Posts Tagged ‘motorcycle touring’

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There’s nothing like setting out for open road in search of a new locale, a different straight of pavement to travel down or a destination you’ve never been to before.  What’s exciting here is the opportunity that awaits in exploring something unique and not knowing exactly where the road might take you.

When preparing for adventure road trips, it’s important to keep a note of certain things. A simple to-do list would help.  From extra layers of clothing to a supply of snacks, there are a number of things that you’re going to need along for your journey.

You obviously not like to spoil the experience because you forgot to carry your riding jacket or stuck on the way for a toolkit. Isn’t it?
Swag for every season

Because there will be nothing between you and the elements, you’ll need to be prepared for every weather condition that strikes you on the way.

Instead of heavy items that will weigh you down and take up extra space, pack synthetic fabrics like polyester or items with wicking properties that will keep you warm and dry.

You’ll want some lightweight shirts, a fleece vest or jacket, a bandana, a set of gloves, and a pair of extra pants.

It’s also important to prepare for rain and cold weather. Pack a rain suit, neck warmer, a heated jacket and extra gloves.

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Toiletries, tools & accessories

Ensure you carry some basics with you. Your ID, insurance papers and phone charger are must. A map would help, if by chance you get off the grid. You must not forget camera and a torch (ed. a Flashlight for us Americans).

Directions would still be handy even when you are fairly aware of the track. You can even install a compass on your smartphone just in case.

Carry some cash but not much. Have your credit/debit cards ready.

Not every time you would find a motel down the highway. Take your kit with essential toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, lotion, lip balm and sunscreens, these should all be there.

You cannot ride for hours at a stretch. Your motorbike also needs a bit of rest and maintenance.

Ensure the toolkit is there with all the tools properly greased and working. An adjustable wrench, hex key, screwdriver, and an air pump can be required any time.

Helmet is the first thing that you put on before pushing the ignition button.

Although the helmet visor works well most of the time but sunglasses and night goggles are always a good idea to carry. They are almost a necessity for less predictable journeys.

Motorcycle luggage and saddlebags are other essentials.

You’re almost all bases covered stowing away these items.

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Food, medicine & extras

Items that you’re not going to use will take needless space so carefully decide on what to take and what not.  Let me give you a tip – If you decide to leave something out at the last minute, you’re more likely to need it later. So it’s worth finding some room for it.

Carry a notepad and a couple of pens to note down important events. These will also come in handy when it comes to drawing directions.

Be prepared for any illnesses. It’s not easy to locate pharmacies when out in other places. You should always carry tablets and common medicines. Nausea and headaches are common on a road trip.

When it comes to food, choose snacks that are healthy and keep you fit during the trip.

Dry organic foods can be a good option. Try and pick items that are non-greasy and spill-proof.

Keep some candies and chewing gums in your pocket. They are a great way to keep you alert. Prolonged highway riding can be monotonous. They can make you lethargic and sleepy.

It’s easy to think there will be places along the way to eat, but a few granola bars and some nuts can serve as a great option in quashing hunger.
Final items to check before you start

If you’ve got a heavy load, it’s a good idea to test it out on the road before your trip creeps up on you.

Instead of leaving it until the last minute, take a short ride with your bike packed up to determine if your luggage & racks feel right.

You may also want to give your tools a little bit of a test, especially when you have not used them in a while.

Check for air pressure, oil levels, coolant and also the brakes to avoid any malfunction on the way.

Last but not least, make sure to tightly secure and fasten your load before taking off.

So now, are we not better equipped for our next road trip? Or is there still anything missing?

Sure there would be a thing or two but what’s important is to decide whether it’s worth carrying its weight all the way.

When you’ve got the right gear and all the goods, you’ll be surprised at how limitless the road will seem.
Author Bio
Ashley is a former journalist who quit her job to pursue her wanderlust and meet new people around the globe. She always prioritize motorcycle trips. She tries to pen down her entire travelling experience and has been constant contributor to bboffroad.com.au.

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I enjoyed Tim Notier’s motorcycle book “Maiden Voyage, The Prequel to The Adventure of a Lifetime.” This book chronicles his and his girlfriend’s (Marisa) first long motorcycle tour/adventure.  A ride that would that would change their lives.

Tim and Marisa started their motorcycle much like many of us with weekend trips around their home.  Of course the travel bug bites and they then expand their scope, this book chronicles their trip to the Rockies where things start to evolve.  By evolve I mean get married, sell everything they own and start a multi-year ride to where ever they are today!

You can tell Tim is very passionate about his story (as well as for Marisa).  His stories are quite relatable as they travel though the deferent National Parks and camp grounds.  If you put a lot of miles down while motorcycle touring you will see yourself in the rain and heat of their story.

There is only one nit to pick with this book and it is not a big one.  I think that, while I really enjoyed the book (enough to pass it on to my wife), a strong editor would only make this a tighter/better book.

I am giving the book 4 out of 5 stars.  You can follow their continuing journey (as of this date they are in Belize) at their website, www.notiersfrontiers.com.

