Please help brainstorm a cross country trip

Discussion in 'Americas' started by CarKid1989, Jul 1, 2019.

  1. CarKid1989

    CarKid1989 Been here awhile

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    For my 30th birthday this year my wife suggested we do a cross country motorcycle trip. After taking two myself and sharing with her all my adventures and excitement I feel as though she thought it would be fun to do a big trip like this together. Awesome. We blocked out time from the end of August to the beginning of September similar to the duration of my other trips. (also what work would allow)

    The plan from the rip was to take a motorcycle. I had sold my FZ1 to purchase a larger and more tour minded bike and things were going well. We sat on a few and got a short list together. (FJR1300, Vstar1300, Concours, etc) All came with luggage/ panniers/ sidecases and although small combined with a top case and careful planning we thought it would be doable. We would not stay at hotels, instead we would "camp" and couch surf with some friends. Camping meant essentially we were just gonna KOA or campsite in a tent or possibly hammocks.



    And here is where we started talking to family and friends about the trip and things started going south...

    Many suggested that comfort would be an issues and that my wife would be miserable for that many miles (last trip was 8500? or was it 6500 miles). People said no way was there enough room for all the gear needed (even at the bare bones we were planning on) How were you going to camp?

    If we had a friend to stay at every night then we could forgo camping gear totally but not sure that will pan out. ADVRider has their member run camp sites so that helps but still requires gear. We cant budget hotels. Air BnB is an option that might work assuming you can keep nightly lodging under$30 a night?

    In short, a ton of issues were brought up and it got to the point where the two of us were starting to rethink the plans.

    However, this was an epic birthday trip and I always wanted to take my wife on a bike trip like this before we start a family and have those responsibilities. Its different and more exciting on a motorcycle.

    So we spent a few days brain storming...

    Options were reduced to these:

    1) Take the bike, have a hell of a trip and have stories for a lifetime (I am partial to this but I understand the concerns of others)

    2) Instead of buying a motorcycle, spend the allotted motorcycle money on a NA/NB Miata and do the same trip with camping but in a convertible instead of a motorcycle.

    3) Take the CRV that we already own and take the trip in that. Its reliable and set to go and we have a soft spot for DD beater car trips as well (We had the Saturn SL2 "JellyBean" for 327,000 miles of adventures) Camp and do the trip just like option 1 and 2 but if weather gets bad we can camp in the CRV (I will pull out the rear seats and there is plenty of room in a pinch)


    Each one has pro and con lists rolling on an on in my head. Some are more practical, some are more epic and adventurous. Full disclosure here, my wife is amazing and up for anything and a really good sport for darn near anything, however, the longest day trip we took was max about 135 miles on the FZ1. That is not a comfy bike for the passenger. And I understand that if we do this trip we are entering some bit of unknown for long distance comfort. She said she is up for it.


    I am not looking for a 100% answer here but maybe some thoughts/input/ brainstorming to help make a good choice.

    That's why I posted this here. This is an amazing site for long trips on a bike. I have seen a bunch of man/wife threads and ride reports and maybe they can chime in for advice. Maybe you can encourage us and help make things less worrisome or maybe tell us we are crazy. Worst case scenario we take a car but still take the trip and make memories.

    Thank you
    #1
  2. damurph

    damurph Cold Adventurer

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    Do your trip your way. Letting others tell you how or why you should not is never the right thing. Planning too much sucks. Let things happen.
    #2
  3. Col rides to france

    Col rides to france Adventurer

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    Hi,

    I am not sure where you are located? USA?

    I just finished doing Route 66 last week. (In a C30 camper/RV) 2700 miles in 16 days.

    An epic road trip, is more about the road/route/journey/people you meet... (In pubs bars diners etc)



    You mention booked off time between end of August? Beginning of Sept? Just a day??? ; )

    You asked for ideas?

    If you buy a bike... motel/hotel/ air bnb / booking each day as you... less to carry. Make it an adventure...don’t camp, too much stuff to carry etc. Plus... plan where/when you go...regarding likely weather... riding in the rain as a couple is not huge fun. Also factor in other costs...new helmets?riding jacket/pants for her? Intercom... all mounts up....

