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8/27/2016 5:36 PM

I'm planning an extended motorcycle trip to visit family/relocate from Rhode Island to northern California, leaving October 1. I'm closing up my personal training business and am looking to start over (not necessarily as a trainer) someplace where the economy is a bit better, and enjoy a change of scenery while I'm at it. My brother, without originally knowing I was thinking of relocating, has invited me to stay with him in CA until the New Year, so I figure CA is a good place to start. I've always wanted to go on a long cross country motorcycle trip, and the timing for this couldn't be better, so I'm taking the bike. I'm looking to keep costs down, and love the outdoors, so I figure camping is preferable to hotels for me for a whole bunch of reasons. 

 I know it's perhaps a little outside the scope of the types of trips that normally get talked about here, but I've also seen photos of I think it's Scott, possibly Evan's sweet Harley with knobby tires on the forum, so I'm hoping  it couldn't hurt to mention it and ask for help/pointers/advice on motorcycle camping across the country if anyone felt like giving them.

For luggage, I've got my Ute, Pals pocket, Connor Pocket, a Kifaru E&E and a pair of their larger pockets to go on the sides of the Ute, and a medium pod. My bike is a 1998 Honda Valkyrie, with a couple small saddle bags and a luggage rack behind the passenger backrest.  Gas tank is 5.3 gallons, I've got a 1.7 gallon canister for extra fuel in one saddle bag, and I average about 30mpg (6 carburetors, it SUUUUUUCKS down gas).  I've got a sturdy one man tent and typical gear for a 3-5 day camping/hiking trip, and my stove set up is a Triangia used in conjunction with an Emberlit. I've had a motorcycle license since shortly after I got out of high school in the late 90s, but my bike trips have always been local, around town type stuff. Never multi-day cross country camping trips.  

Does anyone who's been on a trip like this have any pointers? Essential items one might not think to bring? Recommended camp sites? I realize there are plenty of route options to cross the country.  Worthwhile detours between RI and CA? 


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8/27/2016 5:50 PM
Sunscreen, water, rest stop about every 2 hours, and don't be in a hurry. Oh yeah, ear plugs....
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8/28/2016 9:42 AM
Back in the day a 600-800 miles a day was the norm, but these days half that is where I am at. Of course back in the day I spent a lot more time in the saddle so I was more used to it. I ride for enjoyment these days and not for serious traveling. In either case having your bike set up so that fits you is key. I also am a huge fan of highway pegs to go with my mid-controls. I have three different leg positions that I can use, which alleviates strain and the like on joints and my butt.

Correct clothing and layering is the key like anything else. Make sure you helmet is not to heavy as over the course of the day that weight can do a number on your neck and next thing you know you aren't scanning like you should. El Mac is ON IT, make sure you wear earplugs. Evan and I both have low level hearing loss from to many years of riding without them. Protect your eyes, if you aren't wearing a full face, and maybe even if you are, invest in something like the 7Eyes Panoptics. Also have eye drops handy. The Panoptics seal around you eyes and keep grit out. On one trip I got what felt like a scratch on one lense. It went away with a bit of time and eye drops, but riding for a couple of days with an eye patch wasn't the most fun. They also adjust for brightness, which allows you to roll through different levels of lighting without stopping and safely.

In the last couple of years we made the switch to purpose built riding jackets from Filson Packer Jackets. The jackets have both armor and vents. Mine is black (the only color they made in my size) and Evan's is tan. Due to the vent I can wear mine in to the mid-80s comfortably. Evan is good up to about 90. The color makes a difference. Under that we wear electric jackets and baselayers as appropriate. The electric jacket just like the vents on the over jacket provides a lot of leeway in changing weather conditions. If it is to hot for the jacket I am wearing a full sleeve lightweight cotton shirt. No exposed skin as the road bakes you. Gloves I have three different pairs. I have a nice pair of gauntleted pirmaloft gloves from Cabelas with leather palms and less insulation in the palms. The back of my hands and around the wrist keeps me warm, but I still have good dexterity on the controls. Next is a pair of Carhartt leather gloves with thinsulate that have been oiled and snow sealed. Those are my main cooler temp gloves. The last pair varies on time of year. During the summer it is a pair of really thin nomex with leather palms and in the winter heavier nomex with leather palms. We are still rolling pants with chaps over for warmth and when it is raining rain pants over the pants and under the chaps. I have been looking hard at various built riding pants for the same reasons as the jacket. Leather boots with good ankle support.

Heat - make sure to stay hydrated, bikes is one of the few places we still use bladders. Be aware that between 90 and 95 degrees the wind actually starts desiccating you. Be careful in those temps, hard lesson.

