Wednesday, 7 December 2011

December 2011 that went quick.....

By definition, winter has seen 'leaner' times in the Johnson household. Being in the home improvement sector for some years, the cold and wet weather results in less work and yours truely looking for different work for the pre-easter, season.
This year work has never really got going. The situation in the UK is not good at the moment with the building industry on its last legs.
Normally Jan-Feb is my 'other job' time, but this year it has come early.
By pure chance I came across a great little job as Santa for a month.

I love kids and have always said I would be a santa when I got older..... not this old but really old.

Right through to the 24th December I will put on the suit and be Father Christmas for a few hours a day. Brilliant fun and though the beard itches like hell, that's another bucket lister to cross off.

Ho ho ho !

Have a fantastic Christmas and lets hope 2012 is a better year for everyone.

PS: follow me on and

Monday, 21 November 2011

Cool Running

The colder days are with us. Autumn came a little late this year, the sunny week before bonfire night confused the trees, and they kept there leaves for a bit longer.

By the 19th, the Bike ShowLive event at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) in Birmingham, was underway, and unlike last year, when it was almost snowed off, I rode there. Starting in Manchester about 9.30am, the sun was out and though not warm, my full riding gear list was added. Good job too. around Stafford it was foggy. Not enough to cause any traffic issues, but enough to stop the sun breakinhg through. Temperatures dropped to around 9f , which made my eyes water a bit and the visor steam up if it was completely closed.

Free parking for bikes at the show also meant no major trek from the car parks. 100 yards across the entrance road, and I was in the warmth. With 2 or three events on, the place was buzzing.

I met up with Sam Manicom and Simon Gandolphy, both of whom were very busy selling thier adventure books, and meeting fans (they are both very laid back guys, and most welcoming). I then wandered about looking at new and old bikes, bikers and a plethora of gorgious girls in lycra suits and boots. (always a welcome chore).

The show is made up of sections, and you can target certain genres or like me just wander about with no agenda.

The blast back 85 miles to Manchester, was cooler, but the M6 keeps ones wits on full alert. Weekend drivers have a uncanny ability to do things that profesional drivers don't.

I class any driver to be a pro if they drive a vehicle for a living, or as part of their job. Weekenders are those that hit the roads for one or two days, or less. The motorways are an unusual place for them, and their perceptions are a little worrying.

It must be hard for non bikers to understand why bikes go so fast, overtake at any opportunity, and generally seem to be in a hurry. We are simply trying to get out of your way and into a safer , quieter part of the road. Pootling along with the traffic, is a dangerous place to be. Even more so when Sunday lunches are busy taking their toll on metabloisms and dozy weekenders.

Having said all that, within 1/2 mile of home, I pulled away from a set of lights into a left hand junction, followed the car in front at 10-12 MPH, as he passed an old lady, who was stood by the road, she launched herself across the carrageway in front of me, aiming for the bollard island only 10ft away.

Not even looking right, to see if anything else was coming, she gave me about 4ft in which to stop. The BMW R1200GS Adventure is a big bike, headlight on, it was dusk but not dark, I wear a white helmet and a red and silver jacket.. As the ABS brakes took over, I didn't even have time to sound my horn, I did however shout, but too late. As I came to a stop, so did she. But the shock of me staring at here from 5 inches away was to add to the minimal contact we made, and she fell over.

No major harm done, and both she and the guy from a queing car going the other way, stated that she had not even looked. He watched her as she lept into action and said she was looking at him to acknowledge her crossing.

They say that most accidents happen at the start or more so the end of a journey. In this case, it was a weekend pedestrian. High on meat and two veg, old age or just daft as a brush, she used up one of her 60+ lives. I wish her well and hope she is OK today.

Kawashazy is now painted (see above) in Sharons favorite blue. Despite not even trying to start the bike yet, I am hoping that the rest of the build will see me through the winter. Shaz will need to complete her test in the spring, and with luck getting her on the road (on her own bike), will start that elusive bug that gets to us all.

I am starting a short term job this week. (Thurs), right through till Christmas Eve. Seven days a week, 11 am to 5pm. It involves a red suit and white beard, but more of that later.

Lastly, I am conversing with a new twitter and facebook contact 'Oily Byker' who is planning a round Britain ride, by diesel motorbike...... sound interesting. Find him on facebook or twitter and say hello.

Seasons Greetings if I do not get back to you in December.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

I found this little gif maker online for my facebook avatar, but even at 100 pix, its a bit big. Great add on though. and still running well.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Sunny Sundays

Hello to everyone visiting here in the past weeks.days/hours. Still tends to amaze me that over 7000 viewers from across the globe have had a peek at my ramblings. Thanks again.

Next week see's the 'BIG' Bike Show in Birmingham UK, probably the largest collection of manufacturers, suppliers and businesses in the UK trade, showing their wares to us 'punters'.

It's a costly affair with entry fees, parking and 90 miles each way. last years show was just about ruined by heavy snow, so maybe this time it might get busy. I will probably turn up like a dud battery, I need some winter gloves anyway, and often there are some bargains to be searched out.

I have been having word a with the new North West Blood Bikes, a charity (in the making), that rushes about the country with supplies of donated blood and baby milk, for free, 24-7. Aimed at the health service and hospitals, Breast Milk banks etc, they do it for nothing, and even pay their own fuel (for now).

