Advice for a noob going coast to coast and back

Discussion in 'Americas' started by BrianInPA, Apr 23, 2019.

  1. BrianInPA

    BrianInPA Adventurer

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    Hi folks,
    This October I’m planning a month trip from here in Massachusetts to visit my son in Silverado CA near Los Angeles, then ride back.

    I’m 53 years old and have never considered or undertaken such a journey. Most of my previous riding was local trips, four to six hours in duration.

    Three years ago I had 5 strokes and my left arm and leg were paralyzed. After they put heart stents in my brain, and a helluva lot of rehab, I’m back on my feet and back on a bike. But I haven’t ridden much in the last 5-6 years. Really just local riding for the last several months, and given the strokes I’m not exactly in perfect physical condition but I have lost 90 pounds the old fashioned way.

    And following the wisdom that “prudence is the better part of valor” I’m staying on paved roads this trip.

    As far as equipment I have a 2018 Honda NC750X dct (due to residual weakness in my left foot and ankle making shifting difficult) which will have new Road Pilot 5s, Touratech 31 liter panniers, a 48 liter OEM Honda Topcase, 22 liter “frunk,” a Givi 10 liter frunk bag, new full Kilimanjaro suit, Forma Adventure Low boots, a Reevu modular helmet and Aerostich Triple Digit rain covers for over my leather mc gloves.

    I just ordered a cot and tent set up. I have Swedish alcohol army stoves, a full Trangia alcohol camping/cooking kit, as well as Solo and Biolyte wood camp stoves.

    I still don’t have any type of ultralight folding chairs, camp tables, or good sleeping bag.

    Due to chronic post stroke fatigue I’m limited to 6-8 hours of daylight riding per day, and need to get the best nights rest possible, so I figured I’d split camping with staying in hotels depending on how tired I get.

    Any words of advice, as far as physical, mental or equipment preps? (I’m not worried about psychological or spiritual issues; I’m a lay member of a religious community and my son is studying to be a priest in a religious order out on the left coast, so I’m looking forward to the relative solitude.)

    I have 5 months to get ready and plan to walk every day till then for exercise. 6ABF2A54-4AFD-4E19-BE9E-AF6DC21F691D.jpeg
    #1
  2. ExodusRider

    ExodusRider ExodusRider

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    Good for you! Take that ride sir, it's amazing what it does for the soul and your health. Get an annual National Park pass and camp as much as you can to enjoy the outdoors.
    Make sure you get some basic stretching in the morning and before you go to sleep. A good bum break every 2.5 or so, and when you do.. walk about abit and get blood going.
    Seating on the bike too long does put a strain. Some tunes for those long stretches so you don't fall asleep :p.

    Above all, enjoy being in the moment. Don't get caught up with being on a schedule and a designated route / destination. This coming from person who just rode from UK to North Korea.. Don't get too bogged down with the detailed planning lol. Beautiful bike / setup as well.

    Good luck and soak it in.. you're alive!
    #2
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  3. scootac

    scootac Just a Traveler

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    In addition to the walking, you need to get seat time on the bike.....LOTS of it.
    You don't say how long your trip will be.....a month? Less than that....are you capable of 600 mile plus days back to back???
    #3
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  4. BrianInPA

    BrianInPA Adventurer

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    I’ll be taking a number of regional trips from here in western Massachusetts to Maine and to Pennsylvania over the five months between now and the October trip.

    The bike came with a Sargent seat as well as the OEM seat. I’m going to order a Seat Concepts recover for the OEM seat and compare the two for long range comfort.

    I’m going to take a minimum of three weeks, possibly a month. I’m shooting for 400-500 miles per day. Six hundred mile days would really be pushing it with my limitations.
    #4
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  5. shrederscott

    shrederscott Long timer

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    Hi

    My advice to you

    Less is more ! !

    The lighter you can keep your bike, the easier it will be ride.

    IMHO, you have way more luggage space than you needed.

    When I go for overnight camping 1 night or 2 weeks I take the same kit, and it all fits in about 50 Liter TOTAL space.

