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Ponies ate my Bagel 06-04-2013 03:07 PM

The 2013 Hold my beer and watch this tour
I've been holding off on starting this thread, but our departure date is rapidly approaching and I think itís time. Thereís a lot of back story involved, if youíd rather listen to it than read it check out the Wheelnerds podcast episode 81. The last 10 minutes of that show is regarding a letter I wrote them about this trip, itís worth the listen and itís funny as hell.

WARNING: Wall of text incoming!

Letís start at the beginning. I've been riding 21 years now, my Grandpa and my uncle taught me to ride and are my motorcycle heroes. My Grandpa and I have been talking about doing a grand cross-country motorcycle trip since I was about 8. Life got in the way as I got older, I moved from GA to CA, got married and had problems finding a job.

Last year things started to get better and we began planning a trip. The original plan was to meet in Arizona, he would ride out from GA and I would make the hop from CA. Weíd ride in AZ for a couple days and then tour around Southern Utah and some of Colorado. At the time I was riding my DRZ400SM every day. Around October I had a ring fail and nuke the piston and cylinder sleeve. I had my mechanic install a big bore kit on the DRZ, but the bike continued to have issues. I didnít have confidence in the bike to do a few thousand miles reliably so I began to look for a more suitable bike.

In February I found a guy that wanted to trade his 2002 VFR800 for my DRZ. The bike was in great shape and had a bit less than 21k on the clock. I swapped bikes with the guy and after riding for a bit we traded. The bike developed a worrying cam chain rattle about 1k miles later. Needless to say I got a bit worried so I took it to my mechanic. He rode it and confirmed it was the cam chain, but told me not to worry about. I should have followed my instincts and had him do the work then. Another thousand miles in and the cam chain broke due to a bad tensioner, needless to say I was upset. This was near the end of April and less than 2 months from my trip.

So at this point Iím in panic mode, I didnít have the time or money to fix the bike before the trip. So I called my grandpa to tell him it was looking like our trip wasnít going to happen. It was at this point he made me an offer I couldnít refuse. He has 2 bikes, a 2008 Soft-tail and a 2009 Kawakaka C14. Heís been trying to sell the C14 since he prefers to ride the soft-tail. Itís got about 12k on the clock and is still under warranty until December. He offered it to me for a song and I just couldnít say no. So I started parting the VFR out to help cover the costs for the bike and the trip.

At this point itís dawning on me that the trip plans need to change. The bike is in GA and Iím in CA, the obvious solution? A nice fly and ride cross country trip! Iíd finally get to have the adventure with my grandpa that I had dreamed about. So I start to make arrangements and I extended my vacation time from 8 days to 14, which my boss was pretty cool about.

Around this time my wife decides she deserves a vacation too and wants to tag along. She has some experience riding pillion with me (maybe 2500 miles) but thatís about it. The kicker is she has terrible back problems, not minor annoyances but degenerated discs and severe impingement. Every 3-4 months she goes in and gets a cortisone epidural for her spine, she went in last Friday (5/31) and had another done. She never asks for anything and since we got together in 2007 we havenít been apart for more than 48 hours, so I immediately caved. My mom bought us one way plane tickets for my birthday and I started trying to get ready for the trip.

First on my list was protective gear for my wife. We live in a pretty unique climate, itís rarely ever hotter than 85f with most days being almost perfect at 70-75f. She ended up getting almost an entire suit of gear. The only gear she is taking that she already owned is her mesh jacket and a helmet. She was a huge help in finding good gear at reasonable prices and spent several days hunting through the adv flea market to help us save some cash. Now she has new mesh pants, boots, gloves and a full suit of rain gear. On top of that I had to equip myself, so new mesh jacket and pants for me. We picked up a set of Sena SMH10ís for the trip. We usually communicate by taps and hand signals, but on a trip this long I really wanted to be able to talk to her.

After that was comfort, with my wifeís back problems the only way she is going to make the trip is if I modify it for her comfort. I managed to find a used Corbin seat and backrest for a steal. I originally ordered an AST backrest, but it required me to spend another $150 for a rear rack to mount it to. Their specs also indicated not to overload the rear racks max carry weight of 15 lbs. I didn't want to spend the money and I just wasn't confident in it. After reading online I decided to get passenger peg extensions since she is tall and has long legs.

I had everything shipped directly to my grandpa and he installed each part for me as he got them to make sure it would all work together. Heís been prepping the bike for the trip, itís got a new battery and a new rear tire, the front tire only has about 1500 miles on it and all the fluids have been changed. The only issue I have with the bike is he installed an adjustable lowering link and dropped the bike 1.5Ē front and back. Both of us have short legs (my inseam is 28Ē his is 29Ē). I've learned to deal with it and I personally donít like to have the geometry of a bike changed, so when we get there heís going to help me raise it back to stock height.

At this point the whole trip is a mess, we donít have the route completely mapped out yet. He wanted to superslab it to I-10 and I wanted to take I-40. I think weíre going to end up taking some back roads west out of Georgia and through Alabama to meet up with I-40 in Arkansas. From there weíll ride west and we may circumvent Texas by riding just above the panhandle in Oklahoma.