Find them on Twitter and Facebook, and LIKE/Follow their progress.


I recently bought this little Kawazaki Z250LTD for Sharon (Mrs R2M), as a doer upper. Shaz took here CBT earlier in the year, so to encourage her to take a further test before heading out, the 250 will be just enough until she gets a few miles done. Keep looking though, as it will soon be 'Electric Blue'. Renamed Kawashazy too..

After my experiences on the big Honda Goldwing, and my own R1200GSa, the heavy work loads have become the norm, and I have added the task of carrying camera men to my remit, to get some more mileage in.

My CV now looks like a copy of war and piece, and as my standard fully loaded kerbside weight has been in the 390- 500kgs range this year and for some time, having a monkey on the back throwing a 30kg camera around makes things so much simplier. (Honest)

Visit my Facebook page and vote for the photo competition....please I am also trying to boost my twitter friends at

another new one. E mail NO PHISHERMEN PLEASE

Phew, that was a long post. It's now 1am though as the clocks went back today it would have been 2am. We have this weird hour gain and loss each year, to gain a few more hours daylight in the winter.

It doesn't work, it's still dark when you get up, and dark on the way home from work by the end of November.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Where did October go?

Time seems to fly by when you get busy. Just finished a brick effect job on a portable cabin. my new website.

The riding season is coming to a close for the recreational riders of the UK. Despite a bit of a heat wave in early October.The temperatures were strangly high for Autumn, the cooler air though has returned, with rain and high winds over the past few days.

My biking days have included a return trip to London (390 miles) using the motorways. (Freeways), this was a business trip, and as the client was in Chelsea, the thought of trains, cabs or driving was a no no. Stopping often in central London, I found the traffic to be crazy, though the car drivers are very bike aware.

I pulled up next to a Police biker, and asked him how he dealt with this everyday. The reply is not printable, but simple to say he was not a happy chappy.

As my old Transit van is at the end of its usefull life (without a major spend), I have been pootleing around on the GS. I love my bike, and despite the hassle of getting it out of the garage, putting on my gear (15mins) , and always concerned about the weather...... it's all worth it !

No work now, so a bit worried about the pre-Christmas run. Some years I have been mad busy right up to Xmas and beyond, the last two years the cupboard is bare.

I am looking for a proper job, and once again both Shaz and myself consider moving to France or in fact anywhere for a warmer, less costly alternative to the Dark Satanic Mills of norther England.

Big bike show at the NEC Birmingham in November. so something to look forward to.

Novemeber in a few days, so hoping to get out and about as much as possible. During the last few days I have been putting my video clips in order, and today will send them off to be edited. Road2Manchester the movie ...... soon..... maybe.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

The Ted Simon Foundation

North West Blood Bikes are setting up a Manchester branch of the NABB and currently looking for members and helpers. NWBB is a charity delivery service (My motorcycle), for bloods, baby milk and other emergency items. Run by volunteers and seeking their charity registration at the moment. PLEASE visit and 'like' their page.

Thursday evening 6th October saw the launchof the TED SIMON FOUNDATION at Coventry Transport Museum. I attended and sat there with 100+ other like minded travellers and wanna-go's (not wanna-be's).

The concept of TSF is for those who have had some success within the world of media, travel writing and publishing within the 'Round the World' genre, to help other travellers get their message out in into the world. Sixteen 'Jupiters Travellers' have already been selected from around the world, and we will see just what the TSF can do.

Jupiters Travellers some have been, some are going, watch this space.

Search the web and for more details.

If you have not read Jupiter Travels or Jupiter Returns, then you should.

Ted Simon and I enjoy a tipple before the start.

Also there on the night. Sam Manicom, Lois Pryce, Austin Vince, Paddy Tyson and many well know names from the RTW world.

Thursday, 6 October 2011


Over the past month, bike travel has been interupted again and again by work, holidays, work and weather.
A nice days ride over the Yorkshire Dales with my brother in Law (Arn) was welcome, as he hired a Honda from Hunts in Manchester for the weekend.
For once the weather was in our favor, and the ride over to Settle then towards Ingleboro and Hawes was fast and the quiet roads gave us a chance to take in the great views.
160 miles of 85% small twisty lanes and the rest a mix of motorway and a few towns to get us into the countryside.

I got the opportunity to do a bit of writing, and the book is at least 3000 words in the making. Lots more to go though.

October already, and despite a week of silly high temperatures in the 80's , the 6th (Thursday) returns of high winds and heavy rain makes it feel more like autumn.

Yesterday I went off to London on my trusty GS, to see a new client.
7 am start 196 miles each way, got the deal and back by 5pm without getting wet.
Sore all over, and rode in high winds most of the day.
£40 in petrol, but I did 'get along' at a pace on occasion.
London is a crazy place to ride, but most drivers are very bike aware compared to most roads in the UK. Still mad.... just aware that any gap will be filled with a bike.

Today is the launch of the Ted Simon Foundation at the Coventry National Transport Museum. 6-11pm
6.11.1973 at 6pm Ted started his RTW odyssey that became Jupiter Travels. The rest is history and tonight at 6pm the adventure biker world meet up to launch the foundation.

