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Old 06-13-2006, 11:43 AM   #31
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Default Re: Cross country trip

First article of posts I have read in a long time with no snide comments. All of the above good solid information and suggestions.
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Old 06-13-2006, 12:38 PM   #32
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Default Colorado's a blast! Here's a suggested itinerary

My riding background is similar to yours -- lots of 100-150 mile riding and the occasional long weekend. Last week I did the West coast version of your ride, from L.A. to Denver and back, on a similar bike - a BMW R1100 RT.

The 500 mile days you're talking about are definitely do-able for a "novice" distance rider on a sport-tourer like the Concours. Most of my route in between California and Colorado was desert, so I toughed it out and did 1000 mile days on the ride out and back. I'm 45, and of average health and (un)fitness, and while it was a little arduous, I was back on the bike the next day.

The IronButtAssoc tips are spot on. Stopping every hour for a quick stretch definitely makes a difference. Allow for these breaks in your trip-planning. On the road, I was averaging 80'ish. But with the stops, my average speed for the day was 65mph. And definitely wear earplugs. Ten hours of riding without earplugs, and your ears will be ringing the rest of the day.

Interstates 40 and 70 are fine in a car, but they're miserable on a bike - especially through Arizona and Utah where the temperatures will be in the triple digits this time of year. For your ride, I'd recommend --

Day 1 - Arizona to Durango, Colorado.

Get to Flagstaff from wherever you're picking up the bike, then ride north on 89 and west on 160 to Durango Colorado. This would make a good 1-day ride from most anywhere in Arizona. There are several hours of desert between Flagstaff and Colorado, so I'd recommend leaving Flagstaff no later than 9am. If you've never been to the Grand Canyon, it's only a short detour. Turn north at Williams (30 miles west of Flagstaff) and it will only add about 30 miles to your ride. Time it to be there around sunrise for a spectacular view, and you'll still get across the desert before noon. You might want to make a slight detour to pass through Monument Valley -- but be sure not to miss the photo-op at Four-Corners. If you got an early start and you arrive in Colorado mid-day, spend the afternoon at Mesa Verde National Park viewing the cliff dwellings. It's especially impressive in the late afternoon sun, so you'll have time to get a room and clean up first. Durango is an 1800's mining town something of a tourist destination, so just walk down the main street and take your pick of the many restraunts available. You'll see lots of bikers in Durango - but mostly Harleys (and mostly Rubbies). You'll also see a bizarre paradox in Durango -- notice that every bicyclist you see will be wearing a helmet, while every Harley rider will not. Are bicyles more dangerous than Harleys? Or do bicyclists just value their brains more than Harley riders do?

I was doing 80-90mph on I-40, and pretty much going with the flow of traffice. But watch your speed while riding through the Indian Reservations - speeding tickets are a key source of revenue.

**WARNING** spend the first day getting VERY familiar with the bike's handling - in Colorado you'll be riding mountain roads where an overshot corner could mean a thousand foot drop before the first bounce! The Connie was made for twisties, but the ride is VERY different from your Vulcan. KNOW your bike before you get throttle happy in the mountains. The Connie is quick and nimble. But get in over your head on some of the roads in Colorado, and quite simply, you will die.

Day2 - Durango to Denver -

Twisty mountain roads that were made-to-order for the Connie. Take the 550 north to the 50 east to the 285 north to Denver. Get off bike and attempt to remove stupid grin from face. The entire ride is mountain pass after mountain pass, with the occasional flat stretch tossed in just to keep it interesting . Keep an eye on your mirror for great photo-ops on the climb out of Durango and down into Ouray. I did this ride in 9 hours, but with lots of photo stops on the way.

If you're not too tired when you get to Denver, consider going to Casa Bonita. Featured in a SouthPark episode, it's this amazing, bizarre, Dali-esque mexican restaurant with flame jugglers, cliff divers and mining tunnels -- all *inside* the restaurant! The food is terrible, but it's worth it for the experience. If Walt Disney built a restaurant instead of a theme park, it would be Casa Bonita.

The State Troopers in Colorado drive grey stealth-mobiles and are plentiful. But I was told by a local bike shop owner that most of the Troopers are riders and are bike-friendly. For my part, I rode 10-20mph over the limit most of the time, and never had a Trooper give me a second look. Just keep it under the limit going through the small towns.

Colorado is prone to summer thunder storms. If your jacket isn't waterproof, pack at least a rain jacket. And if you find a thunderhead brewing while your in a high mountain meadow, find some cover -- your tires will NOT insulate you from lightning ( http://www.crh.noaa.gov/pub/ltg/ltg_...iker_fatal.php )

If you've got extra time, I'd spend it touring through Colorado. The Connie will eat up the mountain roads and pretty much any road other than the 70 and the 25 will be twisty.

Day 3-4 -- Prairie grass and Corn fields

The next two days are mile after mile of prairie grass and corn fields. You'll defnitely be wanting a ThrottleRocker or a VistaCruise for this stretch! Take the 75 out of Denver and pick up the 80 in Nebraska. Try to ignore how slowly the clock is moving. If you're not in a hurry, you can ride the Lincoln Highway for a more scenic route (www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org). It's the northern equivalent of old Route 66 and it roughly parallels the I-80.

Day 5 -- Home again, home again, jiggity-jig

At this point, your in your own back yard and can choose your own route.

The Connie's got great luggage. Pack your gear in two small gym-bag sized duffels for easy packing in the saddle bags. I'd definitely recommend a tank bag - perfect for glasses, cell phone, chapstick (trust me, you'll want it), maps, water, etc. In the mountains, the ride will be plenty to keep your attention. But for the long hours through the plains, music is a definite plus. Either put speakers in your helmet, or use something like the Etymotics ER6. The easiest solution is *noise-attenuating* earplugs (not just the earbuds that came with the player) and an iPod or other mp3 player tucked in your jacket pocket.

