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.
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.
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.
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.