Am I going? Not 'arf !


see more.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Radio Radio

10pm last night (Tuesday) and I am heading 33 miles north to Blackburn. Home of BBC Radio Lancashire and in the evenings tag along Radio Manchester.
John Barnes was the presenter that called me as I hit the Pacific Highway 101 coast road. The interview then went out live as last nights chat did, and John invited me to the studio once I was back.
Eventually after a couple of false starts, I made it to Blackburn and over a hour of air-time we chatted about the Road2Manchester.
John is a biker at heart, and had visited the USA some time ago. In between music, travel and national news items we enjoyed an in depth (ish) talk to the good folk of Manchester and Lancashire.
Link to BBC I player which will be on for a couple of days. The first bit is saying it is not working, but wait 2 mins and it will start.

If you are reading this post after 30th August, it will probably be deleted, such is the Iplayer system.

The bike has been away for a week as proper work takes over. The weather this summer is also a bit hit and miss, with regular rain and sunny bits.
The Autumn is showings its self already and thoughts of cold and frosty mornings are not so welcoming.
Being out of the UK for May and June has shortened my year, and as they say;
Time flies when you are having fun......................

Thanks to John B, a real gent and pro' I guess that will be my last 'media' thang !

Oh Yes !!!! there is another announcment, but that will have to wait.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Best laid plans

Time flies when your having fun.

August is after all our summer month. It is time when 2/3rds of the UK go on holiday as the kids get a month off school.

Bikers too get a chance to go for a spin, a holiday or the odd weekend away. The 'season' for events is here, and the choices for every hobby and pastime and outdoor sport abound.

Adventure Bike Meet, Horizons Unlimited camps, shows, and rides to the local biker hang-outs all available if you don't mind chancing the weather.

Last week I had my 'fix' as I rode from home in Manchester to South Petherton in Somerset, so see a potential customer.

As usual the weather was 'iffy' and I dodged a couple of storms and got a little damp on the way down the M5 on the 210 mile A to B ride.

On the way back, via the Cheddar Gorge, one of the roads I had promised myself for years, and was disapointed by, I once again ran the gaunlet of rain and low cloud.

Coming off the M6 at around 5.30pm, I eventually caought up with a storm, and the last 8 miles was in heavy rain.

So 429 miles, one very sore backside (Who at BMW had the idea of putting a stone seat lining on GS's), and a damp suit and gloves.

The GS ran sweetly all the way and speeds more or less at the speed limit (officer !), the new higher grade gearbox oil was working well with up and down changes very smooth.

Next plan is to go for a weekend to Scotland at the end of September with some of the Adventure Bike Warehouse crew, and possibly before that (just possibly) ride to Spain for a couple of days as Mrs J goes to Cabo Riog for ten days. It's that damn ferry crossing from UK to Santander or Bilbao. Soooooo expensive.
250 miles inn the UK and 800+ in Spain..... one way, then return. Hmmn ! not quite a weekend away !

Friday, 5 August 2011

Summer in England

As the world of the international biker 'celebrity for a bit', turns back to normal. The UK summer is upon us and as usual, the weekdays the sun is out. This would be great if by Friday night, the weather forecast didn't say RAIN ALL WEEKEND.

I am not sure which country built the weather machine, but I guess that the economy would not be on its ass, if the sun was out during August.

I had my bike (BMW) serviced at Adventure Bike Warehouse, and it is running great. Well it was when I took the long way home about 3 week ago. In between that I had a week in France with Mrs J, a week in Somerset working and a this week the rain is back.

Riots and unrest throughout the UK have reached Manchester, with thousands of 'youths' running the gaunlet and looting shops under the 'cival unrest' banner, started in London last week.
No reason to spread, its just a sick excuse to take advantage of this mayhem.
Disaffected, yes, lost in society, Yes, no repect, Yes,. No future....maybe.
Bring back National Service. The armed Forces need these yobs, if not as solders, then as trainee members of society.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Overland, it's the new black.

Every now and then something 'nice' happens. It could be a gift, a chance meeting or a great night out. Often nice things just come along, sometimes great thing too.

A chance message on Facebook by Sam Manicom (RTW Guru), mentioned a new magazine. Overland. So being a curious type, I ordered their first copy which arrived today.

Magazine is the wrong word. More a compendium, a volume, a keepsake.

This 'production' is classy, informative and what I have cristened a 'Keeper'.
Great features from some the the best biker writers and travellers, really great paper and print quality and I feel that this motorcycle travel handbook, will be seen in receptions, collections and coffee tables long after the sell by date has passed. buy it but under no corcumstances let anyone borrow it. You may never get it back.

Whilst talikng RTW hero's take a look at TED SIMON FOUNDATION join, help.

Monday, 11 July 2011

I am still awake.

Well that was a nice rest. After the mele of media mayhem that met me on my return to the UK, the world on R2M is now quiet. The PR company have asked for the camera, laptop and associated gubbins back, and there are no more requests from the TV, Radio or newspapers. (phew).
The issues with the Star-Com helmet camera and intercom turned out to be the 110volt power supply in the USA that would not charge the 240v system. NO help from Start-Com was forthcoming, so I will not be buying one in the near future. Go-Pro will be my camera of choice in the future.
I have made a guess that I lost about 4 days of video SD cards that I had not down loaded. Shame but the bits between Kentucky and Head north from Alabama are out there somewhere. I just hope that one day, they might be found by someone with the foresight to actually watch them.

