Monday, 7 July 2014

After a week off relaxing in New York City - Blogging Commences Once More

Hi folks, just seven days ago 'The Blighty-Boys' rode into the Upper West Side of New York City On Sunday 29th June after a 25 mile cruise down from Nyack by the Hudson River, and a spectacular ride across the George Washington Bridge.  Here we are arriving at my friends apartment after 13,000 miles, 29 States and a collection of the most fantastic memories anyone would ever ask for in one lifetime - WOW!  What a ride.

We had taken a break from blogging whilst here New York re-uniting with family and friends but also because the hotel internet service is the worst we have experienced in all our travels!  Something we didn't expect in the 'capital city of the world.'  It is so intermittent that just one photograph takes 5-10 minutes to get loaded into Blogger…..!!  Arrrrrrh….very frustrating.

Anyhow once we are back to normal service we intend to close out the Blog with several final posts.  Stay tuned for the finale.


Sunday, 29 June 2014

Is "The Big Apple" Ready for "The Blighty-Boys?"

It's 9:45pm on the eve of almost the official end to our 'TransAmerica 2014 Motorcycle Adventure.'  We still need to drop the bikes at the 'shippers' in a couple of days time.   

We are full of some incredible memories and very strong emotions this evening, some mixed up right now (possibly the effect of the beer and red wine, haven't started on the rum yet!).  However before we 'sign-off' there will still be a few more posts starting with our ride into Manhattan early tomorrow morning.  We plan to get up at 5:30am, leave at 6:15am and be cruising across the George Washington Bridge by 7am to meet my dear friend Michael for breakfast.


What a town…. I adore it!  For Jon it will be his first time in NYC.


Our new member of 'staff' "Ringo" has slipped very naturally into the role of the Blighty-Boys lead mascot.  Taking in the 'rays' as we departed Gettysburg this morning.


Nyack on a budget.  Our room tonight at the "Best Wifi" a.k.a Best Western before we enjoy the luxury of mid-town NYC.


Our morning ride hugging the Hudson river, just 25 miles before we become lost in the 'capital city of the world'


Saturday, 28 June 2014

Our Last Longish Ride - Saturday 28th June

We are heading out of Gettysburg this morning on our penultimate ride up towards New York City.  It's our last long one, some 230 miles to Nyack on the Hudson River, sad in lots of ways, but exciting too.  Here is our run.


15,000 Page Views - Thank You!

Yesterday 'The Blighty-Boys Blog' clocked up just over 15,000 Page Views since our journey across American began.  Thank you for your interest and your comments and support it does mean a great deal to us.

To celebrate, we went to a real pub in downtown Gettysburg.  It even looks like the pubs back home with the benches out the front, and we enjoyed a cold refreshing beer.  Happy days!


Gettysburg, PA - what a monumental piece of American History

Yesterday, Friday 27th June we visited the Gettysburg National Military Park, Museum and Visitor Centre.  (http://www.nps.gov/gett/index.htm).  Gettysburg was on our most important list of places to go.  We knew of the American Civil War battles that took place here and we had read Presidents Lincoln's famous "Gettysburg Address."  What we didn't quite appreciate was the scale of the fight between the Union and Confederate armies and the fundamental importance of the outcome and how it chanced the Civil War and the entire history of America to this very day. 


The Park is huge covering nearly 6000 acres of battlefields and is populated with some 1,350 monuments markers and memorials to the brave men that fought and lost their lives here on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd July 1863.  The park is visited by more than 1.8 million visitors per year.  We started in the visitor centre and for $36 we each got to view a 25 minute movie inside a proper cinema explaining in detail the history leading up to, and the breakout of civil war and subsequent battles that took place in Gettysburg.  Following the movie we got to view the "Gettysburg Cyclorama."  The cyclorama is a 360-degree oil on canvas painting measuring 377 feet long and 42 feet high that depicts the most critical battle at Gettysburg, the battle of "Picketts Charge."  It was painted by Paul Dominique Philippoteaux and completed in 1884.

Our entrance ticket also included access to the Museum, which is excellent and a 2 hour plus narrated bus tour around all the key points of the battles fields.  This was really very interesting and on it's own worth the $36.

Here are some photographs of the Gettysburg Cyclorama.  

You can't imagine the horror and the sounds and smells of being in land battle like this.  The Union Army of some 94,000 soldiers and the Confederate Army of some 72,000 soldiers clash in Gettysburg.  Nearly 10,000 soldiers were killed in just 3 days and countless wounded and captured as prisoners of war.




After viewing the Cyclorama we proceeded to our bus tour.


