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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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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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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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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.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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If it's dry and not too cold, I would highly suggest the 89a passing through Flagstaff, Sedona, Jerome, Prescott and Yarnell. That is a ride you will remember forever. Do a weather search for current conditions for that region. One year I rode up to Flagstaff in late January because it was cool with no rain/snow/ice, while down in Sedona it was around 80deg. Another year there was 7 feet of snow in Flagstaff and mass flooding in Phoenix. Every year is different, but totally worth the trip along the 89a if the weather is cooperating.

+1 on Tyre - great program and free and so easy to use.

Safe travels.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm leaning toward the southern I-10 route just because it's going to be so darn cold - and possibly snowy icy & nasty - on the more northerly routes like I-40 and 60.

It's a lot longer though. I'll have to stop somewhere for the night, because I don't think I'm quite ready to tackle 450 miles in one day. Also there just isn't that much daylight this time of year.

I do have gear for rain and my boots are supposed to be waterproof, but I'd rather avoid rain (or any precip) if possible.

I have a couple of apps that let me pre-download maps on my phone, but I will be acquiring some printed ones as well. As has been said, they are a good way to get a larger-scale view. And can't run out of battery, and aren't dependent on cell service.
 

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There's not much to see on 1-10; I've ridden it from Tucson all the way across Texas, and it's a pretty boring ride. Trouble is, if you have to go that far south to get out of the crappy weather, there aren't a lot of other roads to choose from, unless you have the time to head down towards Tombstone and then head north towards Phoenix. That makes it about a 700 mile ride
 

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There is always a breaking point if you're now equipped with the correct gear, aux lighting etc. riding the smaller scenic roads will take longer, but if wind chill is a problem, traviling the freeways at 80 will be much colder.
I love riding the big desert roads in winter. Two years ago I rode from SF Bay Area in Ca to Fort Worth TX and back starting the day after Christmas, 3700 mi RT in about a week. I just flew to Dallas in Oct and picked up a bike and rode 1800 mi home in 2 1/2 days. But I generally have the correct gear and lights for night riding. I do hate doing it in the summer heat though.
Take it easy on your first longer voyage, especially this time of year. If you fall short of your goal and need to stop earlier, it's not a big deal.
 

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Try A free app called REVER. It's a great route planner. You can put it on your phone but it's better on a PC or laptop. You can use it to nav on your phone but the map goes away with no cell service. Google Maps will tell you how to get somewhere but won't let you design the route. With Rever you can pay for some advanced features like Butler maps road ratings. Or just buy a Butler map.
I haven't done a lot of touring but 450 in a day isn't horrible if you get an early start.
One of my first longer trips I did 220 for 2 days on the way out and 420 in a day on the way back. Had the opposite issue as your ride. It was 95-100+.
 

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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.
Agreed, any electronic device can let you done for any number of reasons. Also with a phone, you are reliant on cell coverage if you don't have an app that lets it pretend to be a GPS and run without coverage. I have also found in the summer that my S4 will overheat and shut off. I use a Garmin AND carry maps.
Enjoy your trip!

PS clicked on the quote button before I read the thread. :)
 

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You live in ABQ and you've never heard of all the cool stuff further south?

The mountains to the north and anywhere near I-40 are gonna be a no-go -- WAYYYY too iffy weather.

Head south.

Personally, I'd begin with a jaunt southeast to Carlsbad and see the caves. See if you can get into one of the "wild cave" tours, where you get to crawl, squeeze, get filthy, and generally get off the beaten path.

Wander west from there. There are all kinds of interesting two-lane roads.

If you spend more than a total of 30 minutes on an interstate highway, you screwed up bad and should probably be banished to a minivan... ;)
 
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