I have returned to the BMW GSa with some trepidation as it was due for a service, and since Jon at Adventure Bike Warehouse (Manchester), got his hands on it, the B is running like a dream.
Better oil, new gearbox oil, tuned the carbs, treated the chassis to some fancy sealant, and she is running like a dream. The gearbox oil may be expensive but what a difference.

Just had a e-mail from Giz, at the Cromwell Ridgers (see 'On the road ',vids by Duke) with advise about film making, who is about to set out on another adventure ride and hopfully another fly on the wall film. Good Luck Ridgers. Wish I could come along.

Apart from that..... just off to France for a few days. (Yes we can pop over to Europe from here), and then back to proper work with gusto. my other hat.

Best wishes to Colin on the re-launch of for his latest Mini Dumper.

PS: ne vids on youtube/road2manchester


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Not over yet.

Just when you thought it was over....... it carries on.

Saturday Home, Sunday, Manchester parade, Monday press call so I had to get my bike out again. Monday night, put my bike away. Tusday morning ..... "Hi Pete, the press would like another picture outside Manchester United football stadium, on your bike. Can you be there in ten minutes"?

"No, it takes me ten minutes to get my boots on, 15 to get the bike out again, same to get there".

"OK, see you in half an hour" !!!! Doh!

From Old Trafford, I had an interview at Rock Radio in Salford Quays, then rush home for telephone interview with Capital Radio.

That done I put my bike away again.

Today, Wednesday, Woken up by Mike from Bennetts (it was 10 am, so no problems, I should have been up).

Daily Star and Metro News both had mentions and now news about the BBC One Show on Friday.

The bike remains in the garage, my boots put in the cupboard and perhaps a few days rest for my aching hands (2000 clutch pulls in the parade), and bum !!!!

I will add the link for the TV shot on Friday, but meanwhile....... Mrs J has hidden my bike key.

May be going to the Horizons Unlimited meeting in Ripley Derbyshire. (If I can find the keys by weekend that is!!!!)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Home Sweet Home

After 25 hours of travelling, I returned home at 6pm on Saturday to a warm and welcome reception from my family. The journey from San Francisco was delayed a few hours, and air travel is always an issue, me being slightly wider and taller than the seats were designed for.
Sunday morning I had to be up to attend the Manchester Day parade where I was to ride my bike in the procession.
At around 5am here and 9pm in my head, I was awake and eating anything I could get my hands on. (Unusual for me I know !!!)
(Nice cuppa tea !)

One o'clock and the rendevous in central Manchester at the start of the parade, totally jet lagged by now, I was informed that I would have to push the BMW for the 2 mile route due to health and safety.

(What about my health and safety???)

I suggested that I would like to leave !!! So they allowed me to ride, assisted by the engine (bonus).

Two hours later, engine getting very hot, oil light flashing away, we finished and that was the official end of the Road2Manchester.

Never cease to wonder why people took so many pictures, not knowing who I was, or why I was the only motorised 'vehicle' in the whole parade?
The Beemer seemed very light and very, very tall after the Goldwing, Driving on the other side of the road seemed very strange too.

Finally, Finally

Once again thanks you to all of the organisers, Bennetts Insurance for the Biker Dream, RGP International for the organisation, the good people of the USA for being so nice, and my family for their love and support.

Many thanks to the Facebook friends, and the 6000+ visitors here on my blog. I hope I entertained y'all just a little. I may well write a book about my adventure...... meanwhile I will always be on the Road2Manchester.

Keep on dreaming, you never know.

As they say in America......." well, there you go ".



Thursday, 16 June 2011

Take the Man out of Manchester.

Sunset over Manchester California

Video antics. Gentleman Lawrence

The last full day of riding was another marathon. Big miles, but also a long time. This was due mainly to the regular stops for photos, video and views that are`just amazing. Highway 1 down the west coast is rough in places, land slides cause problems, big trucks and RCV's add to the cyclist, bikers and cars to make going a little fraught at times, but the scenery and road just blows your mind. The Griffin Inn at Elk, was a little more expensive than my normal motels, but it had a monopoly in the area, and as I took my life in my own head, and hit a few MPH over the limit to get back from the Manchester photo shoot 13 miles away. It was worth it. Breakfast bought to my 'chalet' in the morning.

At 46 degrees F, it was a cool start when I got back to Manchester to take some more photos. A quiet place with only the slightly dotty post mistress taking any interest. I soon deposited my message in a bottle near the towns sign. (Bottle with a message to all the Manchesters and the last few threads of the flag that had travelled with me). San Francisco was about 170 miles away, and the journey seemed to take forever as the '1' got busier and more populated as I got nearer. By 5pm I was crossing the Golden Gate bridge
and fighting the GPS and the roadworks to get into the docklands area.
My last night would be in the grand surroundings on the Argonaut Hotel near Fishermans Wharf, but I was a day early so I went back to the edge of town and stayed in a more modest motel.

