Thursday, March 18, 2010

Itinerary Planning

We are booked to fly from Sydney to LA on 2 May - a little over 5 weeks away. Our return flight is on November 9. That's six months and eight days we will be away from home.

Now here's a lesson for anyone silly enough to emulate us. The last day cost us $300 extra for travel insurance. The insurance policy offered to us was nominally for six months but allowed for an extra week at no extra cost. However. we had to take out a 7 month policy because we will be away one day too many. The irony of this is that we lose a day when we leave LA on 7 November, cross the international date line on the way home and arrive in Sydney on 9 November. Had I realised, I would have booked us back a day earlier...

In planning our itinerary, there are several considerations. We want to:
  • be in Brooklyn, Wisconsin around 24/29 June for the "Shindig", a gathering of metal artists we hang out with in cyberspace (we can be found playing in the sandbox);
  • visit many of our friends on the way round;
  • see a lot of places and sights we haven't visited yet; and
  • ride the best motorcycle roads.
Before we started planning we hoped to be able to include more events, such as Biketoberfest in Daytona, and Burning Man in Nevada, but it's impossible to manage. We are limiting ourselves to 200 miles each day as a maximum. A lot of (young) hardcore bikers who think nothing or riding 800 miles a day will think we are feeble, but we will be doing this pretty much every day for over 6 months, and our butts are over 60 years old.

So, very broadly...
From LA we will be travelling up through California to the Pacific northwest (where there are lots of good roads to ride) then taking Highway 1 in Canada across the Rockies to Banff and Calgary. We will head south back into the US before turning east to the Shindig, then continuing on to New England (where there are lots more good roads to ride).  Heading south means riding down the Appalachian mountains where there are yet more great motorcycle roads. From there it's south east through Georgia to the coast and down to Florida. There we make another right hand turn and head west around the Gulf to New Orleans and Texas. We will then spend a few weeks in New Mexico, Colorada, Utah and Arizona riding the most scenic roads in the Rockies and taking in the Grand Canyon and lots of other attractions. Riding west on old Route 66 from Flagstaff, we will return to California for a lap around Death Valley before turning east for Las Vegas. Then it's south across the desert to San Diego before heading north to LA.

Decisions, decisions...

Our friend in LA, Heath, took the bike we were considering for a ride. He found it vibrated more than he expected (he has a japanese 4 cylinder bike) and it left him with tingles in the hands and feet after a 10 minute ride. This doesn't bode well for my riding the bike four hours a day for six months - and I'm twenty years older than Heath, too... After further research I'm really not sure an R1150 RS is the right bike for us. The riding position has a pronounced lean forward, and I'm too old to ride sports bikes.

We took an R1100RT for a test drive in Canberra to check the vibration. This is a fully faired version of the R series bikes. it has an upright riding position, and while I liked that, the full fairing seemed to get in the way of my legs every time I went to put my feet on the ground. I guess I'll have to get used to whatever we buy. For now, I've decided to wait until we get to LA to buy a bike, and hope there is something that we like available immediately.

After spending dozens of hours planning our route around the US, I had us on course to arrive back in LA 4 weeks before we are booked to fly home. This of course is not a bad thing (like getting to LA 4 weeks after our scheduled departure date), but it meant a lot of work revising much of the journey. The good news is we have time to motorcycle around New Hampshire and Maine, spend longer in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, take a trip around Death Valley and factor in some extra rest days.