    How about do both... buy a bike..go away for 3-4 days, see how you like it, together... but plan a bigger trip in the CRV. So 4 days bike... if loving the bike carry on... if not zip back home, grab the CRV and do a few highway miles...

    Don’t overthink...just go.... lots of guys would love a wife that would suggest that...

    Oh, and don’t listen to your mates (or me) ...do what you want....
    #3
  4. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Car camping is far easier than MC camping but either one is very doable and lots easier than back packing. On a bike the tent, sleeping pads and cooking gear/food takes up much space and tends not to fit inside your cases so bungees on top. Lacking much cooler space also hampers that mode on a bike. I have hobbies other than riding and looking at scenery from the road only which is very location restrictive as mother nature didn't put all there is to see on roadsides nor is off the beaten path a roadside attraction. You'll get to meet people without pubs, diners, etc. too maybe not in a sit beside them mode but we humans get around to lots of spots. I hike and it's easier from a car unless backpack trip which menas small, light gear-every bit of it!
    Car camping is also less tiring overall distance wise and this trip is much about distance and leaves little time for messing around? Like said we don't know your location? The 3,000 miles is a "drive by vacation" that leaves little time to do my hobbies maybe it fits your idea though? If so, do the route and mode that gets you what you want to drive by cheap. I'd camp unless weather gets really nasty. I prefer a campsite to an air B&B type stay, that's just me not the money plus i am no fanboy of cheap motels most being very "shop worn" to be kind. The term shit-hole does come to mind when things get real cheap.
    For me, the word epic comes from trips that are beyond a 2 week cross country and include more than 6,000 miles in 2 weeks.
    My suggestion for an adventure is to ride somewhere really neat and immerse yourselves into what there while camping-thats an adventure.
    Truckers do cross countries all day, all week all year, and it's called a job, not epic by nature. My BIL did that and thinks he's seen it all, but not in my experience of whats not on pavement. He does know the best way to get to most any city or car dealership to deliver cars & trucks.:D
    Do your trip, not ours or your friends and family. :lol2
    #4
  5. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    As one who has two-up camped out of a Miata and on a motorcycle, I thought I'd chime in. I've got a 2004 NB.

    It's kind of funny because as I started reading your post, my first thought was, "He should get a Miata."

    So... first thing, the Miata has only slightly more luggage space than a fully kitted touring bike with top and side cases. Fitting all your luggage will still be a tight fit, even if you take the bare minimum. I purchased a baseball bat bag that fits on the deck behind the seats. I can fit my tent, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads in there. It works great, except you have to remove it to put the top up or down. This isn't so much an issue, as I rarely have the top up. With two people, the trunk can still be a tight fit for the rest of your stuff, especially if you plan to cook at camp.

    [​IMG]

    An advantage of the Miata that I really like is the lack of riding gear. After riding a bike for many years, it's very nice that you don't have to remove your helmet and jacket every time you stop, and put your gear back on each time you get back on the road. I think it makes spontaneous stops a lot easier. If it rains or gets oppressively hot or sunny, it's a simple task to put the top up and stay cool (or warm) and dry. In a convertible, you'll need hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

    IMG_4916.jpg

    Comfort for your passenger (and maybe you) is arguably a lot better in the Miata. I find that my passengers like to remove their shoes, bring some snacks in the cabin, and a blanket or small pillow.

    The Miata with the top down closely matches the experience you'd have on a motorcycle, but I admit, it's not as good. The Miata has much less power/weight ratio than a bike, and though it's far more capable in the twisties than almost any other car, it's not as good as a motorcycle. That said, you probably wouldn't be riding 8/10 on a bike with your wife on the back. Same with the Miata. (Most) passengers aren't comfortable if you push it through the canyons whether on a bike or car.

    Generally speaking (and I don't know you or your wife), I think your wife would enjoy the Miata experience most.

    Jamie
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  6. Ray916MN

    Ray916MN Dim Mak

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    I think it depends a bit on how much of a plan you want to have. The desire to get to certain destinations, and the desire to stop and site see create the need to cover miles and covering miles on a bike creates overhead. With the need to fuel at least twice as often as in car, the need to put gear on and take it off, the difficulties eating or drinking while riding and the amount of time it takes to pack and unpack a bike at every overnight. Is all the overhead worth the upside of riding? Depends on how important riding is to the trip and how much the trip depends on covering miles.

