Spring Motorcycle Trip: Planning

When it comes to Motorcycle Trip Planning I’ve got a system that works for me. I’ve planed several dozen trips, and most of them have gone pretty good. I like to think that what makes them go wrong isn’t the planning. Though I will definitely admit to some bad luck with my group spring trips. I just can’t make any spring trip come together since the Death Valley Disaster of 2013.  Hopefully 2016 will be the year it gets off the ground.

For this Spring I decided to forgo the usual Death Valley Attempt. The early winter/late fall rains we had last year really did a number on some of the roads and despite the fact that I’m sure the flowers will be amazing I’m giving it a pass. Instead I’m hoping to be heading north where I’ve had better luck and I know there are lots of great roads.

This will be the first motorcycle touring trip for my brother and we’re hoping to drag another friend who just started riding along too. I’m still debating what roads to use and how long to make the days since this is going to be pushing the envelope for them quite a bit.

While I’m sure most of my readers know how to plan a trip I thought there might be a few that don’t. Even those who are expert trip planners might get a new insight, and I’ll happily take suggestions in the comments.

Step One:

I normally start with some sort of destination, either a great road that I want to ride, a place I want to see, or friend’s place to visit. Often this is the hardest part. Trying to find someplace new to ride and get to see new roads.  This is especially hard when I’m typically limited to 4 or 5 days sometimes only 3, this really limits how far away you can get from home.

The other main limiting factor especially with group rides is you can’t really expect to ride much more than an average of 400 miles a day. Either the monotony of straight boring roads will kill you or the exhaustion of navigating all those twisty roads will.

I normally start with a combination of Butler Maps, looking at good roads they have highlighted between where I am and where I want to go. Then I get on Google Maps and start picking destinations and dragging my route around on to the good roads.

Step Two:

Once I get a rough route I start breaking it down. First I need to pick places to stay overnight, trying to keep the days to 350-400 miles. I can do more in one day especially if there is a long freeway run in the day, but when you are doing multiple days you can get pretty run down and it is hard to do many long high mileage days in a row.

Step Three:

Now that you have your trip broken in to days you need to break it down even further. Just imagine the huge pain in the ass it would be to run out of gas, to realize the importance of planning your fuel stops. I try to keep them every hundred miles, this way you have plenty of range left if you mess one up. Also one can never be certain  to find a gas station along the awesome back road route you’ve planned or that the stations you find on Google Maps will be open. One hundred miles is also about two hours of riding, which is a good time to stop and stretch your legs and use the restroom anyways.

While doing this I try and figure out where I’m going to eat. Making sure you stop and take a break for food is of course hugely important. Not only do you need to replenish your body, your mind likely needs a break, especially if you’ve been riding hard on twisty roads all morning.

That’s all I do. Though it does take a while to figure out all those stops it really does make for some peace of mind when you’re not wondering where your next fuel stop is when the warning light comes on.

I plan to post something soon on everything else I do for a trip, with gear and motorcycle preparation.

California needs a good north south road besides Hwy One.

California needs a good north south road besides Hwy One.


Posted in Life, Motocycling, Riding, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

FrankenMonster Service: 7,500 miles and valves still in spec!

I got the FrankenMonster back from the shop on Saturday and it’s running as good as ever. I got a nice surprise since it was a little cheaper than they quoted since the valves were still in spec and the air filter was good still. I don’t think I’ve ever had a service where they didn’t have to adjust the valves. Great news and with no other issues it was a stress free visit to the mechanic.

Leaving for work on the wife's Monster. Normally I have to back out, this one time because of the bike swap it was facing forward so I took a picture.

Leaving for work on the wife’s Monster. Normally I have to back out, this one time because of the bike swap it was facing forward so I took a picture.

Regular readers know that I always love getting back on my bike. It isn’t that my wife’s Monster is bad… it just isn’t mine. This is of course made worse by the fact that mine now definitely out grunts her’s.

There is one thing that her bike does that mine doesn’t. Her Monster gets much better gas mileage, which means 3 full round trips to work and back before having to fill up. Granted that last run home always has me wondering if the gas gauge is broken. This is because I keep going way past the time the light on mine would have come on, and eventually past the point where I’m sure I’d be waiting on the side of the road out of gas. All that grunt the FrankenMonter has comes at a price.

One that of course I don’t mind paying.


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Motortcycle Gear: Everything Matters

I did not mean for my blog to focus so much on gear this year but I saw a rider on the freeway the other day and their shoulder bag was all over the place. I was only following them for a couple of miles and it slid around from their back to the side a couple of times. Looked distracting as hell. Which means it was dangerous.

