I’m not much of a gin drinker; there’s probably good reason for that. Last weekend, with a fire crackling away in the chimnea, I sat outside with a soothing glass of Bombay Sapphire and Fever Tree, and composed an email to Harley’s main PR man in the UK, telling him: “I would be willing to ride the Street Bob back from Prague on my own.”
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Roughly a week before that, I had signed on to join a group from Harley-Davidson UK on a road trip from the MoCo’s UK headquarters to the capital of the Czech Republic. That’s where Harley is hosting a huge party in celebration of its 115th anniversary. Setting out on 3 July, we’ll be taking three days to cover the 1,000 miles between England and Czechia, and I’ll be doing the whole thing on the Street Bob.
Harley had offered to let me do the trip on one of its touring models, but where’s the story in that, man? I mean, that‘s not the daydream we’ve all had, is it? No, the fantasy that every motorcyclist has entertained at least once is that of setting out for the long haul on a bare-bones machine with a bunch of bags strapped to the fender and ‘bars.
Sure, most of us who like riding long distances eventually gravitate to the Road Glide or what have you, but the fantasy starts with a bike like the Street Bob. So, if fate somehow puts you in the ridiculous position where Harley is going to foot the bill – pay for your gas and food and hotel rooms – what do you do? You live the fucking dream, that’s what you do.
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Odds are good that after three full days in the Street Bob’s saddle my knees and hips and back will be a little achy. But I guarantee you this decision will not be on my list of deathbed regrets.
So, there I was last Sunday, G&T in hand, emboldened by the bon espirit of a summer evening, pondering the upcoming trip when I suddenly thought: “Harley’s plan is for us to fly home from Prague and have the bikes shipped back on a truck. But that’s not how the fantasy goes. If my life were a novel I definitely would not be writing in a two-hour EasyJet flight at the end of this chapter. I’ve got to ride back.”
“Do whatever the hell you want, mate,” Harley’s man told me on the phone the next day. “Certainly you’re right that it makes for a better story.”
So, I’m committed. However, what I didn’t quite think about in my juniper-flavored haze was the fact that, since I’ll be the one footing the bill, the return journey is going to be far less glamorous. In fact, I’m thinking of attempting something of a straight shot. I’ll eat a big breakfast at the hotel, make a bunch of sandwiches with the cold meat selection that’s seemingly part of every European hotel’s breakfast buffet, and try to hustle back to TMO headquarters incurring only the cost of filling the tank. And, well, getting across (or under, whichever’s cheaper) the English Channel.
That all-in-one plan may be unrealistic. Whatever I end up doing, though, I need to get pretty damned comfortable with the Street Bob. So, I’ve been working a certain amount of riding into my daily routine, trying to build an “immunity” to the discomfort that sitting in the Street Bob’s saddle for long stretches can cause. I’m getting there. Last week I pulled a relatively nonstop 160-mile trip to Lampeter and back. I say “relatively” because I actually stopped twice to pee.
This week I’ll try to work in a 300-miler, as well as try to figure out how I’m going to transport all my stuff on a bike that isn’t designed to transport stuff. Because I’ll be on my lonesome on the way back, I’ll probably also have a go at wiring in the mount for my increasingly disappointing TomTom Rider.
The Street Bob has a USB plug right near the head stock, but no place to actually store a charging phone, so I’ll be working on coming up with a solution to that problem as well. Like most of my travel solutions, it will probably involve Kriega gear.