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Post ride report

dmgatti8264

Member
Member
I had planned to ride across the country and back during a break between jobs. I have been planning the trip since I bought a 2019 Concours last year. I started out from Maine in early June. My plan was to ride from Maine to Seattle and back via a Northern route over 21 days. The interstates in Maine are well-maintained with regular rest areas and I expected the rest of the country to be similar. I planned 350 to 400 mile days since the bike is comfortable and speed limits are often 70 mph. But the first few days, I found myself on the road for 8 to 10.5 hours in 85 to 90 degree heat with bad roads and lots of construction delays. I was surprised by how road quality on the interstate highway system varies from state to state. Some states didn't even have rest areas. They only had parking lots with no trees and a fence to keep you out of the woods. The worst incident was when traffic stopped in rural Indiana in 90 degree heat with no breeze. I could see stopped trucks in both directions for miles. I don't sweat properly and overheat quickly when it gets over 80 and had to pull of under an overpass since there were no trees near the interstate. It occurred to me that I could get into serious overheating trouble with no medical support pretty easily. So this led me to consider aborting the trip. I made it to Madison Wisconsin and took a two rest days to think about my next steps. I was mostly worried that traffic would stop during a 90+ degree day in a rural area and that I would not be able to cool down. Also, my credit card was hacked and shut down by the bank. So, with only a debit card, I decided to turn around and head back to Maine. Many hotels that I stayed at demanded a $200 to $300 cash deposit for people who don't have a credit card. They had special rules for pre-paid credit cards as well. The rural interstates were much better going through Wisconsin, Illinous, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The roads were well-maintained with regularly spaced rest areas and reasonable traffic. I found that I can easily ride 400 miles per day with good roads and sub-80 degree temperatures. And, to my delight, I got 50 mpg in Eco mode at 70 mph. Not bad for a bike with a big engine. I rode about 3700 miles over 10 days.

Highlights on the way back were the Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen, OH, the National Museum of the Air Force outside of Dayton OH, and the American Motorcycle Association Hall of Fame outside of Columbus OH. Bikes, planes and motorcycles; what's not to like? Also, Madison WI is a really nice town that is walkable and has good restaurants. Otherwise, I stayed in small towns mostly as sleep-over stops.

I put new Michelin Pilot Road 4 GTs on the bike before the trip and they performed superbly. They still look great and I hope to get at least another 3500 miles out of them. I'm not a hot-rodder and I'm pretty gentle with the throttle. I found that the tires lost about a pound of air pressure during the trip. To my chagrin, the air chucks at all of the gas stations did NOT fit my bike. So I bought a bicycle frame pump and used that to top off the tires. I would suggest doing this for long trips. The pumps are about a foot long and require about 10 strokes to add a pound of pressure.

For me, lessons learned were that I can't ride 400 miles per day in high heat and in the congested Northeast. If I do this again, I'll plan 300 to 350 miles days in the Northeast and longer days once I get onto rural interstates in the Midwest. I don't know how roads would be in the Northwest. I'm an early riser, so if I can get 300 miles in by noon on a hot day, then I can read in a coffee shop until I check into the hotel. I may also check interstate road condition websites and plan around large construction delays. I was stunned that the interstate was allowed to come to halt in the middle of a rural area. They do a lot of road work at night to avoid this in places that I have lived. I was also surprised at the difference in road conditions between states. Some states had well-maintained interstates and others had crumbling roads that made riding painful and exhausting. I might try to find another time of year to travel as well. I can handle cold better than heat, but I would need the mountain passes in the Rockies to be clear. Maybe May or September would be a better time of year next time. If anyone knows when the passes on I-90 and/or I-94 are generally clear of snow, I'd love to know.

My packing system consisted of colored stuff sacks inside of the hard bags. This worked great and I never futzed around hunting for anything. I could lay my hand on anything that I needed. I kept some food in a soft cooler on the back seat and the food stayed cool all day with a few small bags of ice. The ice came in handy to use when cooling off as well. The hotels that I stayed in all had refrigerators and microwaves. I also made sure to keep at least 2 liters of water on me in case I got stuck somewhere.

I changed the oil and rear drive fluid when I returned. The rear drive fluid was black, which surprised me. But it's an easy thing to change, so I'll do it with every engine oil change. I'll be checking brakes and the final drive in the next few days.
 

texas.devops

South Central AAD
Member
I had planned to ride across the country and back during a break between jobs. I have been planning the trip since I bought a 2019 Concours last year. I started out from Maine in early June. My plan was to ride from Maine to Seattle and back via a Northern route over 21 days. The interstates in Maine are well-maintained with regular rest areas and I expected the rest of the country to be similar. I planned 350 to 400 mile days since the bike is comfortable and speed limits are often 70 mph. But the first few days, I found myself on the road for 8 to 10.5 hours in 85 to 90 degree heat with bad roads and lots of construction delays. I was surprised by how road quality on the interstate highway system varies from state to state. Some states didn't even have rest areas. They only had parking lots with no trees and a fence to keep you out of the woods. The worst incident was when traffic stopped in rural Indiana in 90 degree heat with no breeze. I could see stopped trucks in both directions for miles. I don't sweat properly and overheat quickly when it gets over 80 and had to pull of under an overpass since there were no trees near the interstate. It occurred to me that I could get into serious overheating trouble with no medical support pretty easily. So this led me to consider aborting the trip. I made it to Madison Wisconsin and took a two rest days to think about my next steps. I was mostly worried that traffic would stop during a 90+ degree day in a rural area and that I would not be able to cool down. Also, my credit card was hacked and shut down by the bank. So, with only a debit card, I decided to turn around and head back to Maine. Many hotels that I stayed at demanded a $200 to $300 cash deposit for people who don't have a credit card. They had special rules for pre-paid credit cards as well. The rural interstates were much better going through Wisconsin, Illinous, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The roads were well-maintained with regularly spaced rest areas and reasonable traffic. I found that I can easily ride 400 miles per day with good roads and sub-80 degree temperatures. And, to my delight, I got 50 mpg in Eco mode at 70 mph. Not bad for a bike with a big engine. I rode about 3700 miles over 10 days.