They weren’t wearing much in the way of protective gear either so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that they did not have the right bag either. However, it looked extremely dangerous since not only was it sliding off their back it was over their left shoulder so it was coming down on the throttle side. Any interference with your riding is not a good idea, but this was not fun to watch. Luckily(?) they got off the freeway soon after I saw them so hopefully they got home safely.

There is a reason for all of this motorcycling specific gear: backpacks, helmet inserts, underclothes, etc. All of it makes motorcycling safer and/or at least more comfortable. No one rides as well when they are wet, cold, hot, or distracted by loose straps.

Think about your comfort when you ride, and if something is bugging you, maybe you should fix it.

Look at all this crap I have just to ride around on two wheels and be comfortable and safe.

Look at all this crap I have just to ride around on two wheels and be comfortable and safe.


Posted in Gear, Motocycling, New Rider, Riding | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Kitchen: Tear it out and start over

Another blog about the house remodel, or a what I did last year. Lots and lots of before, during and after pictures of the kitchen. No motorcycle content at all.

The Ramblings of a Cynic

It did not take long for us to start planing what we were going to do with the house. The offer was just barely accepted before we were talking about the things we needed to change or fix and the things we wanted to change.

One of the biggest things we wanted to do was open up the kitchen, this is a very popular thing to do and I really like it. One of the reasons I wanted a larger house was so that I could entertain, and one does not do that easily when trapped in a kitchen. We suspected (correctly) that one of the the two walls that we wanted to take out was load bearing so we came up with some ideas on how to deal with this. Luckily I have a father who is a Civil Engineer and an Uncle in construction so we were able to come…

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90,000 Mile Service

It was time… in fact past time.

I dropped my Motorcycle off at Nichols Sportbike on Tuesday for it’s 15,000 mile interval for the service. The first belt and valve change on the new engine. The FrankenMonster as a whole has over 90,000 miles on it.

It seems to be doing really well, not loosing much if any oil, and no other complaints so hopefully they won’t find anything I missed.

I’m looking forward to riding it home tomorrow. Hopefully the weather holds.

It was hard to say goodbye to my baby.

It was hard to say goodbye to my baby.

Posted in FrankenMonster 695, Motocycling, motorcycle, Motorcycles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Doing Things in the Garage

Now that I have a garage I feel like I should be doing things in it (besides putting in the workbench). I haven’t done much besides check the air pressure on my tires in the last few weeks though.

Last week though I did do a small project. I replaced the grips on the wife’s Monster.  I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, the throttle has been sliding off whenever I rode it the last few times. Luckily we’ve been too busy for the wife to have time to ride her bike so it wasn’t a problem.

Well it was finally time to do something about it. My bike is going in to be serviced soon so I knew I was going to be borrowing her bike. I decided that I had to fix those grips before I was commuting on it, since it really was getting bad.

The before and after on the throttle, the slip on that one was just one ride home.

The before and after on the throttle, the slip on that one was just one ride home.

It’s not a especially hard project, I’ve done it on my bike a few years ago, but I did some quick googling to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything.

The next thing to do was to move my bike out of the way so her’s could be used. It happened to be pouring rain outside but I was confident I could swap them with out putting one out on the driveway.

The motorcycle dolly makes everything easier. Here they are before I started.

The motorcycle dolly makes everything easier. Here they are before I started.

moving motorcycles 2


moving motorcycles 3


Almost Done.

Almost Done.

Pretty easy actually. Really this means I have room for at least one more motorcycle.

And DONE. Bike ready to be pushed into a corner out of the way.

And DONE. Bike ready to be pushed into a corner out of the way.

Posted in Ducati Monster 620, Garage, motorcycle, Motorcycles | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Every Ride is an Adventure

It is one of the main reasons I ride.

Everyday that I ride the motorcycle is usual much better than one when I don’t. There are exceptions but they are few and far between. There is something about going to work on the motorcycle that just is more fun and exciting than getting in the car. For me it’s an adventure going to work on the bike, even going to the store is more exciting.

Why is this?

For one it makes everything harder. There is gear to put on, and then the weather to contend with. You also have to deal with other drivers who are out to kill you through pure lack of attention. Running errands is harder, where do you put the stuff you buy? Where do you put your gear while you shop? All of this and more makes it harder to do anything on a motorcycle.

Riding the motorcycle is still worth it. Which means I do ride when I can, even though some days I do wimp out and decide it is too hard.

Nothing worthwhile is easy.

Adventures aren’t easy.

Winter Rides are definitely worth the effort.

Winter Rides are definitely worth the effort.

Posted in Life, Motocycling, motorcycle, Motorcycles, Riding | Tagged , , | 6 Comments