One of the best things about coming home is reflecting on the ride you just had. If I could, I’d love to be heading back out again tomorrow!
That said, there is always something you can learn from a ride, something that worked or didn’t work, that you can apply towards the next one. Here’s a few of the things I learned on this trip.
I didn’t make much mention of it publicly but I decided to go Vegetarian on this trip. I wanted to see what it would be like out in the real world. You’ll notice I didn’t say Vegan. I’m afraid that in the middle of nowhere, the vegan diet would look something like a glass of water and a carrot. Vegetarian though was a different thing altogether. I was amazed at the V. options on so many of the menus. It’s really not hard at all to go V while on the road. There were a few places where Tomm asked for a substitution, usually an A for the B in the BLT. Avocado works just fine by me!
My all time favorite was the vegetarian burrito at the Bit and Spur in Springdale (Zion).
Yes, that says Nopales! My picture totally sucked but believe me – the food rocked!
The stuffed jalapeños were fabulous!
Here’s what I learned: Even though I went V for the entire trip, I came back around 5 pounds heavier! If you look at the bulk of our activity, a fitbit would tell you we were mostly idle. Motoring down the highway doesn’t burn calories. The one day we did would be riding the White Rime Trail, but that was just one day.
When you are on the road you MUST cut down on the food intake.
I brought along way too many multiples of clothing. My packing list had 5+ of almost everything. 5 t-shirts, 5 short socks, 5 long socks, 5 pairs of underwear. Figuring I could make it through half the trip without slowing down for a laundry stop. I did just bring one pair of jeans and one long sleeve shirt. Somethings you don’t really need multiples of.
Here’s what I learned: Every hotel we stayed in had a laundromat. It turns out we did laundry almost every other day. Realistically I could have gotten away with packing 2 of everything (plus what I was wearing). That would have saved a ton of space in my right side saddle bag! Oh, and flip flops are fabulous! They take up so little space and at the end of the day they felt like heaven!
The basic idea for this ride was to camp some, hotel some. I was looking forward to motorcycle camping. Being a retired mountaineer, I already had most of the appropriate gear. This is very different from ‘car’ camping. For the sake of space and weight you want to minimize most everything. Backpacking Rule #1: If it’s not compact, small and light – and serve a vital function, it should be eliminated. If your fork is too long so that the packed pot doesn’t shut, you cut off the end. I was prepared!
Here’s what I learned: While I was probably the most prepared out of the three of us for camping, we also duplicated a ton of stuff. We had three 2 man tents! Why? What we should have done was come up with a community camping list. A 2 man tent is the sweet spot in weight. Go to a three man tent and it’s a bunch more bulk. Carrying just 2 of the two man tents would have been fine. The same goes for cooking pots, stoves and fuel. My MSR stove uses white gas, I believe Ernie’s used cartridges. You need to fight duplication and incompatibility.
And then there’s this… We NEVER camped! We almost camped on the last night in Lee Vining but decided to push through to home. We wanted to remain fluid in our decision making along the trip. Zion was a hotel because we had the girls with us, Moab was a hotel as we needed a home base (and the camping in Moab is minimal). I would have loved to have camped somewhere along the maybe our first night in the sierras, somewhere in the middle of the White Rim Trail, back in the sierras on the way home. If we had gone up to Idaho / Washington / Oregon – we would have had plenty of opportunity along there. But the sad truth is that we never camped.
Those items falling under the category of dedicated riding gear would be – boots, long socks, riding pants, jacket, helmet and gloves. The Tech 3 boots worked great. Make sure you find a pair of boots that feel great as you are going to be in them for a long while. I found some black over the calf socks for riding. black is great because they don’t show the dirt, long is great because you want them to cover the height of your boots.
I bought my riding pants and jacket at the same time a few years ago. I’ve used the jacket much more than the pants. My pants performed perfectly and I loved the added protection along the way. The jacket though… I found out it’s just about worn through in places, doesn’t repel water like it used to (on this day) and the fact is I really need a new jacket.
I love my helmet. The Bell MX-9 Adventure was the right choice. Comfortable, quiet, and well built. I was a little afraid that the visor would drag a little too much wind but it didn’t at all. The visor came in really handy in the early mornings and late afternoon when the it blocked the direct sun.
I packed 3 pairs of gloves, 2 mt bike style and my road style ‘gauntlet’ gloves. Gloves take up so little room. I ended up never using the road gloves and alternating between the two mt bike gloves.
Here’s what I learned: No matter how familiar you are with your equipment you must go through it all, each piece and make sure it’s in good enough condition to make the trip. My jacket really caught me off guard. If it was a longer storm or a colder storm I would have been very miserable.
Knowing we were going to take a bunch of GoPro video I brought my ChromeBook and a 1 terabyte external hard drive – it’s the size of my cell phone. Each night I would take the cards from the cameras and move the files to the HD. Other little things like my chargers and cables mattered too. I had a special bag for just GoPro and a special bag just for Chargers (and it held my HD).
When it came to tools I assembled a small bag of what I thought might be essential tools. Sockets, wrenches, allen wrenches, screwdrivers and pliers. I also tossed in some duct tape, safety wire and zip ties.
Here’s what I learned: There was absolutely no time when the three of us were not together. When it came to chargers and those kind of things – everyone needs to have their own. At night we typically would be charging phones, GoPro’s, my computer, and helmets (the Sena units). It was on my list but I forgot to bring a power strip. That would have made the whole charging thing so much better.
Once you leave the room your only source of power other than battery was on the bike. I charged one of my GoPro’s while riding this way. I had a cig lighter style charger on the handlebar and ran the cable into to the camera in my tank bag. If your Sena charge in the room fails, it’s pretty tough to charge while riding. Tomm had a external battery (similar to this) that he brought that worked great for just this instance. It would easily fit in your chest pocket and you could run the cable up to your helmet.
Next trip I’ll be sure to eat less, talk to the others and work on combining our packing to minimize duplication, and make more definitive decisions about camping – if we didn’t camp we would have much more room and less weight.
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