A few weeks ago a little birdie told me that our friend Novos, whom we last saw on our California trip in June2008, would be heading off on a solo one week, 4,000 mile motorcycle trip in the beginning of August. Being that Novos lives on the west coast in southern California, he will be piloting his decidedly un-touring-like bike into the sunrise and tracking north towards beautiful Montana. With just a few weeks left before he sets off, I thought I’d ask him a few questions about his style of traveling on the motorcycle.
Can you give me a description of the trip you are taking?
I’m basically riding one big loop around the Rockies, starting from Southern California cutting across southwest Nevada into southern Utah. From there I zigzag across Utah, dipping down into Arizona to see Monument Valley, as the south-eastern point of the trip, then back up to Colorado. The reason for adding Colorado to the trip was having the near-useless goal of hitting Mount Evans and “the highest paved road in North America” at 14,240 feet. From Mount Evans, which is just outside of Denver, it’s up north into Rocky Mountain National Park, and up into Wyoming to see Yellowstone for the first time. I’ll be popping out of Yellowstone to ride the Beartooth Highway up into Montana, up into the outskirts of Billings, which will be the north-east point of the trip, then doubling back to Wyoming to hit Chief Joseph Highway, and back into Yellowstone. After I’m done visiting Yellowstone, I’m afraid the major highlights are gone, since from there the only noteworthy site is the Bonneville Salt Flats, and from there, it’s the drudgery of straight-ish highways to get home.All in all, it looks like I should be going through 8 states, (CA, UT, AZ, CO, WY, MT, ID) maybe 9 if I pass through New Mexico after heading out of Monument Valley. I’ll also be going through 6 National Parks (Zion Nat’l, Capitol Reef Nat’l, Black Canyon of the Gunnison Nat’l, Rocky Mountain Nat’l, Grand Teton Nat’l and Yellowstone Nat’l) and I’m looking to cover roughly 4,000 miles in a week.
Do you have a pre-planned route; will you be winging it or a mixture of both?
Planning for the trip initially, as always, took place in Google maps, just looking at the twistiest, most indirect route to anywhere possible. I had originally just wanted to head out to Mt. Evans in Colorado, and the rest of the trip just expanded from there. I usually try not to over plan the trip, and I’m always flexible in my route in case of road-closures, or even some local telling me that there’s a road that’s 100 times better than the one I picked just a short detour away, which is also why I never actually reserve hotel rooms, in case I’m either further, or behind on my route than I had anticipated.
Tell me about your bike. What are the year, make and model?
2004 Aprilia RSV Factory. It didn’t say in the manual it wasn’t intended for sport touring, so clearly it’s kosher to use this machine.
How long you’ve been planning for this trip?
Fine planning has been going on for maybe a week, the idea for the trip is maybe 4-5 months old
Is this the longest trip you have taken to date?
This is the longest only-moto trip I’ve taken so far. The 2nd longest trip was up to Eureka and back, 2700 miles in 4 days
When you think about your trip are you excited, nervous or is this just like any other day?
I’m nervous and excited to be honest. It’s definitely something to look forward to, and there are some unknowns out there. I haven’t even checked to see where and how far apart gas stations are (I only get 160 miles out of my tank before it’s dry) so there’s still a degree of uncertainty about the trip. That, and there’s so much out there I get to see for the first time in person.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of planning your trip?
Trying to find a cheap place to stay in for the night. I usually only sleep maybe 6 hours a night before I’m headed out again so it just doesn’t justify spending money on somewhere “fancy” since I only really want the shower and the A/C at night.
What are you most looking forward to seeing while you’re out on the road?
Monument Valley, because I’ve only always seen it in postcards, and basically all the huge geological marvels that the Rocky Mountains hold. I’m fascinated by towering mountains, they really put you into perspective, just how small and puny we are compared to nature.
Is there anything you aren’t looking forward to?
The heat. I really, utterly, truly hate the heat. And the post-ride time to kill at your destination point. It’s only like 8 or 9PM, you’re tired, but you don’t feel like doing anything and you can’t fall asleep yet.
What is one creature comfort item that you simply cannot travel without?
My iPod, it makes time go by faster on straight roads, and music can help keep your spirits up when you’re tired and the monotony of the road is getting to you.
Which would you choose?
10 all expense paid track days on your current motorcycle OR 10 all expense paid days on the road traveling?
That’s a tough one. I’d want to go with the 10 track days simply because “all expenses” would include gobs of tires, and that would just end up milking the “all expense” factor to the max, but the 10 days on the road would be awesome, because it’s the difference of seeing endless new sights, about a gazillion turns, smells and vistas, compared to the thrill of going fast on the same 9-15 turns all day long. I’d probably go with the road trip.
Do you have a special riding memory or anecdote that you’d care to share?
My last overnighter which took me outside of Yosemite in mid October, I was riding to Bodie, the cold wind biting harshly at my chin and my toes, thinking how uncomfortable I was, yet at the same time relishing the experience realizing I’d be laughing later at waking up at 5:30 to go ride in 18 degree weather.
What would you say the top 3 lessons you’ve learned from traveling on the motorcycle would be?
The 3 things that make all the comfort difference in the world on a road trip: Your tank bag to use as a pillow to rest your body on, a throttle rocker to save your hand, and taking 2 Advil after 400 miles regardless of your body being sore or not – it will be soon enough.
If it’s not a road trip in the fall or very early spring, when it’s still cool and crisp, you end up stopping and consuming a lot of drinks to keep hydrated. If planning allows, never travel in the summertime, due to weather AND tourists.
Never think about “how far you have to go” for your mileage that day. It’s easier to think about how many miles you’ve already done.
Do you collect any souvenirs from your travels or do you have any item that you picked up on the road that you hold dear?
Most of my souvenirs are in the forms of stickers or pins of the places I’ve gone to, such as National Parks and the like, but mostly the memories are in the camera, and in my head. Anytime I’m bored or having a lousy day I can just daydream my way back into that road trip.
Though I am green with envy, I cannot wait to hear all about the trip upon Novos’ safe return. Hopefully he’ll have a blog and photos to share with us. Stay safe and have fun, Novos!
Do you have comments, questions or suggestions for Novos? Let him know on the comment link below!
Novos’ Aprilia RSV Outside of Bodie, California.