50th birthday whim - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-03-2009, 04:35 AM Thread Starter
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50th birthday whim

Next year I'm fifty, for a while its been a fanciful dream to go see my brother in BC, but being a paid up member of the awkward squad I'm think of doing that by riding from New England (via Florida, California etc) on my 2007 Burnt Candy Versys.

at present its still a dream, still a whim. but I'm concious if I don't start planning it rsn its never going to happen. what was going through my mind was travel about 200..300 miles a day, mebbe more, mebbe less, mebbe a bike show or two.... would love to enter the 'furthest travelled' . meetup with fellow V owners go for a ride on the 'best' roads in their patch, have a beer or two and move on.

what I'm trying to do is to sort out the places where locals think someone riding through their patch 'must' do. I'm thinking of 'the' best roads in their area. possibly also 'the' tourist attractions in their area. recommendations for camping sites or clean cheap motels.

as someone who has only just returned to riding its a "bit" daunting, I'm not sure I will be able to stay sane enough riding on my tod for that period of time. I have lots of doubts as to the reliability and so on. I'm concerned that if the bike does go kaboom will I have enough skills to get it going again. I'd hate to see my Vee stranded in a far off distant land, never to go on UK rides ever again.

Its fanciful, it may never happen, but are there any recommendations, dos and donts some references. places to avoid... and so on.

I don't want to look at dates just yet, but crudely Im looking at May possibly June 2010, or possibly March / April 2010

its the practical stuff.... like could I fit a basic bike training course just to make certain I'm familiar with US roads and so on.... heck you can't even drive on the correct side of the road....
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-03-2009, 08:22 AM
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-03-2009, 09:59 AM
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I think you should go for it. Depending on how far north you intend to go, May/June might be better (you didn't mention what part of BC you're going to). I wouldn't be concerned about reliability. It's a dependable bike and there are lots of Kawi dealers scattered around. If you're concerned about being stranded you might buy a membership to one of those autombile clubs that has roadside assistance. Of course, for that to work you will need a cell phone with good coverage.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-03-2009, 02:16 PM
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I'm about 100 miles south of the BC border near Seattle WA. If you realize your dream, look me up and I'll give you a personal tour of some of the outstanding roads in the Pacific Northwet, both sides of the border.

March April up here can be very wet and windy. Plus, if you are coming from the East Coast, you'll have to cross some mountain ranges and they could well be impassable for motor bikes. Many of our best roads are in the mountains (obviously!). If it were me I'd leave it to later in the year.

This is one of my favorites, but it typically doesn't even open until late May.
http://maps.yahoo.com/#mvt=m&lat=48....=winthrop%20wa

You could easily drop down from BC for it, or include it in your trip West.

Machog


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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-03-2009, 10:46 PM
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If you're coming across the southern part of the country, pick up route 82, in Artesia, NM, and follow it over the Sacramento Mountains. If you want to head up north at this point there are some great twisties between Cloudcroft, NM and Ruidoso, NM. From Ruidoso, the fun continues through Alto, and Nogal toward Carrizzozo, NM. Stop at a biker's favorite watering hole and restaurant in Cloudcroft, The Western Bar. From Carizzozo to Santa Fe there are beautiful routes. Try to pick up 'The Turquoise Trail', (NM rte 14), either at Tijeras, NM or Golden, NM. PM me if you get this direction, and I'll join you for a day or so.

Michael
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-05-2009, 02:59 PM
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We have lots of great roads on the east coast...Florida is fairly flat and straight, Georgia starts to get hilly as you get up to the middle of the state and things stat to get interesting in N Georgia. Once you get to N Georgia there are too many great roads to even name and it continues through North Carolina and Tennessee. There are also a lot of great place to camp in the area with cabins or campgrounds.

It could be pretty cold in the mountains in March and April so you you may want to try and look at May or June. By July it can get pretty hot. As you figure out a route I am sure we can all help you find great places to see.

Steve

I bought a motorcycle because my wife said that I couldn't! Now I have two and she still says I can't have another one!
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Sounds like a challenge to me!

Now I have four!
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-06-2009, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
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thanks for that

rather than obsessing on detail I think I'm trying to sort out in my mind is this achievable, is it sensible. I think part of it is is it realistic for someone aged 50 to set off on my own across the USA. has anyone else got sound advice on how to prepare for this sort of trip. my original posting was triggered by something Gustavo said elsewhere.

