Summer Road Trip; 95% Diluted
Just got back from the ride to Pensacola, and I have to say it was a complete success. I ended up putting in 450 miles to the dot, just as estimated in the previous blog (brushes shoulder off). This trip was about 5% of what the trip will be in the summer but it was a very good indication to what I will run into then. Very glad I took the time to do this, was a huge learning experience. Below are some of the things I learned, I hope they come in handy for those of you that ever want to do something like this.
I ended up leaving at 8 instead of 6:30 and it was 32 degrees when I pulled out. I was wearing a regular pair of socks and will socks over them and leather boots. I had my fitness pants under my jeans, and atop my jeans I have some winter riding pants. That makes 3 layers of clothing on my lower body. Upper body I had a beater, a wool sweater, a hoodie, leather jacket, winter riding jacket, hat, winter riding gloves and a full helmet. All of this came in extremely handy in the morning hours before the sun got a chance to warm everything up. Even when I got to Florida, with the Temperature right around 58 degrees, it was still chilly when riding. With that much air travel against your body it will cool you down. So don't let the conditions fool you, when you are standing around its one thing, but when you ride at 55-65 MPH its a completely different ball game. DRESS IN LAYERS! I was pretty much happy with the 3 saddle bags I had but will probably get another small pouch that mounts on the inside of the handler bars. I will also sew in a clear pocket for my iPhone so I can use its GPS. The boots I had, well they where Steve Madden Troopa boots, which are far from riding boots. I will need to get a good pair. I would recommend not getting laced boots as they let in more air. I will probably get the ones that strap up to the side.
Cindy has a beautiful voice, with her straight pipe gargle, but several hours of that and its starts to leave the threshold of pleasant. I had a pair of Bose Noise Canceling earbuds that worked AMAZING! I flipped the switch to Noise Cancel and bam! Just silence, added some tunes for the road and I could have kept going for days. Highly recommend them for any purpose not just riding. Except for one little problem, my helmet was jamming my earbuds so deep into my ears I felt it was going to dislocate my jaw. I was able to put up with it all the way there and on the way back I stopped in Mobile AL and pulled them out, I was going to sacrifice the silence for a properly place jaw. I will need to probably get a bigger helmet.
I am funsize (5'6") and notices that when riding I could lean all the way back against my saddle pack without stretching my arms too far. On the long haul I will probably add another storage compartment in front of the saddle pack and make it padded on the side facing my back. That way I will not have to support myself with my arms and can just lean back against a soft surface. Will also need to make a waterproof cover for it. This poses another problem, if I move up my butt will not fit the seat where it is supposed to. I will probably make a custom seat as well that is off set 2-3" forward and has softer padding to absorb more shock. I would rather the seat takes it than my spine.
Cindy, road conditions and other
All in all I am pleased with her. I will schedule a visit to the Meridian MS Harley Shop to have her maintenance check up. I noticed a little bit of a leak for the drive cover that I will have them look at. I want to make sure she is in tip top condition. She has 35k miles and I am sure she has plenty more, just need to take good care of her. I took a gallon gas tank just in case she ran out of gas, I am not sure what her exact range is. I got to 70 miles so far without having to turn on reserves. I will need to do this another time. Either way I got a good understanding of how often I should stop to fill up. The more smaller scenic highways also have less gas stations, something to keep in mind. I ended up spending $38.71 on fuel on a 450 mile trip. This gives me a good idea of how much I will need to budget for fuel for the summer ($1 will go 11.62 miles, 9k miles = $774.52). I think this is very reasonable for being able to travel ALL over USA!
I also have a good idea of how to plan out my timeline. I comfortably did 450 miles in one day. I could have done more had I stayed on interstates. If I need to speed things up I will adjust accordingly to make sure I am hitting all of my scheduled stops. I will plan a very detail itinerary because of the visits to the gyms and training. This means that 20 of the 30 days will be spent strictly riding (9,000 miles/450 miles per day =20 days), I have 10 days to throw around and spend more time where I see fit.
Beware of the animals! When on smaller scenic highways there are A LOT more birds and they seem to not take bikes seriously. I almost hit a dozen birds on the way down. Dogs will give chase to bikers, just refer to your manual on what to do. Roadkill poses an unpleasant threat, especially at night. I kept a 4-5 second distance and it helped tremendously. I would see the road kill ahead of the car in front of me. The longer distance allowed me to adjust my path of travel and avoid running over a bloody carcass. If you gag easily (which I do not) keep in mind that in the summer roadkill smells potent. You don't really have any control over that, but riding I just remembered a friend that would throw up at horrible smells. Riding a bike over a ballooned carcass would not make his day, having a fully enclosed helmet would make it worse. I ended up doing about 150 night miles and was always scanning for dear. I ended up seeing 3 and Cindy's gargle had them running for the bush. Cindy-3, deer-0, me-happy.
One more thing, if you see a sign that reads, "End of State Maintenance" your bike will not like what is up ahead and will try several times to buck you off.
70 miles in I stopped by Bladon Springs State Park in MS. A little out of season but I am sure in the summer it would be a cool pitstop. They have natural springs that they have built pools around and have campsites and R.V. parking. I try not to take the same road twice but if I am in the area during the summer I may just swing by to check it out. Here is a picture I snapped with the GoPRo;
Further along there is a Wartime Memorial and USS Alabama. What a site. She is so majestic and powerful. She was the ultimate maritime fighting vessel of her time. I got to the Memorial, which is located in Mobile, around lunchtime. She caught my eye from afar and I needed to go an pay my respects. I left her as she stood poised, looking out to sea, as if she was waiting for those still lost to return. I came back the same way, and it was already dusk. She was still right there, in an eternal salute with her turrets raised, patiently waiting, sights on the horizon. She was beautiful, eternally so. 100 years from now she will be be severely weathered but her fighting shape will remain, and with it her soul.
I am a construction nut, and always marvel at human feats of engineering. Mobile is home to the Cochran Bridge.
It was 3 pm by the time I reached Pesacola, all I had time for was snack at Surf Burger and I was off. I order what can only be described as a heart attack, my one cheat meal this week (though the caloric value would probably hold my hunger at bay for a month). This is the description from the menu;
"Six (NO JOKE)1/4 Lb. patties, swiss & american cheese, bacon, chili, lettuce, tomato, onion, & pickle. Served with sticks or hula fries all topped with chili and cheese. Finish everything in less than 15 minutes and receive a $25 Surf Burger Gift Certificate."
Wasn't going to do it in 15 minutes but was about 3 patties short of completely finishing it. I was a little hungry, just a little. Glad Cindy and I got to see the beach though a perfect way to end the day and ride back off into the sunset;
Until next time...