4 out 5 stars

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Location – Lock 6  

Milepost– 5.4 

Historical Comment – After the canal was closed by flood in 1924 this building was used a Civilian Conservation Corp local headquarters.

Ride to the Site – Very easy.  This point on the canal is near Washington D.C.  Traffic might be an issue during the “rush hour” phases of the work day.

Amenities – There were no restrooms or picnic tables.

Road Conditions (from main road) – This lock is directly off the main road.  But there is steep, rocky trail down to the lock area itself.  

Railway Situation – no railroad tracks or crossing.

Parking Lot Condition – All paved with about 10 parking spots.  

Main Attraction – This is one of the lock houses that can be rented for overnight stays.

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Twisting and turning through the West Virginia panhandle counties of Jefferson, Berkley and Morgan the Washington Heritage Trail is a lot of fun on a motorcycle.  Riding through an area that George Washington surveyed, fought for during the French and Indian war and represented as part of the Virginia House of Burgesses was very interesting. 

Leaving the house about 9AM we decided to stop for breakfast at McDonalds in Bunswick, MD.  The McDonalds is just off a roundabout and, as you know, traffic coming into the roundabout must yield to traffic in the circle.  Well as most of us in this part of the world knows, traffic rules do not apply to operators of Maryland automobiles.  A gray haired lady nearly took us out by not yielding the right of way.  Luckily, being aware of the fact that the rules of the road do not pertain to Maryland drivers, I was paying close attention and was able to turn tight against the inner curb allowing for a near miss. This was not our only run in with a Maryland driver that day. 

 After breakfast we headed out and, after crossing the Potomac and Shenandoah,w3 were quickly riding our motorcycle on the Washington Heritage Trail. There are a lot of places to stop and take in the history and culture of life in the West Virginia panhandle but for us this day was about riding the motorcycle.   

Riding our Daytona Blue Harley Davidson through the towns of Harpers Ferry, Shepardstown and Martinsburg was a ride through the rolling hills and country roads of the Shenandoah Valley.  Bucolic county side, cattle in the fields and sadly decaying main streets made for a visually stunning ride.  

It was in Martinsburg that our second run in with a Maryland driver occurred.  Sitting at a traffic light, the first in line, we waited for the light to turn green.  At the green I released the clutch and started through the three way intersection when the pickup truck waiting across the pavement decided that left hand turns had the right of way.  Not this was not a close as the incident at the traffic circle but having a pickup pull up short when they realize they are in the wrong is not a fun moment.  The truck was no less than half way into our lane.  The young girl at the wheel thought it was very funny and was laughing as I shoot her my strongest “dirty look”…..it must not have work. sigh 

w1 (2)Our motorcycle tour of the Washington Heritage Trail started into the Appalachian Mountains shortly after passing through Martinsburg on WV Route 9.  Steep accents and deep valley roads brought us to the little town of Berkeley Springs.  This town was once the regions greatest tourist destination due to its famous springs and “baths”.  Lots of little shops dot this downtown and you can spend an entire day just wondering around town.  But, as I mentioned earlier, we were about motorcycle touring today, hanging a left we headed out of town on Valley Road. 

It was not long before we turned east off of Valley Road and onto Big Oak Tree/Shanghai Road.  This would be a great road for motorcycle riding or touring if it were in better condition.  I am only guessing but, I would think that the elevation from Valley Road to the top of the mountain had to be over 1000 feet.  Some of the 160 degree (or more) switch backs had you gain or lose dozens of feet of elevation in a single turn.  Sadly the road is poor shape, the patching of patches on top of other patches to the tarmac make for a rough and tumble ride.  It is worth it in my opinion but take it under advisement.   

Coming down the other side of that mountain leads you into the town of Shanghai,WP_20170904_12_58_57_Pro WV.  A four way stop intersection and a blink and you have rolled past.  Climbing and deciding another mountain and we were back into the Shenandoah and heading towards the 136 mile marker and the end of the Washington Heritage Trail. 

 All in all, our motorcycle tour of the Washington Heritage Trail took about 3 hours.  If one were to stop and enjoy the towns, parks and points of interests this ride could take all day, there is that much stuff to check out.   

The Washington Heritage Trail is just one of the many roads comprising the amazing American Byways. If you have not checked out the website please do, you just might find an amazing road in your area.

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Location – Lock 10

Mile Mark – 8.8

Historical Comment – One of the few locks to use the Drop Gate Lock system.  See the picture below for details.

Ride to the Site – Very easy.  This point on the canal is near Washington D.C.  Although traffic might be an issue during the “rush hour” phases of the work day.

Amenities – There is a picnic area but no rest rooms.

Road Conditions (from main road) – This lock is directly off the main road. 

Railway Situation – no railroad tracks or crossing. 

Parking Lot Condition – All paved with about 10 parking spots.

 Main Attraction – The Drop Gate Lock system.

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If you follow me on FaceBook (which most don’t as I don’t really push it) or Twitter you know that I collect Harley Davidson Motorcycle Dealership Pins.  Debbie and I also collect pins that remind us of our motorcycle rides to various destinations.

