On Sunday the 16th, I flew down to Florida and put on a smile while dozens of people wished me a happy Easter and eventually made it to Florida where I spent 2 days with family before hopping on the bike and heading North.
The trip was a lot of fun.
There were two big flaws in how I executed the road-trip. Remember, on a motorcycle you have to remain mentally and physically engaged at all times even if your bike has cruise control. In addition, you are fully exposed to the elements. Wind, rain, traffic and the like are ever presently affecting you. April is a rainy time of year for the South and on day one, I was riding North in the rain. I could have handled the trip in two ways. I could have headed directly North from Florida and 17 hours of riding time later, I’d be home which would have been 2 full-days of riding. This was clearly the best approach because every day I was in the rain and each day, my body progressively was in more pain and angst from a lack of any motorcycle riding all Winter (for obvious reasons).
Prior to my trip South in November, I rode for months and took a few longer trips immediately before the road trip to prepare my body. November is also quite dry and no rain along the trip at all. In fact, there were forest fires it was so dry along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
By the end of day one, my lower back and right wrist were sore. The pain continued an hour into day 2 and remained constant until today 2 days after my trip. My core, neck, shoulders and arms are sore and I have some mild tendonitis in my right hand that keeps me from making a fist. There weren’t many ways to prepare for the physical requirements of the return journey. On the times I was feeling well enough to take on the windy roads at low-speeds, roads were either wet or being rained on.
Tail of the dragon once again alluded me as it was thunderstorms and an inch of rain when I went through Asheville. The Blue Ridge Parkway was good for about 50 miles. I fought through the pain and enjoyed a few windy roads until it started raining. The forecast was rain all day so I once again ventured back to the boring Interstate.
The only positive of interstate riding this trip was that traffic never became so bad that I was stuck behind a row of cars all going below the speed limit. The Virginia & PA Interstates notoriously have a lot of trailer traffic and when one trailer passes another at 65 in a 70 zone, the pass takes about 10 miles and 50 cars get backed up behind it. There were only a few occasions of this. I didn’t feel any road rage or stress on the trip at all.
I tried lane-splitting somewhere south of Scranton PA due to road construction. I split 2 cars and one of those was a plain-clothes unmarked state trooper. He threatened to give me a ticket then cut back in front of me.
Food, coffee and the little alcohol I had on the trip was the definite highlight. I had delicious BBQ in Asheville, German food in Maryland, this amazing Chèvre and Salmon Omelet in PA. Food was honestly terrific. I didn’t drink much to allow my body the best chance to recover each night and be ready for another day.
Here’s a map of the drive. Each spot is where I stopped every night:
Heather argued that if I had headed directly North from Fayetteville (night one), I’d have been home much faster but I held out hope that by going to Asheville, the weather may clear up to allow for a Tail of the Dragon ride. Sadly, that didn’t happen. I had a nice time in Asheville but regret not just heading North.
You’ll notice day 3 and 4 were HUGE days. Asheville to MD, MD to Home. Not huge for a car but on a motorcycle, I think it was a well done ride considering it rained about 30% of the time each day. The mileage estimate is about 200 short as there were days where I’d go off the Interstate and ride back-roads for a bit or putz around looking for places to eat or a Shell station to get fuel. It was just shy of 2,000 miles based on my ODO. MD to Home wasn’t my longest day on the bike ever. That medal goes to my Pittsburgh to home ride last July but this was my 2nd longest day of riding ever. It was more intense since it was after 3 prior days of riding all day. I was very sore when I got home on Friday.
The new AlpineStars Valparaiso suit was amazing. I never felt a single drop of water penetrate the suit. Most of it was reflected off the outer shell. In heavy rain, the Drystar removable liner did the rest of the work. The suit is about 25% thicker than last year’s Andes suit. I didn’t upgraded my gloves or boots as those were both Gortex and very comfortable. I ended up wearing my Klim Thermal Layers under my suit on the final day. 85F when I left Florida, 41F when I arrived in New Hampshire Friday afternoon. Rainy, 41 and windy. Not fun. Every time a truck passed me (I had to go low speeds due to rain), I’d get blasted with oily and dirt water off the Interstate.
As far as preparedness in packing, I lightened my load about 15% from my trip south and mailed a box back home from Florida. This time, I didn’t pack my backpack, SLR and only packed 4 shirts, shorts, pants, undies and socks along with a light jacket for evening. I was very light on electronics as well and yet I know there are actually a few more things I need to shed before I take another trip like this. The motorcycle cover wasn’t needed. I probably wont’ ever need the fix-a-flat or first aid kit but those stay with me.
I also didn’t camp on this trip so my dry-bag which exclusively holds all of the camping gear was never cracked open. I still will keep that with me though. The only reason I didn’t camp was constant rain and wet soggy ground every night. I managed to never pay more than $100 for a hotel room and only stayed in hotels 2 nights with the 3rd evening with my friend Ben in NC.
While it’d be nice to eliminate the camping gear, I think it’s smart to keep it for when the weather is nice.
I missed having the SLR for the photo quality but I didn’t miss it for the weight and overall time it takes to get it out and set it up before snapping a photo. The new Lumix LX10 was great. I put a screen protector on and threw it in the tank bag with my short 6” tall Manfrotto pocket tripod and it was always about 5 seconds away from a photo or video clip.
Here are a few photos for you. I didn’t take many as I focused on shooting video. Those who don’t follow me on YouTube should subscribe as a new video is queued up for the next 10 days with content from the trip: https://www.youtube.com/user/adamjackson1984
Porter was happy to see me when I finally got home.