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Our Harley Davidson day at The Rider’s Edge, Wales – April 2009

We had a great day on Friday, the run down late Thursday was event-free and Mark’s Aston Martin Vantage just loves the Welsh roads, arrived dead comfortable, and could have gone on for hours. Despite the initial smell of Bisto, the hotel turned out to be very nice and was a huge place given the titchy town we were in. This was smack bang in the middle of Wales, about 4 hours from West London.

As predictable as ever, Mark was well pissed on Thursday night, he managed to egg on someone else this time. I was determined not to ruin it like the last combat flight. The other chap having fallen into Mark’s trap was also at ‘Rivers Edge’ the next day and spent the morning miserable and green. So too did Mark, we had the usual ‘I feel sick’, so I drove us to the Harley site, on the Welsh National Show Ground, a quarter of an hour away.

A very slick set-up, everything orange and black and after a bit of paperwork and getting Mark kitted up, they took us to a huge shed marked Goats. Inside were 30 Harley Davidson and Buell bikes lined up, it was an amazing sight. They literally said ‘pick one’, talk about kids in a candy store!

At this point I should point out, although I am a relative novice, Mark passed his bike test at 17, hadn’t ridden for 27 years and only then on a 250cc. His grand idea of a monster V Rod soon evaporated when up close. He was obviously quite uncomfortable, so picked something not dissimilar to my Bonneville and I took a big Road King cruiser. We left the shed nervously and cruised for a couple of minutes through the sheep shearing sheds to the showground. There were lots of tarmac lanes across the fields of the showground, it looked like a mini road system for a town. At the show, the stalls are lined up along these. We then just went up and down this for an hour or so, swapping bikes and generally having a bit of fun. Did a few emergency stops and figure-of-eights to see if we were going to be a danger on the road. They seem satisfied, never one to shy away from a spot of adrenaline, Mark upped his bike to a 1.5cc Street Glide and monster of a cruiser, the same sort of thing you see the highway patrol on.

Off we went for two hours thundering around the Welsh lanes and up into the mountains and along the military ranges, lots of gorgeous sheep and smashing roads. We followed a guide which made it much more fun, we got to know him well on the day, very nice chap. Mark and I both had some meaty bikes, so we could experience something suitable for our US trip. Amazed at the pace, off the lanes and on the roads, we were at an almost constant 60 mph. Soon got used to the size of the bikes, it was only when you stopped to put your food down do you realize just how blooming heavy they are. It was very enjoyable following someone who knew the way and the pace of the road, so after a while, we could enjoy the riding, countryside and sheep.  

They showed us ‘opposite steering’ which is something I hadn’t heard about, especially useful with a big bike. When in a turn and you find yourself too near the centre line, you put a little pressure and turn the steering slightly in the opposite direction. This then sharply leans you further down into the turn and tightens the turn. Scary at first, but we were constantly using it by the end of the day.

Came back for lunch in amazing spirits. The other chap had by now returned to a more regular colour, so he joined us for the afternoon and we were out again for 2 ½ hours with a couple of coffee breaks. We started to swap the bikes more and more, we all had some fun on the Night Rod a mental matt black bike that looks like it’s Batman’s. Incredibly fast quite agile and amazingly uncomfortable, but for 45mins acceptable, we both got off it with WOW!

On our return, we went to the shed and got out some more bikes. At this point, we were very adventurous and took out some outrageous choppers with ape hanger bars and a monster called ‘Fat Bob’. What a laugh it was and such a thrill to be able to pick anything we fancied, the closed roads of the showground meant we were comfortable taking out anything they had, nothing intimidated us at that point.

We stay overnight gain, but that was unnecessary, we should have driven back. We liked to style of the Road Kings, but the top of the windscreen cut across your eye line on undulating roads, we both settled on Street Glide for the Catskills trip, essentially the same bikes, but with cut-down screens and a batwing fairing.