|06-04-2013, 04:07 PM||#1|
Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Los Osos, CA coast
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 it’s time. There’s a lot of back story involved, if you’d 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, it’s worth the listen and it’s funny as hell.
WARNING: Wall of text incoming!
Let’s 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. We’d 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 didn’t 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 I’m in panic mode, I didn’t 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 wasn’t going to happen. It was at this point he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He has 2 bikes, a 2008 Soft-tail and a 2009 Kawakaka C14. He’s been trying to sell the C14 since he prefers to ride the soft-tail. It’s got about 12k on the clock and is still under warranty until December. He offered it to me for a song and I just couldn’t say no. So I started parting the VFR out to help cover the costs for the bike and the trip.
At this point it’s dawning on me that the trip plans need to change. The bike is in GA and I’m in CA, the obvious solution? A nice fly and ride cross country trip! I’d 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 that’s 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 haven’t 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, it’s 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 SMH10’s 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 wife’s 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. He’s been prepping the bike for the trip, it’s 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 1.5” front and back. Both of us have short legs (my inseam is 28” his is 29”). I've learned to deal with it and I personally don’t like to have the geometry of a bike changed, so when we get there he’s going to help me raise it back to stock height.
At this point the whole trip is a mess, we don’t have the route completely mapped out yet. He wanted to superslab it to I-10 and I wanted to take I-40. I think we’re 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 we’ll 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. We’ll take off around 5:40pm PST and arrive at 9:15am EST. We’ll have around 5 ½ hours of layovers, but the tickets were cheap… Our bags are mostly packed, my wife has managed to cram 50 pounds of mud in a 5lb. sack, I don’t know if it’s 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 we’ll spend the night at my mom and dads. Saturday we’ll head down to Cordele where my mom is planning a low country boil to celebrate my sister’s graduation and impending collegiate experience (she graduated with a weighted GPA of 4.17!) at my grandpa’s. After that we’re staying with my grandma and great grandma, we’ll head back to my grandpa’s 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 “Hold my beer and watch this!” kind of event.
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