Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Adjusting Back to Life in the UK

Okay, so I have been back home for a couple of weeks now and I have been very busy. It seemed strange having to re-adjust to life back in the UK. Of course being back with Jackie was wonderful, but getting used to driving on the left side of the road has proved to be remarkably difficult! Soon after getting back, I went for a drive and found myself driving on the wrong side of the road!

The other thing that has been hard to adjust to is the weather. At the end of my tour, I had grown too accustomed to the warmth of California and the sudden lowering of temperatures, the snow and frosts has come as a shock to the system. Last week it snowed and this caused chaos as it usually does here. We are just not geared up in the UK for dealing with snow because it is pretty rare, so when it does snow, many things seem to grind to a halt. Wisely, the country does not spend a fortune preparing for snow, because to make a real difference we would need to invest a great amount of money to properly deal with the few days of snow we get. However, when the white stuff does fall, we are quick to complain that we are not equipped to deal with it. On the whole, I think we have got it just about right, but it can be frustrating when things like the road gritters we do have don’t get deployed in time to make a real difference. We should be better using what few resources we do have, but we don’t seem to be able to get that right.

As might be imagined, the list of things I need to look at after being away for four and a half months is considerable and I am still only part way through doing what needs to be done. I like things to be organised and I enjoy making lists. I now have a list of all of the things I need to do, but I spend too much time just looking at this list worrying about how long the list is. I tend to first tackle the easy, generally not so important things, simply because they are easy! I am having trouble getting back into getting things done.

I received some news this morning that despite being delivered 22 days ago, the Leading Ladies are still at the shipping agent in Los Angeles and not on a boat making their way back home as expected. It seems that the US Customs cannot find any record of my bike being imported into the New York, so they are saying it cannot be exported back to the UK until it is re-imported (on paper) once again to the US. Needless to say, I was not impressed, especially as I only heard of this problem today. I cannot quite believe what I have been told and I will be checking with the shipping agent every day from now on until I hear the bike is on its way back. The first thing I want to know is exactly how is the bike being stored and is it safe, covered and being properly protected?

I have been thinking a lot about the book. I haven’t fully decided, but it looks like each state I visited is likely to have its own chapter and I am pleased to have got the first of these, South Dakota, written. I deliberately chose one of the states I went to in the middle of my tour as the first I wrote as that is more typical and I wanted to see how it came out. My plan is to write about one state per week and as I went to 27 states, that will take me to the middle of next year to complete the book. This seems about right and I will try to keep to this as a target.

I seem to have lost the energy I had during the tour and I feel very lethargic at times since I have returned. I haven’t even wanted to walk the dog much but I put some of this down to the weather. About ten days ago, I did play Badminton for the first time in about 35 years and my shoulder still hasn’t recovered yet from the shock of been used in ways it is not used to. I want to continue playing each week, but until it gets better, my aching shoulder will prevent that.

Jackie and I have a place in Spain and we flew out there for a long weekend to make sure the house was okay. We hadn’t been there for over 6 months so it was good to see that everything to do with the house was alright. We did get delayed coming back due to the bad weather. I have been very lucky with flights for the past few years and I had forgotten just how bad it is to have to wait 7 hours for a flight. We arrived home at 3am this morning. Groan!

Tomorrow I am having lunch with my pal Ian Solley of 7 Ages Custom Motorcycles. Ian has recently completed building another custom bike, a cafe racer, so I am looking forward to hearing about that. I did travel into London last week for the lunch, only to realise when at the restaurant that I was a week early! It seems my organisation skills have gone down the pan while I have been away!

Well, it didn’t take me long after being back home to start to think about my next long-ish bike ride, which I have decided will be across Spain. Well, from the top of Spain to the south and then back again to be more precise. I have invited a few friends to join me in the ride which will take place next July. I will post more on that ride as the plans become more fixed, but it looks like it will be for two weeks and hopefully will cover many of the great Spanish mountain roads.

Being pretty busy has meant I haven’t posted anything for a while, nor have I had the time to read other blogs, both of which is very remiss of me. I feel bad about not keeping up with other blogs, but to be honest, I have needed a rest from blogging for a few weeks. I still have one more post to prepare from the tour and I must get around to that soon. In the meantime I am wondering if I need to start a new blog where I can write about my biking, or whether to keep posting on this existing “USA Tour on a Harley-Davidson” blog. There are pro’s and con’s of each way....

Must dash - I need to go and look again at my long list of things to do....


GF said...

Don't feel so bad, after my 3 week tour it took me a while to adjust to work again, what am I saying, I am still daydreaming ;-) and haven't fully adjusted :-( I want to start another trip, alas, I have to work :-(
You can always start another blog and leave a link here as the last post ;-) remember, you still have 23 other states to cover, you can continue this blog when you come back, just let us know :-)

Unknown said...


I think all of us are feeling a little lethargic and we didn't even ride across the USA, and don't worry about your "to do" list. I am sure we all have lots of things to do, the list never stops growing.

I would imagine that your grass would have been very high after not being cut for 5 months. Our weather is similar to that in the UK, west coast marine. We seldom get snow, only a big dump every few years, and this year is forecast to be cold.