Our Tour Guide was first-rate and had a very detailed and passionate understanding of the history of Gettysburg and brought wonderfully to life for us the full story for us.  He delivery and knowledge were fascinating.


This is the "Eternal Light Peace Memorial" standing prominent in the park overlooking the battlefields.  It is made from Maine Granite (the Union, the North) and Alabama Limstone (the Confederates, the South) and signifies the country once again coming together and being whole.


This is "The Flame of Eternal Peace"


This is "Little Top" looking down into "Devils Den" it was held by the Union Armies during the 3 day battles and Confederates "The Rebels" made several unsuccessful attempts to capture it.  


Looking out over "Little Top."  There are original canons all over the park placed in the positions they were pointing during the Gettysburg battles. 




This part of the battlefield is called "The Angle" it was the scene of utter devastation for the Confederates as they executed what became known as "Pickett's Charge" during the 3rd and final day of battle at Gettysburg.


This is what the 'carnage' would have looked like with thousands of Confederate Soldiers trying to break through the Union's middle ranks, but they failed.  These photo's were taken from the 360 degree Cyclorama Oil Painting



The Gettysburg Address was a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, and is one of the best-known in American history.  It is well worth a read. 

It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg.



The Civil War was the central event in America's historical consciousness. While the Revolution of 1776-1783 created the United States and independence from British Rule, the Civil War of 1861-1865 determined what kind of nation American would be. 

The war resolved two fundamental questions left unresolved by the revolution: whether the United States was to be a dissolvable confederation of sovereign states or an indivisible nation with a sovereign national government; and whether this nation, born of a declaration that all men were created with an equal right to liberty, would continue to exist as the largest slaveholding country in the world.

What happened in Gettysburg on those first three days in July 1863 ultimately lead to the United States of America that we know today.







Friday, 27 June 2014

"Ringo" (a.k.a 'Johnny Ringo') Joins Our Touring Gang

For those of you that have followed our blog from very early stages of this road-trip, you'll remember that we travelled with our faithful mascot "Malcom The Mouse."  

Malcom had 'served' alongside of us for many, many years all over the UK and Europe until  he decided to 'dessert' us in Oklahoma City. 

See below - we put out a "Wanted Poster" for him, but nobody came forward to claim the bounty, forget the $100 bucks, it was the Free Rum that we hoped would motivate them! 



Well that is all history now……Malcom The Mouse…..Who?  Never heard of him!  We have finally managed to "press-gang" a new recruit into joining the travelling circus that is "The Blighty-Boys"

Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls……we give you………. "Ringo"



Thursday, 26 June 2014

Harley Davidson Factory Tour - York Pennsylvania

On Wednesday 25th June we visited the Harley Davidson, York, PA manufacturing plant.  The significance for us was it was where our two 'touring' bikes were made.    

What an amazing experience it was too.  To give you a feel for the place, take a few minutes to view the official Harley YouTube video below about the York Plant, or click on this link - (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThjYcG9H3Ys&feature=kp).



We had booked ourselves on the 'Steel Toe Tour' which as the clue suggest you had to where steel toe-capped boots and high-viz jackets, plus safety goggles in order to be allowed escorted access to all the key manufacturing areas of the plant covering fuel tanks, frames, fenders and the full motorcycle assembly lines, final stage testing, and packing & shipping areas.  Our hosts were 'Ron & Don' a customer service double act, that were retired, but had spent their entire careers in manufacturing companies, but not Harley Davidson.  Unfortunately NO PHOTOGRAPHY was allowed within the factory.  Given we were close to the new launch of their 2015 Models (August) - still yet to be announced, no doubt much 'top secret' work was going on at the plant to at least build the models to be used in their Press Launches and Advertising Videos.



The "Home Coming" for 'B1GD0GH0G' and 'HOBO-LULU' at the entrance to the plant.


The factory, which doesn't look big but in 2013 they produced more than 260,000 Harley Davidson's from this plant.


In 2014 this plant also makes the 'CVO Breakout' model which I am very lucky to have one waiting for me at home.  It took 16 months from order to arrive and frustratingly did so eight days before I left for this tour!  She's in my garage, with only 90 miles on the clock just waiting to get out and enjoy the English summertime with me  - let's hope there is some summer left by the time I get back.


This was a wall display that allowed you to build your own bike and choose the colours from the production line choices by applying magnetic cut-outs to the basic frame .  Jon chose to build his model, with the exact paint colour scheme he has in about 45 seconds.


