The United States of Manchester…
Imagine jumping on your motorbike with the sole purpose of visiting 33 towns, all called Manchester. That’s the task Manchester-based motorcyclist Pete Johnson set himself. A total journey of 9,727 miles across America and Canada, crossing 30 states during an epic ride lasting 36 days.
Pete left Manchester (UK) on Friday 13 May to embark on his solo riding journey. To prepare for his departure, the Mancunian biker visited a number of iconic Manchester locations to bid farewell to his home city. He explained that he had been planning the mammoth trip for almost three years but had given up all hope of ever completing the journey when he was forced to close down his business last year.
He threw away all his plans and maps, but in a last ditch attempt he submitted his dream to the Bennetts Biking Dream website, which was set up last year to fulfil £80,000 worth of biking dreams as part of the organisation’s 80th anniversary celebrations.
His passion for two wheels and his dedication to fulfilling his dream were recognised by judges and he was chosen as the winner from a field of almost 5,000 entries. Therefore, his dream could suddenly come true and he could start planning in earnest.
He started the journey in Boston before riding into Canada and back out past Niagara Falls, then towards New York and Connecticut. His route zig zags across the country, travelling south to North Carolina, north to Wisconsin and then south to Georgia and Louisiana before a final northbound journey to South Dakota.
The terrain after that is much more rugged: Montana, then into Washington State where he begins the final leg of the journey south towards his final destination in San Francisco. He will also take in the locations of some Manchesters that no longer exist, such as Manchester South Dakota, which was completely destroyed by a hurricane in 2004 and now only concrete floors remain.
“It’s going to be a phenomenal trip,” said Pete before he went. “I got into biking relatively late in life and as soon as I was bitten by the bug I was planning to do a long haul trip. As a true Mancunian, I’m fascinated by how far the city’s name has travelled and I’m really keen to see if any of our cultures or traditions have made it as far. I’m preparing myself for a trip of stark contrasts in terms of the places and people that I expect to come across. I’ve already had lots of offers from people in the US inviting me to stay with them when I’m passing by, which will be a much better way of understanding the local culture than staying in hotels every night.”
Bennetts Communications Manager, Michael Mann, said: “Pete’s dream was definitely one of the most ambitious that we came across from our entries, but having met him, we’re confident that he will take it all in his stride.