    I'd also give some consideration to the quality of the experience for your wife. Frankly I hate riding on the back of a bike. Having to look around the rider and the limits to the amount of other entertainment or things to occupy your attention while covering miles can reduce the amount of enjoyment on a trip. I hate intercom communication too, missing all the non-verbal communications clues. How much of the trip is about "you two" as opposed to the travel and site seeing?

    Miata versus CRV is mostly a matter of finances in my opinion. For an epic trip i'm always inclined to damn the finances to the degree prudent since the most precious thing we have to spend is time and it pays to spend it well.

    Seems hard to go wrong on what you're planning, no matter how you choose to do it. People throwing shade on your plans are just jealous.
    #6
  7. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    Excellent.
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  8. CarKid1989

    CarKid1989 Been here awhile

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    A couple things...
    We would be leaving from just outside Cleveland Ohio. Part of the trip it's so long simply because a lot of the destination that we want to see are halfway across the country. The mileage isn't so much a trip requirement but just more of a matter of fact.
    I can appreciate the point someone made above about not bringing any camping gear and just staying in hotels and with family and similar situations. That would free up a whole lot of space and half the worries of this whole endeavor.
    And I agree, I'm a lucky guy to have a wife that would suggest this kind of trip and go along with it. That being said, I don't want to torture her
    #8
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  9. markbvt

    markbvt Long timer

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    A good friend of mine and his wife rode cross country two-up on a Triumph Bonneville. If they could do that, you'll do fine doing it on an actual touring bike.

    As for packing space, don't overthink it. You can get some pretty amazingly compact camping gear these days, and there's no need to bring lots of changes of clothes. You can always do laundry in camp, or just stop at a laundromat. You can also save a good amount of space by leaving the cooking gear at home and just grabbing meals en route every day.

    Pack smart. Pull together the bare minimum of what you think you need to bring, then go through that and reevaluate. I guarantee you you'll find a few more items you can do without. (Obviously, include your wife in this process.)

    Above all, don't let the handwringing of family/friends who've never done a trip like this color your decision. It's your trip, not theirs.

    --mark
    #9
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  10. shrederscott

    shrederscott Long timer

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    Hi

    In my view it's not about the method transportation ....it's about the journey ! !

    You got a good partner in your wife ... now ...work together plan a journey using what ever form of transport works.

    Maybe expand your transportation options ...how trying the greyhound bus system ?

    How about travel by train ?

    How about travel by pedal bike ?

    The adventure is in the journey

    Scott
    #10
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  11. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Greyhound bus? :baldy maybe you have a vendetta, of sorts against the op and his lady?:roflZSeriously, I have been on enough buses to speak from long experience beginning when they lacked AC up to more recent "leave the driving to us" trips to fetch a car or a bike and bring it back home. My last MC was bought from an Army pilot @ Ft Rucker, AL. My wife took me to our nearest city Lexington, KY ~ 1.5 hrs west of me. I then rode to Knoxville, TN, changed buses for the ATL bus which got me to Atlanta near midnight having left LEX in the early afternoon. BTW, ATL is ~ 425 miles from my house by car and we've done it a bunch enroute to other places, some nearby. I sat around the ATL bus station then got on a new bus, rode around GA and AL until we reached the immediate vicinity of Ft Rucker in lower AL. I asked the driver nicely if he would let me off so I could call my seller as it was then ~ 7:30 a.m. CST in lower AL and I was actually closer to the guys house then the actual bus stopping point. He refused and was't nice doing so either. (In the old days rural folk got on/off Greyhounds near their homes-my wifes bunch went to town that way often as more buses back in the 50's)
    That bus went west across lower AL to near the state line then made a circle back to near where I'd ask 3.5 hours earlier to be let off.
    Yeh, that's a great way to spend a vacation...:lol2 I will say, Express buses can be a great way to save money but most are point to point for certain large cities.
    I sure wouldn't want to sit on the back of a PTW for all day long travel! Only way my wife would do that is if you drugged her but she does enjoy taking a spin for a pizza run.
    Trains are often a bad arrangement too unless you don't mind missing the scenery that went past you in the night? To ride a train from my house you must drive,etc., to a distant place then standing by the RR track in the dark for the Amtrack to come by. Not to mention they no longer are economical for many of us in USA. Europe & UK they are one of my favorite modes to travel but I stoop for a hotel then get back on to not miss stuff.
    Bicycles- not for cross country at my age but I love them otherwise-Mtn bikes are my wife & I's favorite snowbird activity.
    Sports cars- having spent my blood sweat & tears on a herd of them they are great fun if that fits yer budget. Location matters as to how much practicality they offer. Many I see in them have the top up?, so I question if they are more into their hair or the ride??? :-) They tend to sell cheaper in the winter. Miata's are so much better overall than many of the British sports cars I'veowned it's not even close to a real discussion, but they are a bit tame, at least the earlier cars.
    #11
  12. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Long timer Supporter