We fly out this Thursday (6/6) on a red eye from San Luis Obispo to Atlanta. Weíll take off around 5:40pm PST and arrive at 9:15am EST. Weíll have around 5 Ĺ hours of layovers, but the tickets were cheapÖ Our bags are mostly packed, my wife has managed to cram 50 pounds of mud in a 5lb. sack, I donít know if itís all going to fit on the bike. She knows anything that doesn't fit will have to be sent home or left there.

When we land in Atlanta my dad will pick us up and weíll spend the night at my mom and dads. Saturday weíll head down to Cordele where my mom is planning a low country boil to celebrate my sisterís graduation and impending collegiate experience (she graduated with a weighted GPA of 4.17!) at my grandpaís. After that weíre staying with my grandma and great grandma, weíll head back to my grandpaís early Sunday to meet him and my great uncle. From there we head west to CA.

I will post some pics later tonight and I'll be posting from the road as well.

This entire trip really has turned into a ďHold my beer and watch this!Ē kind of event.

RobbieO 06-04-2013 05:10 PM

Post photos!

Ponies ate my Bagel 06-04-2013 06:25 PM


Originally Posted by RobbieO (Post 21568069)
Post photos!

I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get ready. Have some sexy pics!

My wife Teresa modelling her new gear:

Just for giggles, me being all sexy too:

cyberdos 06-04-2013 06:34 PM

here we go. :lurk

Bluebone 06-04-2013 06:44 PM


Beak 06-04-2013 08:34 PM

Carry on. :lurk

Ponies ate my Bagel 06-04-2013 10:02 PM

the packing blues
Ok, so we packed our stuff last night and it was a total disaster. The plan was originally to half fill a duffle bag and fully fill a small backpack while stuffing the helmets in their carry bags. We don't want to check our bags, we can't risk losing any of the riding gear because we can't afford to replace it. So after our initial packing we had 2 duffles completely filled. There was no way they would qualify as carry on luggage. So tonight we repacked it again and the results speak for themselves I think.

The real trick was eliminating about 10 extra pieces of clothing the wife wanted to bring and get her down to 3 pairs of shoes...

10 Man 06-05-2013 03:39 AM

Im in ...well not really but Ill be reading carry on
so grand pa is going to be rideing a Harley ? brave man
be sure and get the wife a back brace ...most drug stores carry them ..not expencive I have the same problems with my back ...and cant make 200 miles without the back brace ...can do 400 or more with it .

oldmanb777 06-05-2013 06:00 AM

I use my "kidney" belt that I normally use for dirt riding for longer street rides. Adds just the right amount of lower back support.

Bluebone 06-05-2013 07:03 AM

i have some idea how much stuff you need to cram onto the bike for a solo trip and it's quite a bit. i'm sure curious how you're going to be able to do it riding 2-up especially since the rear seat is ussually part of the packing plan. i'm going to assume camping is going to be out of the question.

Ponies ate my Bagel 06-05-2013 08:22 AM


Originally Posted by 10 Man (Post 21570896)
Im in ...well not really but Ill be reading carry on
so grand pa is going to be rideing a Harley ? brave man
be sure and get the wife a back brace ...most drug stores carry them ..not expencive I have the same problems with my back ...and cant make 200 miles without the back brace ...can do 400 or more with it .

I believe both my Grandpa and my great uncle will be riding Harleys. As much as we like to make fun of them, modern Harleys can be nice for cruising. I know they took a trip up to Canada last year and did around 2500 miles.

The wife and I went through probably 6 back braces before we found "the one" and she absolutely loves it. She wears it all the time and it really makes a difference.


Originally Posted by Bluebone (Post 21571984)
i have some idea how much stuff you need to cram onto the bike for a solo trip and it's quite a bit. i'm sure curious how you're going to be able to do it riding 2-up especially since the rear seat is ussually part of the packing plan. i'm going to assume camping is going to be out of the question.

We'll be hotel camping unfortunately. If it was just me I'd camp all the way, but pop and uncle Larry are older and don't want to sleep on the ground. My wife's back just won't take camping for more than a night, but she loves it.

Dirigo 06-05-2013 10:30 AM


10 Man 06-05-2013 10:34 AM

yeah we wont poke at grand pa for rideing a Harley ..its great of him to be giveing you his spare bike makeing this trip happen .
we ll save the Harley pokeing for mellow yellow if he ever gets out of town .
I ride alot of road trips with friends that ride Utra Classics Harleys .. they hold a lot and seem to be good bikes for the open road .
Id buy one myself is they ever put a water cooled engine in them .
it gets hot down south this time of year .
Plus 1 on the back brace .....dont let her forget it

guitstik 06-05-2013 11:11 AM

Walking in Memphis
If you take 78 out of Birmingham and head up to Memphis, give me a holler and I can get some pro pics of your group:freaky

Keeping an eye on this one to see how it pans out. Good fun and have luck.

Animo 06-05-2013 12:07 PM



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