Just outside the 'Tour Centre' entrance.  This is where our bikes were 'born' their frames were stamped with their unique VIN numbers in this very building and assembled here in 2011 and 2012 - Jon thinks his was made on a Friday afternoon in 2012 given some of the small, but annoying issues he has had with it!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Two Weeks Left….and much to do still, time to leave New Hope

Just two weeks today we will be touching down at London's Heathrow Airport.  But first there is much more fun to be had in this beautiful country and some interesting places we've got to go, ending with our party with family and friends in the one and only "Big Apple." 

Today we are heading down to York, Pennsylvania to the Harley Davidson Factory where they manufacture their 'CVO' (Custom Vehicle Operations) bikes.  Our own bikes were produced here.  Mine in 2011 and Jon's in 2012. (http://www.harley-davidson.com/content/h-d/en_US/home/events/factory-tours/yorkpa.html).  We are booked on the 'Steel Toe Tour' where we shall gain insight first hand into the entire bike bike production at the plant.  Unfortunately I don't think they allow photography on the shop floors, which we can understand.



We have enjoyed our brief stay here in New Hope, a very pretty historic old town on the banks on the Delaware River.  I even went for a swim in the pool at the hotel, the first time in 10 weeks finally using those shorts and goggles I've been lugging around America.






The only disappointing thing about New Hope is there was no provision that we could find to park our bikes (free of charge of course!) We ended up having to use a meter, two for one though.


Through the years this historic town has had its share of French influence.


Even those nasty "limeys" were still taking pot shots at the town back in December 1776 from across the Delaware River.  This was a stunning house, and very old by American standards.


The Delaware River.  New Jersey on one side and Pennsylvania on the other.  Operationally disruptive for us bikers.  Helmet law enforced in one, but not the other.  We saw a number of bikers remove their 'lids' once they had come across the bridge.


We treated ourselves to a fabulous lunch at the 'Logan Inn' established in 1727- fresh Calamari followed by an enormous Greek salad with enough grilled chicken breast on it to feed a family of four.


Monday, 23 June 2014

New Hope, PA - Holding Pattern

Yesterday's ride - Sunday 22nd June was a short one down from Newburgh to New Hope.  

My friend Michael who lives in Manhattan recommended the town to us.  As you know we had been in Newburgh to visit 'Orange County Choppers' and a really cool thing happened before we left.  As we were packing up our bikes in the hotel car park which is just opposite OCC HQ, who should we see ride in on a cool custom chopper but the big man himself - Paul Teutul Sr.  Obviously in need of some overtime work on a Sunday!  We didn't get time to say hi before he disappeared into the building.


Our ride


We are staying in hotel with a really nice swimming pool so after carrying my swimming shorts and goggles for 10 weeks I might just get to use them today for the first time!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Orange County Choppers, Newburgh, New York

Visiting Orange County Choppers was on our 'must see' list of places.   The ride in from Newport today was really exciting and a joy as the weather once again blessed us.


Orange County Choppers (OCC) is a custom and production motorcycle manufacturer based in Orange County, New York, that was founded in 1999 by Paul Teutul, Sr., and Paul Teutul Jnr.  The company was featured on American Chopper a reality TV series show that debuted in September 2002 on the Discovery Channel, which then contributed to the company's quick rise to fame as it was broadcast on networks all over the world.  It is very popular in the UK and especially liked by yours truly 'The Blighty-Boys'

A new international headquarters designed to combine their production and retail facilities was constructed in the Town of Newburgh and opened April 24, 2008, and we just had to go and see it.

Interestingly what started as a sideline to the family's steel manufacturing enterprise, Orange County Iron Works, which was founded in the 1970s.  But  in the late 1990s, Paul Teutul Sr. began manufacturing custom motorcycles as an extension of his steel business, and in 1999 he founded Orange County Choppers. The company's first bike, "True Blue," was debuted at the 1999 Daytona Biketoberfest.  And as they say, "the rest is history!"


Paul Senior with his Boys


Beautiful Bikes, Beautiful Building


Beautiful people……what we here you say!


Next door OCC have a great 'Road-House' style restaurant fitted out with many of their bikes, a 10-Pin Bowling Alley, Pool Tables, a stage for live bands and great food, beer and wines.


Now that is what I call marketing.  Branding Iron of your logo on the burgers.  They were great too.  This is a 'smoking blue burger'  smoked bacon, and smoked blue cheese….yummy!


"A Sportster…….I grew up on a Sportster…!" the immortal lines from the film "Wild Hogs" said by the actor Ray Liotta.  This bike below was the one riden by him playing the leader of the 'Del Fuegos' motorcycle gang.  Above you can see some still pictures from the film staring John Travolta.