    Go super minimal, any thing you forget or leave will be easy to purchase on the trip.

    I agree ...getting a good night's sleep is key.

    On that subject, I urge you to give up on the cot, and go with a 25" (large size) high quality sleeping pad + the Sierra Design Backcountry bed sleeping bag.

    The backcountry bed is a unique bag, Outside mag editors choice winner ...no zipper SUPER comfy bag ! !

    IMHO a high quality 3 inch thick air sleeping pad will blow away any cot for comfort. .. goto a local REI and try one ... they are amazingly comfortable ! !

    Plus that cool super comfy backcountry bed will ONLY work with a sleeping pad, will not work on a cot.

    Invest in a good quality tent. One that is self supporting, easy up/down.

    You can splurge a little on weight with your tent ...suggest you look at 3-4p size tents backpack style tents for best balance between comfort and weight/size, ...if you can deal with 2 p size all the better ! !

    Bad weather performance of tent is not a issue for you as you will hotel it under those conditions ... try to get a tent with a mesh roof for star gazing. ..most nights you should need the rain fly.

    A high quality camp chair is very important, I carry one ... the best one I have ever found is called a " Roll-a-chair" available and made right here in USA from Camptime.com

    Things that make chair so good.

    1) Light and compact

    2) Full height with backrest.

    You only need one stove ... I suggest you go with a Jet Boil ... cooking on aNY backpack style stove is a poor experience.

    What you want in a stove is a rapid water boil ... so you can make coffee, oatmeal, and freeze dried meals .... that's it .... if your gonna cook more than that ... you add big logistical problems with carrying fresh food, and the size/weight increase of your cook kit.

    Keep in mind ... most pay campgrounds have Bar-b-que set up for your cooking needs ... you only need to supply the food, fuel, and some cooking supplies....there will likely be a near by store to buy your nightly steak right before or after you get camp.

    Hope those thoughts are helpful.

    Enjoy your trip ! ! !

    Scott
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  6. boatpuller

    boatpuller Long timer

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    Good for you! We have a stroke survivor in the family, and no one knows what will power and strength is until they witness a person coming back from a devastating physical injury, knowing they will never fully recover, but still working harder than they ever had. I salute you.

    The above post has useful info, but it's obvious they are from arid parts of the country. Try just using the mesh roof in humid areas with heavy dew, and you'll be soaked in the morning. So make sure you have a good rain fly or a tarp you can erect over the tent to keep in dry, even when it doesn't rain. No personal experience, but the hammock campers rave about the comfort and quality of sleep they get by laying diagonally.

    You'll be going in Oct, so a southern route is smartest, especially on the way home. Some Oct's are warm, and allow northern and mountainous routes. Be willing to alter your route based on local forecasts.

    400 miles a day is a realistic 8 hours on high speed roads. More on slower scenic roads. That includes gas and food and stretching stops, but not much for tourist or sightseeing. Some parts of the country allow that easier than others. Based on your medical limits, a 300 mile day average is reasonable for planning. And if you can do more, great.

    If you can relax the goal of solitude, then consider the Tent Space Map for overnight accommodations. You'll meet many ADV Inmates, with their excellent local knowledge, and often nice beds in guest rooms. At the least you'll have a safe spot to pitch your tent.

    A bicycle gel pad seat cover will give your rump a fresh set of pressure points and extend your riding comfort. I keep one in the trunk, and bring it out when needed. Just set it on the motorcycle seat, and sit on it. It stays in place well enough, and is easy to move around if needed.

    Pay attention to little things during your practice rides. Those little things can become major annoyances by the end of the day. Try to address them over the summer.
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  7. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    Stay off the Interstate!!! I've gone round trip coast to coast 3 times in the last 2 years and the Interstates are one long conga line of trucks. Go with Google Maps and in the option section choose avoid Highways. Route 60 was one of my more favorites.