I was aware of the temperature range problems... which is why I was looking at May/June, being after 'der tag', rather than March / April.

I looked at hiring a bike and thought the costs were steep, practicalities limited and the choice not to my liking. I don't want to ride a sportsbike or pose on a Harley. Acxtaully I quite like riding my Versys......

Some of it is what sort of basic tools do you need when on the road. Im quite happy taking the minimum of clothing and so on, but its the other stuff. I don't really want do camp cooking, I don't really want to slum it.... I want to enjoy a key milestone, but as ever there is a budget .

is it sensible to contemplate a mix of camping and motel. are there specific things y'don't do. we are two nations divided by a (supposedly) common language.

so far I get the impression that various people are suggesting it may not be sensible to do that distance in one go, but from my perspective I'm only 50 once, its a **** or bust for me, I cannot see me having the time to do this sort of thing again.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-06-2009, 11:30 AM
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I have ridden all over the US and I think you will find it very biker friendly. If you need a place to stay I'm sure there are enough people here and you may check on adventure rider.com also that could help accommodate you. I have talked to riders from over the pond on trips before that ship their bike over and spend their holiday seeing the country. They always comment about how lucky we are to have so many beautiful places to see. I think we take it for granted.

As far as when to take your trip I've always tried to go around end of August or early September if you are going to be in the mountains. Weather usually seems to be favorable that time of year. Although I've been in BC that time of year once and getting snowed on in the mountains. Sure was pretty though.

As far as breaking down, I've always had people stop to check on me if I was parked along the road and have done it myself when I've seen bikers stopped also so I wouldn't worry too much about that. We always try to stay at KOA's when we camp because they have laundry and clean showers and food sometimes. I hope this helps.

Jeff
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-06-2009, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by healdem View Post
thanks for that

rather than obsessing on detail I think I'm trying to sort out in my mind is this achievable, is it sensible. I think part of it is is it realistic for someone aged 50 to set off on my own across the USA. has anyone else got sound advice on how to prepare for this sort of trip. my original posting was triggered by something Gustavo said elsewhere.

I was aware of the temperature range problems... which is why I was looking at May/June, being after 'der tag', rather than March / April.

I looked at hiring a bike and thought the costs were steep, practicalities limited and the choice not to my liking. I don't want to ride a sportsbike or pose on a Harley. Acxtaully I quite like riding my Versys......

Some of it is what sort of basic tools do you need when on the road. Im quite happy taking the minimum of clothing and so on, but its the other stuff. I don't really want do camp cooking, I don't really want to slum it.... I want to enjoy a key milestone, but as ever there is a budget .

is it sensible to contemplate a mix of camping and motel. are there specific things y'don't do. we are two nations divided by a (supposedly) common language.

so far I get the impression that various people are suggesting it may not be sensible to do that distance in one go, but from my perspective I'm only 50 once, its a **** or bust for me, I cannot see me having the time to do this sort of thing again.
You're asking US what's sensible and realistic? If you want sensible and realistic, sell your motorcycle and take up lawn bowling or quilt making. You can still check into this website periodically and live through us vicariously.

If you take this trip, you're going to going to get rained on until you're frozen to the bone. You're probably going to have days when you sweat your ass off. You're going to ride through desolate parts of highway where you think "What the hell am I doing?" You're going to stay in dives so wretched that you'll sleep in your gear hoping the cockroaches don't chew through your armor. You're going to eat rancid hot dogs.

That sounds like my kind of trip! Heck, I had a heart attack last year and I would do it.

Have fun! Take photos.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-06-2009, 12:19 PM
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You could easily do the trip without camp cooking. Motels and restaurants are plentiful in the states. There are quite a few motorcycle resorts/campgrounds that have cabins for $25 to $45 per night. Camping is even less expensive and the campground have clean restrooms and showers.

The distance is what it is, if you want to do it. I know a girl that is on the return part of a trip from Calgary to the Grand Canyon (5000km round trip).

When you get ready there will be plenty of us to ride with you along different parts of the ride.

Steve

I bought a motorcycle because my wife said that I couldn't! Now I have two and she still says I can't have another one!
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Sounds like a challenge to me!

