforehand and it was totally my fault. As you can imagine, I have packed for a 4+ month tour and that means I am using both saddlebags on my bike along with bike luggage which is strapped to the rack on the back of my bike. Collectively, the items I have with me weigh quite a lot especially as these include tools, cameras, clothes and everything else that I will need for 4+ months. Well, Jackie is tiny and I hadn’t given it much thought, but with all of my gear, Jackie and her gear, the bike was a struggle to control as we set out north. It just didn’t feel too safe as we travelled the first 10 miles and I realised the bike was overloaded, but I pressed on, reluctant to admit to myself that I had made a big mistake.

Very soon Jackie asked me to pull over and she told me that she was worried as she could feel how tense I was as I struggled with the bike.

Why is it that women are much more sensible than us men? I was (stupidly) prepared to carry on but Jackie (the wise one) made the decision that we should not. She was right – Good Decision, Sweetheart!

Deep down, I knew she was right so the bike was turned around and we returned to the hotel we had just checked out of. We agreed we couldn’t discard much to lighten the load so we made a plan that we would meet up again later on the tour where we could base ourselves in one location and ride out on one or two day trips without as much to carry. This was much more sensible and we chose Flagstaff to do this from, as there are many places we can get to easily in one or two days and we would not need to carry everything with us.

So, I stayed in NYC another day and this morning, Saturday, set out on my own with Jackie about to travel to Seattle to see her family. Jackie is a US citizen and most of her family are in the Pacific North West. So, in a sad mood, I left NYC.

My mood didn’t do anything to help me enjoy the ride out of NYC. I have to say the roads in the city are pretty awful, with shocking surfaces, huge bumps, large holes, 3” thick steel plates sticking up and lots of other obstacles that you need to avoid and sometimes hit. Ouch! I did a fair bit of swearing as I rode and it seems to me when riding in NYC you spend....

25% of your time looking out for bad drivers (especially the taxi drivers – which ever planet they are from, they sure don’t have good driving education)
25% of your time looking at the poor quality roads
25% of your time looking at the sights and the people
25% of your time looking at which way to go
25% of your time trying to work out how to get around the never ending road construction works

Yes, I know that adds up to 125% of your time – that is why you get so stressed riding a motorbike in NYC and probably the reason why you don’t see many bikes there!

NYC? Carrie Fisher is welcome to it.... !

So I got out of Dodge by crossing the river to New Jersey, the 7th state I have ridden in on this tour so far and I am very glad that I did because I found this house for sale....

I suspect you might be wondering what is so special about this house. The reason is, whoever buys this house will have these views every day....


My journey into New Jersey was very brief as I re-entered New York to go see what Yonkers was about. It is a place with a silly name, but one that is well known, so I went and had a look what was there. Hmmmm. Let’s be positive and call it vibrant and multi-cultural, perhaps the best things I can say about the place. I wish I hadn’t bothered. Now I wanted to leave the city as I was pretty fed up with it. I longed for some open roads where I could achieve more than 10 mph riding on surfaces so rough that I imagine them having off-road aspirations.

Sometime later, I reached the tranquillity of Tarrytown which is like satin sheets compared to the harshness of NYC. Tarrytown was green, peaceful and a wonderful haven that eased my stress levels back to something bearable.

I carried on to Bear Mountain on the west bank of the Hudson River and decided to ride up it. If you ever get the chance to go up Bear Mountain then you should. Not because it is high and not because the views are spectacular, but because there are twisty roads!!! These bought the smile back to my face in a hurry!

The view from the very top is ok, but even better from a small viewing area overlooking the Bear Mountain Bridge.....

The next place I stopped at today was called Cold Spring. The main street through the town (village?) is tree-lined and slopes down towards the Hudson River and due to the towns galleries, antique shops and cafes would be a terrific place to walk and browse. This is the main road and one of the typical antique shops....

Down by the river there was a wedding party and I couldn’t resist snapping a picture....

I was in two minds about visiting the final place on my list for today – Orange County Choppers, or OCC as they are more commonly known. I had enjoyed watching the early series’ of “American Chopper” as tv programmes about motorbikes are rare. The early programmes looking at the relationship between Paul Senior and Paul Junior whilst building bikes was fascinating, but it began to wear a little thin when they became dickheads and the business obviously got in the way of what should be a good relationships between father and son. Their ridiculous recent tantrums was what made me unsure about going to see OCC, but I decided to anyway and just not buy anything – why should I line the pockets of these idiots?

Seeing the bikes was cool and the build quality was better than I had expected. Like many others there I walked around taking a few photos that I am happy to share with you......

Due to the sad morning I had leaving my lovely wife behind, this was the worst day of my tour so far. Kz. G.


Jackie Blue 999 said...

In response to "Good Decision, Sweetheart" ....

Saturday, 10th July 2010 was to be the beginning of an exciting 10 day tour with my Hubby, Gary. Needless to say, it didn't work out to be anything close to what either of us wanted. Our trip together had to be cancelled due to the complications of weight on the bike and the instability that it rendered.

So, we headed out on the morning of the 10th, as planned. Our journey had began but, within a few minutes I "just knew" something wasn't right. If we allow it to happen and if we will listen to it, we all have this magical little sixth sense that tells us when an imminent danger is ahead. I could "feel it" all through my body, I was in tune with the intense feeling of stress that Gary was experiencing, which further confirmed to me that something wasn't right. I tried to dismiss these feelings, thinking that I was just being silly - worrying for nothing. My Hubby is an extremely competent motorcycle rider and I knew he would never do anything to compromise our safety.