Hmmm-- after writing about it, I'm ready to do it again. When are you going?
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Old 06-13-2006, 01:31 PM   #33
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Default Re: Cross country trip

I don't know if you've ever seen the grand canyon, but make the time to see it. Flagstaff is at five or six thousand feet, and lots cooler than the southern part of the state. From there it's about an hours ride North. Then, just park the bike and take the shuttles to take in some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. Bring a camera. Take your time, check out the sights. It can be the trip of a lifetime, and will be a lot more enjoyable if you don't feel like you have to put in five or six hundred miles every day. That'll give you 'monkey butt' every time.
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Old 06-13-2006, 01:59 PM   #34
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I'm a solo tourist from way back. We're a solitary lot. It isn't for most people. You might love it or you might hate it. You just as well do it and find out which one it is for you.

As long as your staying in motels then 500 a day isn't too hard. Easy for me to say I guess.

Interstate drones are awfull but the easiest way to make distance.

No matter what roads you take you will be hot, cold and wet at various times. Even though your going east the wind will still be fighting you many times. You'll often be uncomfortable. Why this is fun for me I have no clue. The only thing you absolutely need is a couple of pair of high quality moisture wicking briefs. Saddle sores, monkey butt, is the one absolute misery you need to avoid. All other discomforts are temporary, unless you have back or other orthopedic issues.

Stop often. For me I stop often early in the day, getting a rhythm going. If you've only done 100 miles by noon no sweat. Or mabye you might have a different clock. Maybe you'll want a nap in the afternoon. Almost for sure you'll find the big miles are easiest to make later in the day or in the evening. So if you don't have to stop and set up camp I think you will find 500 miles a piece of cake if you go till sunset.

Good fabric riding gear is something that is invaluable. If you have one of those plasticy rain suits you will be spending large amount of mental energy trying to decide if you should put it on or not. If you don't it will rain, if you do it won't, and you'll bake. It's going to rain, take my word for it.

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Old 06-13-2006, 02:59 PM   #35
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Default Re: Cross country trip

SV650s suck.

Oops I just ruined this thread!
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Old 06-13-2006, 03:41 PM   #36
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Default Re: Cross country trip

Do it. But I would add a few more days (weeks) and really make it worth your while. Seriously, when are you going to get the chance to do this again? Make it work--take some time, and stick to the "red roads" on your Rand McNally. Stay off the freeways as much as possible.

Of course it can be done in 3-4 days. You just won't have as much fun. It'll quickly turn into an endurance contest with all the pain that implies.

I've done two solo cross-country trips, both on a Harley Sportster 1200. My longest day was Monterey, Mexico to South Padre Island, Texas. I wouldn't care to do that again, but it was doable. (The sub-text here is, if a 6' 230lb guy on a sportster can do it, anyone on a Concours can do it. It's all in your head. And your ass.)

My most urgent advice, though, is to take more time. You have a chance here to justify the kind of trip most bikers only dream of. RIDE IT, don't just jam back to PA on the superslab. That sucks.

Good luck.
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Old 06-13-2006, 03:46 PM   #37
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Drink fluids. High mileage days suck the water out of you more than you would think possible. Stay hydrated--it helps your comfort and your mental acuity. Tips about sunscreen are also well taken.

Oh, also: it will rain. Count on it. Especially if it looks really nice in the morning and you're in the middle of the desert and there isn't a cloud in the sky. I promise, it's going to rain. Something about being several thousand miles from home and on a motorcycle--clouds will find you. You become a minor diety, a low-grade Rain God.

So pack your rubbers.

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Old 06-13-2006, 03:54 PM   #38
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Default Re: Colorado's a blast! Here's a suggested itinerary

Nice comment, dude. It's about time for me to do another one of these, I think...
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Old 06-13-2006, 07:27 PM   #39
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Default Re: Cross country trip

Ride it. I had the opportunity to ride from Chicago to San Francisco a few years ago and still remember it as a unique experience. I traded my VTR for a Futura for the occasion and did not regret it. I had never done such a long trip before but here are a few things I found useful:

- Mount a GPS on your handle bars and don't bother with maps and itineraries. Just go in the general direction and where the roads or the weather look good. Don't ride the highways and avoid cities; back roads are more interesting, more fun and you will discover places and people well worth the detour.

- Don't lock yourself into a schedule. Take 5 or 7 days if that's what's you need to be comfortable. It's not worth ruining your trip getting all stressed out because you picked up a nail in your rear tire and that puts you a day behind plan.

- You already got good advice about gear to ride in the heat of summer. In addition, I enjoyed starting the days very early, with first light (between 3 and 4 am) before the heat builds up, and stop when it get really hot by 2 or 3 pm, in a little small town motel. They are cheap, people are nice, and sometimes they may even have a pool to cool down. You will have the roads to yourself in the early hours and the sights are beautiful in the morning light. If you have any interest in photography, this is the time to make spectacular pictures. Of course, I was going generally West, so the sun was mostly behind me. You may want to adjust if the sun in your face bothers you.

- Think about the journey, not the destination. If you want to get there fast, you are better off flying, shipping the bike, and missing the whole point.

- Enjoy, you don't know when you will have another chance.
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Old 06-14-2006, 12:34 AM   #40
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Default Re: Colorado's a blast! Here's a suggested itinerary

Go for it!!! The only other thing I might mention is to buy a Camelback-type of hydration unit. Keeping hydrated is the key to keeping yourself alert and refreshed.

This post has some great advice. Ride safe!!!
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