MIKE’S PAN AMERICA D-DAY TOUR
Following his impressive trip to the Peak District earlier this year (which you can read about HERE), Mike from Newmarket is back!
This time he pushed the superb Pan America one step further on a history-filled journey to Normandy, France.
Day 1 of the D-Day Tour.
A 2 a.m. start to catch the 7 a.m. ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg, France. Approx. 180 miles, 3 hours saddle time, and less than a tank of fuel, the fully laden bike and I complete the journey in one hit. As I’ve said before this bike is exceptionally comfortable and economical.
Morning mist brings a chill to the air but my Harley riding gear did its job in keeping me nice and warm. The auxiliary LED fog/high beam lights were superb with a vast amount of illumination when I needed it. Something that also worked very well is the light above the main headlamp, an adaptive light, coming on when I leaned into a corner, throwing some extra brightness to the left or right, a nice touch.
Met by brilliant weather and brilliant roads, I arrived at the accommodation in historic Sainte Mere Église at 11:30 French time. Time to unpack and settle in for the week. Lots to see and do. Signing off for now. Catch up soon!
Day 2 of the D-Day Tour.
Before heading off on the bike, I took a quick wander around Sainte Mere Église, hit with the realisation I was surrounded by history. I’ve added some wartime photos next to my own to give you some idea of what I’m talking about.
From here, it’s onto Sainte Marie du Mont and Utah Beach. Wherever I turned I was riding through towns and villages where I could only imagine events of the past.
On the way back I passed a memorial to Captain Winters, leader of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne (made famous by the Band of Brothers television series), and also paid a visit to ‘Dead Man’s Corner’ in Carentan-les-Marais.
The bike? The bike is just superb, she hasn’t missed a beat. Dealing with 30-degree heat and lots of stop-starts, as I didn’t want to miss anything, I’m still yet to put any fuel in from filling up back in Portsmouth. I changed the instrument panel to km/h easily via the settings menu and the centre stand was a godsend, as was the light weight of the machine on gravel car park surfaces, it’s so easy to manoeuvre.
THE bike to do this tour on. What else to say? A fantastic humbling experience so far. Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Military Cemetery tomorrow. Signing off for now.
Day 3 of the D-Day Tour.
En route to Omaha Beach, the area is filled with museums, monuments, and battle-worn equipment, proving equally fascinating yet sobering.
I made it to Omaha. As with Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword, it was a surreal experience realising I was on the same beach as those who landed in hell on 6th June 1944, making it possible for those beachgoers today to enjoy making sandcastles and eat their ice cream cones.
Then the Normandy American Cemetery. Almost 10’000 laid to rest. No words, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
The Harley-Davidson Pan America has been flawless. ‘Nuff said. Bye for now!
Day 4 of the D-Day Tour.
A leisurely ride around Normandy takes me to a couple of sites off the beaten track.
First stop, Brecourt Manor, the site of one of the most significant battles in the war, where the men of Easy Company took out 3 guns (again made famous by Band of Brothers), and the execution of this mission is still used as a training tool today.
From there I moved on to Marmion Farm, used as a base for the Allied soldiers. Standing empty today it still gives off a sense of what happened here. A couple of museum visits and Harley-Davidson WLAs are included in the exhibits. Approximately 90,000 of these motorcycles were made and the ‘Liberator’ is honoured all across Normandy in all manor of gifts and collectibles.
Harley-Davidson’s contribution to the war effort has made it possible to tour the very same area on this Harley-Davidson Pan America 80 years later. I find that amazing.
Tomorrow we visit Pegasus Bridge. Au revoir for now.
Day 5 of the D-Day Tour.
Today I rode a good hour or so to visit the Merville Battery near Caen. This is where the British Parachute regiment disarmed a series of huge guns firing onto Sword and Juno beaches. Initially, 700 men were dropped in, of those, only 150 were able to take on the mission and only 75 made it out alive. Unbelievable acts of courage and bravery. A beautifully restored Dakota aircraft lay on display.
From there it’s onto Pegasus Bridge and the museum there. Well worth a visit if you’re over here and the cafe to the side, still run by the same family as in WW2 does a cracking cuppa! Thanks to those who recommended it. A great end to a great tour.
So, a fantastic week of motorcycle touring and the Pan America hasn’t missed a beat, comfortable, economical, very capable, and with enough storage to carry all the souvenirs I don’t need!
If you’re thinking of going touring then do it! And do it on a Harley-Davidson Pan America. It’s absolutely superb and the perfect tool for the job. If you have any questions about the trip or the bike itself, get in touch on social media or pop into the dealership and come say hello. Now…where to go next???? See you soon.
Peaks Tour Trip End and Final Thoughts.
So, 7 days and 820 miles later, the D-Day tour is Complete.
Firstly, Normandy; one of the most enjoyable, humbling, surreal experiences of my life. No matter what WW2 books you read, what documentaries or movies you watch, you will never get a sense of the bravery and sacrifice that was made by those involved 80 years ago until you are there, standing in the same countryside, same towns, and on the same beaches. You MUST go. Fantastic empty roads provide some of the best riding too.
Secondly, the Harley-Davidson Pan America; Still undeservedly tarnished by its initial launch software gremlins, this bike performed flawlessly.
Comfortable: 3 hours nonstop saddle time with no problem and the gear quick shifter is a must.
Economical: 250+ mile tank range when full.
Powerful: 150bhp means a fully laden bike easily cruises at motorway speeds and still has enough grunt to get you out of trouble if needed.
Luggage: Easily catered for me, a week’s worth of gear, and still enough room for some purchases in France.
Visibility: Superb, elevated seat position provides excellent viewing and the mirrors work how they should. The adaptive headlight works a treat and the auxiliary lights literally are the difference between night and day.
Weight: Even fully loaded this bike is easy to manoeuvre on uneven or rough terrain and the centre stand provides great stability when used.
Height: Even with my 30” inside leg, both feet are flat on the floor when stationary, the bike is well balanced with complete rider confidence at slower speeds.
Other rider aids such as full infotainment TFT screen, cruise control, ride modes, adjustable screen, hand guards, heated grips, and USB charging just add to the riding pleasure, I genuinely cannot speak highly enough of this bike.
Remember, this was not a sponsored ride or review, it was a trip I paid for with my own buck, and yes, I wanted to prove this motorcycle is all its advertised to be, an adventure tourer… and it did 100%. Don’t believe me? Come and ride the bike itself at Newmarket Harley-Davidson, you won’t be disappointed, I guarantee it.