Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Long trip advice.

I recently returned from a 1600 mile round trip from Seattle, WA to Dawson Creek, BC, Canada. Dawson Creek is where the AlCan Highway starts/ends. I went with two friends whose intention was to continue on into Alaska. Their ultimate destination was Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. It's the closest a person can get to the North Pole by vehicle in North America.

Their round trip from Dallas, TX to Prudhoe Bay and back was just a bit over 10,000 miles. Yes, ten thousand!

Here's a pic of us leaving my house. Click on the pic if you want to see a larger version.

In comparison, my little 1600 mile jaunt wasn't more than a simple ride through the woods. We were on good roads in great weather, so my 'hardships' consisted of paying over $100 a night for mediocre hotel rooms. It didn't qualify as a trip I'd tell young people about. However, I was reminded of a few handy things to remember when travelling longish distances.

Clothes: Fewer is better. Figure out what you'll actually wear and stick to it. Yes, there's an obvious need to dress in layers so you can regulate your temperature/comfort, but there's no real need to bring 8 days of clothing on a 4 day trip. Just as a safety margin, I always bring an additional ONE of everything I'm wearing in case of an emergency, but it's really retarded to bring 5 shirts and 5 pair of pants on a 2 day trip.

Emergency stuff: Bring it. No, you can't tow your entire tool cabinet behind the bike, but you should have enough stuff to do a reasonable imitation of MacGyver. If you're not mechano-ventive like our hero, bring credit cards and a "get out of jail free" card from AAA or the HSTA. Fix it or tow it. Don't just leave it if something happens.

Cool stuff: Get yourself a roll of Velcro ONE-WRAP in 1" width. This is Velcro strapping with the hooks on one side and the loops on the other side of the strap. This allows you to Velcro the strap to itself! You can make long straps or short straps and since it's got the loop (fuzzy) part on one side, you can strap something to your bike with a product that's self padding and won't scratch the paint! Just Google "velcro one wrap". It's available pretty cheaply on eBay too.

In general: I know I have a tendency to think "I have space so I should fill it." This isn't a good idea when you're travelling. Yes, it might be nice to have something extra in your luggage, but using up all your free space, then adding a tank bag, tail bag, saddle bags and topcase isn't all that much fun. It's a pain to pack. It's a pain to unpack. It's a pain to carry into your hotel room at night, and it's a pain to keep dry. What I'm saying here is, pack what you need and don't start to think you need additional farkles/luggage just because it's possible to add them. Yes, my FJR can carry the equivalent of an efficiency apartment, but there's no need to.

Tunes: I have an iPod Shuffle and several sets of earphones, including custom moulded ones. There is a level of discomfort any time I have earphones in my ears inside my helmet. The helmet moves and that makes the earphones move, and the whole thing makes my ears hurt. What does that mean? It means the tunes don't give me enough enjoyment to offset the eventual discomfort and pain of earphones. I ride like I've ridden for the last 37 years - listening to nothing but wind and road noise. It's not a bad environment.


Broom said...

one more thing that always made a big difference for me is wearing earplugs. saves your hearing and helps your endurance.

nice write up!

Anonymous said...

Not to nit-pick or anything, but Hammerfest in Norway is slightly farther north than Prudhoe Bay, and is of course readily accessible by road from the rest of Europe.

motopacsman said...

Ear plugs are very helpful for some people. Unfortunately they give me the same discomfort I get with headphones or custom plugs. I guess the point is: To each his own in this area.

You're correct. I've edited the text. Thanks for the correction.