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Thread: American West Trip – Can it be done?

  1. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by cide1 View Post

    I did 2500 miles in 6 days last September, from Indy to West Virginia, Virginia Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina, Tennessee (including Tail of the Dragon and Wheels Through Time), Kentucky, and back to Indy .
    Good job. I have completed two Iron Butt Rallies and a 49 State Ride and still don't like long days in that geography. You are almost doomed to congested freeways or toll roads, or winding, hilly (fun but not fast) two lane rural roads and small towns.

    In the west you will find two-lane speed limits of 65 or even 70, and faster in Wyoming and Montana. Towns are far apart and 400 or 500 mile days are fairly easy. In the Rockies things slow down a bit but not at all like Appalachia. In the east the big hazard is congestion. In the west it is: thunderstorms, heat, wind, and running out of gas.

    Plan on a good method to stay hydrated, wear good gear, gas early and often, and have fun.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  2. #17
    That's really cool to hear this from someone who has enough experience to know these sorts of things. I've been thinking about working in an Iron Butt into this next trip as I go across Montana. I've always wanted to do one, but never had things line up to make it happen. 85 MPH will let me do an Iron Butt in 12 hours of saddle time, I'm having a hard time thinking of an easier way if the weather holds out.

    I've also got a leisure trip around Lake Superior planned for late August, I'll be on my R1200R, with a friend on a CB500X. Thinking 5 days from Milwaukee, around Lake Superior, and back to Milwaukee.

    As far as hydration, I've debated taking a Camelbak on these longer trips. I haven't typically used one, and it's one more piece of complexity, but I'm thinking with gas tank long stretches the benefits will outweigh the increase in complexity.

    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    Good job. I have completed two Iron Butt Rallies and a 49 State Ride and still don't like long days in that geography. You are almost doomed to congested freeways or toll roads, or winding, hilly (fun but not fast) two lane rural roads and small towns.

    In the west you will find two-lane speed limits of 65 or even 70, and faster in Wyoming and Montana. Towns are far apart and 400 or 500 mile days are fairly easy. In the Rockies things slow down a bit but not at all like Appalachia. In the east the big hazzard is congestion. In the west it is thunderstorms, wind, and running out of gas.

    Plan on a good method to stay hydrated, wear good gear, gas early and often, and have fun.

  3. #18
    Your daily mileage seems very reasonable, this past year I did 6,000 miles in 11 days (took 3 days off hiking Glacier National Park) and the daily mileage was too much for my liking...I did the same amount 6 years ago and was surprised how much 6 years has taken it's toll on me.

  4. #19
    Dress for fall & avoid it AlanColes's Avatar
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    As others have said, your mileage should be no problem at all, barring an incident (which may or may not happen).

    From what you've shared of your background, plans, etc., (all good info to know) I'd suggest that if you do run into any fatigue it will most likely be mental fatigue rather than physical. New experiences are always more "involving" and will wear on you more in the beginning than as you aclimate to them. So, be aware of this and check yourself as the afternoon progresses, especially a few hours after lunch when your body may want to relax more than your mind should for safety sake. Just something to be cognisant of, not something to worry about, just be aware of your alertness as the day progresses and pull over for a break if needed. I used to (even just a few years ago) hammer out some long days only stopping when the bike needed gas and then jumping back on until dark. Now, I leave early to avoid rush-hour traffic, stopping on the far side of cities and towns helps with that. I ride for 1.5~ hours and take a 10-15 minute stretch stop, then ride another 1.5~ hours and stop around 11:30 am for lunch (again avoiding the congested times), and the afternoon is a repeat of that which puts me at my overnight spot around 3:45-4:15 pm and gives me a nice long relaxing evening to explore my surroundings. That is 4 1.5 hour stints per day at approx. 60 mph average which makes for comfortable 360 mile days.

    Having said that, I always try to plan my multi-day trips with the longest days (if any are needed) at the beginning, getting progressively shorter the farther into the trip I go. This has worked for me for years. I'm about twice your age now and don't like anything much over 400 mile days as they become work rather than an adventure / experience and require effort. Sub-400 mile days (especially 350~ mile ones are very enjoyable. Don't try any really long days until you find out what you and your riding companion actually like. Every person has a different tolerance level and that should not be ignored.

