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post #1 of 48 Old 12-17-2016, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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My First Road Trip (tm)

I'm taking the week after Xmas off from work, and I've decided it's time to take a nice long ride somewhere. As in, far enough away that I'll want to stop for the night.

I live in Albuquerque, NM and decided Phoenix is my target. Why Phoenix? A few things.

One, I have a buddy who lives in the Phoenix area so I can probably crash with him.

Two, it's the most attractive option at present. There's nowhere to the south that's all that interesting. Nothing in Texas or points east is particularly calling me. As for going north, I don't think I'm quite prepared for Raton Pass/southern Colorado this time of year.

This will be my first somewhat long ride. I've done 150 miles in a day before, but that was all no more than a county or three away, within NM.

I have decent riding gear and heated gloves. Also, Givi luggage on top & sides, so I can carry a full complement of changes of clothes, toiletries, extra warm clothing, tools, etc.

My Vee is ready, as far as I know. I'm not due for an oil change for a while, clutch & brake fluid are full, plenty of pad left on the brakes, coolant is full, chain is in excellent shape & recently cleaned & lubed. Tires have tons of life left in them. Haven't had any persistent malfunctions or weirdness in operation. Bike has just under 24000 miles on it.

I don't have any printed maps. I was planning to use my phone (in a Ram X-mount) for navigation.

Any ideas on the best route to take? I-40 all the way seems boring, and I'm not sure it would be wise to try to go through Flagstaff this time of year.

I want to avoid ice at all costs. I know it's late in the year, but I'm hoping it's not too late.

I'm not real keen on riding through snow or rain, either. My gear ought to keep me warm & dry, but I'd rather not fool with slippery conditions if it can be avoided.

I'm planning to leave ABQ just before dawn, a day or two after Xmas, so that I have more than enough time to make the trip, including fuel & rest/refreshment stops.

Any suggestions on further prep, in terms of either gear or bike maintenance items?
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post #2 of 48 Old 12-17-2016, 11:58 PM
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At least take an AAA map (or similar). iPhone or any phone is neat but not 100.0000% reliable to not lock up.
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post #3 of 48 Old 12-18-2016, 08:45 AM
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If you are not in a hurry, stay off the interstates. You will take in a lot more sights on the secondary roads & be much more relaxed. Hit the diners and local eats places instead of the big chains(except for Cracker Barrel of course )

Assuming you have good rain gear, do you have waterproof boots? Several hours wet and cold tend to make for a miserable day.

Like Kiwi said, take a paper map, check the weather often and re-route around it if possible. If you can't avoid a winter storm, hole up someplace until it passes. Rolling at the break of dawn when it's still below freezing can be risky. Sometimes it's better to grab breakfast and let the sun warm the tarmac up a bit.

Looking at the map, I'd take a southern route one way, then a northern route the other way. The ride down from Flagstaff through Sedona is pretty nice and the twistys through Payson is a great ride. Plot out two routes then you can flip them depending on weather.

My routes are never firm. Sometimes I just punch in a small town(say for lunch) in the general direction I am heading and let the GPS take me there. At lunch I look at the map, then punch in another town and roll.
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post #4 of 48 Old 12-18-2016, 09:45 AM
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There's an option on my iPhone to choose stay off highways. I can't remember if that's on the map app that comes with it, or google maps I installed. Either way you could always choose the option for walking and it won't put you on any major roads. I purchased two navigation units and found my iPhone to do the job perfectly and never failed me yet. I'm also able to sync it with my Bluetooth headset so I can hear the turn by turn directions.

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post #5 of 48 Old 12-18-2016, 10:59 AM
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If you are going to depend on the phone only for navigation you may want to download the maps in advance for offline use, in case you run into areas without cell phone data signal.
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post #6 of 48 Old 12-18-2016, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Stromb1 View Post
If you are going to depend on the phone only for navigation you may want to download the maps in advance for offline use, in case you run into areas without cell phone data signal.
There are many areas in the southwest with no phone signal. I always carry paper maps and use a stand alone GPS. I've just added a Spot tracker to my must haves as well.
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Last edited by Highwayman2016; 12-18-2016 at 11:12 AM.
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post #7 of 48 Old 12-18-2016, 11:24 AM
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Here's a good ride....447 miles, with no interstates, from Albuquerque to Phoenix.

If you have a Garmin GPS with Trip Planner, or a phone navigation app like OsmAnd, I can email you the GPX file and you can input it into your device and get turn by turn directions while you follow the route. I prefer the GPS over the phone. If you don't have a GPS that has that feature, the program I use to create routes also generates a paper file of turn by turn directions, mileages, travel times, etc.

I created the trip on free software called Tyre to Travel. You can use it to plan routes all the way down to gravel forest roads. You can use the program to plot the shortest route between points, and then drag the route to go anywhere you want it to between the points. I've used it to plan trips for the past couple years, all over the US. But yes, I still always carry a paper atlas with me when I travel, along with a spare Garmin and the OsmAND navigation app on my phone.
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post #8 of 48 Old 12-18-2016, 01:31 PM
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That's exciting, I remember my first big trip. Now after 3 multi-week trips I guess I am pretty well seasoned. I only plan which roads the night before the next day, and I avoid the highway. Of course I have a general idea of the possible roads before I ever take off, and if I have to be somewhere on a specific date I will make it work (have contingency if there is bad weather, etc). Embrace the unknowns, I find those times are the most positive memories of all.

You'll want to figure out what your rhythm is - what time you like to start in the morning, how often you like to stop, stop for lunch or just snack during the day, how far you like to travel in a day (I find 300 miles +/-50 is nice pace for non-highway driving). When you find your natural rhythm, the trip will not wear you down. Even so, I have found that getting off the bike for a few days mid trip and doing something else is a recipe for one awesome trip!

It took me a week on my first trip to figure much of that out. You will probably want to make some mods for ergonomics after a few days. If your neck gets sore, lower your windshield to get rid of buffeting. If your back gets sore, a kidney belt might help (have one built in my jacket). BTW, when you travel alone you learn your rhythm, if you travel with others - it can become trickier.....
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post #9 of 48 Old 12-18-2016, 01:45 PM
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Good for you. Go for it.
When it comes to avoiding the boring super-slab route between those two points - you will likely use it at least part of the time. But that is okay if you are using it to save time so you can spend more time on the side routes. There are a number of choices but I tend to use the phone app version of "Best Biking Roads" 13482 Motorcycle Rides and Motorcycle Roads . It is very handy and has a feature of displaying "Rides Near Me" so you can decide how to spend your riding time based on local reviews.

You didn't expressly mention having a tire repair kit and compressor with you (that you know how to use). And check to see it your insurance covers road service for motorcycles (flatbed truck vs hook).

After that, try not to over plan and appreciate how lucky you are to be out there on a bike.
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post #10 of 48 Old 12-18-2016, 02:07 PM
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I like to avoid the interstates unless there is a good reason to use them. They are so boring. Paper maps give a big picture. Gps can be handy in search for fuel, motels, coffee etc. Never used a phone as gps as I find so much of the best riding has zero service, though I guess you can download maps in advance for when in the boonies. And yeah electronic stuff can go south.
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