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America & Back

Journey of a Lifetime

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Preparation

Be Prepared to Ride (In Anything)


Riding checklist

  • I’ve ridden for an hour straight several times
  • I’ve ridden at night on twisty roads
  • I’ve ridden in the rain
  • I’ve ridden on windy days
  • I’ve ridden in the cold/heat
  • I’ve ridden when tired
  • I’ve used to highway driving and high traffic conditions
  • I’ve ridden different road surfaces/conditions

Riding positions

  • upright
  • laying down
  • leaning off tank to side
  • upright legs out
  • upright one leg on
  • resting on arm on tank
  • hand on hip

Get a bike you like

When it comes to buying a motorcycle it needs to be comfortable for you.  Every motorcycle out there is different when it comes to comfort and the ride.  Comfort can mean a number of things on a motorcycle such as power, handling, and riding position.

Bikes We Like

Bikes We Like

  • Power:  When it comes to power make sure you do not buy a bike that has too much or too little power.  If you buy a bike with too much power, more than you are use to, it may become unsafe and dangerous for you.  The more power the easier it is to break that rear tire loose and possibly go down. A motorcycle with too little power for you can be very uncomfortable because you may not be able to go as fast as you want or passing other vehicles may be an issue.
  • Handling: All motorcycles handle differently but the two most different ones are sport bikes and cruisers.
    • Sport bikes are very aggressive.  These bikes have a lot of power, have an aggressive riding positions, and are made for cornering and speed.  These bikes can be tiring on your back, arms, wrists, and knees, but they handle amazingly.  You can take sharp turns at higher speeds and feel comfortable.  These bikes are more made for shorter trips but from our experience still do great going across the country.
    • Cruisers are more focused on just going slower or just “cruising.”  They are made to be more comfortable and are not aggressive compared to a sport bike.  Cruisers tend to have more storage and passenger room.  These bikes are not made to go fast and handle as well in turns but they are very nice on the highway or just taking it easy on back roads.
  • It is very important to have many different riding positions.  Every bike is different therefore there will be different riding positions.  Make sure you know your riding positions before setting out on a trip.  Good riding positions can make the difference from having a good or bad trip.

Comfort is by far one of the biggest key qualities in a motorcycle.  You need to make sure you will be comfortable or else you will not enjoy the trip to its full potential.  Take the time to find the right motorcycle for you. It is definitely worth it.

Personal note: This trip began with a cruiser and a sport bike.  The original reason I purchased a cruiser was to keep my insurance low, but I’ve always had a desire to have a sport bike.  A few states into the trip and I quickly realized how much I wish I had a sport bike.  I ended up selling my cruiser in North Dakota and purchasing a 2005 Suzuki GSXR.  It was a great decision, but it was equally stressful.

It would have been much better if I had followed my heart and gotten the bike I desired from the beginning.  Many people had told me I would be more comfortable on a cruiser and it made a lot of sense to have one for a trip across the country.  But the truth is, at some point you will be uncomfortable no matter what bike you have; you’re on a motorcycle traveling across the country.  That’s not comfortable.

So it’s important is that you have a bike that you think is worth the moments of discomfort.  You need a bike you can trust to keep you alive, one that you feel right on and that fits well with your riding style.  Pick a bike that you can be proud of, otherwise you will always be wanting something more.

Buy Good Gear


Tent

My tent durning a rain storm in oklahoma city, oklahoma

Why is it important?

Having good gear is absolutely necessary for this kind of trip.The difference between good gear and cheaper gear can be the difference between an incredible trip and a not so good one.When it comes to gear the biggest mistake you can make is going cheap.  You are going to want gear that holds up very well in all conditions and from experience cheap gear tends to hold up very poorly  even in just a short amount of time.

Suggestions

When it comes to paces to buy gear for almost any outdoor activity, REI is the place to shop.  Not only do they sell great products but their customer service and membership deals are fantastic.  “Members get more, including the annual dividend—typically 10% on eligible purchases. Plus, enjoy discounts on rentals and services, special offers and more.”  “We stand behind everything we sell. If at any time your REI purchase doesn’t meet your expectations, you can return it for a replacement or refund. What’s more, if you’re an REI member, you don’t even need a receipt—we’ll have a record of your purchase.”

If you are looking for great gear but do not necessarily want to spend a lot of money check out amazon.com.  They always seem to have incredible deals  but unlike REI the return policy is not nearly as good.

If you decide to buy some cheap gear be very careful an what you buy and from where you buy it.  In our experiences stores such as Walmart and Sports Authority are not places you should shop at for gear when it comes to camping equipment.  Although not the best store for camping gear, Walmart was our main “go to” place on the trip for everyday items such as food and other items we lived off of.

For more detail on our gear check out our gear page.

Links

Take Care of Your Finances


There is already  too much to worry about while traveling across the United States so don’t add your finances to the list; they can easily stress you out on the trip and after it’s over.

If you don’t take adequately prepare you could find yourself losing necessary sleep, becoming mentally useless when navigating, or wishing you weren’t stuck in some random state without any money to get home.

Halfway through the trip you don’t want to realize that:

  • You didn’t put enough money away (keep an eye out for our finances page in the future)
  • You didn’t have a bailout plan that gave you some wiggle room
  • You got charged for a bill you forgot to pay

Automate your credit card minimums

By automating your credit card minimums, you don’t have to worry about paying your bill on time.  If aren’t home to get your bill, it doesn’t matter.  But what about other bills?

Setup online bill pay

Most banks offer online bill pay options.  Take the time to set it up.  Better yet, just set your bills to autocharge your credit card.  Don’t get slammed for a bill you won’t be home to pay for.

Notify credit card company

Fortunately, most credit card companies have gotten really good at preventing fraud.  Unfortunately, they may temporarily suspend your card if they think it got stolen.  Charges at different locations throughout the United States can make them think it was stolen.  Make sure to notify your credit card company that you will be travelling throughout the United States so they can make a note to not shut down your account.

Increase your credit limit

This isn’t necessary, but it can’t hurt.  If you end up needing a bailout or end up having to pay for something you didn’t expect it’s a relief to know your credit can handle it.

Prepare For The Unexpected (Be Open Minded)


No matter how much research you do or how much riding you do before a long trip you are guaranteed to face something unexpected.  For some that won’t be a problem, but for others that could make or break your trip.  It is very important, before you begin any major journey to truly wrap your brain around the idea that peace of mind can be sought at any moment.  It is not something that comes and goes at random, but something that can be controlled.

Understanding this and putting it into practice will help you in life as well as on your trip.

It’s hard to count how many times something went wrong on our journey across America.  However, every time something did go wrong it happened to go wrong at the perfect time.  Appreciating that is what will keep you mentally sane.  Bad things will happen on this trip.  But usually, out of every bad thing, something good can be found.  Start finding it now so you will be used to it on your trip.

The next time you find yourself getting frustrated at something that went wrong, take out a piece of paper and right down 3 good things that came out of it.  You’ll be surprised at how quickly your attitude and your outlook on life changes.

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