A Manchester biker is using the pain of having to close down his business to propel himself through a 10,000 mile motorbike ride across 30 states and two countries in North America.
Pete Johnson, 47, flies out of Manchester Airport today to begin his quest to find the 33 places in the continent which share the name of his home city.
After being forced to shut down his business last year, Pete picked himself up and entered a competition to win funding for ambitious bike projects, and was selected from an entry list of almost 5000.
Pete said: “It’s going to be a phenomenal 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.”
Manchester-by-the-sea, near Boston, will be Pete’s first port of call. The quest will then take him through Canada before dropping back into the USA, visiting states including Wisconsin and Louisiana.
The terrain will then become noticeably tougher, as he tackles, Montana, Washington and Pennsylvania, where one Manchester was effectively blown away by a tornado in 2003.
The final Manchester is in California, where the biker is expecting something of a warm welcome.
“There seems to be a little bit of a gathering planned,” he said.
Pete will ride the last 100 miles with a group of bikers from San Francisco, but was unable to secure the ultimate celebrity endorsement he had hoped for.
“I was hoping to get Arnold Schwarzenegger to join me but I can’t get his phone number!”
A spokesman for Bennetts, the company that is helping Pete along his trip, said the company was delighted to be able to help bikers achieve dreams which otherwise would have been out of their reach.
“Pete’s dream was definitely one of the most ambitious that we came across,” he said.
“But, having met him, we’re confident that he will take it all in his stride.”
Along the route, Pete will stay with fans who have become aware of his quest. This should, he says, let him sample more American culture than he would garner staying in hotels.
However, in advertising his journey to the world, the job has only just begun. During the trip there are planned slots for Pete to broadcast the adventure.
“I’ll be doing some radio or TV to get some press coverage while I’m out there so hopefully it will grow and grow,” he said.
Bennetts, the bike insurance company which gave Pete the chance to live his dream, are, meanwhile, looking for their next ambitious biker.
Projects and ambitions can be entered into this year’s competition to fulfil £80,000 worth of dreams from today, May 13 at www.bennettsbikingdream.co.uk.
Pete plans to keep his fans updated with his movements on social networking websites Twitter at @road2manchester and Facebook, as well as on his blog, unitedstatesofmanchester.
BRAVE BIKER: Pete Johnson in front of the town hall in Manchester England