As I write this , its 2pm on Thursday 16th June, the bike has been returned to Eagle Rider in SF, and the final mileage was 8525 miles. I have ridden every day for 34 days (though some days 5-30 miles).

My longest day was from Livingston, Oregon to Manchester,Washington at 748 miles. My shortest 6 miles to do some some laundry.

Though I was resticted by time and the task in hand, I have only scratched the surface of what the USA has to offer. In fact I have only taken the pin out of its box to start to scratch.

The people I have met have been great, the friendship and hospitality more than I could have wished for. One thing for sure, I can recommend anyone to visit this massive and diverse country, you will never run out of things to see or do. I have never been scared, worried or concerned about who I spoke too, or where I was. (Even that forest in Alabama).

Thanks go out to:

Bennetts Insurance (Bennetts Biker Dream), RBP International, (Nicolien, Becks and the team), Ben, Chris, Jonnys gang, Missy, John (Red), Cory and Jack for the offers of Beds, beer and great conversation.

To my wonderfull wife who put up with months of 'ME' prior to coming over, and a month of being lonely as I travelled. (Love you loads).

Before I fly home, just a short note about Lawrence, (Above) the old chap I met in a Diner on 'Flag Day'. The shortest encounters often have the most profound effect.

Lawrence was an 'Elk', onc of the age old fraternities that have existed here for many years. He was going to a blessing for the Start and Stripes and though he invited me along, it would have been too long to get to where I was going.

In ten minutes he told me of his family leaving Plymouth in the 1600's, how in his lifetime the country had changed, and how proud he was to be an American. I gave Lawrence a pin badge showing the Stars & Stripes along with the Union Jack given to me by the American Embassy in London. We shook hands and he had a tear in his eye (me too), as we parted he thanked me for visiting the USA and hoped his country had treated me well.

You all did, and may I add that I hope that if you should ever visit the UK, we too can offer the same welcome and friendship.

Goodbye America. God Bless and thanks again.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Last Manc Standing

Rememnber that due to time zones, it is still Tuesday here in Manchester California. After another long day of 13 hrs, 458 miles and the infamous Highways 101 and 1 (wow is that a twisty), I arrived in my last Manchester as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. 8.30PM and I had a dash back 13 miles north for last orders and a meal in ELK.
Giant Redwoods and dramatic sea mists over crashing waves and choppy seas. The Pacific highway is full of great views and great roads. I will add pictures in the morning, Just thought I would let you all know. S'Done.Did it.... finito bonito, QED, Finis, The End
( well almost just got to get to Frisco now. !)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Last Manc Standing

10pm on a Monday night, and I am about to retire for the day. Good start this morning from Manchester Washington, and leaving Jack my host and guide to the I-5 freeway, I got a 130 miles in before breakfast. A quick realisation that I was just motoring for the sake of it, I turned west and headed for the iconic 101 Pacific Highway.
80 miles west seemed an odd choice seeing as I wanted to get South to Manchester, California, 500 miles away.
Twisting and turning through a mist covered forest on the way down to Lincoln City, it turns out that it was raining when I reached the sea. Just in time to speak to BBC radio Manchester (John Barnes), live , I did my stuff via mobile phone before once again doing a few miles more.
So in the Dublin House Hotel, Yachats, Oregon (Spelt by a native indian or an Irish settler???? I dunno), a good chilli burger, beer and chat with the locals was the norm.
Bed now with 325 miles less to travel tomorrow. Looking for Giant redwood trees and giant sand dunes en-route.
Next blog.......
The Last Manc standing at the last Manc on the list.......... sad, happy, relieved and ready for my own bed, a good cup of tea, and a cuddle (but not necessarly in that order.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

HOW FAR?????

The past few days have been a blur. Just one very long day that lasted until Saturday night. On Friday morning 10 June 2011 my odometer read 19460 miles making my total journey 6029 miles in 27 days. Despite 2 days off, I still rode a little bit, just to relax !!!

Today is Sunday 12th and I am having my 3rd 'Day Off ' I have ridden 2333 miles this week and despite missing a whole lot of things, needs must. Deadlines are deadlines. So just a little ride with Jack my host in Manchester Washington. (Facebook friends are great) This is a beautiful place overlooking the sea with Seattle just in view about 10 miles away.The short ferry ride was enough to get back some sanity after all those miles and the Seattle rush hour.

Before I go anywhere though........ odometer reading is now 20650 and my 12 hrs jaunt yesterday from Livingston, Montana through Idaho to Washington clocked off at 748 miles, six tanks of gas (Petrol), and one tired rider..... BUT the beer at the Manchester Pub was cold, the Pizza was incredible and the welcome from everyone was staggering. So...... I am staying again tonight as the good people of Manchester WA, (SSHHH! keep this place a secret !) are expecting some mad guy from England to arrive on a Goldwing this afternoon. Might be worth staying around to meet me, him, I. (4 time zones in 4 weeks...... its 10am here, my watch says 1pm and at home its past 5pm, no wonder I am confused).

Monday and SOUTH, to my final Manchester, Port Arena, California.
Happy to be heading home, missing my wife, daughter and dogs, but boy do I have a tale to tell.

Highway 1 down the Pacific coast.......... what a way to finish.

