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Author Topic: Tips, Pointers, and Thoughts
Triumphcaf-
e
Beginner
Posts: 25
Post Tips, Pointers, and Thoughts
on: March 4, 2013, 12:18

I have been been looking forward to this ride for a while, and now I am aproacing my start date. However I notice now that as I am in my planning process I am thrust into a lot of unknowns to me. Then when you search the wed you do not find the caliber of riders that I know are here. I am a motorcycle nut, and it is nothing for me to put 400-500 miles a day on a bike. However on a long endurance run like this it is many consecutive days of riding so I was wondering if I could pose some questions from the individuals that have done these runs.

1) How many miles / Average a day have the people that ran it do?

2) What are the border crossings like in Canada?

3) Any recommendations on "Must Have" gear to pack?

4) Are you normally able to do the whole run without changing tires?

5) How often does everyone change their oil on the trip? (Know it varies on the bike too)?

6) Any other pointer or advice? Would love to hear from everyone!

Thanks!

gelliott
Advanced
Posts: 78
Post Re: Tips, Pointers, and Thoughts
on: March 8, 2013, 10:19

When and where are you starting yours? I'm starting mine on May 4th in San Ysidro, and heading north to Blaine (5/6), then Madawaska (5/12), and finally Key West (5/17).

1) I am planning on 425-550 miles a day.
2) I'm crossing at Sault Ste Marie, and will be on the TCH.
3) Waterproof Riding pants/jacket/gloves, rain suit, tire repair kit, some type of motorcycle lock (I have a Scorpio Alarm), GPS.
4) I have Elite 3 radials on my bike, and do not expect to have to change them.
5) I'm having my bike fully serviced prior to leaving, but will probably have the oil change once.
6) I have received a world of advice, recommendations, do's/dont's, route suggestions, and other tidbits from numerous previous riders (jknorst, dandiego, don adis) on this website and others. These three individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting in person, and went out of their way to answer hundreds of questions. Thanks guys!

I recommend looking at all the ride reports that you can on this website and others.

Triumphcaf-
e
Beginner
Posts: 25
Post Re: Tips, Pointers, and Thoughts
on: March 8, 2013, 13:23

gelliot, Thanks for the reply! I am actually starting my run on May 9th, starting from Key west to Madawaska, Me. Looks like at some point there is a good chance we will cross each other's paths, So hopefully I can meet up with you

1. Like you I am predicting on riding about 500 miles per day, However it will all depend on how I feel.
2. As for Canada, I am thinking about skipping the border crossing all together, I learned it doesn't add that much to my trip, and I have buddies in Western Ny I might see.
3. Thanks for the advice on gear, looks like you and I are on the same page, I have Frog togs(Rain Gear), Electrical pant and shirt liner, a Spot GPS in emergencies, Tire Kit etc... I just bought an alarm for my Bike and am curious to try it out.... Hope it isn't like the old Chevy down the road and just the wind sets it off.
4. Thanks for the tire advice, I am going to try mine the whole run too. They are new and should be ok.
5. Are you having the bike serviced at a dealer, or will you do it? I am thinking about stopping for a half of day near Wisconsin to do mine...
6. Also sound advice on the checking around. I looked at the links here, and on the Iron Butt website and got a lot of info. Seems like the North West, and Florida are consistently rainy that time of year!

Thanks for the reply. It is so very nice to talk to like minded people. Everyone else around me looks at me like I am just Crazy!

cjames
Newbie
Posts: 23
Post Re: Tips, Pointers, and Thoughts
on: March 8, 2013, 13:46

When and where are you starting yours? I'm starting mine on June 1st in Madawaska, heading south to Key West, then west to San Ysidro, and finally heading north to Blaine.

1) I am planning on an average of 400 miles a day. The USA4CT will be 6,800 miles on this route, so 17 days to finish doing 400 miles per day. I have done several long distance trips (Alaska to the Arctic Circle in 2010) and they all average about 400 miles per day.
2) I'm not going to cross into Canada as there is no need on the above route. I have gone into Canada several times on past trips and it is hit and miss as to the hassle!! I recommend crossing only at major border crossings. Took me a couple of hours at a little remote border crossing in North Dakota on my way to Alaska in 2010. The Canadian border guards stripped my bike down (even unpacked my rainsuit and searched the pockets - then they asked me to repack everything!!). I never had more than a 30 second crossing at other times at major crossings!
3) Rain suit, heated gear for the Northwest, cell phone, Spot locator, tire repair kit, have an alarm and pager on my Harley, Zumo GPS & paper maps for backup (my Zumo screen went out on me in Alaska in 2010).
4) I am getting new tires on my Harley next week (Michelin Commander IIs). They should be good for at least 16,000 miles, so I don't plan to need to replace tires in June.
5) I'm coming back through my hometown between Madawaska & Key West and having my local Harley dealership do my 20,000 mile maintenance on my 2012 Ultra Limited (I have a lifetime maintenance contract on it with my dealer so it is FREE). I will have to get an 5,000 miles oil change on the road (somewhere in Oregon).
6) I have read most of the posted ride reports and done a lot of planning from the Internet and routes with Mapsource. Marked a lot of waypoints as to noted motels and places to eat. Got advice from Blake Anderson on a good route around the LA basin. I do plan to cut over onto the Pacific Coast Highway just north of San Francisco to Oregon. Also ride up thru central Oregon and Washington to avoid Portland and Seattle madhouse areas!!