    Forget camping, you'll be much better rested sleeping in a motel, also you get back on the road much faster than if you have to pack up all of your gear every morning.
    #7
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  8. BrianInPA

    BrianInPA Adventurer

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    A hearty thank you to everyone who offered their wisdom so far!

    I’m really leaning towards going the all hotel and eating out daily route, as opposed to packing camping and cooking equipment. It will give me more time for both sightseeing and quality rest.

    However, I also really like the “Tent Space” threads available here and would like to take advantage of that, so I’m undecided. However, the after effects of the stroke make getting up off the ground a real chore, so the cot is a necessity. And despite the weight, I’m going with a DiscoBed cot for cot height and stability and because there are no bars under your back. I’m topping it with a Kamp-Rite "IPS" cot tent (mesh roof for star gazing.)

    All these inputs are most welcome and are clarifying my thoughts for both the months ahead and the trip itself!
    #8
  9. dravnx

    dravnx Been here awhile

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    Camping eats up a pretty good chunk of your time and requires a whole bunch of gear. If your budget allows, stick to hoteling. You'll get a good night sleep and feel fresh in the morning. I carry a small bowl, cup, spoon, a few packets of instant oatmeal, a bag of cut up mixed dried fruit, some hot cocoa mix, a flask of your favorite adult beverage and instant coffee. I like to get up in the morning and make my coffee and oatmeal. The cocoa with a splash from my flask is for the evening. You'll find your rhythm after a few days and get a good idea about how many miles you can cover each day.
    #9
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  10. C330F

    C330F Adventurer

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    I would leave the tank bag at home. Non-locking luggage makes any brief trip away from the bike more of a pain.

    On that same note, if you won't have room in your boxes/frunk for your helmet/jacket, having a way to lock those to your bike can be a huge help for short off bike activities like going into stores/restaurants, checking out roadside attractions that require walking past bike line of sight, etc.

    Drink a lot of water.
    #10
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  11. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    Good for you for giving this a go! It can't do anything but help your spirit of recovery!

    That being said, and not wanting to be a downer, but IMO riding an average "400-500 miles per day", when you state you physically can only ride 6-8 hours, seems impossible, unless you are just riding on the Interstates. Just do the math: to ride 450 miles a day in 7 hours you would have to average 64MPH! This is not impossible on the Interstates (though, IMO, it would be no fun at all), but it seems quite impossible to me if riding any other roads, especially if you figure in any stops for gas or food, much less any sightseeing (and don't forget about possible inclement weather (rain, thunderstorms, tornadoes, wind storms, etc)). You also will be riding a 750cc bike, which speed and comfort-wise, isn't the optimal long distance cruiser.

    You don't say how much you have traveled around the US, but there really are a lot of incredible things to see and interesting people to meet, and it would suck to miss most of it because you have to grind out so many miles to meet your daily quota!

    I think you should try to do the trip in more realistic daily increments and if possible be prepared to have some bail-out plan if once you are into it you find it is just too stressful (i.e., be prepared to ship the bike and fly/bus/rail the rest of the way). You could also just plan to ship your bike to CA and ride it back (or ride there and ship it back), which would give you a lot more time to enjoy being out on the road.

    Whatever you do, this has the makings of a great ride report, so you ought to post one up after the trip!
    #11
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  12. BrianInPA

    BrianInPA Adventurer

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    You’re quite right! My travel math was definitely a bit off. I was thinking averaging 7 hours a day at 60mph, but that’s just not realistic.

    When I was in the rehab hospital, my brother had a T shirt made for me that says, “I’ve had 5 strokes. What’s your excuse?”

    This is worth considering also, thank you.

    A couple years ago, I left my youngest son, 18 at the time, along with his best friend, make this same trip out to visit my oldest son in my Nissan Versa and they camped the whole way out and back. They did it in two weeks, and had an awesome adventure they'll never forget.

    I’ve always wanted to make a similar cross country trip. Taking a car is an option, or even flying, but now that I have the time and the finances, this bike trip is something I really want to check off the bucket list.