This year we collected motorcycle ride pins during out nearly 3000 mile vacation ride, touring along a couple of the Great Lakes and into New England.  Neither of us had been into the northeast United States for anything beyond a business trip, so that is why we chose to go there this year.  You can read about our rainy, soggy, drenched motorcycle vacation starting here.

We rode to so some pretty cool places along the way.  On White Face Mountain we got to see the inside of a rain cloud and at Ben & Jerry’s we tasted a new ice cream that is not yet on the market.  All in all we had a great time touring and these motorcycle ride pins will be conversation starters moving forward.

After this last motorcycle vacation we have “knocked off” the entire east coast of the US and Ontario, Canada.  We have truly enjoyed the touring we have completed thus far and are looking forward to exploring the western regions of the US next.

Maybe we will do something in the Rockies next.

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Well during our 2017 Motorcycle Vacation ride I was able to get the wife to two more “old world” cities!  Not sure if she still thinks this is funny.

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WELL…. Pulling out of the B&B and heading south on the Maine coast in a blue sky morning was just a picture perfect motorcycle vacation, too bad it did not last. With Boston and New York on the horizon we were not thrilled with the thought of the traffic that lay ahead.  Our intention was to ride around Boston on I495 and then head south west toward New York. 

Those plans did not really hold hard due to a series of rain storms.  With rain drops the size of small birds smacking me in the face and my glasses fogging up repeatedly we decided to pull off early and find a room… HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!  It seems that every hotel along the I95 corridor was sold out!  WARNING….do not travel on the I95 corridor during the summer vacation season if you are free-styling (i.e. no real plan). 

Luckily for us our daughter jumped on the computer and started looking for a hotel while we were riding.  During one of the stops, attempting to hide from the rain, she called and told us we had a room….in Rhode Island. The hotel was about 50 miles away and it was raining hard, sigh.  BUT (insert a choir of angels going AHAAAAAA) all of a sudden the clouds cleared and the rain stopped.  According to the weather radar that was not what was supposed to happen.  Not looking a gift horse (Trojan horse) in the mouth we quickly remounted our steed and took off.  The rain, and some hail, resumed almost as soon as we were checked in.  I really did not ride faster than my guardian angel could fly! 

WP_20170628_09_09_30_ProSeveral band of storms later we woke up to another beautiful morning and the weather radar showed that there was no rain anywhere!!!!!!!! Our new plan was to ride cross county to Hartford, CN then down to Danbury then on to Orange County Choppers headquarters in Newburgh, NY.   

The stop at Orange County Choppers was a blast.  Regardless of your thoughts on the WP_20170628_16_02_47_ProTeutul’s, the bikes they produced during the run of their show are just so cool to look at in person.  Too soon it was time to get back on the road.  Making it to Scranton, PA we stopped for the night.  The next morning we made the push for home. 

2982.6 miles from Virginia to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Niagara Falls to Lake Placid, Bar Harbor and back.  Even with all the rain we endured this was a great motorcycle vacation.  If you have not stepped up to long distance motorcycle touring it is something you should consider for your future.  What you feel, see, and hear while riding your motorcycle is so much more intense and impactful then riding in a car. For me it is being in the movie not watching the movie through your windshield.

 

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Continuing our motorcycle vacation, we pulled out of Bangor early to make it Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park with enough time to enjoy the sites.  Our original plan was to spend the night in Bar Harbor but we ran out of steam before making it to Ba Habr.

WP_20170626_13_04_42_ProIt took about 90 minutes to get to downtown Bar Harbor.  We dismounted and took a walk around town, down by the harbor along Main Street and looked into some of the shops.  After about two hours we decided to ride the Acadia Loop.    

WP_20170626_11_07_17_ProOnce on the loop I soon released that that we were fully in tourist season.  Cars were lined up for miles and every parking lot was over filled.  In the first half of the loop we were sharing the park with about 100,000 of our closest friends.  The second half of the loop was a lot less filled with tourist, not including me of course.

Part of the Acadia National Park is Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the island.  Riding our Harley Davidson motorcycle to the top of the mountain we WP_20170626_12_32_00_Prowere again inundated with cars and tourist, again, not including me!   But, event with the crowd the views from the top were spectacular.  If you want to go to Acadia and Bar Harbor I highly recommend that you study the tourist season and go at the low points.  There were just too many people to truly enjoy the ride.

Making it back to Bar Harbor we decided to have lunch, buy a few trinkets and get back on the road WP_20170626_19_54_38_Proheading south.  It was a bit warm at this point but the water cooled motorcycle just putted along without any issues.  About 5PM we decided to call it a night and after looking at a few different spots decided to stay at the Spouter Inn Bed & Breakfast.

The Spouter Inn (built in 1832) is in Lincolnville Maine and is right across the road from the local beach and pier. The view from the rocking chairs on the front porch looking out was idyllic.  The breakfast part of the B&B was divine, Don and Erin are a pair of great Inn keepers.  I have to say that both Debbie and I loved our stay it was the best of our 2017 motorcycle vacation.