Out on the Razzle in America

United Kingdom
Freelance writer, literary graduate and minor lad. In America for pleasure, not business. I've never been before, so I thought I should. Should I have done it all at once? Can it all be done at once? Only one way to find out...

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Whatever happened to the Iron Horse?

For a country that owes so much of its history to the railroad, the USA abandoned the idea pretty quickly when the car arrived. Amtrak serves almost nowhere. There are still horses of course, but no iron ones, which are far more hard-wearing and less prone to colic than their organic counterparts.

America's personal transportation devices are pretty ludicrous, whether it is the vast trucks towing the vast trailers, the vans with 6.7 litre engines and 200 horsepower, the enormous RVs that warp along their axis as they turn bends or the motorbikes. Or motorbike.

There is really only one bike in America, and that is a Harley Davidson, ideally seating two geriatrics in vast seats and with huge antennae curving in the breeze. It is a terrible cliche and a terrible disappointment. There are thousands of Harleys plowing through America. They form the dawn chorus in woodland campsites, as if the birds have upgraded to Second World War fighters, they drone along on every motorway, they creak into every service station. They are wholly, terribly standard. There is only one thing worse than them, and that is the tricycle version. But you have to be really, really old to use that. I really wanted a Harley before I came here, now I could think of nothing less interesting.

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