Well, I've been home for 4 days now. Sucked back into all of the day-to-day stuff of Life. I'm a planner and a make-a-list-and-check-things-off kind of guy and there's a lot I want to get done while I'm not working so I'm probably causing myself a certain level of undue stress just because I'm trying to get too much done each day. Personal problem.
Anyway, I thought I'd wrap up this ride report with a bit of a look back. This was my first truly long trip solely by motorcycle.
First, some stats:
* 7,541 miles
* 37 days
* 8 states
* 2 countries (yeah, I'm counting my walk into Mexico
* Even with all the "comfort food" as Eric called it, I lost 1 pound on the ride
I had never ridden in Oklahoma, Texas, or New Mexico before this trip.
I kept semi-accurate notes on what I spent. Not counting my expenses for the week in San Diego with The Girlfriend, the trip cost $3,032. That also does not include the oil change and tire in San Diego or the Powerball tickets I bought on the way home. Removing the week in San Diego, I had 30 "riding days" and that comes out to be $101 a day.
The trip cost then breaks down to:
* Gas - $602
* Food - $734
* Lodging - $1601
* Entertainment/Misc - $95
My big surprise was gas still averaging around $20 a day, even traveling by motorcycle. Lodging was obviously the wildcard. I had many places that cost $50-$60 but then I had some places where admittedly I splurged on where I stayed.
Time of Year
- I really didn't have a lot of choice since I was done working at the end of December and am not sure what I'm doing next. On the positive side, it was a great time of year to be out of Iowa and largely, the weather was very good. I avoided any heavy rain and the majority of my riding days were in the 60's for highs. In general, January is the "off season" pretty much everywhere. I pretty much never had to worry about a motel being full or waiting in line for something I wanted to see. No crowds. Lowest motel rates I could probably get. I was lucky in finding good weather "gap" to leave Iowa and get back. On the flip side, in January, even in the south, you are pretty much pushed into deep Texas and down around I-10 across NM and AZ to stay warm. Venture much north of there and it gets cold fast, especially with the elevation. It's nice not having crowds, but then, it's a little weird being places with essentially no one else. Restaurants and bars are nearly empty, especially during the week. In the more remote places, businesses are simply closed or have really reduced hours. Some attractions are closed. This time of year essentially made camping not an option. At least for a "fair weather" camper like myself. The nighttime temps were just too chilly. My bag of camping equipment fell off the bike into a box at a UPS store in New Braunfels, TX.
- as a rule, I'm pretty comfortable being on my own and don't get particularly "lonely". However, I do think I'd have more fun overall if The Girlfriend or some of my Buddies were along for the ride. It wears on you a little and splitting motel rooms would save a considerable amount of expense. I've had several people ask me why I didn't keep riding... well, some of it was the ongoing cost ($100 a day) and the other was I missed The Girlfriend, my house, my bed, my other toys, my buddies, mountain biking, and all the other stuff back in Iowa. Now, if I had a riding partner... yeah, I do think I could be gone a lot longer... "let's go to Key West and swing through Daytona Bike Week on the way back."
- I didn't ride nearly as much dirt and gravel as I thought I would. A couple things held me back... one, I didn't like getting out in the sticks on the dirt without someone else there in case of an 'incident' and two, if I'm on rough terrain, I don't like having the top case on the bike. I think it's the most likely to break it's mount. Probably never would, but it shakes quite a bit and I can feel it back there more than the panniers. It was essentially empty on the trip but very handy for throwing my helmet or pants in if I got off for something. In retrospect, I could have lived without it or just had a small waterproof duffel strapped on back there and it would have been better for off-pavement.
Planning - or lack thereof
- I purposefully did not really plan much of my route and mostly just let it happen as I went, planning the next day the night before. For the most part, it worked well, but most of my best riding came when I got input from you guys. If I was doing it again, I'd spend a little more time cruising the regional forums and getting input. Then I'd spend more time in one place and doing "loops". I did this in the Texas Hill Country, Big Bend, and one day with buls4ever in New Mexico. Should have done a little more of that, really allows for a more relaxed day and with the bike unloaded, I was more comfortable exploring off-road.
- Obviously I'm a fan of my Triumph, but this trip proved to me, even if you never leave the pavement the "adventure" style bikes are a great choice. In general, I think roads aren't as smooth as they used to be. More and more black top and chip-seal, which is usually a smooth surface but might have a lot of rolls and dips. I was on roads that would have beat me senseless on a regular sport-tourer, sport-bike or a cruiser. Pretty fun using all the suspension on a paved road.
- it's quite a bit of work to do a ride report, but it really is a great way to remember the trip. I'm terrible at taking time to take pictures and knowing I was doing the report helped me do it. I was on the fence on whether to do one or not... I mean, really, in comparison to all the other ride reports of folks going all over the world, this trip seemed pretty tame. But as EXORG said in so many words, I think this sort of trip has more relatability to many than those around-the-world adventures. A lot more people might take a trip like this and a lot more people have been to the areas I rode through. I'm glad I did it.
- I met a lot of fantastic people on the trip. I actually can't remember a single
or even anyone I'd truly consider unfriendly. Thanks to everyone that posted and gave me advice along the way. Super Thanks to Jeff in New Mexico, Doug in South Padre, Jeff in Dallas, and my cousin Shawn in Missouri for letting me stay with you, do laundry, get some eats, drink some beers, and showing me the sights.
- so, I set out to figure out what I want to do next. Did I? I wouldn't say I have it set in stone. I think I know how the next couple of years will probably play out but can't share the details yet. I'm going to enjoy some time at home, do some remodeling, fix The Girlfriend dinner at night, see what that's like. This summer I'll probably try to do some work that might not make me rich, but I want to see if I'll enjoy it, then next winter I might do some contract work. I am convinced that I shouldn't need to work 12 months out of the year anymore and that avoiding winter could become an annual goal. Spend a month with all the Snowbirds in the south and it's addictive.
I have to admit... I've only been back 4 days and I'm already itching to go again. No place in particular, just somewhere on the Triumph. I might have picked up a bad case of Wander. I doubt there's a cure...
See you out there and if you're ever in Iowa, look me up! ~ Kelly