Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Going Black Bear Hunting in England...Harley style!!

As you may've seen by the additional pictures I managed to add more pictures to my last blog about England, so Blogger seems to have worked out whatever kinks it had in the system. I'm glad, not only because it saves me from putting my fist through yet another computer screen in frustration, bit more so because it allows me to tell one of my more favorite stories from recent trip to England. (see footnote at the end of this post)

The Hunt Begins
My family have become used to me tracking down any local Harley Davidson Dealers when we go on a family vacation. When in Orlando for my sisters birthday I had a forty-five minute window in our park-filled weekend to buy some T-Shirts. The same happened when my girlfriend and I spent a weekend in Naples. So not only was it expected by my family, but practically demanded that I find the local Harley Davidson dealership on the recent trip to England.

It just happened that the dealership was in Newmarket, the same town I was born in some forty years ago. Coincidence? Irony? Either way it was about forty miles away. Knowing my mother is a rather nervous driver at the best of times I suggested a mother-son day outing on the train.

Stalking the prey

As I said, a quick check on the internet found Black Bear Harley Davidson in Newmarket and further poking around cyber-space gave me the train schedules, which apart from a forty minute wait between connections seemed like a fairly straight-forward ride.

The trip would be quick and effortless as long as we missed the rush hours of the morning and the afternoon that would find the train full of school children making their way between home and school from the various villages up and down the line as well as the other business commuters.

The town of Newmarket is renowned for breeding and training race horses, remaining a mostly quiet place. I was a little taken aback by the small platform the train left us at and a vague map behind perspex mounted on a pole near the exit. Everything left me hoping that the more detailed map I'd committed to memory had the dealership as close as it appeared.

After a quick left and little longer right not only did I hear the sound of a Harley coming up the street but there was Black Bear!

I was surprised at how nicely the store was designed and presented, even better than some Harley stores I've seen in the US. Darker with spots making the chrome on all the new and slightly used bikes seem to gleam even more than you thought they could. Dark wood floors and Harley Davidson paraphernalia everywhere, neatly displayed and organized. You could easily walk around and forget you were in England all together. They had a full range of bikes and this was actually my first chance to see the new Street Bob model upclose. Of course once you took into account the exchange rate between the British Pound and American Dollar all the merchandise became a little expensive, but when would I have the chance to buy this apparel again?

As you can see by the four page color brochure I picked up, the owner gave up selling other lines of motorcycles to focus in on Harley. I did scan it in at some higher resolutions but the size of the file was pretty big and would take too much time for readers of the blog that are using dial-up.

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Pretty impressive flyer with an equally impressive commitment.

As I said, Newmarket started off as a town to breed and train racing horses and we walked past stables, and what would appear to be the stereotypical cottage, well maybe a little bigger, but certainly nice.

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But between a late start, waiting at the first connection and the walk to the dealership from the train station and back we had run right into the time all the school children (and school teenagers but we shouldn't talk about that) where riding the trains. The crowd were made thicker by the cancellation of a train just before ours and we ended up fighting for a seat, in a very English and civilized fashio of course.

As a humorous footnote to the day just to show how small this world can be, here I was in England some fourteen years after I'd moved away in a city about twenty miles from where I originally lived on the station platform during working hours and I see an ex-girlfriend I broke up with when we were both twenty-one.

Unlike the Harley store, never got a t-shirt for that excursion!!!!

I'm not sure whats going on with blogger but it seems temperamental with when it'll let me upload photos, if at all!! Between stopping during the upload, saying it has and the photos not on the blog to telling me there was an error during the process, it's becoming a little frustrating.

As you can see by the above photos, I've used my fall back of imageshack, and as good as the service is it's not my preferred choice.

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