NB: Anyone anywhere in the world thinking that the Honda Goldwing is a poor bike...... Wrong. 7209 miles without a hitch, murmer or issue. 120mph in total silence (Ssssh, someone told me that !), comfort and load capacity second to few. Big? , Yes, Heavy ?, Yes, but so am I.


Thursday, 9 June 2011

Horse shoes and turbo bikes.

Running a few days behind, the need to get places has become the main activity with 12 hour riding and big states to cross.

To catch up I have to add my thanks to Corey Clark in Fond Du Lac in Wisconsin. Another Facebook/Advrider pal, who asked me home for B&B (Beers and Bed). A busy night with Horse Shoe throwing contests, chicken wings to feed an army, and good company back at Corey's place.

It was Corey's idea to take the SS Badger, the old ferry across then lake. Good Call.

Next day Manchester Just down the road. A small agricultural village with a great Diner and a big breakfast. The ladies that 'do', were great and the facebook page gets another friend. ( Rubber Bottom, is another story).

A big day of almost 400 miles in 100 degree winds (From the South), and by 6pm I had covered 2 more villages with the name. Now in Minnesota the wind was burning as the temperatures hit 105 again. Drink, cover up your arms and use factor 50. Riding in the gusts and side wind was a killer with 12 degree off vertical and massive jumps from side to side when passing trucks. The avergage speed was in triple figures ans the miles swent by.

Another Super 8 Motel by the free way and an early night, I managed a good 9hrs sleep before heading west again. Today 52 F and a north Westerly wind..... the full riding suit was bag out of the panniers. 3 layers, double gloves and RAIN.

South Dakota...... IS.....................massive !

Manchester SD was blown away by a hurricane. No wonder, this is one BIG FLAT state. Straight roads that blow your mind. Views so far in all directions, you can see the curve of the earth. Manc SD....... as predicted NOTHING.......................... Little House on the Prairie, my they had it tough.

Visions of 20 million Buffalo come to mind on these vast grasslands. Those early Americans must have been tough cookies to set off over these lands with no roads, no idea of what was beyond.

The Badlands, where two of the earths 'plates' meet is a surprize. The land drops a thousand feet in a display of pink white and sand coloured layers eroded into sharp peaks and troughs. $10 toll and a very pretty 'warden' at the gate, and it was twisties and awe inspiring scenery again.

After another 12 hrs day, 312 miles I find myself looking up the Devils Tower in Wyoming. The volcanic formation was the star of the film 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'. Looking like a 1200ft high tree trunk, this is a sacred place for the Native Americans and a strange looking object.

The local town of Hulett (pop: 140) was increase by myself and a guy from London, who was touring Esat to West (in a car). Good beer, good looking women, great Burger. Bonus.

Met the mayor, who seemed over cheery and loud, but hey thats fine.

Eileen from Seattle regailed tails of Sturgis Bike week and meeting her man there last year. Having dropped off Highway 90 earlier, Sturgis is getting ready for the 1/4 million bikers that turn up in a month. That must be a crazy event.

Even the sleepy town of Hulett saw 110,000 bikers turn up during Bike Week.

So its the 10th June and in 7 days I fly home to the UK. 1200 miles to Seattle and another 1000 down the Pacific Highway.

6029 miles covered to date and an average 286 per day needed to catch that flight.

Thanks to all those who have added laughs and memories, please. If I missed you out of the blog, visit where the photo albums and mentions continue.

I will try and keep up with more stories right through the next seven days. But time to go........ Another Day another Manchester.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Michigan 'In a great State'

The Tour Bus.

Party time in Michigan with Missy Covill

Singer songwriter and all round mate.

Michigan gave a double whammy. After leaving my host John in Manchester Michigan, I was just a few miles down the road for Saturday

night at another facebook friend Missy Covill (See Facebook/missycovill)

Missy and I had been chatting for months about bikes, music, theme songs for my up and coming video stuff etc: the invite to come over was in the diary. Even her Mun arrived on a Harley.

Late into the night the 20-30 guests ate great food, drank more than enough beer, argued about game shooting and even had the odd wrestling match. Once I had answered questions about what we hunt in the UK (Nothing !), A ten gauge shot gun was thrust into my hand and I was sending beer cans to a better place. Add a bit of a jamming session on the old harmonica & guitar, seeing lightning bugs, hearing bull frogs and watching Chip Monks playing in the yard, I took to the 'Tour Bus' for a hot and very dark night down in the dell . Leaving Missy and her family in peace I thank here for a great experience and friendly stay that will remain a fond memory for ever.

I left after a great hot breakfast heading for an old coal fired ferry that would save me a 300 mile slog through Chicago. The SS Badger runs a 60 mile trip across lake Michigan and was around 80 miles north of my unique hotel at Missy's.

On the way I stopped for a Dune Buggy ride on the massive dunes that line the shore. The best $16 I have spent, the 45 minute tour in a massive open top 16 seater truck. (Note to self; Southport Beach???)

Ludington overnite as the ferry left at 8am, and then a quiet 4 hours on the ship. Good news I had time to sort out the massive amount of photo & video files and found my DEALS¬GAP (Dragons Tail) vid hiding in a picture file. Way Hey 80)

More pics at facebook/roadtomanchester and facebook/bennetts_bike.

