Tag: road trip

September Road Trip Notes: Taking the Bonneville

September Road Trip Notes: Taking the Bonneville

For my road trip in September, I did things a little differently. The biggest change was that I decided to forego my zippy, mile-eating Tiger for the stripped-down simplicity of the Bonneville. The choice left some people wondering “why?” The simple answer? Because I wanted to.

Because I’d never done a multi-day trip on the Bonneville, I did add some creature comforts to it’s set up. I posted previously about some of those peripheral odds and ends that made my trip a success. This is how I felt about the Bonnie itself.

I found that my highway speeds naturally dropped off from what I might do with the Tiger by about 5-15mph. It isn’t that the Bonnie can’t do 85, it absolutely can. It just doesn’t “feel” like a sweet spot to me. That isn’t a knock, that’s just my reality. I found myself in the far right lane often when doing highway stints. It very well could’ve been my mindset, but that’s the way things shook out.

The Bonneville gets great gas mileage on the highway. You can plug along at 75 on the speedo and get over 50mpg.

While this might not have any meaning to the tall drinks o’ water out there, being able to pull over anywhere and put both feet on the ground at the same time is heaven! It changes your confidence level and takes one more consideration out of the mix, freeing up that brainpower for something else.  This new-found freedom meant that I could pull over on any roadside or surface that I might avoid if I were on a bike that I have to tippy-toe with.

And on top of that, when you add in how short the sidestand is, creating a nice lean, I was able to not only pull over and stop anywhere but I could park there too without worrying about the awkward, too-upright lean of the bike. Or – with having to tippy-toe and trying to get on and off the thing without gracelessly sending us both ass over teakettle.

The footprint of the Bonnie is so narrow, I could easily squeeze into places I wouldn’t on my sport-touring bike. I may or may not have lanesplit a couple miles here and there and it may or may not have been easy as pie not to have to worry about my sidebags taking out someone’s mirror.

I was pleasantly surprised by how the bike felt on very tight mountain roads. If you have bigger feet, you’ll probably wear the toe of your boot out, but all in all, it was easy and fun to ride. The response from the front end doesn’t feel like a sportbike of course, but it felt planted and wasn’t work to ride. Just gotta keep those toes tucked in.

Overall, what I wanted from the Bonneville is what I got – a low-slung, easy-does-it bike that allows me to knock out some highway, ramble the backroads, and is easy to make frequent roadside stops on questionable surfaces for pictures or general loafing. Everything about it feels laidback and simple.

I’m certain I’ll be multi-day roadtripping with it again. In fact, I wish I were going right now…

September Road Trip Notes: Odds and Ends

September Road Trip Notes: Odds and Ends

In September, I took a road trip to mosey around a bit on the Bonneville. These are some of the notes that I jotted down about the peripheral odds and ends that helped to make my trip a success.

A few weeks before my trip, I’d added a RAM X-Grip mount to my bars and a Lifeproof FRE case for my iPhone. I do not have a powered connection for my phone, but actually found I didn’t generally need one. There were 2 times in which I did top off my phone battery with my solar battery out of my tankbag.

The Lifeproof FRE case I bought was nicely discounted at 50% off at Best Buy, thanks to price matching. That was a good deal – $40 well spent. There was an emotional hurdle for me to get over while riding through a short but pouring rain pocket. Seeing my phone on the bars getting wet felt all sorts of wrong. But the case works as advertised.

The phone with Google Maps gave better insight into things than the GPS did. The interface of my phone is second nature and highly flexible whereas the GPS seems a little more rigid. Often I used GMaps to find something, then used those results to navigate via GPS. I also used the phone to look for nearby places I might’ve saved on a map.

The phone would never be my only device for navigation but I found it tremendously helpful as a supplement. I don’t use apps like Rever to record tracks or any of that but I did look up some things on Roadside America. All in all, having the phone on the bars worked well.

I’ve been sporting a Dart flyscreen for a couple months now. I *think* it helps direct the wind a little better but now I can’t remember what it felt like before. I guess it must be working because I have no complaints about buffeting. Though I prefer the minimal look without the screen – it’s alright. It also gives me something to stick my EZ Pass toll tag too.

My anemic stock headlight bulb was swapped out for a nice bright LED bulb. I still think I may need some auxiliary lights but for now, I am certainly more visible and getting more light.

Riding along I was getting a flicker on my headlight. I could see it happening if I was riding behind a car or something that reflected my image. Then lost my lamp altogether. I didn’t hear the little light fan running with the key on so I pulled it apart and a little electrical tape did the trick to keep the connector snug. Let there be light! I did this while basking in the soft glow of the Love Butt in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The stock seat on the Bonneville is hands down, the worst motorcycle seat I have ever experienced. It seems unlikely, but that’s the case. For a cheap fix, I added an Airhawk to use on longer rides a couple months ago. I would not have been able to survive this trip without it.

The sensation of the air cushion is a little… weird at first and takes some tinkering to get the right amount of air in the cushionAnd it’s pretty fugly. But, it relieves the pain I get in my tailbone so I don’t care.

My luggage setup was just tossing my 2 Kreiga bags on the pillion seat. One US30 and one US20. Though I packed more clothes than I needed, I still don’t know if I could’ve fit my air pump and some other bulky odds and ends into the US30 to use a single bag. Having the extra 20 liters on top meant I could easily stow bottles of water and other quick-access stuff.

I love the Kreiga bags. They keep things dry, mount to any bike and hold a bunch o’ crap. The only thing I didn’t like is obviously you can’t lock them. I had my MacBook with me, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have cared all that much.

