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Posts Tagged ‘Trips’

baggageSigns of spring are popping up here in the northwest and as folks start to make plans for the next big motorcycle adventure the mental exercise of figuring out what to load on your bike vs. what you can live without always becomes a challenge.

I’ve certainly seen my share of overloaded motorcycles on the road (photo: right).  Stacked “high-n-wide” with a two-man dome tent, a sleeping bag, an air mattress, cooking gear/utensils and not to mention the face cream, prescriptions, soap, towel, clothes, rain gear, running shoes and the assortment of battery inflation devices (for the air mattress)!  I’ve even witnessed a couple logs of firewood bungeed to the side of bikes, and they probably didn’t have room for the bike cover or laptop?!

Yeah, slapping a 100 pounds on a backrest bag that hangs out 2 feet behind the back axle, and the center of gravity is a foot higher than your helmet is a little….ahem… risky to say the least and makes the entire bike “twitchy.”  I’m not sure about yours, but the last time I looked at my luggage rack it had a tiny sticker on it stating “25 pounds max load.” 

So a couple lessons learned to pass along that you can do what you will with:

  1. Packing takes some thought and effort. If you’re riding 2-up it doubles the effort. It’s easy to throw things together at the last minute, but the end result is too much stuff.
  2. Essentials are just that – essential! Unless I’m parachuting into the Mojave desert I always pack foul weather gear. Personal items like toothbrush/paste are stored in zip-lock bags to avoid spillage. I’ve found rolling t-shirts, undies and socks together and rubber banding them makes a concise package that I cram anywhere. I pack a pair of shorts, swim suit, flip-flops assuming the weather allows for it. Packing wet underwear from the previous night swim or hot-tub party is no fun.
  3. Toolkit – (small one) is stored in the bottom and as far forward as possible in the bag. Intent is to keep the weight positioned down low, below seat height if possible and contained within the wheelbase for stability.
  4. On week long road trips or more I’ll take/wear “ratty” old t-shirts and/or underwear and then just toss them in the garbage after use. A great way to lighten the load as the trip stretches out and gives me space for new t-shirts.
  5. Pay close attention to payload warnings on luggage racks, backrests and the like. I know I’m repeating a bit here, but I’ve seen a lot of folks overload a rack, sissy bar, or seat rail and it creates instability as the front tire is barely skimming the asphalt. For years I rode a FatBoy without saddlebags and would take items from the (facing forward) T-Bag and stuff/move it forward to tank bags, windshield pouches, back packs, and so on.
  6.  Take the extra time to adjust shocks and increase pressure in your tires per the owner’s manual — especially important if the route plan is high-speed freeway, instead of meandering down a 2-lane road.
  7. I don’t fret over what I’ve packed or not. If I forget something, I’ll stop and buy it down the road or I might find that I can manage just fine without it. I’m not a boy scout trying to be prepared for every possibility. I pack light and don’t tote heavy, bulky stuff.

On this blog you’ll find a packing list which can be printed and used to prep as well as check off items.   If you have some terrific road packing ideas let me know.  I’ll add them to the list for others to consider.

Photo courtesy Flickr

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I’m a certified SCUBA diver and we have a safety slogan – Dive Your Plan.  It means before you hit the water you and your buddy should know exactly where you are going to dive, for how long, and how deep. If there is a good wreck another fifteen feet down, but that depth isn’t in your plan you don’t go down to it. Once you’ve had your allotted time underwater, ascend to the surface. Don’t change the dive plan. A dive plan makes for a safe dive. Period.

Although it doesn’t have the same risk, we could use the diving metaphor for motorcycle trips.   Thorough planning for a motorcycle trip can free up a person to enjoy the ride.  But, maybe you’re a “man of the moment” and looking for a more carefree, happily riding along and where you end the day is where you end.  So, what’s your style?  I try and have balance…a hybrid model if you will.  Over planning takes some of the spontaneous elements out of the trip, but I’ve been on a few of those rainy, dark nights looking for a hotel room because the city you ended up in had the National Little League Championships and was sold out!

I don’t know about you, but I dislike poring over maps. I hate how they unfold, crinkle and cover my saddle bags then never seem to fold back into that convenient size.  To my knowledge that actually has never happened!  I don’t like looking at all those squiggly map lines or guessing what unique wonders are out there when I ride.  Once I’m on the road, the map stays packed. I rarely consult it en route.  Not because my trip is so well planned out, but I sort of have an understanding of where I’m going to be at the end of any given day and I’m good with that.  And like the gents who get together for coffee at a local shop in the morning where everyone has an opinion about something and the conversation goes in different directions… if I take a side road here or there it only means I’ll arrive a little later… so be it.

Hecla Mining

Hecla Mining

For example, one ride a few years ago which I will always remember – first because I was solo and that’s uncommon and second because my inadequate planning came back to bite me.  I was headed up to Glacier National Park.  I made my way to Wallace, Idaho (I-90) and I had one of those knee-jerk carefree shorten my trip ideas to head up toward Thompson Falls, Mt and ride Hwy-200.  A quick glance of a map indicated there was a short cut on old Hwy-4 north through Burke, ID.  Turns out to be an unincorporated community with a year round population of 38!  The road winds up through a rather steep canyon only 300 feet wide and my plan was to cross over Coopers Pass on the Montana border and save literary hours.  Unfortunately the asphalt ended in this semi-ghost town and I was on National Forest Developed (NFD) road #2673.  A loaded Fatboy on a gravel road is not my idea of a dirt bike endurance trip so after another 10 miles of trying to convince myself the pavement would surely return…I admitted defeat, turned around and drove past the abandon Hecla Mining buildings and made my way North on Hwy-153 at St Regis, Montana.  Of course three hours later than I had planned, but I can now talk about Burke-Canyon Creek Road in the northern most part of Shoshone County Idaho with some authority! 

Happy trails…

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Rollrcoastrgurl and map courtesy High Country News.

Postscript: These days the Burke, ID area is viewed as a major source of pollution.  Everyday a stream that runs under the mill picks up and carries hundreds of pounds of heavy metals down through Wallace, ID and eventually into the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River.  A good article on the “poisons in paradise” is HERE.

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