At the end of March I plan to check off one of my bucket list items, a motorcycle trip across the country. We are members of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA). A fellow GWRRA member has for several years organized a "40 to Phoenix" motorcycle ride. This year will be the 8th trip. The ride starts from Wilmington, NC and roughly follows I-40 to California with a side trip into Mexico. The GWRRA national headquarters is in Phoenix, AZ and many riders turn around there, hence the name "40 to Phoenix". I will turn around at Phoenix.
Not since my 20's when I did a weekend trip on a Honda CB550 have I taken a multi-day motorcycle trip. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. Just ask my wife.
About 100 motorcycles will be traveling on this year's trip. Russ, the organizer, has done a great job of organizing everything. He has negotiated good rates at the motels and each night's dinner is already set up. He divides everyone into groups of 7 motorcycles and each group decides every day how to get from motel to motel.
We have a schedule to keep so a little cold weather or rain is no excuse to not ride. This blog is about my preparations for this trip.
How do I handle rain? With a face shield and a good rain suit. The Frogg Toggs brand is supposed to be "the suit" to wear on a motorcycle in the rain. I don't know. I have ridden "Ruby" the Gold Wing to work for the last 2 1/2 months hoping to ride in the rain to test them out but no luck yet. I hope the jacket and pants work as advertised.
I don't normally like a face shield on my helmet but raindrops hitting my face at 70 MPH really stings so I will be taking a clear face shield to wear in the rain. Most of the time I will wear a helmet visor to block the sunlight and a set of safety glasses from Lowes. They wrap around my face to protect my eyes from wind and road debries and are UV safe. You can also get them from Amazon.
My wife fully supports me going on this trip. She can't handle a two week trip road trip but she is going to fly to Phoenix and spend a couple of days with me. To support my bucket list checkoff, she bought me a Cycle Gear heated jacket liner for Christmas. That thing has changed my life.. and made me a wimp. Below 65°, plug in and turn up the heat! I can ride in 40° weather with the jacket liner and my light weight motorcycle jacket. If I put on the Frogg Toggs jacket as a wind breaker I can handle temperatures down to at least 30°.
I can probably handle lower temperatures but the temps here in NC have not been cold enough yet to test. I've also been surprised that the heated jacket liner makes my entire body feel warmer. I guess keeping the core body temperature warm really does make a difference in the extremities.
A simple piece of gear I call the "Neck Condom" also makes a big difference for cold weather riding. I first put on the heated jacket liner, then my neck condom. The heated jacket liner has heating elements in the collar and the neck condom holds the collar close to my neck. The heat feels really nice. This also prevents cold air from going down my back.
This is my motorcycle jacket I wear over the heated jacket liner. It has extra long sleeves with velcro cuffs. It works well.
On cold mornings with denim jeans the cold air kept finding its way up my pants leg. I looked at a lot of $20-30 solutions but ultimately settled on a solution from Lowes. Canopy bungee cords. They only cost a few dollars and changed my life almost as much as the heated jacket liner. I put one of these around the bottom of each pant leg. No more cold air up the pant leg. They make a huge difference.
Laurie made me buy these boots at Wings over Smokies and they have worked out great. In cold weather I will wear socks with some wool. On warm days I will just wear tall athletic socks. But they have kept my feet warm on 30° rides. The Gold Wing foot warmers may also have had something to do with that.
I tried several types of gloves. I finally found a pair I liked at Gander Mountain. They are soft deer skin with Thinsulate and Gander Mountan had my size, XXL. These gloves have worked great down to 30°.
I purchased finger less gloves with gel palm inserts for riding in normal weather. This will allow me to play with my phone and GPS and the gel palms should isolate my hands from the vibrations of the handle bars. On a couple of long day rides I have noticed some tingling in my hands at the end of the day and I hope these gloves will help with that.
There is something very soothing about cruising down a road in the American Southwest with some classic 70's rock playing loudly on the radio. I want to be able to capture that so I can relive it on a bad day at work. So I looked for a GoPro type of camera to capture video. I settled on the iON Camera Air Pro 3. It accepts a standard tripod mount so I used a quick release mount with some RAM mount accessories to mount the camera on Ruby's handle bars. I have done several tests and I expect to get some great video to share.
Ruby does not have the Honda navigation system. I have a Garmin Nuvi 50 GPS which I put into a RAM mount on Ruby's handle bars. I have used this system for many years with great results. It has enough memory to retain a track log of the entire trip which I will upload to my website when I return home.
I also have a very nice 7 inch HD Garmn Nuvi I will take as a spare. RAM does not make a dedicated mount for this GPS but the do have a universal mount that works. I hope to not have to use this one as the screen is very reflective.
Some folks have had alternator problems with their Honda Gold Wings. My alternator went out a few months ago at around 70k miles. Many members have added a voltage meter to monitor their alternator. When I return from Phoenix I will be traveling alone through some very out of the way places. I want to know my alternator is working well. I found this voltage meter that works great and is readable in sunlight. The installation was easy and I am happy with it.
I want to listen to music on my trip. I have T-Mobile and they have a feature where many streaming music apps do not count against my monthly data allotment. My son Bradley told me to use iHeart radio, so... I will. I have power and an AUX cable routed to the handle bars so I can play music from the iPhone through Ruby's sound system. The iPhone will be mounted using one of these RAM mounts.
I want my wife to know where I am so if I zoom off a desert cliff she knows where to direct the rescue folks. I found a great app Device Locator that can track my location. This is a little geeky but this app can send my location to my website where I then display my location on a Google Map. This will happen every 10 minutes or every time I pass a different cell phone tower. You or my wife can track my location here.
I will be using the Device Locator app on my iPad in the trunk of Ruby. To make sure it has enough juice to get through the day I installed a USB charger in the trunk.
I like flying an American flag from Ruby for two reasons. One, because I am a proud American. Two, I think the fluttering of the flag just might get the attention of other drivers and anything to make me more visible to others is a good thing. I had one previously that slid on the antenna and was held in place with two plastic clips. That one did not last long. I paid way too much for this one but I like how it mounts to the antenna and I think it will last a while.
When I start back from Phoenix I will be traveling alone and going through some very remote places. I have travelled many miles and being just a little prepared has saved my butt many times. I have the following packed on Ruby in case I have tire problems. I have already tested the air compressor and know it will air up my rear tire in about 4 minutes.
I plan to stop in every little Route 66 town that has been bypassed by I-40 between Oklahoma City, OK and Moriarty, NM to take lots of photos. So be sure to follow my blog.
You may be interested in the next article, Day 1, Ride to the Starting Point, Wilmington NC.
The previous article is Motorcycle Ride From Durango to Silverton, Colorado.
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© Bobby Daniel