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    You need to be smart about the packing. My wife and I did a month of camping off of our GS. I think we got 3 hotels. The right pannier was hers and the left was mine. Then the top box was our kitchen.

    Start with a couple weekend trips and see what works and what does not. You do not need to bring everything, there are places to buy stuff all over the country. Have friends/family ship things to post offices via General Delivery. If you find that you are not using something, mail it home or throw it away.

    F53DCD7B-B266-4B88-B5B5-D9FD54266B59.jpeg
    #12
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  13. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    All so true that actual trips are the best teacher as to how much stuff. One trip to an airport luggage pickup will also tell you that some people never learn!
    That picture above is the main part of my reason for not liking motels/hotels. Honestly, I see these ads designed to entice me toward a luxurious hotel/spa type of place and it turns me off completely, not that a great bed isn't an OK thing. If you mostly avoid cooking and the need for a cooler you'll not need much space to sleep outdoors on a bike or small car. When I first started car camping the tents were much more bulky and a whole nuther piece of storage space where now the sleeping bags the bulky item that needs to be dry.
    #13
  14. Flipflop

    Flipflop Long timer

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    Ironically...

    I had an FZ1 with a 52 liter Givi top case and soft saddlebags that was great for camping solo.

    Sold that and bought a '95 Miata for a bit more room to take another.

    Sold that and bought a 94 road king and tow a pop up camper trailer with a king size bed. Cool thing about that is the bikes saddlebags can be darn near empty, and when you pull into the last grocery store on the way to camp load up. 2 up on the bike the trouble is pulling into camp after dark, making camp and then needing to go back out and grab food/drinks/cold beer. That works for a weekend trip just fine, but it is much more enjoyable if you've got enough room for all your stuff and cold/fresh supplies.

    Volume wise, a harley saddlebag fits a 24 pack of beer and a small towel. I've fit three trash bag loads of laundry into one to go to a laundromat, with the tour pack on. The Tourpack? Something like 4000 cubic inches of space on my vintage, and 5800 on the new ones. 5800 = 95 liters. I used to joke at people for having saddlebags on a motorcycle, and now that I've had one with hard bags it's hard to understand why I melted so much stuff to the exhaust to have a naked bike in years gone by.

    We are heading out for a month and a half on the road, at the tail end of june... got back from 5 months out, in March. So, if you find the right fit with the rig it's a bit of a blessing. 30+ mpg, and overnight camping with a 2 minute setup changed more than just how we camp. It changed how long we can stay out!
    #14
  15. Earache

    Earache Hola!

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    We need to make a small, custom trailer for your Miata. I've made several trailers, but never one for a Miata.
    You buy the parts and I'll make it free of charge!
    #15
  16. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    That's a great offer, but I have no need for a trailer.

    If I have to pull a trailer to carry my stuff, I'm doing it wrong.

