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The Basics of Motorcycle Touring.

By Ian Parish

More than the love of getting on a motorcycle and going for a ride, Motorcycle touring involves a few more details. Where to go, when to go, how far to travel, what to expect, and what to pack? If you have a month, a week or just a couple of days, or an afternoon of these basic rules apply.

Prepare your machine:
Making sure your Motorcycle is in good mechanical working order and that all the current maintenance has been done. Riding around town, is a lot different than riding across country. If you think I can get a few more miles out of that tire, or that loose will be ok, it won't be. When crossing Wyoming, the towns are few are far between. If you get a flat tire you may be stuck way out side of no where land wondering what to do. This exact thing happened to us one year on our way to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. We had to go knocking on a local farmers door asking for help. Little did we know the farm dog was docile, but the attack ducks took us for invaders and attacked. Seriously the ducks had a fit and charged us. To get back to the story we had to push the bike to the barn and air up the tire, then drive about 70 miles out of our way through three different towns looking for a town large enough to change a tire on a full size Harley. Looking back on the experience we should have changed the tire before we left home for a 7 day 2000 mile trip. As a side note my loose headlight fell off later in the trip, so we certainly had some adventure.

Plan your trip, but also let your trip guide you. I don't know if this makes sense or not but have an idea where you are headed and how long you plan to take to get there. I usually plan about 300 miles a day, and I roughly figure out my stops along the way. One thing I always learn or remember the hard way on my trips is big is bad, small is fun. On a motorcycle stay away from the big cities and the big roads. What I mean by this is small windy country highways and small towns offer a better experience on a motorcycle. Big freeways and big cities are full of busy grumpy people, but little roads just meander, little towns offer, small hotels, local restaurants, and more home town feel. The whole reason I get on a motorcycle for vacation is to relax. My idea of relaxing is not hammering along on a freeway all day long only to stay in an overpriced hotel and listen to the trucks roar by all night. A lot better plan is a bed and breakfast in a town of 10,000 people and the chance to listed to the cows at night.

Toss your watch, or at least pack it someplace that is very hard to get to. The only important time to remember is the 8:00 am work start time on the day after your trip ends. Just relax on the road and if you get hungry stop at a roadside dinner, or find a local sandwich malt shop. Let your body tell you when you are tired, and need to rest. Once again, stay away from the big cities, and stop along the way and ask for advise on local accommodations. I have found that this works about half the time, meaning sometimes I get a great deal on a cute hide away, other times I get a room that I will never forget and still laugh about to this day.

Remember the the wind, the sun, the sound's, the smells, and the bugs. That's the whole reason you are out on an adventure anyway. Look for places on the map that are
green, and roads that are twisty and windy, like mountain roads, or the flat open desert highways, or the scenic beauty of our many national parks. The more varied the terrain is the better the highways will be.

What should you pack? Well this is where the more prepared you are the better your tip will be rule comes into play. You must master the fine art of balancing what you need, with what you can carry, and how to get to it along the way. If you plan to stay in a hotel along the way your packing is greatly simplified, if you plan to camp along the way you must also plan a tent, sleeping bags, and various other outdoor type gear. Pack less, pack less, and pack less, than you think you will really need, plan to buy some clothing along the way, and leave room in you bags for these souvenirs.

When should you plan a Motorcycle tour? Pick a warm and dry time to go, not too hot, not too cold, and not rainy. I know this is harder than it sounds but with a bit of luck you won't end up in Oregon headed for Utah late in the fall, following the biggest earliest rain/snow storm to hit the west coast. If you do may end up driving in freezing cold for five days only able average 100 to 150 miles a day. I know from experience that a trip like this is too cold and too dangerous for my liking.

That about sums it up, have fun, relax, stay dry and remember it's the journey, and the adventure, not the destination that awaits you. You will be amazed and what you find out on the open road, and remember Ride-Safe! For detailed story about Touring in Utah please see my other Motorcycle Touring Articles

Ian Parish is an avid motorcyclists and jeep builder and has been for the past 20 years. He is building a custom chopper and is assembling the parts and the plan, on his web site MyChopperBlog.com. Check out the web site to learn about building a chopper or to lend a hand. He needs all the help he can get. He is the owner of www.RedJeepClub.com and www.MyChopperBlog.com




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