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My first LD...

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Oct 12, 2018
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Austin
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Karl
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Haywood
I reconnected with an old highschool friend who now lives in CA. He and I lived in Traverse City Michigan and hung like brothers from junior high through senior high. We once connected in Hawaii. He was stationed in Hawaii on a tiny little DD called the Cochran. My ship, the carrier Coral Sea, ported for a few days while we loaded the airwing. He picked me up and we spent two days camping on the beaches of Hawaii. I think I put 500 miles on his little 175 Kawasaki. It has become a life long memory.

He now rides an HD and has many spooky LD stories to tell.

This Aug. he's planning a ride from Harbison Canyon CA to Traverse City Mi. He's suggesting he swing by Austin and pick me up. Together we ride north and stomp some old stomping grounds.

This will be my 1st major trip. I feel confident about my ability to make the ride. My bike is large enough and in good working order. If I fail, I feel it will be from poor pre-planning.

1st concern is budget. I do not want to Credit Card this whole trip. I have to come up with a sensible daily budget. And leaving my CC for the unexpected breakdowns, etc.

2nd is having a back-up plan to get out should things go south. I've not seen my old friend for more than 35 years. Who knows what he's got for luggage. Should things go wankers, I would like to continue on with my own LD vacation and enjoy what the road has to offer.

3rd, I would like to have my own set of gpx files that support the main trip, as well as the back-up plan. I have Basecamp but do need to dig into that mountain of how-to's and build my routes. I spotted the Basecamp link in one of the LD threads. That looked like a good place to start.

4th, I need to make sure the bike is fully ready. I currently have a set of adventure tires mounted. I think road tires would be better suited for this run. I have engine bars to install, and have been going back and forth about installing a set of handle bar risers.

5th, make sure the legal documents are in order. Verify I have towing coverage, transportation options, overnight stays, etc.
 

SpiritAtBay

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Sounds good.

How days do you have?

If you part company, where do you want to go?

Why are his ld stories spooky?
 
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Make sure you have everything sorted long before the trip. Have your load out settled and make sure you take a decent ride with all of the gear to make sure you know what to expect. If you plan on doing the mods you mention do them long before the trip so you can adjust or fix anything that may not be quite right. Oh, and don't push it for gas stops. And when one of you stops for gas, both fill up even if you think you're fine until the next one.
 

Texas T

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1st concern is budget. I do not want to Credit Card this whole trip. I have to come up with a sensible daily budget. And leaving my CC for the unexpected breakdowns, etc.
Even if you do not plan to use it, notify your bank in advance that you will be traveling: dates and states. Don't carry a lot of cash with you; take the cash you were going to spend and put it on VISA or Mastercard pre-paid cards and make sure they are registered in case they are lost or stolen.

2nd is having a back-up plan to get out should things go south. I've not seen my old friend for more than 35 years. Who knows what he's got for luggage. Should things go wankers, I would like to continue on with my own LD vacation and enjoy what the road has to offer.
To avoid hard feelings, that needs to be discussed thoroughly BEFORE the trip ever begins. If he breaks down is he okay with you leaving him somewhere? If you break down are you okay with him leaving you somewhere?

3rd, I would like to have my own set of gpx files that support the main trip, as well as the back-up plan. I have Basecamp but do need to dig into that mountain of how-to's and build my routes. I spotted the Basecamp link in one of the LD threads. That looked like a good place to start.
Sounds like you know what needs to happen; you just need to start putting it together.

4th, I need to make sure the bike is fully ready. I currently have a set of adventure tires mounted. I think road tires would be better suited for this run. I have engine bars to install, and have been going back and forth about installing a set of handle bar risers.
Yes on the road tires. Yes on the engine bars, especially if they allow you to install some highway pegs so you can stretch your legs. Yes on the risers. My LD riding became SO much more comfortable once I put risers on my Wing. Regardless of what you do / don't do, have it all completed at least two weeks before the trip and put some good miles on the bike to try everything out. That will give you time to resolve any issues.

5th, make sure the legal documents are in order. Verify I have towing coverage, transportation options, overnight stays, etc.
Every rider in the Iron Butt Rally is required to have coverage similar to this. The vast majority use this company (as do I for myself and my wife). You can do short term coverage from between 8 and 30 days for between $99 and $250. They also have a policy you can attach to this that will cover your bike and get it back to your home at no additional charge (I have that coverage as well). The coverage begins once you are 150 miles or more from home.

