Long Haul Motorcycle Touring. What To Take With You To Stay On The Road…Forever!
Long Haul Solo Motorcycle Tour – Summer USA & So. Canada
What To Take With You To Stay On The Road…Forever!
September 3, 2011
Prince Edward Island, Canada
A good ride, even if you just want to follow your nose, requires some element of planning. This article, while a bit on the dry side, is offered to help you have the best time possible. After a recent ride of almost 8,000 miles, from New Orleans to Seattle, Seattle to New Brunswick, and then down to Portland, Maine, (resting up for the ride back to N’Awlins), I wrote a few notes to share regarding equipment, clothes, safety issues, and personal health maintenance. The road can go on forever, so long as you are well prepared. Bon Voyage! To the left, my friend Deb Macci, who rode her BMW from Massachusetts, to Tierra Del Fuego! What a woman!
Here’s what I took on my trip.
Bulb kit – Spots, head, tail, break, signal. One eac
One qt. oil
Small essential tool kit
Heavy Duty combo lock and strong assed security chain/cable
Tubeless Tire repair kit. (if you have them) Basic punctures can be plugged
Tire inflator, (Slime Brand) with digital pressure read out
You must have an accessory plug on your bike to recharge a cell phone or run a tire inflator…plus, operating a heated jacket, etc. Easily installed.
Business or personal cards
Passport – Canada likes Americans to have a Passport to get in the country.
Copy of bike registration
Bike insurance card + proof of insurance from your insurance agency
Health insurance card
Cash card & credit card
3 blank checks (so far, I’ve used two of ‘em)
Sufficient cash (I usually carry 150-200 in cash)
Tell bank (card company) to expect out of state card charges.
Finances: Put as many vendors on auto pay as possible. Set up for on-line banking for bill pay & funds transfers. You can stop in at a computer kiosk and log on to your account. If you bring a computer, I recommend using Quicken, & link it directly to your bank account for on-line updates.
All meds. Bring a 90-day supply. Hey, you never know.
Good first aid kit
A good book, and because you’re smart, a French phrase book for Quebec.
Micro polish rag, medium towel, oil rag, and sponge. A clean bike is good.
Bug remover spray (for windshield, lights, and helmet visor)
Wash bike using motel room plastic trash can filled with warm water
This is your phone/camera/GPS/eMail/contact list/weather link/txt msg/Google, and plenty more). I had no problems save when in the middle of absolutely nowhere. (Verizon back-up ph. had no signal either).
Buy a low-end Verizon back-up phone and use a cheap Month-to-Month Plan. (Emer. use only)
Jawbone “Jambox” speaker…Bluetooth linked to iPhone with Lots & Lots of music in iTunes. (Big advantage over Droid)
Chargers: Phone, computer, and Jambox. (Standard iPhone charger offers ability to pull the USB out of the pronged wall plug so you can plug the USB into your computer to upload photos)
Full face helmet, + head sock. (best quality helmet for a best quality brain)
Fingerless gloves, plus gauntlet gloves for colder temps.
Ear plugs. Change ‘em occasionally because they get disgusting looking!)
Sunglasses & regular glasses
Rain gear (light weight jacket, pants, & booties)
One long sleeve “Under Armor” brand T-shirt
One mock turtle neck zip up base layer worn over Under Armor
3 pair quick dry undies
3 T shirts (the coolest/most shocking one’s you have) Ex: I See Only Dead People!
3 pair quick dry socks (one a white half-sock for sneakers)
2 light long sleeve shirts. Roll up the sleeves.
1 early fall weight shirt jacket
2 pair jeans (make sure they aren’t too tight)
1 belt (make it the coolest/flashiest one you own)
2 red neckerchiefs (soak ’em in water to put around your neck when hot)
Bathing suit (Bought good one at a thrift store in Dubois, Wyoming, for a buck!)
Sweat shirt. Make sure it’s heavy duty.
