After my West Virginia overnight tour with my friend Kyle , I made a list of 6 things I'd do "next time"… Let's see how well I did?
- Next trip I will be a little more prepared with what I pack.
- Next trip I hope to make it at least two overnights.
- Next trip I'd "like" to have an adventure touring bike (instead of the cruiser touring bike I'd been drooling over) and add some "off road" to the trip.
- Next trip I will take more pictures.
- Next trip I will vary my GoPro mounts so I have more then one angle.
- Next trip I will take a paper map and not rely on my iphone map.
The plan for any good road trip is a simple plan. Ours was "Ride down and visit family and friends in Florida." My Dad recently purchased a new (to him) Gold Wing and was excited to get some miles on it. I have had a Star Stratoliner that's been largely a commuter bike for the past couple years. It was time to get some miles on this thing.
After aligning schedules late winter on when we could make it work, it was time to prepare for the trip. I had new tires put on the bike and did a few local trips to work to make sure it was still in shape for it. Then I went to WalMart the night before and bought two dry bags from the camping department and threw some clothes in it and bungie corded them to the backseat. Grabbed some chargers, camera and a laptop and threw them in the saddlebag. Brushed off my hands and said… Done, I'm ready. (already broke point number 1 of being more prepared. Lol).
I tried an Altec Lansing Bluetooth speaker on the bars, but at highway speed, it wasn't close to being loud enough. So that went in the saddlebag too. It would be headphones when it was cool enough to wear a jacket to hold my iphone. I had even toyed with my GoPro mounts to try to position the speaker in a better location, to no avail, but after fiddling with it, I tossed my GoPro mounts to the side in the garage. Completely forgetting that I had a GoPro camera in my camera bag, but now nothing to attach it to (ok, disregard point #5 now)
We started at 6am each day, because when you are doing 8-9hrs of riding time you need to get an early start to make it where you need to. Leaving PA, I was already unprepared and a little cold that early. First stop, add a hoodie! Then next stop, loose the hoodie. Following stop, open the vents in the jacket. Stop after that, lose the chaps and then finally at the next one, time to lose the jacket and just go with long sleeves. From that point on, we'd be treated to temps in the 80s/90s (until the last 45 min. more on that later)
My Dad confidently said, "I'll go 225 or more on a tank." I was looking for fuel at 120. I had more in the tank and found I could ride about 150 to empty, but I know how remote gas stations can get across some of those stretches of the Carolinas so I didn't want to get stuck. Besides, I need refueling before the bike did anyway. I later decided, I'd prefer 60-80 mi and a quick stop for a quick leg stretch and then get rolling again. Packing in around 100 mi left me feeling like I needed a longer recovery break.
We made Savannah our first night down which at this point was my longest day in the saddle, ever. I did have a sense of feeling like a bad ass that I essentially "threw some clothes in a bag and hit the road". The next day, I was refreshed and ready to make our way to Boca Raton, Fla. But first, we took a extra break at Daytona. (check off point 2, multi-night ride)
At Daytona Beach Harley, we took our big rest stop on the way down. Talk about a huge dealer! Two stories. Bikes galore. And some pretty luxurious ones too! Walking in, I spied a Street Glide I'd considered asking if they'd want to make a trade for… but the sticker was "about $43k"… so I knew we wouldn't find common ground on that deal. Aside from that, I realize I've broken another one of my points. I now have a cruiser and not the adventure bike I initially wanted. That's ok, one of my wife's requests with a new bike was that the back seat be comfortable for her to go for short rides.
Riding down i-95 was pretty uneventful. Hit a few traffic tie ups that delayed us a little, but largely, it's a long stretch of road to get somewhere as quick as possible. I saw some cool scenery that would have been great to stop and shoot with my camera, but that wasn't in the plan for this trip. This was about get there and enjoy and then get home. (another point from the list missed, LOL).
Which leaves me with the 6th and final point. Our trip consisted pretty much, "take i-95 south.." So a paper map wouldn't have been all that helpful. So an iphone was sufficient for the few occasions when we needed to know something. But, as long as we are keeping score, mark another point disregarded, lol.)
Our visit with the family was fun. We had a few day trips. We toured the Fort Lauderdale Keys on a boat ride past huge yachts and mansions and day dreamed about hitting the powerball. We took a ride up A1A (beach front avenue), and had lunch along the beach. We visited the site of my Great Grandmother's hotel they had along the beach (which is not leveled for a public beach changing facility) and the pier where I first tried fishing. It was also just waking up and sitting and talking over a coffee. Things like that made the trip even more enjoyable and underlined the importance of the simple plan up front!
The ride back was much the same. Long straight roads and eating up the miles. By the time we reached Fredrick Maryland, dark skies loomed. After 6 days of 90s, we welcomed a little cooling shower and even said, "if it starts, I'm not even putting on rain gear! It will feel nice." A few miles down the road, it started. The temp dropped about 20 degrees in like 5 miles. Fortunately, I needed fuel. While I left the rain gear in the saddleback, I did add a jacket and change the shield to clear again. And of course we lowered our speeds to "play it cool".
Overall, it was a long ride for me. The longest I've done so far. 2500 miles in few days with some fun times in the middle. Makes me look forward to what the next trip might be?