This is stupid but, was tremendously useful. I picked up a tres-80’s brand new velcro wallet with a ring attached to it in a thrift shop for $2. Because I’m an idiot when at the gas station I often just jam my credit card in my side pocket after running it through the card reader.  A hundred miles later I’ll put my hand in my pocket only to find the card tenuously hanging in there.

Then comes the ritual of thanking the old gods and the new that it managed to stay in my pocket and didn’t go flying out along the road. I’ll then promise myself I that I won’t do that again, only to do it again. It’s like I have a mental block.

So… I clipped this junk wallet into my front jacket pocket. When I get off the bike to fill up, I pull the wallet out, letting it dangle, run the card through, fill up… if the wallet was still dangling – I know I forgot to put the card back in. This was the first trip in which I didn’t have to thank my lucky stars that I didn’t lose my credit card.

Having a modular helmet for the last few months has been great. It’s flexibility really shined during this trip. It made my roadside stalking-about so much more pleasant. I’m not apt to take my helmet off, that’s just my way. Being able to flip up the chinbar while taking photos, filling up, using the restroom, or grabbing a drink was so much better! Plus, interior sunshade for the win.

My LL Bean convertible pants are the jam. They’re so lightweight, quick drying and have zip-off legs. I probably could’ve skipped taking 3 other articles of clothing because of these pants. When space is a premium, dropping a pair of jeans out of the mix makes a difference. I have them in black and feel like they are tidy and stylish enough to sit down in a restaurant without feeling like a total hobo.

Thanks for reading. Safe travels, friends!

Rewinding the Spring – Returning from a Road Trip

Rewinding the Spring – Returning from a Road Trip

Each time I’ve come home from a riding trip, there is a strange period of decompression that happens. Or maybe re-compression – that’s likely more accurate because it’s the process of rewinding my internal spring too tightly.

When I ride home through the NY Metro gauntlet back to the place where I live, my nerves immediately start twiddling knobs and set all phasers to stun. I’m jolted by the electricity of feeling like everyone is too close to me at all times. It feels chaotic and like everything is out of control. There are too many cars, too many people, too much noise, too many signs, too many of everything! It is a reminder of how adaptable to your surroundings the brain is. In no time at all, these things that overstimulate will fade into background noise. It’s just that gray transition area between solitude and mania that is most uncomfortable.

As the scale begins to tip closer towards home and further from away, I have to work to hang on to the good feelings that sustained me over the miles. This is when the work of remembering happens.

2016 Rearview: A Few of My Favorite Things So Far

2016 Rearview: A Few of My Favorite Things So Far

With month number six of 2016 drawing to a close, I’ve seen some pretty terrific roadside-y things in my travels so far. Wanna take a peek?

Mighty Joe – Shamong, NJ

Super-terrific hot dog guy at the super-tiny diner Winsted Diner – Winsted, CT

Flyin’ Pig – Miller Place, NY

Patriotic tire-Minions with braces – Somewhere in CT

Hippie Bunyan Muffler Man on Yasgur’s Farm – Bethel, NY

Purple Dragon – Duncannon, PA

Nifty Shed – Somewhere in CT

Giant Mr. Potato Head – Hasbro – Pawtucket, RI

Just Love Everybody Peace House – Somewhere in CT

A great sign! 🙂

Roy Lichtenstein’s Tokyo Brushstroke I & II – Watermill, NY

Picasso Garage – Somewhere in CT

Hotdog Johnny’s – Buttzville, NJ

Alexander Calder’s Stegorsaurus – Hartford, CT

Pig Bus – Somwewhere in PA

Rainbow – Hartford, CT

Welcome to Hackettstown Mural – Hackettstown, NJ

Monkey Mural – Bridgeport, CT

Hope for Peace barn – Somewhere in CT

Mail Pouch Tobacco House – Lock Haven, PA

Big Bronze Crows – Kent, CT

Here’s to continued whimsy-spotting throughout the year ::cheers::

Pretending to be Brave – Leaving the Void for Parts Unknown

Pretending to be Brave – Leaving the Void for Parts Unknown

On Sunday morning as I rubbed the I think I drank one too many pints from my eyes I wondered how in the world my weekend had gone by so fast. What started on Thursday evening, riding out to State College, Pa. for a pre-rally dinner, moved in to doing the 24-hr Void Rally on Friday in to Saturday and finished with me waking up in Virginia on Sunday morning wondering where the time went.

There is often a bittersweet feeling in achieving your goals. It makes me wonder what percentage of joy comes from the wishing, hoping and planning before the event itself.

Though my rally was over, I was staring down a new journey. With a spark of excitement I began shoving everything into my two travel bags. It’s amazing how scattered everything gets in a hotel room. My rooms often look like a “stuff bomb” went off. And yet it all folds back up so tidily as if nothing ever happened. Kind of like cramming one of those gag snakes back in to its can.

Though I knew I would be shoving off for a week of riding on the back-end of the Void, in the weeks leading up to the trip I did little to no planning. I left home armed with a loose idea of a few things that I wanted to do and see while I had the time, but that was pretty much it.

I had no route and no immediate timetable, just the want to feel something.

I left Fredericksburg under a bright blue sky and set off towards the Blue Ridge Parkway south. It was time to float.

Where do you go when you have nowhere that you need to be? Anywhere.

While doing the Void Rally, I had to cover long distances in a short amount of time. As such, that meant lots of highway miles. Now that I was on my clock, I set the GPS to avoid the slab as I picked my way south and west. I would milk the back roads up until those times I found it necessary to punch out a leg that required fast-paced hustling.

Being on my own, I felt a great sense of freedom. A huge expanse opened inside of me and it seemed like anything was possible. All I had to do was stop being afraid.

The world was there for the taking if I could just find enough bravery to reach out and grab it.