It’s been a few days over 5 months since I made this post detailing my trip from New Hampshire down to Florida where I stored my R1200 GS Adventure at Dad’s house through the Winter. I have very few regrets on doing the trip. This Winter, I was homeless while I waited for the home remodel to wrap up and had no place to store the motorcycle. It was also too cold to ride. The only two regrets were that I wanted to make some improvements to the bike over the Winter and couldn’t and the last few weeks, we’ve had a couple of above freezing days where I saw riders out and wanted to join them.

I’m not certain that I’ll do this trip every year. Not necessarily because of the regrets but mostly as it’s 2-weeks of paid time off used a year. I earn a little under 4 weeks a year of paid time off for sick leave and holiday. Using half of that each year on an essentially identical road trip will be hard to keep up. It keeps Heather and I from going to new places together and motorcycle riding is inherently dangerous. Adding 3,500 miles a year to my risk factor is a big one.

On to the 2017 trip, I booked a one-way flight to Florida for Easter Sunday thinking mid-April would be just fine for a return journey. The evening temps shouldn’t dip below 40 at any leg of the trip except from New York / New Hampshire which will be the final day and an evening I sleep in my own bed. Snow is a possibility but a 5% chance at most. It has snowed in May up here so the risk is always present.

Looking at my proposed route from the last trip, I head through CT to central-PA then through Roanoke down to Deals Gap and then to Jacksonville via Lake City. My trip actually ended up looking like this:

2016 Road Trip Overview

The mileage and time are both way off as I very often skipped the highways and took back-roads, trails and detours but the stops are accurate. Sayre to Williamsport to Stanton, Salem (for gas), Asheville then Douglas GA which is around the spot where I ran over the deer in the road. 

…and for those who missed it, here are some photos of my November trip.

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I promised myself I’d take a different route back but it would appear that’s not in the cards for me. Last night, I assembled this route:

2017 Road Trip Plan

You can watch my live-stream where I plan things out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0BDv_BSRRM

The route looks awfully familiar with the intension that I once again add some detours that are new to me. It would be a lot faster to head north along the Atlantic straight up to Philly, around NYC and past Springfield MA. In fact, it saves 10 hours! But, there’s nothing more boring that literally spending 17 hours on Interstate. I’d prefer to double my time and take 55 mile per hour county highways. 

Another change to the 2017 planning is instead of spending every night at a KOA, I’ll strategically spread things out.

  • Day 1: Camp at the GA/SC Border. It’s a little humid and very warm but I’ll sleep well as I was born in Florida and the pain of riding all day has yet to set in at the start of day 2 (remember, I haven’t biked in 6 months).
  • Day 2: After a day at Tail of the Dragon and the Blue Ridge Parkway, I’ll arrive in Asheville NC and stay in a hotel room. After some brewery-hopping, I’ll soak in the hot tub, put on some Tiger Balm and get 8+ hours of sleep as I need to prepare for day 3 and my body soreness will fully set in by then.
  • Day 3: A relatively easy day of 371 estimated miles arriving at Natural Bridge VA (about an hour South of my day 3 stop in November). Sip some bourbon by the camp-fire, enjoy a high protein dinner and chug a lot of water before bed in anticipation of a very long travel day. It’s possible that I push on to Staunton VA, another hour north and 60 miles to get a leg-up on the 4th day of travel.
  • Day 4: Natural Bridge to Williamsport PA.  334 miles, mostly highway but I’ll likely pull off at the PA border and head west for a 2 hour detour that takes me through farm-land and back-roads at a slow pace where I can enjoy the scenery and talk to locals.
  • Day 5: This is the challenging day and I’ve built in a buffer where if all goes well, it’s Saturday night when I arrive home after riding for 7 hours and 400 miles. But, if rain, cold wind or snow keep me in Albany, I can get a hotel room and have a very easy Sunday ride home without pushing myself too hard. 7 hours would be the 2nd longest day since Day 1 (7.5 hours and 511 miles). 

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Risk here is that my logic is flawed. My thought process after not being on a bike for a long time with a brand new set of tires that need to be broken in is the relatively flat Road to Anderson SC via Macon (and avoiding Atlanta) will be challenging but easier than a much longer day through the Appalachians. My body will be sore but not as bad as it will be after day two. And, by the 5th day and after a night in a hotel in Williamsport, PA (one of only two hotel nights planned), I’ll be fully broken in to the bike riding position and fully prepared for a last day 7 hour ride. Big start, slow middle, big finish allowing a day stop somewhere for health or weather reasons.

I hope this logic doesn’t fail me. 

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Where will I be stopping? Any cool sights? Generally, I don’t plan that out too much. Firm plans in between my main stops are meant to be broken. I don’t even book hotel or camp sites until the day-of due to the uncertainty of my timeline. Heck, until a day before my ride, I’ll be making adjustments for weather and let’ say it rains all week and I’m stuck in a waterproof suit taking I-95 the entire ride home and doing it in 2 days instead of 5? It’s good to plan but I have to remain flexible.

I’d like to enjoy more of the Blue Ridge Parkway than last trip, finally ride Deals Gap (after driving it in my Golf R last year) and I’d like to stop at more tourist traps, historical landmarks and local favorites. BBQ & Wicked Weed in Asheville are essential stops. Williamsport PA because the owner of the Saw Horse cafe promised me a free meal next time I came through (I’ve stopped there 3 times in the last 12 months). 

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The motorcycle will have received its 18K mile service, two brand new tires, a brand new crash bar and cylinder head guards setup and sadly, I couldn’t afford to put on LED Auxiliary lights this year. My left luggage pannier still needs to be repaired as it’s loose and isn’t weather sealed anymore after a nasty fall on my way down to Florida. $550 for a new one which is half the cost of a fully aftermarket luggage system that’s not BMW branded with thicker metal and more storage capacity. I hope BMW can simply repair this to survive the trip and I can spend $1100 on a brand new set when I’m back in New Hampshire. I will be packing lighter for this trip.

I’m going to forego my laptop, DSLR, half of the cables, backup batteries and clothes that I took last trip. I only used 1/3 of what I packed. 

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Here’s to another road trip! I hope you all follow along on this blog, Flick and the micro-blog.