Arrived in Manitowoc, Wisconsin at mid-day where it had been raining hard and 72F (seemed really cold after 85F the day before). 2 miles in land....... 85F again.
Next stop another facebook invite from Cory Clark in Fond Du Lac.

Next blog, Chicken wings, Turbo bikes, Throwing Horse Shoes, Manc' Wisconsin and 105 degrees + 35MPH side winds. (Fun in the sun.....not !).

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Oh Oh Ohio and Michigan Memories

Manchester Ohio, another small town on the banks of the Ohio River. The winding road that runs by the river promises another pleasant town. And Manc-ohio is. It is what I always thought an old US` township should look like with a main street on which a combination of brick and timber buildings show the history that made the town. As if the dust road from yesteryear had simply been concreted over.

A settlement town named after a UK mancunion who was sent there to survey and mark out the area to be given to war heros and military solders as reward for their services to the country.

Suffering from the world wide recession, the town showed signs of the times with shops closed and many households holding yard sales to make ends meet. Having visit the town hall and speaking to the Mayoress, I went to the river bank where two old timers in a pick-up chatted about the demise of the town, lack of employment and stricken economy. I felt sorry for this unique and classic town that to me (Just my opinion), is what 'small town USA' should look like, its a shame that the vast River Ohio can't bring some tourism and a brighter future to a charming place.

On to Michigan.

John Stedman Filling sand boxes

Manchester Village , Michigan,

After another 350 mile blast through to Michigan, I arrived in Manchester MI on Friday, about 6.30pm. Despite the long day, I was keen to meet up with John Stedman, another Facebook contact who had seen an article about me in the local Manchester Enterprize newspaper. I had spoken to Dave, there reporter a week before on a bad Skype connection that was cutting out every few seconds due the the electrical storms they were having in the area. (Great more rain up north !).

An invitation for bike talk and beer was enough to look John up.

As I arrived at THE traffic lights in one of the nicest Manchesters I had seen to date, I spotted as guy on the veranda of a bar, just above a classic Honda parked on the corner. It was John, but due to my fatigue and being at one of the four-way-give-way junctions, I didn't think it might be him until I tuirned the corner. I had his cell number and within seconds John said thats me on the corner !
A quick beer and a meet and greet from the patron of the pub, and Mrs: S turned up and I was quickly invited back for steak and a bed for the night. John had some chores to complete, and I watched as he made Tortilla Chips and a big frier in the back yard. These would be sold at the farmers market along with home made preserves.

After a steak and just one more beer, we eventually retired at 11.30pm. 4 seconds and was snoring like a good un!

Next morning more duties for the Manchester Mens Club and community led charity that created events and ploughed the profits back into the village. A few hours of filling local kids sand pits, and we were free to ride a little and see the area.

In the afternoon I was due at Missy Covill's house about 15 miles away for a party so Saturday became my second day off (but on) the bike since I started. More about Missy next time.


Friday, 3 June 2011


Seems like a long day all rolled into one. 19 days ago I set out from Boston and to date have ridden to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut all in the rain, then Toronto, Pennsylvania, Maryland, through Virginia to North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee Alabama (2), Georgia and back north managing Alabama to Kentucky via Tennessee in just one day. Today I visited Manchester Indiana a very pleasant small town nestled in what seemed like the county of Cheshire back home. Now I am just 12 miles from Manchester No 16 in Ohio.

This weekend another day off (thats the second in 20 days, huh!) I will be staying with music legend Missy Covill (see facebook and youtube) who has been following my progress since before I got to the US.

With a maxed out road temperature of 118F yesterday, it went from Barmy to balmy today with a mere 80F and cloud stopping even more burnt bits.

If you are in the UK, buy MCN (Motorcycle News) next Weds: for some stuff about the trip, and listen to Sidestand Down radio this Tuesday for my witty banter and general rubbish.

Thanks to the 6000 visitors to this blog, and my many facebook/roadtomanchester friends.

To date, the trip has been a pleasure and the people I have met have all been very pleasant, welcoming and interested in my quest.

May I send out my thoughts to the people in those states that I can not visit due to storm damage.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Bad vibrations

Starting off with telephone interviews by the UK's Manchester Evening News and then Rock Radio 106.1FM, I set off late (9.30) and with a balmy 75F headed for Goergia and over to Alabama. Its a sad day today though. I have lost the last weeks worth of SD cards with all my video footage. Somewhere between 7 gables Hotel in Burnside Kentucky (where I was trying to download them), and Madison, Alabama, (the long way round) I either dropped them or they were taken from the small shutter style storage boxes on the wing.(I doubt the second option). Fact is I down-loaded some to my notebook, but the big 8GB chip with Deals Gap & the Dragons Tail is lost. Sad sad day. I stopped a few times en-route and also at Lynchburg Tennesse the Jack Daniels centre. Anyone going there this week might want to ask. Small bag of SD chips all blue, most are 2GB all feature me. With a bit of luck, those finding them might realise they are lost (Doh!) and see the road to Manchester logos etc:
Alabama has two Manchester and the story about the first resulted in a quick get away as I was warned by a local who had shown me to this mountain forest 'town' !, that the area is not safe for 'outsiders'. He had left me but came back. I was setting up my camera but he wouldn't get out of his car, and soon shot off down the single track forest road. Tales of Hill Billies, meths stills and strange people were exchanged and shot guns being standard, had me make a fast retreat.
In comparison Manc#15 Alabama near Jasper, is another small community, little there and a short visit and to an air conditioned hotel in Jasper. Maxed out at 109F the Goldwings air temperature gauge told me enough was enough.Tomorrow North to Indiana and Iowa. Hope its cooler.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Tennessee to Alabama