    Have a fantastic trip, and I suspect that I don't need to repat the sentiment others have voiced, but will, remember, it is about the journey, not the destination. There are enough great roads, sights, places, within most any 1,000 mile radius to keep most folks busy and happy for 14 days, so don't try to do or take in everything, leave something for the futuer adventures you'll have over the rest of your life, and just soak in where you are at the moment each and every day. Also, consider keeping a journal.
    Regards, Alan
    President BMWONS - MOA Charter Club #097, BMW MOA #190956, BMWONS #327, Airheads #14457
    Current: '14 R1200RT / '06 Ducati ST3s / '86 R80RT / '75 R90S / '73 850 & '70 750 Commando Prev: '04 R1150RT / '81 Honda GL1100 / '77 Suzuki GS750 / '73 Norton 850 Commando

  5. #20
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    You've gotten some great advice.. I'll try to add a tiny bit..

    NEVER have to be anywhere on a motorcycle. Not having to be anywhere puts you into a much safer mindset and one more open to exploration. Don't plan the stops as "must stop and see" - plan them as "if I'm in the area.." sort of stops. Leave yourself the time and ability to change plans at a whim (or weather, or whatever.)

    Don't sweat motels. I have found that if you can plan where you're going to stop by about 3-4PM, you can always find a room (except in one case where my schedule conflicted with a city-wide pride event in Florida. I still found a room - but a ways off from where I had originally planned.) If you are traveling at XX MPH, and you want to be off the road by XXPM - it's simple math to figure out about where you may want to stay for the night. Use a smartphone app to find and reserve a room. I'd suggest stopping well before dark so you avoid the nighttime animals (of all sorts) and have time to look around, locate some food and relax. Also - going west - remember the low setting sun in late afternoon. It is blinding - not only to you - but to trucks and cars on the road. Avoid it.

    Finally - remember - no one is paying you to do this (if they are - I want to apply for that job!) - so don't make it a job.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders
    '12 R1200R - I love this bike!

  6. #21

    Thanks to you all!

    I am overwhelmed with the positive comments and warm reception from you all! I honestly expected more comments along the lines of "you're crazy" but have received quite the opposite. In talking over the trip with a few friends that's generally the impression I've gotten and was looking for someone to validate my crazy! Sounds like I'm among like-minded people. I'll certainly

    sailorlite
    You've planned a magnificent ride, IMO. However, to me it seems a shame to miss Zion and Bryce Canyon NP's in SW Utah. In any case, check out Hwy. 89 from Provo south instead of I-15. As you've probably noticed already, there will be no shortage of suggestions - you may have to start planning for next year's ride.
    Apparently I missed that in my initial post. We do plan to hit both of those. Thanks for the reminder.


    PGlaves
    On your leg across Kansas and Missouri I would recommend US 36 rather than I-70. It is a much more pleasant way to go and not a whole lot slower. The extra hour is well worth not riding 70.
    Thanks for that recommendation. Sounds like many others agree so we'll definitely adjust our route. Can't not see the geographical center of the country! Just the other week I randomly found the "geographical center of the lower peninsula as closely as can be determined" on a ride across the state. That stuff is travel gold!

    akbeemer
    Instead of taking the interstate from the Rapid City area to Billings, take Hwy 212 from Belle Fourche to Crow Agency. Saves 50 miles and gets you off the interstate. You can make a deviation and visit Devil's Tower as well. The Black Hills of South Dakota are worth a day if you can fit it in.
    Good to know – I'll look into that. We've also questioned missing the Black Hills – It's definitely a balancing act about what we choose to see and don't. If we can fit it in, we definitely will. My grandfather would roll over in his grave if he knew we'd be this close to Crazy Horse and not stop… he was obsessed with it's creation.