Highlights on the way back were the Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen, OH, the National Museum of the Air Force outside of Dayton OH, and the American Motorcycle Association Hall of Fame outside of Columbus OH. Bikes, planes and motorcycles; what's not to like? Also, Madison WI is a really nice town that is walkable and has good restaurants. Otherwise, I stayed in small towns mostly as sleep-over stops.

I put new Michelin Pilot Road 4 GTs on the bike before the trip and they performed superbly. They still look great and I hope to get at least another 3500 miles out of them. I'm not a hot-rodder and I'm pretty gentle with the throttle. I found that the tires lost about a pound of air pressure during the trip. To my chagrin, the air chucks at all of the gas stations did NOT fit my bike. So I bought a bicycle frame pump and used that to top off the tires. I would suggest doing this for long trips. The pumps are about a foot long and require about 10 strokes to add a pound of pressure.

For me, lessons learned were that I can't ride 400 miles per day in high heat and in the congested Northeast. If I do this again, I'll plan 300 to 350 miles days in the Northeast and longer days once I get onto rural interstates in the Midwest. I don't know how roads would be in the Northwest. I'm an early riser, so if I can get 300 miles in by noon on a hot day, then I can read in a coffee shop until I check into the hotel. I may also check interstate road condition websites and plan around large construction delays. I was stunned that the interstate was allowed to come to halt in the middle of a rural area. They do a lot of road work at night to avoid this in places that I have lived. I was also surprised at the difference in road conditions between states. Some states had well-maintained interstates and others had crumbling roads that made riding painful and exhausting. I might try to find another time of year to travel as well. I can handle cold better than heat, but I would need the mountain passes in the Rockies to be clear. Maybe May or September would be a better time of year next time. If anyone knows when the passes on I-90 and/or I-94 are generally clear of snow, I'd love to know.

My packing system consisted of colored stuff sacks inside of the hard bags. This worked great and I never futzed around hunting for anything. I could lay my hand on anything that I needed. I kept some food in a soft cooler on the back seat and the food stayed cool all day with a few small bags of ice. The ice came in handy to use when cooling off as well. The hotels that I stayed in all had refrigerators and microwaves. I also made sure to keep at least 2 liters of water on me in case I got stuck somewhere.

I changed the oil and rear drive fluid when I returned. The rear drive fluid was black, which surprised me. But it's an easy thing to change, so I'll do it with every engine oil change. I'll be checking brakes and the final drive in the next few days.

Excellent write-up! I'm not at all surprised by the massive highway stand-stills. Even down here in the south we get them along I-10. And I remember them well from when I was a younger man living near Boston and would drive over to the folk's farm to store my bike on blocks in the machine shed for the winter. NY and IN were notorious for long delays and frustrated drivers.

I'd recommend a cool vest for long rides in the summer heat. Also, a camelback will let you store your fluids that you can access to drink without having to stop.


 

dmgatti8264

Member
Member
Yes, I didn't want to upset anyone, but those two states were the worst on this trip. I may avoid I-90 through the upper Midwest and cross a bit further south. I-70 and I-74 through the eastern Midwest were both good. Western NY on I-86 was awesome. Light traffic, winding through hills, and it was early in the morning so it was cool.

A cool vest is an interesting idea. I'll look into it. I ride with a ventilated jacket. I'll think about a camelback too. A lot of cyclists use them. Thanks.
 

texas.devops

South Central AAD
Member
Here's another suggestion for riding in the heat. Daughter got me these for Papa's Day this past weekend. Put it on (after laundry) on Sunday afternoon in the 95F humid Houston heat and was actually surprised. Wore the bottoms under jeans. Didn't wear a shirt over the top, this was right under my mesh jacket. Surprisingly cool while moving, and not as sweltering as I expected when stopped. Pretty inexpensive too.


 

red fox

Member
Member
Couple of cool vests will likely get you thru the hi heat portions of days, but better to pick the moderate months: September and May are everybody's favored riding months (in that order). Im in Pacific NW, any interstate or US hgwy will be snow free before May.

I carry a backup credit card for the logistical reasons you describe...

A welcome to COG, as of your joining this week, is in order. COG's longest running meet (Bun Cooler in Kamiah, Idaho) the long weekend after Mother's Day that might fit your revised riding calendar and destination.
 

Cra-z1000

Member
Member
Probably a smart move to turn around . I took a trip from Texas to Oregon a few years ago leaving in June and had a few turn back thoughts along the way , especially when I hit Needles Ca. And it was around 115 . Grabbed a room at motel 6 just after noon that day...lol . I stopped wherever I could and soaked myself down along the way . I always call my credit card and bank to let them know I'll be out of my norm before trips .
 
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