Thursday, 5 February 2009

The Bike Dilema

Obviously, if I'm going to do this trip on a bike, I'm going to need to decide what bike I use.

When I first thought a bout doing a big trip I was very keen on a big overlander type trip - Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, down to Tierra del Fuego, as far south as you can go in S.America was top of my list. For this, a big adventure bike like Ewan and Charlie's big BMWs would be called for, fully equiped and loaded with all the latest Touratech gear. Or more likely on my budget, a bike with off-road capabilities, and a couple of panniers!

I've long since abandoned that particular idea (although I'd still love to do it), and the sort of trip I'm planning here could be done on pretty much any sorth of road bike - although some are more suitable than others, I guess, so it would best be a bike with touring potential.

So given that I can use pretty much most kinds of bike, here are the options, as far as I can tell (if you can think of any others, please let me know):
  1. Ship my bike over('04 Suzuki DL1000 - more than capable for this job), and back again afterwards;
  2. Rent a bike when I get there;
  3. Buy a bike when I get there, and sell it at the end;
  4. Order a new Harley Davidson before I go, pick it from the factory in Milwaukee, ride it and then have HD ship it back.

All these options have pros and cons:

  1. Pros - I know just what I'm gonna have when I get there, the bike will be preped and ready to go; I'd like to do it on my bike; provides a talking point when people see the UK plates.
    Cons - Cost; time without the bike before and after the trip, whilst it's in transit; hassle of crating it up before and after the trip.
  2. Pros: Easy to arrange - just turn up and ride.
    Cons: Cost and availability of long term and one way rentals. Can't do anything to the bike to tailor it to suit me
  3. Pros: Could be a low cost option, but risky
    Cons: Hassle - need to find a bike to buy, insurance, registering, license plates, selling it after the trip.
  4. Pros: Easy and zero transportation costs.
    Cons: I don't want a Harley; must be a round trip from Milwaukee - one way not possible.

A few weeks ago I had lunch with a good friend and experienced rider in the US, Dave for some tips and advice. Following that I've pretty much ruled out options 3 and 4.

So, ship my bike, or rent out there? That decision comes back to the main question - How Long?

Doing the sums, it becomes clear that for a trip of more than 3 weeks, it's better to take your bike with you. Less than 3 weeks - then rent. About 3 weeks - six and two threes. Having said that, I worked that out when the exchange rate was closer to 2, might be different now.

Anyway back to that old thorny issue - How Long Am I Going For? This determines the bike I'll use, so needs to be sorted asap.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

How long is long enough?

The longer the better, seems to be the consensus, but this is a bike trip I'm talking about, so there's bound to be a limit - only question is, what is that limit?

I've decided that time will be the limiting parameter for this trip (well, after the money side of things, of course) as it will ultimately determine the route, the bike (mine or rented?), and whether I come back to a wife who's missed me, or one who's started divorce proceedings citing abandonment.

So how long is long enough? Chicken and egg sort of question - it depends what I want to do really. What I want to do, depends on how long I've got.

Well clearly a week isn't; although technically it would be possible to cover the 2000 odd miles of Route 66 in a week, it would be pushing it, with no time to take it all in.

OK, so longer than a week then. What about a year? Nah - too long. People go round the world in a lot less than that. And that's on foot.

So, I'm narrowing it down - somewhere between a week and a year. 6 months still feels too long, and 2 weeks too short. Between 3 weeks and 5 months then.

I decide to be pragmatic and start with a bargaining position of 3 months. That would be plenty of time to do everything I could want to do, before getting bored, so this is the time period I started planning to.

More of that later.......

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Welcome - the first post...

Hello! Welcome to this new blog - my first forray into this medium, but I think it will be fun for me, and hopefully fun and interesting for you, too.

The idea of this blog is to chart the planning and progress of a motorcycle Road Trip I'm going to take around the USA (and maybe a bit of Canada too). This is scheduled for April/May/June 2011 - around the time of a big birthday for me: yes, I'll be 21....... again...... for the 29th time......
How scary is that??? - I still feel like I did when I was nineteen - what the hell happened? (Older, fatter greyer - that's what!). But anyway - back to the point:

Yes, so I'm going to be 50 in a couple of years, and typical of many males my age, I feel a mid-life crisis coming on - the need to prove that I'm not really as old as the number of years would suggest. But instead of getting a convertable Porche and a pnumatic blonde girlfriend half my age (or maybe younger would be better???), I've decided that I will try to fulfil a dream I've had for many, many years, and that is to ride my motorbike from Chicago to LA, on the historic Route 66.

And since I'll be over there, I might as well add some other bits of road on too, but no doubt I'll talk about route planning in many a later post.

So, in short, this blog will chart the planning, and execution of this trip of a lifetime, including the decisions that will have to be made, and the trials & tribulations along the way - I'm sure there will be plenty!

If you have done this already, please let me know your experiences - maybe I'll learn from them? If you haven't, but long to, then maybe this will inspire you....