The “Love Route“ ! – September 2015
In 2006 as a celebration, to myself, of turning 50, I rode Route 66, from Chicago to Santa Monica and a whole lot more of the USA besides.
Because of a back problem, I had, at that point, hardly ridden anywhere for some years. I had not even owned a motorcycle and any riding I had done had been upon rented or borrowed machines.
The story of my ride on Route 66 appears elsewhere – but the reason I mention it here is because, for that trip, I rented a Harley Davidson “Fat Boy“ from Eagle Riders in Chicago. Suffice it to say that I loved that motorcycle and when, after riding a shade under 17,000 miles in a month, I had to hand it back, I did so quite reluctantly. We seemed to fit.
Once back in Prague, I was itching to get a motorcycle again but it was still a few years before I did. I was busy with my business and hardly seemed to have time even to breathe but ironically, it was one of my clients that provided the “opening“.
This guy lived in Ireland and had been given a Harley Street Bob by his wife as a present and had ridden it only about 450 km in THREE YEARS of ownership. Most of the distance it had covered in its life had been with me in the saddle, as I did over 900 km on it, over a weekend, when I visited him. He offered it at what I thought was a good price – so I bought it.
Sadly, in day to day life, for two people, the Street Bob did not really cut the proverbial “mustard“ and my wife, Lucie, did not like it at all. Although the handling was at times a bit curious, this was principally a matter of her comfort. After a backside numbing ride of almost 2,000 km, when I collected the bike in Dublin and rode it home to Prague, via the UK, I had already changed the stock saddle for a new (and expensive) one with more padding. This had not really helped me and it did not help Lucie either. Basically, the ergonomics did not seem to suit her. She is quite tall and the rear foot rests, even repositioned, did not really feel to be where she wanted them to be. It was not comfortable for her over any distance. My hopes for rides into the wider blue yonder did not, as a consequence, materialise and we contented ourselves with short trips around the immediate environs of Prague, where we live.
At the time, there was a mechanic working very close to my house. He specialised in Harleys and did my servicing and, in his shop, there were occasionally other Harleys for sale. He knew about our comfort issue and he knew I had done Route 66 so, when a Fat Boy appeared on his inventory, he alerted me. It was a mild custom, with a lot of chrome and loud pipes. A couple of turns around the block (on a freezing (-5C) February morning, wearing only a thin coat and with no gloves on) was enough for it to win my heart. Within a week, I owned it !
Things were a bit different now.
Lucie found the Fat Boy much more pleasurable to be on – as did I if the truth were told – and our trips slowly got longer. Of course, we were both really busy and most of what we did at first was only an elongated version of what we had already been doing. The circles around Prague may have been wider and she was quite happy to come along on my HOG (Harley Owners Group) club rides, but we still did not do what I would call “really serious“ trips.
In the end, Summer was starting to fade so we decided that we had to make a serious effort.
There is a series of programs on my satellite tv featuring a biker called Henry Cole who has managed the dream of turning his interest into a business. The series “The World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides“ has long enjoyed my rapt attention. Henry is quite engaging and, although his daily distances covered always seem to me to be a little meagre, he is good at pointing out places of interest and things to see as he trundles along.
One of the rides Henry had extolled was in nearby Germany. It was billed as “The Love Route“ and wended a leisurely course between Würzburg (only about 400km from our home) and Füssen on the German/Swiss border to the south. Füssen is the location of the castle of Neuschwanstein which, with its “Fairy Tale“ aspect inspired the Disneyland castles and is a favourite of jig-saw makers. We had already pieced it together from every angle and in every season. It was time to see it in real-life.
We finally had a plan !
2004 Fat Boy
88 Cubic Inches (1449 cc)
Odometer on departure 24,488 km (15,216 miles)
Odometer on return 26,122 km (16,232 miles)
Distance travelled 1,634 km (1.016 miles)