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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old Apr 24th, 2011, 3:17 am Thread Starter
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USA Road Trip

Guys I have had a US road trip on my bucket list for a long time and our dollar is very strong at the moment making it very tempting to do sooner rather than later.
I have no firm must do's at this stage but the west coast is easier for me to get to, Im not keen on miles and miles of straigh flat top, I want canyons and curves as much as possible but I realise that its a very diverse country and that I will need to do some.
I would love some guidance to help me start to put a plan together and I will share with you a few ideas that I have put together so far.
Im not bound by it but Im thinking of taking a month.
Start and finish in San Francisco.
Buy a used bike and sell it back to the dealer when Im done.
San Fran - Las Vegas via Bakersfield (Bypass LA.)
Las Vegas - Denver via Utah.
Denver - Montana via Wyoming
Montana - Calgary Canada
Calgary - Vancouver
Vancouver - Seattle
Seattle - San Fran.
Im thinking July - August and Im also thinking B&B's, Motels/Hotels but Im also open to suggestions.
I dont really want to carry camping gear if I dont have to.
Its just a straw man and may end up looking nothing like this but every time I look at the atlas the job seems so big I have got to just start somewhere.
Your suggestions will be appreciated.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old Apr 24th, 2011, 8:54 am
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Looks like an excellent plan to me. Here is my advice, which is worth what you paid for it.

* From San Francisco to Las Vegas:
Consider an alternate route that takes you over the Sierra Nevada mountains. My advice would be to go to Yosemite, then over the Tioga Pass. Yosemite is a world-class national treasure. Bring a camera.

* An alternate choice would be to go through the California Gold Country via US-50 to Lake Tahoe, then south on US-395. Given a choice for a friend, I would recommend Yosemite.

* You might want to go through Death Valley, but temperatures will be extreme.

* Desert temperatures will be extreme in July/August. You must be prepared with the proper gear. You must hydrate while riding - drinking only at stops is not sufficient. Daytime highs in Las Vegas will be over 105F = 40C, and can easily reach 120F = 50C or more. Death Valley will be warmer. Temperatures will stay above 95F = 35C well past midnight before cooling off to 85F = 30C in the wee hours. Did I say that you must be prepared?

* The ride on I-70 through Utah, and especially from Grand Junction to Denver, is spectacular. The Grand Junction to Denver ride (or visa versa) should be on everyone's bucket list. The cantilevered highway through Glenwood Canyon is an engineering marvel.

* Riding north on I-25 from Denver through Wyoming can be boring if you stay on the east side of the Rocky Mountains. I don't know that I would want to miss the Grand Tetons or Yellowstone either. They are also world-class national treasures.

* I would route north through Banff and Jasper when riding between Calgary and Vancouver. Both are world-class national treasures.

* Mountain temperatures can be quite cold, even in July/August. The Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 near Denver is over 11,000 ft = 3,400 m. Heck, around here, they don't bother to name peaks that are much higher than Mt. Kosciuszko. Temperatures can get down near freezing at night, even in the summer. Afternoon thundershowers are not uncommon, and snow is very very rare, but possible. Most likely, it will be sunny, but slightly cool and pleasant in the mountains, but it is unpredictable. Be prepared.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old Apr 24th, 2011, 10:49 am
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That sounds like the trip of a lifetime and I envy you having the time and money to do it. XMagna is giving you good advice, IMHO. That's a long ride and you'll be doing it without a custom seat, so I hope you're going to give a lot of thought and advance planning on what sort of bike fits you best. Also, don't skimp on apparel. You'll need outer wear for the whole spectrum of temperatures and also for rain. It will be bulky but worth it.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old Apr 24th, 2011, 2:15 pm
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I wouldn't even approach Death Valley in the summer. It's grueling wind-burn heat on a bike where the highs get close to 130 at times and the pavement cooks the glues off the soles off your shoes. The mentioned tip to "stay up high" is good and Tioga Pass (Hwy. 120) through Yosemite is far nicer, just the RV caravans can be a bit of an ordeal but maybe with the high gas costs they won't be as plentiful either. I'd swing through the Yosemite Valley floor too and check out the museum and eats there too. Lots of tourists there. Waterfalls may be dried up or minimal though that late.