    Jamie
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  17. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Travel is best done with clothes that dry overnight and the least possible extra stuff. I've never been one to haul much but can say that I'm even better at less stuff now! A trip is either business, comfy attire, or a style parade or it's not...:lol2
    IMO, the use of a trailer steals the handling that a car like a Miata or for that matter a MC provides and makes the trip something far less than I'd choose fun factor wise. If i need space my F-150 makes a nice closet, bump free spot, etc..
    #17
  18. Earache

    Earache Hola!

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    Well poop. I have an itch to make a small adventure trailer - always wanted to make one but have no real use for one myself. Oh well....
    #18
  19. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    If I let other people's opinions affect my trip planning, I would have never taken a trip anywhere. Hell, I would have never bought my first bike.

    Don't let other people deter you from a trip of a lifetime. You'll look back on your decision not to do this and regret it. You want to do it. Your wife wants to do it. What's stopping you? Do your best at packing, take off and have fun. Learn along the way what works and what doesn't. You'll have great stories to tell your kids and grandkids one day.
    #19
  20. tlub

    tlub Long timer Supporter

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    My 2 cents is that this is totally doable. At 30? Hell yes. I'm 65 and my wife is 63 and we would do it. It's easier with 2 bikes, which we have, (she rides) but we've done it on one.

    Small 2-person tent and a 10ft tarp. With the tarp as a foyer you can spread out.
    Good backpacking type sleeping bags, microfiber towels.
    Get a half-cover for the bike so you can leave stuff on the seat and not have to worry if it rains, and you don't need the bigger tent. Or just get the bigger tent and no tarp.
    Strap the sleeping nags and tent on top of the saddle bags. Use 'bungee loops' from Aerostich.
    Stuff you need to access quickly (glasses, purse, different gloves, phones/chargers, camera, all go in the tank bag. Get the biggest tank bag you can. It's also the overflow location and for fragile items that you don't want bouncing around the boxes.
    Saddle bags sre for clothes, gear, food. Try to avoid packing them brimful.
    Rear box is for light weight stuff and overflow. It should be light items, regardless.

    Get a stove (I like a coleman 533 -uses unleaded- saves finding fuel) or whatever you have. For cooking, one pot and one pan. Go to REI or someplace and look around.
    One of those strikers 'flints' will light any stove. Lighters can break or get left on. But even if they do, usually the strike part survives and it will still light a stove.
    Get something- like a piece of lightweight aluminum flashing or something- that can be used as a windscreen for the stove. Coil it in the pot.
    Utensils- knives, forks, spoons flipper, can opener, corkscrew, pot handle. Wrap it all up in a kitchen towel like a burrito, fasten with a couple of rubber bands.
    For food, instant coffee or tea, creamer, instant oatmeal, cheese, tortillas, and some meat or fish in packets/cans. Most of this should fit in the cooking pot while travelling.
    Buy a footlong subway at lunch and split it.
    Clothes: get riding gear (like a 'Stich) that doesn't require extra rain layers. get their 3-digit rain covers for your gloves, or buy some rubber gloves in a hardware store that will fit as overgloves.
    Then take one set of clothes you will wear, and one set as a spare. Maybe an additional set but there is no reason to take more. Have them be for slightly different, but overlappping temperatures. Wash them by hand when you get a chance. Dry under bungees or Rok straps while you ride.
    A fleece jacket is good, and also makes a better pillow than most other gear.
    Take an umbrella, In a pinch you can cook and eat under one. Ted Simon took one on Jupiter's Travels.

    Try this out on 2 different weekend trips. First one should be close to home- Like 15 miles if you can- so you can run back and get stuff. Second one should be 150-250 miles away.
    On these trips, figure out the time you will require to set up and cook in the evening, and cook and take down in the AM.

    For your trip west, I would recommend planning no more than 400 miles a day while camping. That is a lot, actually. If you motel it across the Midwest, you might do 500+, but that will seem grueling. It will.
    And look up tent space folks. Many of those (myself included, in Madison, WI) offer more of a 'spare room with a grand meal or bbq, with beer, wine and whatever' than a place to put a tent. Ask when you inquire. Say that you are trying to make some miles, and be open about it. I've had 'tent space travelers' stay here, and there never was a tent pitched.
    One thing to keep in mind is that many of the inmates here are empty nesters, who probably have kids your age, and would love to host you.
    Do it !
    #20