[I'm not sure how to load pictures into the post itself, but there are some pics from my trip in my album "epic trip" which you can get to if you click on my user name.
Lessons I learned -
The first lesson I learned was in Indiana, and I figured out the hard way that I should not have PACKED my rain gear. After I found myself on the side of the road digging through my stuff I kept my rain pants (my jacket is waterproof) on top of my bag under my bungee net for quick access. This lesson was refined in Yellowstone when I learned that bungee nets will hold a pair of rain pants down at 50mph but not at 50mph while passing a semi on the leeward side in a cross wind. Luckily my father was behind me and picked them up, because I had no idea they had left my bike
. And thats when I learned what people mean when they say "bungee cord is your friend". After that, the rain gear was bungee corded down to the top of my pack with the high vis part showing to make me more visible. Also during this period I learned that bungee net won't hold down a pair of brand new gortex/thinsulate deerskin gloves from Cabela's, so I'd be stopping at Cabela's south of Salt Lake City for another pair to replace the missing left hand glove.
Mountains = rain. I had bad luck trying to use my weather.com app to tell me if I'd need rain gear. Luckily I now had easy access to it. That said, sometimes I would come around a corner or over a mountain and it would suddenly be raining. I also got pretty cold so that chased me down to Arizona (Utah is where the trip became a single man journey).
The next lesson I learned I referenced briefly in my last post but in Idaho we stumbled across some sand dunes and I'm 28 and a bit bull headed and adventurous so...why the #@&! not? I buried the strom in the back up to the swing arm and never having met sand before tried to ease my way out (OEM tires didn't help). Learning on the go I tried a few times with this method and I would get the back tire out and then ease off the gas and re-bury the rear wheel. After almost falling over a few times I decided to just gun it and hope real hard and that worked pretty well. The back end felt like it was all over the place but I managed to get out of the sand. So if anybody else on here is a n00b and comes across sand - DO NOT stop moving- but by by all means dive in, because you'll entertain yourself for the next 15-20 minutes.
Deserts is in quotes because I, growing up in virginia, thought arizona was a desert. Turns out this would be the wettest state of the trip, and the coldest until I hit Oregon. Actually, the lesson I learned is that when you hit deserts such as the Great Basin Desert, the roads are very flat, very straight, and the scenery is very stagnant. Despite being well rested, hydrated, and "alert" after about 35 minutes of no change in elevation or bends in the road my brain sort of switched off due to a lack of stimulation. I damn near ran into the only pole for 30 miles and I would have been SOL (suffering out of life) 35 miles from the nearest person. So if you're by yourself and crossing a road that is like this, keep your brain active. Take pictures (stopped or while riding) try to ride on the center line as far as you can (if there's no other cars) slalom the dotted line (safely) or whatever else you can think of to not space out. I enjoyed picking out distant (and not so distant) land marks and counting the seconds until I go to it, and then trying to figure out how fast I was going or how far it was.
Coppers / the Fuzz / 5-0:
Nowhere in 8700+ miles did I see as many people pulled over as on "the Loneliest Road in America" (rt. 50 in Nevada). Holy cow that road is well patrolled. While its not many when you consider I crossed the entire state of Nevada, I saw 5 or 6 people pulled over. Also, when there's nobody around in the middle of nowhere cops on bikes (or in cars) will wave back. And to all the other people who patted their helmets for me - thank you.
Service / Maintenance:
I learned that motorcycle dealerships are closed on sunday & monday everywhere, not just in northern VA. Normally I don't care but having so much time off and nothing planned but to ride my bike I usually didn't know what day of the week it was
. This created a problem when I needed an oil change and a clutch adjustment. I had my tool kit under my seat (never needed it luckily) but I'm not familiar enough with bikes yet to attempt certain things in a hotel parking lot. That said I took my bike to a mechanic 3 times and found mechanics to be incredibly helpful and courteous when you're in the middle of a trip. In Sturgis and in Carson City I felt like I was their #1 priority and was in and out really quick. At Apex Cycles in Colorado City I did not feel this way and ended up not getting any help at all from their service department even though I'd been told they could get me in that day if I got there on time, which I did
. The moral of this story is, its easy to have a bunch of miles stack up without noticing during a long trip, so you should pay attention and try to think ahead and plan better than I did. If you're friendly and explain your situation though people tend to be very helpful.
#1 - they suck.
#2 - if you're passing a semi you need to know if you're on the windward or leeward side of the semi. It makes a huge difference regarding how much of a gust you're about to encounter. If you're on the windward side it won't make much difference since most of the turbulence gets blow away from you. If you're on the leeward side put your chest on your tank and know its gonna be a bigger gust than normal.
#3- When you're in a constant cross wind on a highway just know that you FEEL like you're leaning into the wind much more than you actually are. Also proper tire inflation helps a GREAT DEAL.
ugh, avoid these. By day 25 I was needing new tires and had been on my own for a couple weeks and was ready to be done. Also, Colorado City had put me in a foul mood so I decided to head due east on I-70. Ugh, the interstate was so boring, so windy, and every place I stopped felt cold, unwelcoming and commercial. I did manage do do some massive days (688 miles one day at 600+ the second) but I also managed to put an embarrassing chicken stripe in my tire. Taking interstates I learned some other things.
#1 - truckers are a lot like bikers, just bigger. If you see 2 hotels and one has a lot of nice "rigs" in the parking lot, stay there. Truckers like their trucks as much as we like our bikes so they're good at picking out the better hotels.
#2 - If there are a lot of rigs parked somewhere (hotel or rest stop) STAND UP while you ride by so they can see you better. If you think a VW is scary when it drives toward you, you should look at a giant volvo truck as it heads your way.
#3 - not so much a lesson as something nice - but I stopped at one small motel near the interstate and the front desk clerk asked if i had a CDL (truckers get discounts apparently) and I told her "no, but I have a motorcycle license" and I still got a discount, 45% off! I doubt it will ever work again, but I'll always try it. God bless friendly people.