1 pair flip flops
1 ball cap (make sure it says or shows something fun or exotic)
1 sun hat (all of ‘em look idiotic)
Sun block spray (Use 70)
Bathroom kit – including small stainless scissors (to clip your nose hairs!)
This list is a bit luxurious for some riders and probably could be reduced by 25%. But, I was travelling alone, and it suited me fine. I never wound up wanting more, or less. Remember, think about where you want to go and build your clothing inventory accordingly.
Recommended Bikes: (I ride an ’09 Harley Road King Custom)
BMW K1300GT, BMW R1300GS
Make sure your ride is well serviced before you leave, and reliable! Breakdowns in middle of nowhere are NFG.
Make sure you are comfortable on whatever you ride.
Hints for the road…
Keep cool in heat, warm when colder. Guard your core.
Extreme heat or cold will take you out…Beware.
Must fit well and stay in place. There’s nothing more maddening than to feel your socks slipping down inside your riding shoes/boots.
Drink plenty of water. In summer, drink as much as you want but one pint every 150 miles worked well for me.
Do not eat crap. Eat the best food you can afford. Carry good quality energy bars. (I use Clif Bars). Eat as soon as you feel any energy drop. Hunger messes with decision-making ability.
Staying Power (Guard against fatigue)
Ride longer daily distances and feel lots better when you stop and rest more frequently. Because your fuel range is 200 miles doesn’t mean you have to go 200 miles before resting. I recommend 125 mile intervals, or whenever you feel fatigue. You’ll gauge your own tolerance for distance.
Sitting on your ass for long distances isn’t good for your health.
Swim when you can. Most motels have a pool.
Do a daily morning exercise routine with plenty of upper and lower body stretching, a modest amount (25-30) push-ups, sit-ups, and knee bends, and practice standing on each foot for 30-40 seconds to improve balance.
If you have any doubt about the availability of fuel in an area into which you are riding, fuel up!
Check your tire pressure frequently
Check oil level, all lights, and gauge function, daily, before hitting the road
Check over-all appearance and controls daily
Need scheduled maintenance? Get it done at a dealer. Call ahead for appt.
Luggage (differs from bike to bike)
Harley side cases
Topsail Canvas out of New Brunswick, Canada, made the outstanding zip up multi-pocket bag to store bike cover, rain gear, and water. I secured it on the passenger seat, and used it as a backrest, and a day bag for short trips like this one in Glacier National Park. http://www.harrybryan.com/tsc/index.html
Harley inside the windshield leather bag for incidentals.
Inventory Creep (Keeping inventory under control)
There are times when conditions permit and the chance of harming anyone else isn’t evident, that it’s absolutely impossible, when under the flush of freedom’s ineffable euphoria, to ride with any sanity or sense of self-preservation what-so-ever. I say, go for it! Life without risk is a bore.
But here are a few, and I think essential, points about every day safety.
Competent cornering is the essence of riding. Be very alert to the possibility of riding into a decreasing radius corner and act accordingly.
Send predictable messages of behavior to vehicles that are around you. Erratic riding around vehicles = a trip to the hospital.
Drinking alcohol and riding. Unless suicidal, don’t. Ever.
Avoid interaction with members of known outlaw M/C gangs.
If you feel uncomfortable at high speeds, reduce your speed.
Never attempt to keep up with other riders who may be beyond your level of riding ability. Sit back and enjoy yourself at a speed that suits you.
Never get into an adversarial situation with any vehicle…they always win.
Listen to your body…if you are thirsty or fatigued, address that asap.
Concentrate on your riding like your life depends on it…because it does.
If it’s your first bike, take a Riders Ed. course. Avoid buying a bike that’s too much for you. Get the road rocket you really want after you learn to ride, and ride well.
Are you a rider? I urge you to subscribe to Motorcycle Consumer News. It’s 100% subscriber funded and thus very objective when evaluating products and bikes. Plus, it has a tremendous section covering safety and improving your riding skills in each issue. http://www.mcnews.com/mcn/
Just a few thoughts tohelp you have a great time on your next ride!
More from Maine, and Prince Edward Island, soon!