For towing coverage I have it under my Honda plan, my Progressive plan, and my auto-renewal plan for the AMA also gives me towing.

How many miles do you plan to do each day?
Interstates, back roads, or both?
How many hours do you plan to ride each day?
Are you both in agreement on the above?

The fact that you were great friends for years does not mean that you will be compatible riders. You'll both have to accommodate the style of the other person, whether that's starting times each day, ending times, how fast you ride, how long you take to gas & go, how long you take for meal breaks, whether or not either of you smoke and therefore take more time at stops, etc. These (and more) are all things that need to be hashed out long before you ever start putting a route together.

In today's world, long rides are a piece of cake; gas is plentiful, roads are good, weather is easily known ahead of time, traffic is known ahead of time, engines are good, tires are good. You can easily do a long ride with a spare change of clothes, a cell phone, a cell phone charger, and a credit card. Anything else can be purchased on the road. We have 4,500+ Walmarts across this country so you're never far from one.

You need warm weather gear, cold weather gear, and wet weather gear. When you are uncomfortable riding, it become tedious and not fun. Dress appropriately.
 

misterk

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Sounds like a great trip, you will get lots of advice on this thread.

I don’t have a lot to give, I usually just point my bike and go on long trips. I plan nothing but a general heading and make camp around 5pm - 6pm each day.

I put a destination in google maps each day. As I ride along, google maps will alert me of a similar path and will tell me how much additional time.

I will look at the route and make a decision on the fly. I have found some very neat roads this way.
 
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Sounds like it will be a great trip to make memories and reinvigorate camaraderie.

My tip is to put the roadside assistance phone number of each state you will ride through into your directory. Every state has one and is usually tied to their state highway patrol.
 

garfey

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Make sure you have everything sorted long before the trip. Have your load out settled and make sure you take a decent ride with all of the gear to make sure you know what to expect. If you plan on doing the mods you mention do them long before the trip so you can adjust or fix anything that may not be quite right. Oh, and don't push it for gas stops. And when one of you stops for gas, both fill up even if you think you're fine until the next one.
Throw your planned route into GasBuddy.com and make sure it's his turn to pay for the gas in the high priced areas. :trust:
 
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Sounds like you pretty much know what you need & want to do. If you have a good, reliable bike and you get it thoroughly checked out before you leave, that's probably the least of your problems.

As others have said, come to some understandings with your buddy. What kind of places to eat, how much you're willing to spend nightly on a hotel.

And how far to travel daily. If this is your first long trip, don't start at 500-mile days; you'll probably end up sore and sorry. For most people just starting out, 300 miles is a pretty substantial day. Start in that general area and if it goes well, you can lengthen your days accordingly. Take some time at gas stops to rest and stretch. In my experience, a miserable 400-mile day becomes a comfortable 400-mile day simply by adding an hour to the ride, in the form of longer rest stops, and a few picture ops.
 
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Sounds good.
How days do you have?
14 days for me. As he's two days away, I do need to confirm his expectations for his return time schedule

If you part company, where do you want to go?
We are currently looking at heading north east into michigan (avoiding IL). Few days in/around Traverse City. Then north for a stop in Whitefish Point. West into WI, turning south west with a stop at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in OK, or some other place. This was my recommendation. I've found visiting museums isn't for everyone and he may find that a huge waste of time. The museum is big and could take close to 2 hours even at a brisk pace.

The back side of the route isn't fleshed out yet, at least not by me.

I was thinking of offering I set the route going up and he set the return route. Determine what his expectations are for the trip up, then find a balance. I prefer staying off IH. His previous LDs were nearly IH exclusively. I do know he wouldn't be interested in adding significant drive time with a lot of backcountry riding.

I've played around on google and a route is developing. One that wouldn't be significant increase in time from a direct IH route. Barring any problems along the way.

If we part company. I would continue to Traverse and visit with family for a few days. On the return, I will turn south through KY, TN, AR then on to TX. I've lived my whole life in MI. As beautiful as it is, think I would like to explore areas I've not been before.

Why are his ld stories spooky?
His last ride was CA to MI. He and his brother pushed hard on a pair of HDs. What alarmed me is the amount of time they spent in the saddle. One day it was 20 hours. Many hours riding at night. It also sounded like they didn't have the weather gear, the temp's at night were very low. Bob, my friend, did mention his speed of choice is 75. I'm comfortable at 80-85. Dropping back to his speed shouldn't be much of a change for me.

After his tails of bravery(?), I was left with the feeling his brother was the pushing factor. This I must determine.
 