Now I have four!
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-06-2009, 01:22 PM
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When you figure out your route, post it here and I bet plenty of people that are close to it will send you their phone numbers just incase you happen to need help.If you come near Trenton, SC. we have a spare room and can feed you, just not many good roads here. I plan on doing Route 66 with all my kids when I turn 50, not as adventurous as your trip but should be fun. Tommy

81 Honda CB750F with Jupiter sidecar, 82 Honda CB750F, 86 Yamaha Radian, 87 BMW K100RS, 2002 Honda XR 200R, 2007 Suzuki Bandit 1250, 2009 Green Versys, 2010 Kawasaki Vukcan 900 Custom
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-06-2009, 02:09 PM
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A friend of mine went from CT all the way to the Grand Canyon last summer all by himself. He is about 45 so you guys are close to the same age. I am hugging 59 and I would love to do that too. I think I would feel better if I had a companion. Either on back, or with their own bike. I'm not so sure my wife would go or not. I would really love to travel around western Europe more though. Rent a V in England, and head through the Chunnel and off we would go. Maybe if I get some of my 401k money back sometime.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-06-2009, 07:18 PM
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Don't worry about the age thing, I'm going to be 59 in August and travel all over the Western US & Canada 90% on my own. Obviously we have bad areas in all major cities, but when you stop for lunch ask a local for the places to go or avoid. Talking of lunch, you can get a footlong sandwich for $5.00 at Subway, enough for two meals for many of us.

Motel & Camping is a great way to go, if its raining its great to dry your self and camping gear, get showered up. You can get motels from about $30.00 a night on up to $50-unless you are in a big city.

Stay flexible, its OK to set a goal of 300-400 a day, but don't book a motel you have to make it to and miss out on another day in Yellowstone. For your trip you might want to decide to go from New York to Vancouver BC, about 3000 miles on a direct route, divide the days you have, plus add a couple to get the bike etc, give you a good idea of how much a day. I use a sheep skin pad and carry 12volt pump along with a plug kit.

Make sure your UK medical coverage does cover you in the US. A simple visit to the ED here can set you back thousands.

Yes it an ambitious trip, but if its your dream do it-you don't want to be sitting in the pub when your 70 thinking if only......

Get a cell phone, if you have a UK GPS, get US & Canada maps. If you have name brand Garmin TomTom etc, maps are cheaper here, TT is selling US & Can for $60.00 at the moment. Get a Camelback water pack, you'll get temps well over 100 and you can dehydrate very quickly on hot windy days.

I always carry full good rain gear i.e. it is really waterproof and warm stuff. You'll be crossing some high mountain passes and it will be cold on some of them. Always check weather before you set of across anything above 3000' regardless of time of year.

Your common sense will be your guide on not offending anyone. There are a few, not so obvious words that could piss off certain races. Your normal polite Brit self will get you through any situations. As a fellow Cheshire Cat (Alderley Edge) I've never had any issues in the 20years or so of travelling around the Western US Canada etc.

Its your dream do it, you don't want to be sitting around in the pub when you are 70 saying if only................................

When you get to Seattle you'll be good for a beer & a bed.

Machog


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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-06-2009, 09:31 PM
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How much is shipping going to cost you? In many cases buying a used bike, riding it for 10K miles and selling it will cost you less! Of course you may have a series of nice farlkes that you would be with out. And making sure its used, not abused, might carry some risk.

If you come in May keep in mind that there areas of the country that still get a little snow then! Heck this June I rode in Wisconsin on a day that never saw 10C and was raining all day. I would say without a doubt avoid: Nebraska, Kansas & Dakotas. Heck even my homeland of Minnesota is huge and relatively boring. Northeastern seaboard has some great roads and brutal traffic. I've experienced London as a pedestrian and Rome as a driver, but if you've never done US freeways... well... don't start in the northeast.

200-300 in a day... How many days you got? I would recommend landing in Virgina, doing the south east states, avoid Florida, its huge, flat and the roads are boring. Move West through Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, north along the Rockies, do Glacier park and Yellowstone, west to Oregon, up to BC. Return through Canada to NY and south back to Virgina. That would be ~16,000KM.

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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-06-2009, 10:48 PM
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If you have the resources and can get away I say go for it. I am betting that if you keep the Versys forum posted and look to join some other forums, most of your trip would not be by yourself if you don't want it to be.

Don't let age stop you. I am back on a motorcycle at 56 after not riding for nearly 40 years. And I live in suburban Chicago with bumper to bumper traffic to contend with.

GO FOR IT!
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