Any of the valley floor areas will be over 100 degrees which sort of sucks on a bike in July/August. I would shoot for late May/June personally as the passes are just being snow cleared and opening by then. For late summer, if you leave early AM (4-5AM) and plan on parking the bike by 12 noon it isn't a bad way to travel. Some summer sunrises can be very comfortable and quite relaxing on the road. By 2-8PM it's not so much fun (HOT!). Temp swings are often 30 degrees so if the high forecast is 100, then it is usually about 70 in the early AM. I'm done in full gear at about 90 degrees now. I use phase-change vest packs above that temperature that I can recharge in the motel room refrigerator to stay cool for about 2 hours of heat.

Might want to try and beg, borrow, or rent your gear. We were going to ship our gear to Dublin, Ireland once for a motorcycle rental trip as our carry-ons were full of clothing and electronics, but the shipping costs both ways just for the cycle gear was about $1,100 and probably far more now. Sort of pinched that idea.

I think the summertime travel key is to stay at the higher altitudes and avoid the valleys after noon. About 3 degrees less for every 1000 feet was the rule of thumb for pilots. Tioga Pass is around 9,000+ feet as are most Sierra Passes.

Lassen Park (No. California) is nice too in late summer and not too crowded as it is little known to non-bikers. The west side of the Park is Hwy 36 known for the twistys to the Pacific Coast, but it gets miserably hot too (i.e. Peanut, CA was a hot spot for me, more like melting hot where I needed sacks of ice.). The Hwy 96 running parallel to a gold-enriched river, and Bigfoot's home ground with statues of him everywhere, is a nice ride and the road is well maintained and a bit cooler than 36 at that time of year.

As far as motels, the cheap end of the scale is the Motel 6 and Super 8 as second ($50-$80 incl. taxes.). The mid-ranges are usually the Best Western's and Holiday Inns/Express ($90-$140). The Hampton Inns and Radison Inns are a bit more ($130-$200). Anything with the name "Resort" at the end of it are usually very high ($300-$2,000/night.). National Park lodges are usually high too. If you can call ahead and tell them "You are on a motorcycle and baking from the heat," most will fit you in earlier than their normal 2-3PM check-in and at a ground level floor near the bike which helps. Some motels will give you a "wash-the-bike towel" if you ask. Don't use their guest towels else the maid and management will have a fit (damhik either...opps!). Some (Hampton Inns) may give you a "puck" (plywood square) to keep from poking a kickstand hole in their asphalt too if it's a new place and it's hot enough they know the outcome if they don't. A handy item to carry is a small 3-into-1 AC power plug/outlet if you have a lot of stuff that needs charging as some places are sort of stingy on electrical outlets with maybe one free one for the maid's vacuum cleaner for the entire room.

On the lodging, most will do online bookings and some offer a cheaper rate if you do it that way and do it 8 days out. If you cancel before 24 hours, you may not get charged. Cancel within 24 hours and they may charge you full or some reduced rate. Most all offer online connections either wireless or via a Ethernet cable you can usually get a 25 foot one at the front desk if they use Ethernet. Most are free internet, but I see some of the cheaper ones are now charging an additional rate to connect (~$5). On meal, the ones less than $100/night usually are cold meals and prepackaged. Some have a toaster for bagels. The ones over $100 usually have some sort of hot meal buffet. Most all have a laundry service (pay washer and dryer, just that you may need your own soap.). The Friday & Saturday night rates are often 1.5x-2x the weekday rates too.

I'll add, try and find a place on the maps not located too close to a bar, unless you don't mind the 2AM drunks finding it amusing to flip your bike upside down on the handlebars and/or pissing on it.