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To avoid hard feelings, that needs to be discussed thoroughly BEFORE the trip ever begins. If he breaks down is he okay with you leaving him somewhere? If you break down are you okay with him leaving you somewhere?
Roger that...

Yes on the road tires. Yes on the engine bars, especially if they allow you to install some highway pegs so you can stretch your legs. Yes on the risers. My LD riding became SO much more comfortable once I put risers on my Wing. Regardless of what you do / don't do, have it all completed at least two weeks before the trip and put some good miles on the bike to try everything out. That will give you time to resolve any issues.
I have tools and some mechanical know-how. Installing the Heed bars myself sounds like a pleasant saturday afternoon project. I believe, if you want to know how your bike works, be comfortable with breakdowns on the road. Work on it. I am a little apprehensive on the risers. If I get into it and it needs longer brake lines and other cables. My bike will be down for weeks waiting for parts and time to work on it.

There's a shop near my house, cuzbob's. He's a member of this forum. I've been wanting to get some work his way, help support his shop. I learn towards letting him tackle the risers. He also does tire work.

Theses add-ons are queued at the top of the to-do list as some will require $$$ to complete. My motorcycle adventures come out of my own pocket. Wife closed the door on using our primary house budget for my trips. Rightly so, I have spent major amounts of money on hobbies that ended after a few years. Leaving behind a closet full of gear that's collecting dust bunnies.

To avoid hard feelings, that needs to be discussed thoroughly BEFORE the trip ever begins. If he breaks down is he okay with you leaving him somewhere? If you break down are you okay with him leaving you somewhere?
Good point. I will bring this up when I talk to him about the routes.

For my first noob-LD. Last year I took three days looping from Spicewood to Collage Station (visited the old Texas World Speedway, very cool), Houston, Galveston, Corpus, San Antonio, then home. Packed all my crap on the bike and headed out. Did learn some good lessons. Plastic water bottles do break open inside a pennier. Loose straps will slap like a bull whip. Insuring the visor knobs on the helmet are secure, every day, isn't a waste of time. Cleaning and drying your cooking gear is not optional.
 

Texas T

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What alarmed me is the amount of time they spent in the saddle. One day it was 20 hours. Many hours riding at night.
That is an IBA SaddleSore pace. 1,000+ miles in under 24 hours. That is my preferred riding pace so that's part of the conversation you need to have with him. If you're an 8 hour a day rider and he's an 18 hour a day rider you're going to need to come to some sort of agreement which may not be completely good for either of you. If he doesn't want to do backroads because he doesn't want to add to the travel time it sounds like he wants to pound out the miles to have more time at the destination.

I am a little apprehensive on the risers. If I get into it and it needs longer brake lines and other cables. My bike will be down for weeks waiting for parts and time to work on it.
Find a forum that is specific to your bike and ask. Most likely others have done this and can advise you on what you may or may not need.

For my first noob-LD. Last year I took three days looping from Spicewood to Collage Station (visited the old Texas World Speedway, very cool), Houston, Galveston, Corpus, San Antonio, then home.
That's an average of 250 miles a day. Are you comfortable doing more than that a day for several days? How much more are you comfortable with?

Plastic water bottles do break open inside a pennier.
Camelbak style hydration packs are your friend. They can either be on your back, or strapped to your tank, or strapped to your back seat with a longer hose. Hydration is very important on long rides regardless of the temperatures. You should be sipping on a steady basis, not just gulping down water when you get to a fuel stop. It's better to have to stop more often to pee than to get into your hotel room and not be able to sleep because of massive leg cramps due to dehydration. Many of us in the LD riding community use a MotoJug or a similar solution for our hydration needs. If I don't have the MotoJug strapped to the back seat because SWMBO is riding pillion, I'm using my pressurized Geigerrig strapped to my back luggage rack with a long insulated hose. This might demonstrate how important we think it is to stay hydrated.

(It looks like Geigerrig has been bought by Aquamira and they are revising their pressurized line of products, but you may be able to find something else out there if this interests you.)



Loose straps will slap like a bull whip. Insuring the visor knobs on the helmet are secure, every day, isn't a waste of time. Cleaning and drying your cooking gear is not optional.
A pre-flight inspection is important at the beginning of each day.
 

Texas T

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I just looked at the distance. Austin to TC is only 1500 miles. That is one hard core day, or two 750 mile days (12 hours each), or three 500 mile days (8 hours each), or four 350 mile days (6 hours each). It will just depend upon if you both want to hammer out the miles and get there quick, or if you want to flower sniff along the way.
 
