I'd been itching to ride a Harley-Davidson across America for years. Now it was the High Plains or bust. Inconveniently, my wife Roz had never even sat on a bike. I didn't fancy a passenger for 12,000 miles, so Roz borrowed an ancient 100cc Suzuki and made it to the Driving Test centre. The following morning we flew to Baltimore and she bought a yellow 883 'Sportster', all leather tassels, sexy buckhorn bars and straight-through pipes. It met my Soft-tail off the ship from Southampton and we were away. The ride of a lifetime was soon transformed into a pilgrimage in search of the American people who the Harleys dragged from under stones, off mountainsides, out of the swamps and the prairie dust. The scenery was phenomenal, but it is the folks I'll remember - and riding Death Valley with an engine air-cooled by wind 35 degrees hotter than my blood.