This article originally featured in Bahrain This Month.
Riding across the USA, donning a Bahrain shirt, cap and with the Kingdom’s colours held proudly aloft, Bill Grieve describes an incredible journey with a group of motorcycle enthusiasts from New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland and the United States.
Planet Chopper is the only company worldwide operating tours on custom motorcycles. Based in New Zealand and Virginia, USA, the company provides arranged tours for riders from all walks of life, who want access to well organised group events in these countries.
Quality motorcycles, organization, planning and support services are provided and the rides extend over 10 to 12 days taking in well-known landmarks, tourist spots and popular riding trails like the “Back of the Dragon” a nail biting ride of 32 miles with 438 curves through the Appalachian Mountains in Southwest Virginia and the awesome “Tail of the Dragon” with 318 curves in 11 miles of superb tarred road.
“It’s like riding with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”
Every person in the group brings something special and all that is required is a sense of adventure, personal discipline, responsibility and a positive attitude. The organisers lay the groundwork and provide the trip infrastructure and support, each member on the ride provides the rest. It can be hard work and when things go awry as they sometimes will, a positive attitude makes the difference between a problem and a solution.
“10 Days of riding that will change your life”/p>
Coming together at the Planet Chopper Woodlawn base in Virginia, USA, the old-style roadhouse atmosphere, pool table, loft dormitory accommodation and mechanical workshop make you realise that you are a part of something very special.
Before the trip commences there is a briefing on distancing, signalling and general handling. The journey quickly extends into a series of interest, fuel and food stops, as well as incredibly scenic legs providing a full experience of riding through some of the most picturesque areas in the USA.
On our ride dubbed the “Slay The Dragon/Swig The Shine” tour we initially rode the lush local areas in Woodlawn and visited the Matthews Living History Farm, rode the “Back of the dragon”, looped through various towns of interest and history and stayed at the well-known Riders Roost motorcycle resort. After riding scenic mountainous routes we visited the Wheels Through Time Motorcycles museum which houses some of the world’s rarest motorcycles and then headed to “Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge” for the night, a perfect overnight stay venue for motoring enthusiasts.
We rode the notorious “Tail of the dragon” next with 318 curves in 11 miles, a truly spectacular ride, from there we went to Nashville Tennessee the world’s country music capital, where we enjoyed a fantastic live music and delicious food. The next day took us to Loretto KY, home of the Sturgis motorcycle rally and after a wild time with lots of motorcycle fanatics we cruised back through some of the Southern states most picturesque countryside.
Lula at Fort Knox
Riding these well-known and challenging routes is a testament to personal ability and there is an enormous sense of satisfaction in completing the rides and afterwards being able to say: “I did it…” .
What is put to the test on a Planet Chopper Ride is you as a person. Your personality and ability to integrate with other people, your ability to be part of a team, your personal self-discipline and ability to ride safely. Riding as part of a team with Planet Chopper it fosters camaraderie and it becomes second nature to look after yourself and your fellow team riders.
As a group we agreed unanimously that the best accommodation on our ride had been at The Nashville Downtown Hostel in Nashville Tennessee, the finest restaurant food we agreed came from a Blue’s & Jazz Music location there too, the best roadside diner was undoubtedly the Sturgis Family Diner which really made us feel welcome and the Millers Market Bakery & Deli in Carrollton Pike, Woodlawn VA who serve a majestic BLT sandwich with egg – the best ever and made our team Planet Chopper regular BLT meals there both welcoming and memorable!!!
This trip was a life experience never to be forgotten……A life changing ride for all of us that did it, that can never be lost to the sands of time, filled with good memories, positive events and experiences and new friends……it was awesome..…a ride that everybody that can do, should do……
As the sun set on my last day in America, surrounded by new friends, the camaraderie of the ride and the adrenaline of completing nearly 2000 miles (3,200 Km) of epic but safe motorcycle riding, the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger came to mind and I know that at some point in the future – “I’ll be back….”.
The writer made a few minor riding errors on the ride and was quickly and discreetly corrected where necessary – the organizers are very professional and although they are very experienced riders, they are genuinely down to earth and courteous.
Riding hint – take your best riding gear and wet weather gear – the cheap stuff doesn’t pay and won’t work in the long run – disappointingly – and it will probably leave you wet, cold and unhappy – exactly what you should try and avoid at all costs.
If you are a motorcycle rider from the Middle East and want to enjoy the trip of a lifetime, then this is for you. All responsible riders are welcome.