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I just looked at the distance. Austin to TC is only 1500 miles. That is one hard core day, or two 750 mile days (12 hours each), or three 500 mile days (8 hours each), or four 350 mile days (6 hours each). It will just depend upon if you both want to hammer out the miles and get there quick, or if you want to flower sniff along the way.
Sounds like that conversation needs to be at the top of the list.
 
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Camelbak style hydration packs are your friend... ...not be able to sleep because of massive leg cramps...
I now carry Nuun. For me, it helps greatly with the craps. It dissolves like Alka Seltzer. If you're already in a crap, snip off a small chip and place on your tongue while you wait for the tablet to dissolve.
 

Tuco

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5th, make sure the legal documents are in order. Verify I have towing coverage, transportation options, overnight stays, etc.
Do these also include medical directives, will, durable power of atty, etc? I think of these as insurance policies for my family, to ensure they can move on as painlessly as possible.
 

jfink

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Lot's of advice. Chuck and I have ridden long rides since 2003. When we worked, they were 2 to 4 weeks long (vacation). Since we've retired the longest is 7 months through South America. We have ridden every state in the US (except hawaii), every province/territory in Canada (except Nunavut), every country in South, Central and North America and now almost all the countries in Europe (we go back in May to finish up).

First, do your planning. We use Basecamp and pass GPS routes and stops suggestions back and forth. Second, realize that all your planning will probably go out the window, the very first day, so be flexible and don't overplan. Also, one of you will be less relaxed than the other, you will probably understand that after the first few days. Make allowances, whichever end of the spectrum you are on.

So, here are some things that Chuck and I have argued about.
- Directions (not routes) and stopping: Chuck might think we should go left, I think we should go right. Some of our biggest arguments have come from these situations. Getting a bluetooth communicator has greatly reduced the frustration with these types of disagreements, since we can talk about them before they happen. In general we have the same interests and what to stop and see. But usually we will have one or two minor disagreements about where we're going. It helps to have these conversations when we are making the routes but that isn't always known. I didn't want to go to Morocco, he did. Eventually I said ok, but he finally said never mind and we didn't. I wanted to go into Belarus, but he didn't, eventually we didn't go. He wanted to do EVERY SINGLE MILE of the PCH including L.A., I didn't! We did to Santa Cruz, where we had the biggest argument of our rides together and went our separate ways. We didn't talk for two years but eventually got over that.
- Gasoline: probably part of the same issue with directions, the one with the shorter range should generally call the gas stops, again bluetooth communicator.
- Hotel / camping arrangements: I like a shower every two or three days, he can go two weeks without a shower (he has told me that). He doesn't mind camping but I don't like it as much. He doesn't mind the cheapest hotels, I tend to at least like the ones that aren't falling down. That said, he gets all weirded out if he thinks the bed is not perfectly clean or there are mosquitos or flies.
- Speed; He will slow down in the twisties, I like to go faster. We don't argue about that much, I just wait for him when I get to a turn. I did get irritated with him in Guyana when his timidness made us ride through the dark in the mud. He did get pretty pissed at me when I wanted to stop for a couple days after hitting a bus in Argentina. He wasn't happy with the cost of our hotel. He doesn't like off road at all anymore, an has sold his dual sport.
- Money: for us this generally this isn't an issue. There will be things that it will be hard to separate. We both agree that traveling together is way cheaper than traveling individually with our wives. We keep a shared google spreadsheet on our phones that we can track costs that are not easily separated, like hotel rooms, meals sometimes or tolls paid by one for both, etc. It works remarkably well and we haven't had any big arguments over money. With that said, if there is a big difference in how much we wanted to spend, I could see problems. Don't let one or the others good natured willingness to pick up the bill, leave a feeling that the other is taking advantage. That could really fester.

Being new to each others riding and preferences will probably call for a little more patience with the choices the other one will make. Eventually, you can argue like an old married couple and not leave any long term damage. You probably won't get there after a couple weeks. Unfortunately for me, Chuck is an idiot which makes arguing with him very, very difficult! :)
 
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I was going to offer sage advice but I see almost everything is covered, so...
Remember to have fun, no matter what the other person decides to do.
First and foremost, this is your ride/vacation, make sure you enjoy yourself.
There is no reason you can't decide to meet your buddy in a certain town in the evening and just figure your own way to get there.
This works well if one of you are looking to ride roads the other doesn't like/want to ride.
It also works well if you are just needing a bit of space from each other, just make this clear before departure.
 