Hope you get your Leading Ladies back soon. Can they supply photos of your bike whilst in storage so you can put your mind at ease.

I've been syching myself to learn how to work those forward controls. Perhaps after a few miles of grinding and wobbling in LA traffic I could manage to get it to Canada. Honestly, it's no problem, you can thank me later.

Wet Coast Scootin

Geoff James said...


Like the wise gentlemen above have said, lethargy is an inevitable consequence of of doing something wonderful and I'm sure you've experienced it plenty of times before. Doesn't make it any easier each time though. Sorry about the weather adding to the woes.

Take good care of yourself...

Mr. Motorcycle said...

Glad you made it home safely. It's been cool reading about your travels. Now get back to the real world with the rest of us. Oh yeah, You don't have to. You are retired. O.K. You suck. Just kidding. Take care and get your list of to do's done already would ya?

redlegsrides said...

Gary, looking forward to the ride reports from Spain!


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Motorcycle Philosophy said...

I've experienced the same lethargy after long road trips. The contrast of having your world narrowed down to just you and the road, and then suddenly expanded into all the details of domestic life, is a shock to the system.

Arkansas Patti said...

Think that list is taking the stuffings out of you. I make short ones, finish them and start on a new "short" list. Not quite so overwhelming.
If you do start another blog, let us know.
Am looking forward to your trip through Spain. Never been there and would enjoy the vicarious visit.

Eve said...

Gary, You're having post America departure stress syndrome!! You may need some therapy, or another visit soon!!! I'm miserable about The Leading Ladies! I know the US loves her but we should NOT be holding her hostage! Please keep us up to date on her. That is frustrating.
I also hope your shoulder gets better. I have that pain and it never went away, but I have some nerve damage problems too so I just have to put up with it.
Hope your next trip is a good one. Will be looking forward to it. Not sure if you should start a new blog...I'd say no...until this one fills up.
Hang in there, hope it warms up soon!

BeemerGirl said...

Hey Gary! I had a chuckle that you have grown up in the UK but had a difficult time remaining on the "proper" side of the road after your sojourn here. Fix that! Very dangerous... ;)

I'm sorry to hear that the Leading Ladies are still at the dock. Very dishearteing. I would be pulling my hair out. Is it even crated? Or do they take care of that.

Was wondering, with all of your faithful readers here, if someone in the area could possibly go check up on her?

Good luck with working through it all. I've heard tell of the oderous task of planning the next trip... Havce fun!


SonjaM said...

And here I was thinking you were snowed in. But you were burried in lists it seems ;-)

Sorry to hear that your bike is still stuck in the US. Hope that gets resolved soon.

Looking forward to hearing more about your next journey either on this blog or a different one.

Doug Klassen said...

Clearly the life of an English gentleman is no long possible, you've become a cycle tramp! Give in to it, come back to the USA with the your Mrs., and wander the roads for the rest of your days.

The Leading Ladies said...


Since you left, the girls and I have had a lot of time to talk while sitting here in the dark. Over the past five months, we met a lot of really nice people and have seen so many great sights. We don't want to stop. We've decided that we want to continue on the USA tour -- 23 more states to go.

We've found a strapping young dock worker who handles us gently and seems to really care for us. Unlike you, who has apparantly returned to the Mrs.

So here is the deal, either come back over and complete the tour or agree to an extended separation.

Regardless, we'll always remember our days together...

All our Love,
The Leading Ladies

Eve said...

Gary...I think the Ladies out number Jackie...they can probably take her...you better come back!!!

Gary France said...

George – That is funny that you are still dreaming after his amount of time! I am still considering what to do about continuing this blog or starting a new one.

Bob – I asked for and the shippers did send a picture of the Leading Ladies, or at least a fully enclosed crate with the bike inside. You offer to ride the bike to Canada is a good one. Tempting....

Geoff – Thankfully the lethargy is fading now, which our dog likes as she is getting more walks now.

Mr. Motorcycle – LOL. Even though I no longer have to work, I still have loads to do. Writing the book now takes up a lot of time.

Charlie6 – There is sometime to go before the Spain trip, but the planning has begun!

Gary France said...

Motorcycle Philosophy – You hit the nail on the head.

Patti – If I made short lists, then I would have to make a list of the lists! Yes, if I do go down the route of starting another blog, I will of course let you all know.

Eve – Holding her hostage – very good! Sorry about the nerve damage problems. I like the idea of therapy for PADS.

BeemerGirl – For a few days it was a real struggle remembering that I should be on the left. It is amazing that my brain kept wanting me to be on the right. Yes, they are in a very good crate and progress is being made about repatriating them. That is a good idea about someone going and having a look, but the shippers have now sent photos.

Sonja – We were snowed in for just a day, but as you say, buried under paper!

Gary France said...

Doug – You have no idea how tempting that sounds....

Leading ladies – How fantastic to hear from you! I am so sorry you are there in the dark, but I promise, it won’t be long until you are home and then on another adventure. Please ignore all those advances from dock workers – they are only after one thing and you 10 ladies are way too refined for that!

Honestly, this comment cracked me up as it is so funny. Thanks Radar!

Eve – At ten to one, yes they do out number Jackie, but as for taking her, she is very strong!