We caught up with TGF L.A boss Imogen about her recent ride across America with Harley Davidson for their ‘Highway Runaways’ in homage to Avis and Effie Hotchkiss. Read about her awesome journey below.
TGF: Tell us about your journey with the Highway Runways
Imogen: We zig-zagged across the country (see map below), a little on the southern side of the middle, putting in an average of 350 – 400 miles on ride days, and staying in towns/cities for 1, 2 or 3 nights.
We had meet and greets, group rides, shows and HD dealership events in various cities along the way with our focus being on meeting and encouraging other women with an interest in riding.
Before taking off, we estimated the trip to be a little under 5000 miles, and it ended up being closer to 6000.
TGF: What bike did you ride?
Imogen: I was riding HOG Magazine’s (Harley owned mag) 2015 ‘Project Wide Glide’ bike. It is definitely a ‘BIG boy bike’ with a twin cam 103 Engine, 1690cc, and 6 speeds. They had modified the bike with all black Harley Davidson and aftermarket parts (screaming eagle pipes etc.) I loved this bike…. definitely made for cruising and long haul rides!
TGF: All the photos look incredible, but was there a favourite place to ride?
Imogen: Thank you! The whole trip was just filled with breathtakingly beautiful scenery. The majority of our riding was on winding, uncrowded 2-lane freeways that ran through forests, plains, mountains, fields, and deserts. I had a hard time keeping my eyes on the road!
For me, every place we rode through was new to me and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of rural America! I especially loved noticing the changes in climate and scenery as we traveled across states. From lush, green, cooler and wetter climes in NY, Pennsylvania and Virginia, changing to hot and humid, ‘swampier’ (and ‘buggier!’) in Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee, then to very dry heat, desert climates through Texas and New Mexico. Then finally cooler, crisper and saltier air in Utah through to San Francisco.
My favorite places to ride in were New Mexico, Colorado, Tennessee and Georgia (probably in that order). Each state definitely has its own vibe, and some places just have something special about them. I especially loved riding through the big mountain ranges – The Ol’ Smokies in Tennessee and The Rockies in Colorado. We saw an abundance of wildlife (elk, deer, coyote, eagles and buffalo), as well as experiencing all kinds of weather – from scorching desert heat, heavy storms, rain, hail and high winds.
TGF: You must’ve had some long, fun, but grueling hours on the road. What motivated you during these rides?
Imogen: In all honesty – time passes pretty quickly when you’re riding. The hours on the bike were motivation enough, and almost a time for relaxation and getting lost in thoughts and debriefing from the other aspects of the trip.
Some days I couldn’t wait to just get on the bike… It was the only time we had to ourselves!
Not that it was difficult company, but 30 odd days with the same group of people day and night can be exhausting!
It was certainly grueling riding some days – especially when we had rain and low visibility. Those are the days you’re just wishing you could fast-forward through the miles and get there already. Your fingers frozen, knuckles are locked in place and boots are waterlogged, trying to see through the rain with your breath fogging up your helmet. And then taking scary hairpin mountain turns – concentrating on not braking, skidding or hydroplaning!
It was motivating to know that we would have a hot shower and bed when we got to the destination!
Also, it was motivating just to be on the move, reaching a goal, being on a mission and inspiring and encouraging other women who might want to ride.
TGF: Did you meet with other female riders along the way? If so, where did you find the strongest camaraderie?
Imogen: We did meet a lot of other women who ride, over all age groups, ethnicities and backgrounds. There are a lot of new riders, others who have been riding for years. Some cities had their own girl-rider groups, like ‘The Litas’ in Salt Lake City, ‘The Lady Fingers’ in Atlanta, and ‘Hot Rides’ in San Francisco. Women who are into riding motorcycles is an exciting movement right now and there are a lot of genuine, inspirational and strong women out there. We met so many really awesome people!
TGF: What have you learnt from this experience?
Imogen: The experience definitely made me a stronger and more confident rider, as well as it being a very healthy journey for me mentally and spiritually.
It was very refreshing and therapeutic to step out of my routine and have time inside my mind without the regular stress and pressures of daily life and work.
The trip also opened my eyes to vast beauty and diversity of the country I live in but haven’t seen a lot of. The time on the road helped me organize my thoughts, goals and dreams. And to appreciate the big picture and how I spend my time on this planet.