    cide1
    I did 2500 miles in 6 days last September, from Indy to West Virginia, Virginia Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina, Tennessee (including Tail of the Dragon and Wheels Through Time), Kentucky, and back to Indy. The last day was probably the worst, doing about 550 miles, with the last 350 miles or so being one shot interstate home in the cold and getting dark. Overall it was a great experience, and the pace was sustainable for me as a serious but not super serious motorcyclist on an R1200R. I fit everything in the two system cases, although I will take much less on the next trip. I wore an Aerostich with a hoody, T-shirt and jeans underneath. I highly recommend Aerostich. I also used an Airhawk seat, which made a big difference. I booked the first two hotel rooms before leaving, and had a rough idea of the place I needed to be by certain times. The rest of the bookings I did from my phone the night before I needed them, using Google ratings to help me hit a certain quality for a certain price point (and trying to stay away from big cities where hotels cost more). For the most part this worked pretty well.
    Glad to hear the pace is sustainable. I know we're going to have some rough days, but the conditioning hasn't been too bad I think we'll have decent luck with hotels following the method you (and others here) have mentioned. The difficult part will be trying to work in camping which generally needs advance reservations. Like I mentioned, we'd like to try to camp a decent amount to keep costs lower and reserve the hotel stays to recoup after a long/hard bit of riding or nasty weather. Anyone have thoughts on using Tentspace in this fashion?

    hojoinsc
    Your daily mileage seems very reasonable, this past year I did 6,000 miles in 11 days (took 3 days off hiking Glacier National Park) and the daily mileage was too much for my liking...I did the same amount 6 years ago and was surprised how much 6 years has taken it's toll on me.
    Glad to hear it's reasonable… and I completely understand the toll of time. I've definitely learned I'm not getting any younger either!

    From what you've shared of your background, plans, etc., (all good info to know)…
    And my wife thought it would be an overshare –*I told her, this is a bunch of BMW owners – they're going to ask these questions if I don't state them outright!

    deilenberger
    NEVER have to be anywhere on a motorcycle. Not having to be anywhere puts you into a much safer mindset and one more open to exploration. Don't plan the stops as "must stop and see" - plan them as "if I'm in the area.." sort of stops. Leave yourself the time and ability to change plans at a whim (or weather, or whatever.)
    Thanks to you and AlanColes (et al) for reiterating that sentiment. I know it's a good thing to keep in the back of your head, along with adequate rest, hydration and off-the-saddle time.

    Thanks again to you all for taking the time to help an absolute stranger. The community aspect was a large factor in my purchasing decision – I was looking at both Triumph and BMW (already owning a Triumph Scrambler) and where I live we have mega-dealers and a BMW dealer. I like the simplicity of that and it definitely feels like joining a club rather than going to the store to buy a bike. I'll continue to check in here as we continue our planning (and the dreaded packing!) Thanks again guys!

  7. #22
    Registered User hellebauer's Avatar
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    I 2nd on taking 36 East, much better than I70. Fill up in Byers where 36 splits from 70, no gas for 100 miles or so after that.

    Check out old Loveland Pass and/or hit up Mt. Evans (from there take Squaw PAss Rd to Denver) before dropping out of the Rockies by Denver.

    Like others said and do, I always get my motels at the end of the riding day. I might book a day in advance if hitting a major tourist area around a national holiday. Don't overplan, have fun instead and improvise !

    ....and post pics of your trip !

    Helmut

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by eikelben View Post
    I am overwhelmed with the positive comments and warm reception from you all! I honestly expected more comments along the lines of "you're crazy" but have received quite the opposite. In talking over the trip with a few friends that's generally the impression I've gotten and was looking for someone to validate my crazy! Sounds like I'm among like-minded people. I'll certainly



    Apparently I missed that in my initial post. We do plan to hit both of those. Thanks for the reminder.



    Thanks for that recommendation. Sounds like many others agree so we'll definitely adjust our route. Can't not see the geographical center of the country! Just the other week I randomly found the "geographical center of the lower peninsula as closely as can be determined" on a ride across the state. That stuff is travel gold!



    Good to know – I'll look into that. We've also questioned missing the Black Hills – It's definitely a balancing act about what we choose to see and don't. If we can fit it in, we definitely will. My grandfather would roll over in his grave if he knew we'd be this close to Crazy Horse and not stop… he was obsessed with it's creation.



    Glad to hear the pace is sustainable. I know we're going to have some rough days, but the conditioning hasn't been too bad I think we'll have decent luck with hotels following the method you (and others here) have mentioned. The difficult part will be trying to work in camping which generally needs advance reservations. Like I mentioned, we'd like to try to camp a decent amount to keep costs lower and reserve the hotel stays to recoup after a long/hard bit of riding or nasty weather. Anyone have thoughts on using Tentspace in this fashion?



    Glad to hear it's reasonable… and I completely understand the toll of time. I've definitely learned I'm not getting any younger either!


