~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

France In America

When I first started riding back in the '60s one of my dreams was to fly to England, pick up a new Triumph Bonneville 650 at the Triumph factory and tour England.

Gary France, way over in the United Kingdom, is by all accounts a man who likes to get things done.  One of his long standing dreams was to fly to the US and tour our great nation astride his Harley-Davidson.

Success in business allowed him to retire at the young age of fifty and he finally had the time and resources to do the sort of trip that for many people remains only a dream. I'm still dreaming here.

His blog detailed his careful trip planning and eventually his trip.  I picked up reading his blog while he was still in the planning stages of the trip and while it was was written it was just another blog about a guy planning a trip.  Gary writes very well, no issue there, but trip planning is just trip planning, the least interesting part of any ride adventure.  But I kept following along and when he hit the shores of the USA, that was when the blog hit it's stride.

Gary writes clearly and is a keen observer and photographs as well as he writes.  His detailed account of his trip across the US is filled with insight, humor,  and considered observations.  If he had an inclination to look down his nose at his American cousins, as some do, it didn't show.  He wrote like a gentleman and like a true gentleman, pointed out mostly the good but didn't shy away from the few negative things he encountered.  Some of his observations made me shift uncomfortably but I couldn't disagree with them.  All in all I've never read a more balanced account by a foreign motorcycle visitor to the USA.

Somewhere along the way the idea struck to take all those blog entries and turn them into a proper
book for his friends and family.  So he did.   Gary being the sort of man who likes to get things done and done right then proceeded to contract with a book publisher to put all those blog entries into book form and have 1200 or so copies published.

France In America  is no weak kneed book of sketchy quality, the physical volume is first rate and when my copy came in the mail, a gift from Gary, I was amazed at what I'd received.  I was expecting a little 8x10 book a half an inch thick with scattered "use a magnifying-glass-to-see-them" photos.  What Gary produced is a volume on motorcycle travels in the USA that has no modern peer that I've seen.  Decades from now when people are humming around on their cocooned electro-cycles, everything made safe and sanitary by nanny state governments, lucky people will find a copy of France In America and say "That was a real ride."

If you love bike travels or are only dreaming of them, or want to give a wonderful gift to someone who loves those things, click on over and order a copy of France In America at Gary's web page or on Amazon.com.  If you're a blogger and want to see how first rate motorcycle travel narrative is done, buy the book.  It's not inexpensive but it is worth it.


Unknown said...


How about we start at chapter ONE and just duplicate his ride from start to finish. Try to snap photos at the same place, stay at the same places, but not necessarily travel on an H-D.

I know, I know . . . just a dream . . .

I also discovered Gary during his planning stages, so while I was in the background he never came close enough for me to make it into his book, but I did eventually get to meet him later

Riding the Wet Coast

Trobairitz said...

Isn't his book amazing? We too were privileged enough to be gifted a copy.

I was surprised at the shear size and magnitude of it. it is perfect to have on the coffee table to pick up and peruse and dream at leisure.

WooleyBugger said...

I'm still enjoying the book, plus I get a good work out each time I pick it up. I have to agree that this book is no cheaply produced read. The weight of the book itself only adds to the weight of what waits inside the covers. I am savoring each chapter and have to pause and reflect , not to forget run to jump on line to look up some of the interesting places he went that I had no clue about. That's how I read something as good as this, slow because it makes you think.

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