So we carried on, without me saying anything to him about how I was feeling. Then.... Gary made a comment about needing to check the air pressure in the tires and the need to take a look at the suspension. He very clearly had concerns about whether or not the bike could handle such a heavy load. It was at this point that I asked him to take me back to the hotel, saying that it wasn't going to work.

We carried on for a bit further, until we could find somewhere safe to pull over... which we did. After a few minutes of talking about the situation, we both realized in our heart-of-hearts that our intended tour together was simply too dangerous to carry on any further. As hard as it was to make this choice, we both knew it was the right thing to do. So, with sad hearts and tears in my eyes... our tour had ended before it even had a chance to get started.

My Hubby hailed a New York Taxi and we then proceeded to put my things into the boot (trunk) of the car. With a hug and a kiss, we went our separate ways... me in the back of a New York City Taxi and Gary on his Harley.

We met back at the hotel a bit later, where we had stayed the night before. We decided it would be really nice for Gary to stay the rest of the day and that night in NYC, with a plan for him to leave the next morning.

Morning came and away went my Hubby to carry on with his tour. As he rode away, we waived good-bye to one another until he was out of sight. I found it incredibly difficult to keep a smile on my face through the tears that were streaming down my cheeks.

If I could say anything positive about this experience, it is that this should be a good lesson to those of you who may be considering going on a motorbike tour together. You must stay focused on the weight you will be carrying, the balancing of that weight and how that impacts the handling and the "wear and tear" on the bike.

So, in closing.... Thank you my Hubby for being the man you are. You mean the world to me!.!.!
Please travel safe as you continue on your journey - a Harley Tour of the USA.

Next time, we just need to plan a bit better. hehehe :-) Kz, J xoxo

Radar said...


So sorry to hear that the plans had to change - how disappointing it must be for you both. It sounds like a perfectly good reason to buy a pull-behind trailer...

Axel said...

Gary, you could at least have bought the house with the fantastic view for your wife to wait for you there ... :)
Some dozen years ago I saw a similar "normal" house for sale, with a double fantastic view at Watson Bay in Syndney, from the front a view of the pacific, and from the back room all the way down the bay to Sydney Bridge and the iconic Opera House. Its like with a Harley - you pay for the view.
I am sure you will arrange fine days together at a later stage of the trip, and thanks for the pictures from OCC - never been there, but seems familiar due to TV series.
Have a safe ride

Farmer Jim said...

Knowing how much $#&% my friend loads up on his Ultra I'm sure you would have been fine. It's not uncommon for him to over pack the saddlebags and tour pack, load up the T-P rack, and pack his 4'x6' trailer to the gills (nor he or his wife have learned how to travel light).

It's also normal for a loaded down bike to handle a little differently. When you pack down the back end with weight and it compresses the rear suspension, it's similar to raking out the front end a little. Steering will be slower, the bike won't feel as steady at slow speeds, etc.

All in all though I think you made the right choice. No sense in pressing on of you're uncomfortable or uncertain about things as that's what leads to accidents.

SonjaM said...

Gary, it seems that you are a very lucky man to have such an understanding wife. A bittersweet goodbye with hopefully many reunions on the road. Safe travels to both of you.

mq01 said...

goosebumps! i feel the love. im sorry you had to cut the trip together short. but yes i can imagine now the weight of luggage you are carrying for a 4 month tour and can imagine exceeding capacity. :(

Eve said...

Oh Jackie...I was so looking forward to having you ride along. Maybe a sidecar?? Probably just wouldn't be the same. Until you meet again I guess will have to do. Luckily you can enjoy the ride like the rest of us.
Glad you got out of the city Gary. I hope you find many more interesting places along the way. That house sure did have an unbelieveable view! OCC...yeah we used to watch...lost track I guess. The bike photos are great. Love the Shuttle. Ride safe my friend.

Unknown said...


I am also feeling sad for you and Jackie too. Imagine the months of planning to be together for a part of the tour and you have to ride away alone. Life is filled with disappointments but the safety of both of you is of most importance.

I keep thinking to myself that perhaps she should have just rented a car and followed behind for a few days.

so sad for you to be alone when the dreams were to have been together.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Gary France said...

Jackie – There is only one thing I can say - sorry I screwed up!

Radar – I saw a trailer later that day being pulled by a Gold Wing. Not sure its for me though....

Axel – The house in Sydney sounds cool. I like your comment about Harley and paying for the view!

Jimmy – we have ridden together loaded up before, but not like this. It was way over what was sensible.

Sonja – I am very very lucky indeed.

mq01 – it was so much it was silly to try to continue.

Eve – Thanks. Jackie will be back later and you will hear lots more about our travels together.

Bob – You are right and that was Jackie’s point to. Safety is far more important. No to renting a car – I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with her....

biker baby said...

Maybe you can plan to meet up some place again. If you do...ship most of your stuff to a destination where you have reservations. Ship to yourself in/care of a manager who will watch for your shipment and store it till you get there. Take only the bare minimum the two of you will need for the ride...keep in mind, there are laundry's everywhere.

Gary France said...

BB – We are going to do something like like, as we will use Flagstaff as a base and leave our gear there while we take one or two day trips out from there.