Oh, an interesting stop to your list as I see it not listed on many lists: Virginia City, NV. Usually a lot of bikes are there in the summer. Some Reno biker events are around then, maybe the "Busa Nationals" and some dirt biker event. The Reno "Street Vibrations" is the largest but in Sept. I think. Virginia City has a lot of old "pubs & eats" there too along with their "haunted" hotels which are mostly just creaky buildings although I stayed in one where the toilet would self-flush all night for some damn reason (Ghost had the trots I guess?). Lots of history in the old mining town of the likes of Calamity Jane and Mark Twain. Might want to stay the night there vs. Reno or Carson City, NV if you are in the vicinity. The cat houses 15 minutes east of Reno have free tours, tips encouraged I'm sure, and one has a cheap restaurant in it and one just added some huge motocross jump track outside it (Mustang Ranch). The "working girls" will try and get into your wallet on a free tour of the joint, but the stories, band tour buses, and celebrities there will make your head spin (people with way too much money to blow) and the local sheriff hides outside and tries to bust you if you've imbibed (they warn you of it too!). Don't get hit by a drunk in Las Vegas though as it is a very rough area for motorcyclists and partying kids will try an play chicken with you at times.

Sorry for the length. Have fun, dodge the deep potholes, and let's see the pics when done.


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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old Apr 25th, 2011, 4:53 am Thread Starter
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Thanks for the great info Guys.
I need to try and find a balance between it not being too hot in the southern part of the trip and not being too cold in Canada.
Some great tips so far. Las Vegas isnt a must do for me but its one of those places that us non Americans often feel the need to see if just for the novelty value of it as well as potentially seeing some great shows.
Ive got a new level of excitement just since starting this thread and hearing your advise.
It doesnt have to be July/August, I can move it a month or so either way depending on what works best, given that I live in a pretty warm country (Not 50F) I can put up with a couple of hot days as long as I dont have to deal with snow or ice anywhere up north.
I know in these times of unusual weather there are no guarantees however if I can mitigate as best I can it will make for a better trip.
Keep the info coming, it is appreciated.

Black stuff down, Shiny side up!______________________________
10 R1200RTSE
02 R1100S
07 K1200GT R.I.P.
86 K100RS Sold
07 R1200GSA Sold
07 Softail Heritage Sold
86 K100RS Sold
82 R100RS Sold
82 Suzi GSX1100 Sold
75 Honda 750/4 Sold
74 Yamaha XS650 Sold
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old Apr 25th, 2011, 9:40 am
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Regarding snow and cold, electric gear is called for or stuff your clothes with newspapers and get some chemical shake-and-bake heat packs for a few dollars for your feet and gloves. Actually, I prefer the cold to the heat. Electric clothes compress fairly small. The heat involves cooling packs and an insulated chest for phase-change packs or dealing with those clammy/muggy wet vests, although I have tossed the phase-change packs in the snow for rides down into the hot valley floor which works since they freeze around 45 degrees. I've ridden in snow maybe up to 3 inches in depth and it wasn't that big of a deal. The round river-bottom sand they lay down is what I hate as it's "No traction" at times and some roads I refuse to ride on if they've sanded it. Dry asphalt and sand don't mix as well as wet sand and asphalt. Ice is a no-go of course.

If they plow, the road is usually all nice and dry around noon time between the snow banks. Sort of like this:



and here behind the fuel service truck:



Pretty country, eh? Riding in it isn't all that bad temp. wise.

Here's one of the snow blowers in action in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGo_D8Pe-Y0

It's hard to realize on the video just how big the rotary blade is and the large snow-exhaust shoot is on the front of that Caterpillar, but you can literally walk inside the front where the rotary blade is. It is a massive thing and it has a large GPS console so the driver can "sort of" find the road in the deep snow and not go over the edge someplace. That blade has been hardened and welded so many times from rocks and trees, but it keeps going with maybe one fix-up during the season. It takes them about 2 months to clear 32 miles of road from the 22+ foot drifts they cut through.

Oh, I forgot. The B&B's tend to be in the $130 range and some older ones are shared bathrooms so you may have to wait. If you want a local history lesson, they may be worth it from the hosts.


Mack
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old May 30th, 2011, 3:35 pm
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and what could be a budget for such an adventure? and timeframe?
the lowest limit, of course..

Take care!

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