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What it's Like to Crash a Motorcycle

“Damn it. John Burns thinks I’m a dick.”
That was one of the predominant thoughts going through my head as I slid down a Florida highway at 60 mph back in March.
It’s weird how the mind works. Time slows in a crash. Every tiny image burns into memory, so your brain can replay it over and over and over at night for the next who knows how many weeks.
In the moments before I crashed, I was riding the Harley-Davidson Street Rod along County Road 34 in central Florida. I’m not sure which county. The accident report simply records it as “County Code 61,” but the internet can’t agree on which county that is. Maybe I was in Indian River County; maybe I was in Suwannee County; maybe I was in Flagler County; I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter; I was somewhere. The road passing through that somewhere was long and straight – not the sort of place where one usually crashes – and the weather was perfect.

“My God, I am so happy,” I was thinking. “I am so incredibly lucky to be here – to live t…

A bonny adventure awaits

Lake District National Park
When I first applied for my current job, the phrase that stood out to me most in the job description was: "Occasional travel required." My mind looped and soared on the implications of such a statement, because I have always wanted a job that demanded I not stay in just one place. Unfortunately, it turns out my business travelling is rather less occasional than I would like, but, hey, I still get paid to go awesome places.

And in May I'll be going several awesome places back to back, which is resulting in the potential to have quite an awesome adventure. I plan to take my bike. 

This will be my first trip to Scotland
I generally think it's a bad idea to mention one's employer on one's blog, but I may have slipped at some point or you may have guessed, so I should stress that standard policy in my office is to travel as sustainably as possible. More often than not, this translates into our getting places via trains and buses. But in working out logistics for this particular trip I've figured out that it will be cheaper, more efficient and thereby create a lesser carbon footprint for me to travel via motorcycle.

Sorry, I just felt obligated to point that out. Anyhoo, in May I'll be heading to Lake District National Park and Perth, Scotland, thereafter. If you're not too hot on British geography, the Lake District is in the northwest corner of England, and Perth is roughly 200 miles further north. Heading there and back (making a deliberate detour through Northumberland National Park) will see me tackling a hearty 1,000 miles. 

For those of you playing along in the United States, that round trip from Penarth to Perth and back is roughly the same as the distance from Bloomington (Minnesota) to Bozeman. Or Nacadoches to North Charleston. It is 200 miles greater than the distance from Portland to Provo, and double the distance from San Diego to San Francisco. It is a long-ass stretch, in other words, and will require back-to-back days of riding, as well as covering one-day distances greater than I've ever done before.

I have for a while been working to improve my riding endurance but now I have a specific reason for doing so, as well as the challenge of planning for a big road trip. I've got a solid three months to plan this trip, but even with all that time I feel a little overwhelmed and don't really know where to start. That's where I'm hoping your advice will come into play.

I'm incredibly excited, as I've never really had a chance to explore either place and the conferences I'm attending will allow me to do that. In total, I'm going to be away for eight days. Though, obviously, I won't be riding for the majority of those days. For these conferences I'm going to need business attire, clothes and gear for hiking, and casual clothes. That's going to eat up a lot of space on my bike, so I've decided not to attempt camping on this particular trip.

I probably don't need to pack this much.
Where I'd like your advice is on what else to bring. Rain gear, obviously. And chain lube. I suppose it might be a good idea to bring a tire pump. What else, though? What makes sense, and what should I leave at home?

Additionally, on one day I have no choice but to tackle 250 miles. So, I'm wondering how best to prepare. (Keep in mind that travel time tends to double in the UK over what it would be in the United States, because of the poor state of our roads)

So, what would you do? What would you avoid doing? I'd like to know.

Comments

  1. Now that sounds like a fun trip. Our longest has been 4 days and 1500 miles.

    Definitely rain gear, and a small tool kit for the bike or roadside assistance if you have it. Do they have something like AMA over there?