Jim
2012 Harley Ultra Limited
http://jimsmotorcycletrips.blogspot.com/

gelliott
Advanced
Posts: 78
Post Re: Tips, Pointers, and Thoughts
on: March 8, 2013, 17:54

Zach,
Good chance we'll run into each other as I'm heading south from Madawaska, and you heading north from Key West. My current route is keeping myself away from the major metro areas (i.e. Boston, NYC, DC, Baltimore, PHI, etc). I also want to avoid places like Chicago, Detroit, etc. I've been told crossing into Canada at Sault Set Marie and again at Edmudston are no problems. Also, I'm heading back into Canada and take the TCH 2 down to Houlton, and cross back there. I've been told that will save you an hour, and it's a better HWY than US1 south out of Madawaska. I'm more than happy to send you my Googles Map Route if you PM me with your email.

Elliot
2012 Victory Cross Country Tour

sshulman
Administrator
Posts: 192
Post Re: Tips, Pointers, and Thoughts
on: March 8, 2013, 22:36

Quote from Triumphcafe on March 4, 2013, 12:18

1) How many miles / Average a day have the people that ran it do?

2) What are the border crossings like in Canada?

3) Any recommendations on "Must Have" gear to pack?

4) Are you normally able to do the whole run without changing tires?

5) How often does everyone change their oil on the trip? (Know it varies on the bike too)?

6) Any other pointer or advice? Would love to hear from everyone!

Thanks!

Hey Triumph!

I hope you have a great ride on the USA Four Corners and thought I'd throw my two cents in. I rode the USA Four Corners in June 2010 and going to do the USA Four Corners TRUE X so I get to see a whole different part of the country doing the criss-cross thing. I leave on May 17. I have a tendency to ride 500 - 800 miles per day because I like being on the road. Occasionally I'll do only a few hundred miles so I can visit friends. When I was traveling from Blaine to Madawaska I went through Detroit/Windsor into Canada. The wait was about 10 minutes and I was on my way. I followed the St. Lawrence river though Toronto, Montreal and crossed over the river in Quebec City. Then went up the river until the Madawaska crossing back into the USA. It was enjoyable but not sure I would go through Canada again.

You asked about "must have" gear to pack. My suggestion is two pair of gloves in case one pair gets really wet. Nothing is more uncomfortable than wet, cold, hands; unless you have wet cold feet. I wear a pair of waterproof Aerostitch pants and if it's not cold I just wear underwear underneath. It's extremely comfortable and I don't have to pack lots of clothing. Speaking of clothing, my first trips were overpacked and I've learned to pack lighter. Now I find myself washing out my riding shirts in the hotel sink at night and wearing it the next day. It saves me a lot of riding space since I don't need as many shirts. I do laundry about every 5-6 days at a hotel or laundrymat. I used to wear some heavy Alpine boots, but now I wear some great SIDI boots that cover the ankle. They're sturdy enough for protection but lightweight enough to walk around without feeling like you're wearing anchors on your feet. I carry my Gerbing heated vest which just might be the single best investment I've made for riding. I always seem to forget to disconnect the heater cord before dismounting but learned to tie the cord from the battery to a passenger handle so if I dismount without unplugging, I'm not pulling on the cord through the body of the bike. It just unplugs as I get off the bike.

One of the things I did was go to the container store and buy 4 small 3 oz. plastic spray bottles. I fill them with Rainex Window Cleaner. Don't confuse it with Rainex water repellant. It's the best window cleaner I've found for plastic windshields. Far better than Windex. I keep one bottle handy with a towel in an easy accessable spot on my bike to use at gas stops. I also fill a small plastic screw top bottle with a bug and tar remover. There are parts of the country where you'll pick up some stubborn bugs, or worse yet, you'll get on some road that has fresh tar on it. You'll undoubtedly get tar on the bike plastic and if you wait days to clean it off, it can be a real pain to get off. A good bug tar remover (I use Turtle Wax Bug Remover), but anyone good name brand product will work. You won't regret it.

I usually stay at a Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn or something similar along the way. I have a system for taking my stuff into the hotel so I'm not carrying everything in, everytime I stop. Here's what I do. I put all my clothing in whatever compartments I have. I carry a small zipper nylon overnight duffle bag. If nothing were in it it folds up very small, probably 8"x8"x1". I think I paid $12.99 at Target. In it I place a smaller zipper bag that contains travel size shaving cream, tooth paste, deoderant, along with razor, hairbrush, nail clippers, file, scissors, etc. When I leave on my trip I place a fresh pair of underwear, socks, shirt, pants, etc. in it. When I stop for the night I just grab my helmet and bag and go right into the hotel without having to go through my entire bike to bring stuff in. In the morning when I go out to the bike I take out any dirty cloths and place them in a supermarket bag and put the next days cloths back into the zipper bag for my next nights stay. Whenever I stop for the night I never have to fumble through stuff in the dark or wonder what I'm taking in because I put it in the little bag the morning before I started my days ride.