    I’ll be heading up to Arcadia in Maine as well as the northeastern Canadian provinces in a couple weeks, and I’ll be making multiple trips to Pennsylvania to visit family this summer, so I’ll definitely have the opportunity for several shake down runs.

    It’s ironic that these strokes which caused me to retire young from a 21 year solo practice in Podiatry (I never thought I’d walk again at the time) has provided the time and finances (disability settlement) to make some travel plans I never would have considered if I were still “healthy” and in practice.
    #12
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  13. BrianInPA

    BrianInPA Adventurer

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    One of the reasons I picked up the Honda top case was specifically so I could lock up my helmet and other gear during local travel and at stops along the way during this trip. Even if I don’t need that much luggage capacity for the trip, I like the luxury of having a dedicated space for locking up riding gear.
    #13
  14. BrianInPA

    BrianInPA Adventurer

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    I just shared this with friends on FB:

    Now that I'm living in a lay community in Massachusetts, I asked the directors here if it was okay if I took a sabbatical early this fall to drive out to California and back to visit my son at his abbey there. And since I'm back on two wheels, I told them I've decided to make this into an epic cross country - and back - motorcycle road trip!

    They thought it was a great idea, especially from the perspective of one of their members who was "paralyzed on the left side from strokes three years ago, has had a miraculous recovery and is making an epic motorcycle journey."

    One of our directors here even suggested making this into a fundraiser for our community, asking our current contacts to pledge a cent or two per mile traveled as a donation!

    They're going to let me take a sabbatical for both September (so I can prepare) and October (so I can take a full month to make a leisurely trip given my physical limitations from post stroke fatigue.) Plus whatever days I need for preliminary conditioning trips between now and then.

    I'll probably do a combination of camping and staying at hotels.

    Let the planning begin!​
    #14
  15. boatpuller

    boatpuller Long timer

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    There are Stroke Support groups all over the country. If your trip has you near one during a meeting, you may offer your story and adventure up as a presentation for the meeting. You could be inspirational.
    #15
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  16. BrianInPA

    BrianInPA Adventurer

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    That’s an awesome thought, thank you. I’ll definitely look into this.

    Mine is a case of really bad genes on both sides of the family tree, coupled with a sedentary, overindulgent and stressful lifestyle. I’m now living a “cleaner” and healthier lifestyle than I did my entire adult life, and returning to bikes is a reward I’ve given myself after a lot of hard work.

    All my doctors have been stunned by this recovery after 5 strokes.

    (And I do NOT underestimate the literally miraculous element of my recovery, and I give thanks for it every day. Its one of the reasons I’m living the kind of life I’m living right now.)
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  17. oneway

    oneway Tehachapi CA

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    My best advice to you:
    Quit planning. Seriously.
    It will only encumber you to have to stay in places you don’t care for, and move on from places you like.
    Prepare.
    Prepare for flat tires, rain, cold, wind etc.
    And I completely agree with the advice to hotel it and be better rested.
    When I travel distance I don’t plan. I follow the front wheel. I do carry a sleeping bag and tent only for the places where accommodations are either too expensive or non existent.
    Other than that....blow with the wind.
    #17
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  18. BrianInPA

    BrianInPA Adventurer

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    Good advice. I’m going to lay out my general route, a northern one on the way out so I can visit Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone and stop to see friends in Denver, and a southern route on the way back to see the Grand Canyon and avoid the onset of colder weather in the north.

    But I’m not going to set rigid destination or mileage goals each day. I’m going to wing it in that regard. I have an incredible amount of leeway as far as time goes for this trip (since I’m retired young due to partial disability and work as a volunteer here), and I’m going to make full use of it.

    I do have the option of leaving here even earlier and taking longer for the whole journey.
    #18
  19. BrianInPA

    BrianInPA Adventurer

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    Any specific advice on this point? I hadn’t really thought this one through yet.
    #19
  20. oneway

    oneway Tehachapi CA

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    Simple, if you don’t know how to fix a flat tire on your bike.....learn.
    Tube or tubeless? Which is on your bike?
    #20
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