    And my wife thought it would be an overshare –*I told her, this is a bunch of BMW owners – they're going to ask these questions if I don't state them outright!


    Thanks to you and AlanColes (et al) for reiterating that sentiment. I know it's a good thing to keep in the back of your head, along with adequate rest, hydration and off-the-saddle time.

    Thanks again to you all for taking the time to help an absolute stranger. The community aspect was a large factor in my purchasing decision – I was looking at both Triumph and BMW (already owning a Triumph Scrambler) and where I live we have mega-dealers and a BMW dealer. I like the simplicity of that and it definitely feels like joining a club rather than going to the store to buy a bike. I'll continue to check in here as we continue our planning (and the dreaded packing!) Thanks again guys!
    You've gotten a lot of really great advice for this adventure. I, too, have ridden most of the roads you are planning and it will be a great trip.

    You mention camping, which I've done a lot of on the motorcycle and have always had really good luck at the U.S. Forest Service campgrounds. They are usually very well kept and frequently have a camp host right on site (who usually is selling firewood). As a tent camper, I had a lot more flexibility in where I camped, so I never had any problem finding a camp site. This is especially true if you plan to stop by late afternoon. Here is the U.S. Forest service site:

    https://www.fs.fed.us/visit/know-before-you-go/camping

    Safe travels to you!

  9. #24
    Registered User temesvar's Avatar
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    You have been getting advises from people that have been there. There is nothing I could ad here!
    Am following the thread, since I intend to cross from East coast to West with a friend, in June.
    We intend to use motels, as I find to be just great to have a warm shower and a dry bed at the end of
    a day long ride. Besides, camping gear takes up much space. And we are going on two bikes. You are
    lucky to have a understanding wife that agrees to go with so little comfort for the time you will be on
    the road. Not many women will do that!
    Best of luck to you, and don't forget to post some pic's!!

  10. #25
    Registered User GeorgeR1200RT's Avatar
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    When I was your age and lived in Saginaw, Michigan, I rode the routes you are covering plus going to the Pacific Coast states.

    I avoided the interstates whenever I could and would ride an extra 50-100 miles to avoid a metro city...except when visiting family in Chicago or Detroit.

    I have been camping a lot. My reason was mostly to save money and to have cover if there were no motels. Like an idiot I frequently rode too late in the day.

    Unlike a lot of people, I rarely took any cooking gear. For the evening meal I would eat before I set up camp, go to a local food place, or take sandwich fixins' to eat in the campsite. I never kept any food with me overnight because of attracting critters. I got up and packed in the morning and stopped at the first restaurant I came to. My wife was OK with this and it eliminated a lot of gear. The tent was just a place to sleep...we'd be sure to find a motel every couple days to bring personal hygiene up to standard.

    I found two sleeping bags were too bulky. Look for something that you can share that is not made for bitter cold nights. If it gets colder than planned, put on any warm riding gear you carry.

    The other thing I recommend is having a beaded and/or Airhawk type seat cover. It works best if you swap what you sit on with your wife as the day progresses. Different pressure points, etc are better as the day wears on.

    Enjoy!
    George
    R1200RT. Previous K1200RS, K1200LT, R80RT, R100R, R75/5

  11. #26
    Registered User Woodbutcher's Avatar
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    I've learned that staying flexible on the schedule is important. It is a vacation and trying to push to stay on schedule can ruin some of the fun. And I'm kind of a schedule guy. Don't forget that this isn't your last trip. If you get to enjoying one part a lot, then enjoy it. Put what you miss on the list for the next trip.

    Everybody else has given you the good practical advice about gas, speeds and such so I won't try and cover that. Have fun.
    Rusty
    Austin, TX
    Two Wheeled Texans
    2009 R1200GSA 2013 K1600GT

  12. #27
    Registered User zenwhipper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akbeemer View Post
    A modification to your route for your consideration. Instead of taking the interstate from the Rapid City area to Billings, take Hwy 212 from Belle Fourche to Crow Agency. Saves 50 miles and gets you off the interstate. You can make a deviation and visit Devil's Tower as well. The Black Hills of South Dakota are worth a day if you can fit it in.
    This ^^^. Yep Yep.
    “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”- Mark Twain
    Past bikes: 2001 Kawa ZR750S, 2002 VFR, 2006 V-Strom, 2008 FJR

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