Wet - careful with temps as a wet road can become an icy road quickly

El Mac was spot on with breaks every couple of hours and snacking

However, the biggest issue I see is the way folks pack their bikes. Just like with a pack you want to keep the weight close to the center of gravity. To many folks pack vertically which just gives you a higher top heavy load, and in a lot of cases a big wind sail. Place your pack or duffle bag horizontally across the seat behind and use saddle bags. Low and tight. Keep the load as light as possible. Bikes rely on handling and agility for safety, if you turn it into an unwieldy beast you loose your safety. Also the more weight you are horsing around all day the tired you will be.

The camping part is just camping, KOAs every couple of days for a shower, and just be careful on picking a spot that is safe. 

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
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8/28/2016 1:23 PM
Thanks guys. I appreciate the responses. My bike is kinda quiet, so I never really thought about ear plugs before. My hearing is bad enough from working in a garage for a few years, so I definitely don't want it getting any worse on me.
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8/31/2016 8:57 AM
ramoniac wrote:
Thanks guys. I appreciate the responses. My bike is kinda quiet, so I never really thought about ear plugs before. My hearing is bad enough from working in a garage for a few years, so I definitely don't want it getting any worse on me.


It's the wind noise that's a problem, not the engine noise. Scot covered it thoroughly.

The only thing I'd expand on is "camp where it is safe". I tend to get into "oh, just the next goal" way too much and next thing I know I'm hunting a campsite after dark when my lights betray my presence. I've got a couple of scary and one funny story that has to do with going into camp after dark when you can't really tell where you are. Choose your camp a couple hours before dusk. Ask a law enforcement guy where he suggests camping. You get good advice, and local LE then has an idea who you are and won't hassle you on the idea that you're an undesirable. Remember, they've got a community to protect and strangers are often enemies. It's been like that for all of human history. In a lot of rural America, the city park is actually a totally kosher place to camp and I've been sent there to camp more than once by local PD. You sleep better when you know you're in a secure spot that has been signed off on so you won't get rousted in the wee hours of the morning by a guy with a big flashlight.

BTW - classy choice on the Valk. I always thought that was a great and authentic move by Honda. "we're not going to copy an American V-Twin, we're going to build an awesome cruiser around our own unique bad ass engine." Too bad the market dictated otherwise.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
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9/4/2016 7:21 PM

Thanks Evan. Asking local PD for suggested spots is another thing that did not occur to me. I'm planning on a little under 400 miles a day coast to coast, so that should leave me plenty of time to ask around, find a site, talk to local law enforcement, etc. Was thinking ride 3 and a half hours, see some sights, then ride another 3 and a half, and start planning on the night's camp.

And w/the Valk, I was so psyched to get it. Bought it over Thanksgiving weekend in 2012. When I was first getting interested in bikes in the late 90s, they had just released them, but there was no way I could afford one as a teenager trying to pay for college. I owned a couple Honda Magnas over the course of my 20s, and when I was looking to upgrade, was leaning towards a Harley, but then got such a good deal on the Valkyrie with low miles and great condition that I couldn't say no.
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10/12/2016 12:00 PM
I love riding. Especially long distance "adventure" rides. On road or off.... Doesn't matter. Like previously stated pack low and tight, also a tank bag will quickly become your best friend. I always bring my Helinox camp chair with me because it is small, light and super comfy. Protective gear is also a must. ATGATT!!!!  Pay particular attention to boots too (as I type this I am recovering from a high speed low side due to some gravel and a rock that decided it didn't want to move. Broke my ankle in 7 places and my fibula up by my knee in 3 places. I was wearing very high quality motorcycle adventure boots. If I was not wearing them I probably would have lost my foot.) 

I run full face helmets with sunglasses under a clear shield. It is no fun being forced to ride with your shield up and no eye pro because you are running a tinted shield and it got dark. Also a small can of glass cleaner and a rag in the tank bag to clean the bugs off your shield. 

I am also constantly updating my family on my location and status. I let them know ware I am, ware I am going, and current fuel level. My GPS also has a "live track" feature that sends my location to a website that my family can look at. My kids love it, they have a lot of fun tracking ware I am on the map and telling me all the cool attractions around me.

I stop every 2-3 hours, stretch my legs, go to the bathroom, eat/snack, drink water, and send an "I'm OK" text. 

I cant wait to get back on the bike and racking up the miles again...... Have fun and be safe!!

Love to be outside running bikes and guns... Director of Mil/LE Sales Vortex Optics
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