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There is no reason you can't decide to meet your buddy in a certain town in the evening and just figure your own way to get there.
Surprisingly, my wife has been looking at routing options too and made the same suggestions. Which I never expected this from her as she has been 85% against me getting involved in motorcycling.

Anyhoot... In Holland MI, US 31 runs north along the western shoreline of Lake Michigan. In Manistee, Hwy 22 continues along the shoreline through Empire and on up to Northport. This area of MI is remarkable. I would enjoy this section very much.

The wife recommended starting from Dallas. We've family there and I would have a place to sleep. Taking two days to get to ID or IL. Meet Bob and take the US31/Hwy 22 north to Empire were his father lives.

I did text bob, asking what kind of distance he would like to make daily. He replied 500-600.

I have a three day weekend in May. I think it a good idea to route a simple 600 mile ride and back.
 
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Surprisingly, my wife has been looking at routing options too and made the same suggestions. Which I never expected this from her as she has been 85% against me getting involved in motorcycling.
Anyhoot... In Holland MI, US 31 runs north along the western shoreline of Lake Michigan. In Manistee, Hwy 22 continues along the shoreline through Empire and on up to Northport. This area of MI is remarkable. I would enjoy this section very much.
The wife recommended starting from Dallas. We've family there and I would have a place to sleep. Taking two days to get to ID or IL. Meet Bob and take the US31/Hwy 22 north to Empire were his father lives.
I did text bob, asking what kind of distance he would like to make daily. He replied 500-600.
I have a three day weekend in May. I think it a good idea to route a simple 600 mile ride and back.
Your wife sounds like a smart woman, except for that not riding motorcycles part :lol2:

I would have at least one backup plan to ride your own way home, with or without him and enjoy the opportunity to listen to the road.
After 7-10 days of a guy you haven't seen much in 35yrs, you might really enjoy the scenic route home by yourself.
Being the crazy guy I am, Kentucky and Tennessee are on the way home (if you squint) and they have some great riding options.
You might also want to consider a weekend flight to go out to California and have a beer to 'plan out this ride' and see how he is before you commit to the ride.

P.S. I will also tell you this, I have experienced "poor pre-planning" on a couple of rides and it has mostly worked out really well because it forces me to be a very resourceful problem solver. Some great adventures came out of that (and a couple of scars). YMMV
 
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I've been able to nail down a few more specific's with my bro... He would like to target 500-600 miles per day. Early starts, keep fuel breaks short, and keeping to Interstates as much as possible. I brought up breakdowns and leave-behinds. He's more of the "all for one" riders. Should he be the one that breaks down, I can handle hanging out till he gets on the road. The return trip is fleshing out to be a little more relaxed.

I don't see any real problems keeping with this kind of pace.

Memorial weekend, May, 23-25, I want to set up a 500-600 mile ride to somewhere USA. Was thinking El Paso as that is near White Sands Missile Museum. But, the museum is closed Sundays and Mondays. If you have any recommendations, let me know.
 

Texas T

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600 mile days on Interstates is very doable. Including a quick meal stop that's only a 12 hour day.

Up at 6
Breakfast (hydrate)
Kickstands up at 7 (hydrate)
Light lunch at noon (hydrate)
Stop at 7 pm (hydrate)
Dinner (little to no alcohol as it will de-hydrate you)
In bed by 9
Repeat

Good thing you got the breakdown conversation out of the way.

Memorial weekend. Unless I have no alternative (you may not) I never ride on national holidays. There are a huge number of drunks on the road every day of the year but that goes up exponentially on national holidays and even more so if it's a holiday weekend. But that aside, that's a good 600 mile test for yourself. The upside is the speed limits on the west side of Texas. The downside is that my Wing gets horrible fuel mileage above 80 mph and I have to stop more often. YMMV.

One tip on speeding. Don't. Go with the flow. If that's 4 over or 9 over or just the limit, stay with the pack. Don't be "in" the pack, but stay with them. The less time you spend looking for cops on the horizon or flashing lights in your mirrors, the more time you can spend watching the road and the vehicles around you and the less stressed you will be during the ride.

El Paso. The Border Patrol has their national museum in El Paso. Good little bit of history there. https://goo.gl/maps/jt95DgjPeMsG22Pi6

Coming to the Pie Run on Saturday? If so, search me out if you have any questions.
 
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