After my rest day Sunday I set off early in a mere 72F and cooling mist, for Manchester Tennessee. T Shirt and jeans as the day was going to reach the mid nineties. Burnside KY, and Route 27 was quiet and the road changed from a wide 3 laner, to a nice twister with plenty to keep me busy.
Within an hour or two it was 80F and climbed to 94 before the 314 mile day was up. My target for today was Manchester #12 and then on towards lucky #13 in Alabama.
Not sure where I was going, I got in behind a group of Harley riders who eventually stopped to get some shade. They quickly put me right and I ignored Helga (my nutty GPS lady), and once again ended up at a bikers favorite haunt, the Jack Daniels Distillery. To make the 92 degrees bearable I looked for a beer........ No, this is a dry town ! Lemonade???
Jack Danny but no alcohol for sale.......
Cheered up by a couple I met last Friday at Deals Gap, I set off once more and managed Manchester by three o'clock,,,, except it was only 2pm as I had passed the Eastern to Central time zone line, now that is strange. One side Eastern Time a step west and central time. You can arrive an hour before you left ! Result.
Still by 4pm eastern time I had managed to find no one in at Manchester TN as it is a public holiday weekend, took some pics and you guessed it, hit the road again. 5pm in Madison Alabama with 314 miles added I gave up and sit once again in AirCon bliss. Within a few days I hope to be heading north again via Ohio and Michigan.
Take a look at where pictures of every rider thru' the Dragons tail are listed. Thursday last week and about page 10-12 you will find pics of me hitting the dragon. (Tourers pages) I have ordered copies and will download them asap.
At last that universal question you ask a stranger..... " Oh Manchester UK, my friend 'fill in' lives there do you know him?" Only 6 million Manc's to choose from, in this case, NO.

See more on my facebook/roadtomanchester page

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Cumberland Kentucky

Manchester Kentucky just for fun, a pre-trip feature on the BBC website.

Temps heading for the 90's today again, having a rest today, I am in Rockwood Kentucky and missed a custom car show yesterday. Arriving at Cumberland Falls, the GPS on the bike had a 'bad mood' moment again and sent me north back the way I came from. With nothing but road for 15 miles, I decided to call it a day as it was 5pm and I had not eaten since my breakfast of nuts, water and cerial bars. Arriving at the first hotel I was told it was full. Then stepped in Jonny 1. Boss of a working gang building a coal power station down the road, John insisted they could sort out a bed. His team had been there a month and had 'settled in'. After some sorting out I stayed in Jonny 1's room and he joined one of his team in a 3 bed room. What a gent' mad as a frog, but friendly and helpfull beyond anything I have found to date. We had a great evening by the pool, Jonny 2 a tobbaco chewing Liberace look alike, joined in with Jeff and a few other guests having a great BBQ of steak and salad. Many towns in Kentucky are 'DRY' and alcohol not on sale, so the guys travel 40 miles and stock up with Miller Lite in 32 can packs..... 10 at a time. (This part of Kentucky is 'a li'l damp', as they say around here.

5300 to go, 19 days. (Wow !).

I am a bit homesick today, missing my family & dogs.8o(

Sunday, and as its memorial day, and I have had 12 days on the bike, I guess I am having a day off. A local boat owner invited me on a powerboat trip around the massive lake nearby, (on Monday) but I will be 400 miles south in Georgia, Alabama or Tennessee by then. (Damn).

Saturday, 28 May 2011

A Tale about a Dragons Tail

Bought the T Shirt, rode the Dragon

381 Bends in 11 miles 4500ft up a mountain. Am I skying? No just ridin' the Dragons Tail.

The USA has a secret bikers paradise, we in the UK know little about. The area in and around the Appalachian Mountains have enough fantastic roads to keep anyone busy, but there are a few specials. The Dragons Tail is one of them. The Dragon is a series of 381 bends that have become the bucket list of many a biker. Today I met riders of all types of motor sickles, Two stroke classics, BMW, Ducati, Yamaha, Honda, Moto Guzzi and the standard HD's. Riders from Canada, a guy from Jersey (as in UK), all have a great passion for the constant bends, lack of straights and the fantastic scenery. I completed an on bike video, which will eventually be on the media, but for now believe me when I write. The area is brilliant, the roads are mind boggling, the people friendly, and the experience is a life changing one. Perhaps there are better roads out there I have not ridden yet, but this one was like being on skis. Having taken the big and heavy Goldwing down there, I was lucky enough to back back up and follow another wing'er doen. This guy was 400 lbs, and had a pillion. But he knew the road and knew his bike. Great day, great fun and I fell in love a little with the area. Bucket Lister..... oh yes.

I'll be back.

Oh Yes ! I finished the day on Manc #11 in Kentucky.