Saturday, June 23, 2012

Reflections On a Long Road Trip

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted due to being gone on an unplanned road trip.  There were many good things about this road trip, not the least of which was that it was via motorcycle, but one particularly bad thing - the cause.  My brother-in-law of many years, David McGuffey, died suddenly almost two weeks ago.  He had been ill, but I had hoped and believed he was going to get a good outcome.  Godspeed, David. 

There is much to be said about the events of the past two weeks, but for here I'll do my best to stick to things related to riding motorcycles, and riding goat trails, where possible.  Herein follows a list of observations, questions, thoughts.  A download, if you will.
  • For all of you who ride sportbikes, standards, and whatever else, where the hell are you?  Easily, 90% of the bikes observed out on the road the past two weeks have been either Harleys or metric cruisers.  All others comprise the remaining 10% of the bikes observed once you're out of major metropolitan areas.  BMW's?  In the remaining 10%.  Sport tourers of all brands?  In the remaining 10%.  Dual sports?  10%Gold Wings and other full dress tourers that aren't Harleys?  In the 10%.  Adventure bikes?  In the 10%.  Geez folks, get out and ride.
  • Rain.  It's a reality of road trips.  Being prepared makes a difference.  If you ride hundreds of miles in the rain, you'll find out whether or not you're prepared.  First issue is rain gear.  If like me, you wear gear with the rain liners inside, everything outside of the liners (including the contents of your pockets) will get soaked.  Eventually this soaking will make its way through the liner, and you'll be soaked too.  Know this.  It's not pleasant.  Next is luggage.  The only luggage I've ever used - hard or soft - that was 100% waterproof are dry bags.  If your tank bag, tail bag, saddlebags require that you put on a cover to stay dry, and you ride all day at speed, the contents of your luggage will get wet, and you may shred or lose your rain cover to boot.  There may be hard luggage that's waterproof, but I haven't used it, and the hard bags on my Triumph Tiger seemed to collect all the water that fell that day. 
  • Maps - they're a good thing.  I left home in such a rush to get to my sister's house, more than 600 miles distant, that I didn't bring maps.  Not a problem if you want to ride the interstate all the time.  A bit more problematic if you like to find distant goat trails.  The punchline - at least one of them - to this story is the 44.7 mile long dead end road I put myself on trying to find a goat trail between Reedsport and Drain, OR.  Great road until it just stopped.  Not turned to gravel, or dirt, or single track, just stopped at the the trees, forcing a 44.7 mile backtrack.  I hope to explore the area around Kentucky Falls someday.
  • It rocks to be a motorcyclist when you use the Washington State Ferries, where you can embark and disembark ahead of all the cars and trucks.
  • Many of the road surfaces in Washington and Oregon are great, but it's hard to beat California for great road - even if they're beat to crap sometimes.
  • It sucks to ride where lanesplitting is not legal.
  • It's great to ride where the state DOT's have not managed to get the volume discount on yellow paint that has become the hallmark of Caltrans.  Legal passing zones are more common and more reasonable in both Oregon and Washington.  
  • A shout out to the county mountie in Washington who warned me of the WSP radar placement ahead of me!  
It's good to be back, and I will be posting more regularly.  

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