Have you ever dreamt of planning a cross-country trip on a motorcycle? There’s something rewarding about crossing the country on two wheels, perhaps because it’s moderately perplexing due to the sheer fortitude required to ride 4,000 plus miles.
There’s a lot to consider when planning a coast-to-coast trip – What kind of motorcycle? Use your own or rent one? What new parts should you invest in? What should you bring, and what can you do without? What route and how much time do you take to complete your journey?
The biggest thing you’ll need is patience.
Don’t rush, don’t stress; let things happened and embrace the experience. Riding a motorcycle is a lot more demanding on your mind and body than driving a car is, and you don’t want to ride when fatigued. That’s how disasters happen. Planning a leisurely schedule makes it easier (mentally) to alter your route or take a rest day. Remember, a trip like this is about the journey, enjoy the process.
“Take your time – Change your life – Take the Long Way.” Long Way Round
Planning for a road trip by motorcycle:
- Get your bike thoroughly checked up and serviced.
- Try to take your own motorcycle, as you will know its shortcomings.
- Replace older treads with some new Pirelli motorcycle tires.
- Map out several options and routes with emergency contingencies.
- Replace or pre-order any replacement parts you might need. I recommend Motorcycle parts online.
- Pack a good tool kit.
- Have a friend or friends join you along the way.
- Carry any extra small parts – accelerator, clutch cable etc.…. If riding a Honda check out aftermarket Honda parts.
- Research garages along the way to get small repairs or maintenance, like getting your chain tightened and lubricated.
- Plan stops to eat at local favorites.
- Make a list of sites or areas to visit.
- Wear protective gear all the time.
Planning Your Budget:
Make sure you plan your budget with some padding for extras, emergencies or if you are traveling during the peak seasons.
Lodging: Plan to camp whenever you can, it’s cheaper and the experience is unrivalled. However, keep a look out for reasonable hotels in case of bad weather.
Food: Depending on your route, decide a daily budget for chow. But, make sure you experience the local food and culture any chance you can.
Points of note:
- Some sections of your ride will be boring as hell.
- Experience local cultures and stop at historical sites as often as possible.
- Take pictures, lots and lots of pictures.
- Keep a diary or a video log of your days.
- Embrace the loneliness of the open road.
- There are no detours, only unexplored country.
- Ride safe, smart and make it back undamaged!
- Get your bike tuned before you leave. Make sure that the service will last at least another 4000 miles. This may affect the oil and tire selections you make.
- Drink up (water) every time you stop for gas. Apply sunblock liberally. Dress in layers, you’ll experience wide ranges of weather over the course of the day.
- Bring a hammock. It takes up very little room, but camping out between the trees can be some of the best nights of the trip.
- Be cautious! Don’t be afraid to ride at or below the speed limit; there’s nothing macho about spoiling your trip by wrecking your bike.
- Stay sharp. If you’re exhausted, don’t ride. Take a rest day or a few hours to recover. Any deprivation in attention span or reaction time is a REALLY bad thing, especially at highway speeds.
- Never forget your 10 essentials. Always carry a backpack when off your bike with your essentials in it so they don’t get stolen.
- The first few days are going to painful. Your body’s not used to that much time in the saddle and your muscles are going to be sore. Don’t worry, after a few days your body will adapt.
- Wear good gear. Most importantly, a comfortable and well-fitted helmet. Protective gear such as jacket with armor and riding pants need to fit well and be breathable. Also very important are comfortable and versatile gloves. They’ll keep your fingers warm (motor control is important!) and protect from any surprise rocks.
- Wear layers. That includes your legs (thermal underwear for cold days), upper torso and hands. Good boots and athletic wool socks can cover an amazingly broad range of weather conditions. A pair of flip-flops for when you’re off the bike can be a nice relief for your feet.
- Pack less than you think you’ll need. You’re leaving the refined world. Less stuff = More freedom
- Feel free to adjust your timing and route based upon whatever you feel like doing. That’s the freedom of the voyage.
- Don’t think about schedules. Go to bed when you’re tired, wake up early, explore and talk to the locals A LOT! They always will show you the coolest things.
- Download and listen to your favorite music, or my favorite, audiobooks from Audible.com.
- Better yet, take that time to truly think and reflect on life and embrace the silence. It can be very meditative.
- Get comfortable with the thought of being alone. It’s ok to call people at night to catch up, but most of the days, just disconnect and take in the amazing world around you.
If you’re pondering about taking a trip like this, just obligate your self to do it. It will be an extremely rewarding adventure on just about every level.