    Plan your route and know your range for petrol and whether or not you will need to pack an extra bottle of fuel.

    Buy travel sized portions of your toiletries as they take up a lot less room. Folding toothbrushes, mini toothpastes, mini shampoo, etc make a big difference in packing space and weight.

    Also if you need dress clothes, roll them up instead of folding them and they'll be less wrinkled. I'd assume the motel/hotel would have an ironing board though. You can always wash your unmentionables and socks in the sink too so you don't have to pack a weeks worth.

    The two times I've dropped my bike were both on day 2 of multi day rides after a lot of twisty roads, so beware your limits and that your bike will handle differently with full luggage.

    Most importantly is to have fun and don't push yourself too hard. Give yourself enough time to get from point A to point B. And did I mention have fun......

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awwwwwee-some! Any excuse to ride... why not? Especially if it bull's eye two targets in one shot! It's always exciting to look forward to ride...even if it's work related. At times... I am grateful for my employer to give me a reason to ride. Cheers... and hoping adventure rides with you... always :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Chris:

    what do you mean about business attire? Do you mean suit jacket, slacks, white shirt with tie ? or casual like slacks, dark v-neck sweater (steve Jobs style), cause with jacket suit and tie you would need two shirt changes. If just casual you could get away with only one change and not duplicate. A sports jacket would take up a lot of room.

    Before I had bike luggage I used a large duffle bag and put inside two garbage bags, one each way and bungied it to my back seat. As Trobairitz mentioned, roll up all your clothes, they crease less, and put them into plastic bags (rolled up) just in case to keep them dry. I would say bring what you wear for riding, then two of everything else as spares. Two Tshirts, 2 unmentionables, perhaps 3 pairs of socks. You can always rinse out and dry in your hotel.

    Oh, another thing I just learned. Don't ride on DAY TWO. Wished I could ride for work

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

    ReplyDelete
  4. Chris, sounds like a great trip...I can tell you're excited. Don't fret too much about the distance. I'm sure it won't be a problem for you. Stay hydrated, take a break when you need one, and focus on enjoying the ride...the miles will come and go before you know it. You might visit the Iron Butt Association website and look at their long distance riding tips. I know I review them anytime I'm planning on a distance ride. Have fun!

    Cheers,
    Curt
    Live Free. Ride Hard. Be Happy
    www.curtcarter.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Chris,
    How fricken exciting!
    Tips:
    Drink, drink, drink water. Peeing is good. Just plan those pee/stretch/snack stops! Every 100 miles works for me, so considering UK roads, maybe every 60. And stretch at every stop! It helps with endurance.
    Hiking - can you hike in your moto boots? We do. Hell, I wear them for almost everything except having sex! OK, a few times for that too. . .
    Roll your clothes! Have you seen my video on this? I'll post it on Sash Mouth.
    If you're staying in a motel, leave the toiletries at home. You can use bar soap on body, hair and clothes. Toothpaste & brush & deodorant should be all you need. And a comb.
    I'm sure your bike will be in order, really pack light & relax! Seriously, that's important!
    Worrying is like rocking in a chair. It takes a great deal of effort and you're going nowhere. Worry too much and you're exhausted before you leave!
    Smoohes,
    Sash
    Http://www.SashMouth.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Don't pack what you can always find along the way. Most of what you'll need day-to-day you can buy at gas stations and shops, or is already provided at motels for free. Start by packing the basic necessities: 1. yourself, 2. money, 3. your motorcycle, and 4. the clothes you're wearing. Everything else is shit that'll weigh you down, choose wisely.

    On Road Pickle, I took a basic set of tools, mostly two crescent wrenches of different size, phillips and flat head screwdrivers, set of allen wrenches, knife, duct tape, crazy glue, and zip ties. I did not bring any flat tire stuff. I did however bring chain lube and cleaner for Sash's Ninja, but by the time we got to Memphis, I ditched it to make more room for Sash's stuff.

    ReplyDelete

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