My friend Dave is a motorcycle road trip veteran. I have only fantasized about the awesome adventure that would be. But, Dave has been there and done that in grand fashion.
Those who road trip on motorcycles are consistently people of fantastic character. It must have something to do with the fortitude required to travel for days on a motorcycle.
I asked Dave if he would be willing to share with us some of his road trip savvy…about things like safety, planning, and packing. We decided to do it in a question and answer format. It was really fun to do, and I look forward to doing it more in the future.
Q – For how many years have you been going on motorcycle road trips? Give us a brief profile of your motorcycle road trip experience.
A – I started 30 years ago taking 3-4 day trips around Washington state (groups of 5 -7 people). After 10 years, we decided going for 3 days a year wasn’t nearly enough. So myself and 3 others started taking 8-9 day trips (4 in a group works best). We all enjoy the camping, scenery, meeting people, and really like using the bike’s performance (acceleration and handling like no car can match). As odd as it may sound to some people, we enjoy the endurance factor. Long days, temperatures extremes, sore butt, and fatigue require you to sometimes dig deep.
Q – What about the motorcycle road trip experience is so enjoyable for you? What keeps you coming back for more?
A – All of the above, plus there is never a shortage of new areas to see and explore.
…Ahhh, the pleasure of digging deep. I’ve experienced fifteen and sixteen hour long drives that gave me a surreal perspective. It really gives the road trip an extraordinary quality.
Q – But, have you ever found yourself crossing too far over the line? What do you do to journey safely?
A – When I first started riding (dumb teenager), I would sometimes ride too fast for my ability (pucker factor). With age comes wisdom , experience, and (with practice) learning the “art” of cornering. Proper corner entry speed and throttle control allows the bike to handle like it was designed…Safely! Super long days can be dangerous as well. Especially at night, you can start seeing things and getting confused. Know these limits and plan your ride accordingly. Also stay hydrated and keep your body fueled.
You say there is never a shortage of new areas to see and explore. Yes…How many lifetimes could one spend exploring every road that’s worth exploring? One of the great pleasures of the road trip is discovering great places to drive or ride (sometimes by planning…sometimes by serendipity).
Q – How do you choose a route when there are four riders?
A – It helps having a group that gets along well. My group is generally OK with wherever. It also helps to have a map nut like myself along to give suggestions and estimated travel times.
Q – What is your planning process like?
A – We used to plan our whole trip before we even left. Now we just wing it day by day. It’s all about getting a break from deadlines, quotas, etc., and doing whatever you please. At least for a little while.
When I was a lone traveler, I packed very light. Even for weeks of travel, I fit everything into a backpack. Now, with a family, packing light looks different than it used to. But, I still believe in packing light. I imagine you, as a rider, also believe in packing light. Packing must be a science for you.
Q – What is your packing philosophy? Do you need to consider the balance of your motorcycle?
A – Andrew, you are right on with packing being an exact science. It takes me 15 minutes to pack before leaving. For me the ride is the vacation, so I don’t really need anything but socks, underwear, toiletries, and shelter. Everything about the ride is simple. That’s what makes it so great. My whole pack weighs 15-20 lbs (7-9kg), so it doesn’t affect the handling of the bike. I don’t need to pack any food, we just stop at restaurants for breakfast and dinner only.