I always make a point of gassing up before I check into a hotel and always reset my tripmeter at every gas stop.

With very little exception I don't make hotel reservations. I usually stop at hotels 5 to 10 miles outside of major towns. I ususally find these locations 10-20% cheaper than city hotels. I also ask for the best rate possible. If you don't ask you'll often get the highest rate possible. I seldom stop before 6 p.m in the day, but if you ever approach an area where hotels are scarce or there is an event in the area and you're worried about lodging for the evening, getting a hotel at 3 to 4 p.m in the afternoon is much easier than 6 or 7 p.m. Lots of people check in early but start early in the day. Personally I like watching the sunrise and it's not unusual for me to start a day between 4 and 6 a.m. 400 miles on the bike before noon makes me smile.

As for servicing my bike, I run Dunlop Elite 3's on my bike and I can get 16 - 18k miles on the rear and about 10 - 12 on the front. If I start a long trip with 6 or 7K on the tires I estimate where I am going to need a tire change and schedule a stop near the dealer. I ALWAYS call the dealer, talk to the service manager and tell him about my trip. I have yet to find a shop that doesn't try to get me on the road ASAP. I always follow-up with a call the day before to remind them I'm coming and unless I'm staying overnight I get there as early as possible. I like to get someones name so they know who I am before I get there. I tip the guy I've been dealing with so he'll take care of the next guy who wants to get on the road quickly. I always get an oil change with tire changes and I use synthetic oil. In the last few years I've replaced tires in Carlisle, PA; Nelson, British Columbia; Austin, Texas; Amarlillo, Texas, and a place in Indiana, but can't remember the City. I have yet to have a bad experience. I will tell you I am a magnet for tire problems. My stops in Amarillo, Nelson, and Austin were all the result of tire puntures. The Amarillo flat caused me to buy my first tire plugger kit AND compressor. I DO NOT suggest buying C02 cartridges instead of a compressor. If you plug a tire and it's not a great seal, you could use up your air only to have to plug it a second time. Did I mention I have bad luck with tires? My Amarillo flat was obtained 275 miles from the dealer where I'd just purchased the NEW bike in Oklahoma City, OK. the day before. (I flew from CA to OK to buy the bike) The bike literally had 275 miles on it. $325 dollars later, I had another new tire. Buy a great tire plugger MOTORYCLE kit AND a compressor. Know how to use it before you leave AND carry a little 3 oz. bottle of soapy water because you'll need to find the hole. The best way to do that if you can't hear the leak is to use the compressor to fill the tire and try to listen for it. If you can't find it, put soapy water over the tire tread area and use the compressor to fill up the tire. As you rotate the tire the soapy water will blow a bubble where the leak is. Great little trick. You'll run out of C02 if you try to find the leak. Replace the tire as soon as possible. I've ridden 1500 miles on a plugged tire but don't like to. Some people say you can ride for the life of the tire. Probably true. With the tire being the only thing between me and hell... I'll replace the tire.

We'll I hope some of you find this useful and your travels are care free, efficient and safe.

See you on the road...

Steve

cjames
Newbie
Posts: 23
Post Re: Tips, Pointers, and Thoughts
on: March 9, 2013, 07:32

Wow, Steve, you sure do have bad luck with tires!! You must be a real expert at plugging and controlling the bike with a flat. Have you tired the "Ride On" tire sealant (http://www.ride-on.com/motorcycle-formula-mot.html)? I now run that in my tires since I had a "blow out" last April and wrecked on I95 in North Carolina. Here are the details of the accident on my blog (http://jimsmotorcycletrips.blogspot.com/2012/03/daytona-trip-last-2-days-for-awhile.html). I have had the Ride On in the tires of my new 2012 for the past 15,500 miles. I have not had another puncture so I don't know first hand how it would do preventing a flat and/or blow out. BTW, the blow out I had last year was on Dunlop Elite 3 tires. The real problem was that the bead of the tire immediately detached from the rim, so my bike was doing 70 mph on the steel rim in contact with concrete pavement. NOT GOOD!! In any case I do plan to run with Ride On in my replacement tires and on my USA4CT. I hope that never happens to me again!!

What tire plug kit do you use on your bike? I know there are several out there and you seem to have a lot of experience of actually doing plugging in the field. Also what compressor do you have? I use a small Slime compressor and it seems to work good.

Jim
2012 Harley Ultra Limited
http://jimsmotorcycletrips.blogspot.com/

jknorst
Administrator
Posts: 92
Post Re: Tips, Pointers, and Thoughts
on: March 9, 2013, 15:41

Quote from Triumphcafe on March 8, 2013, 13:23
...It is so very nice to talk to like minded people. Everyone else around me looks at me like I am just Crazy!

You are! Enjoy it!

As I said once before; It was the worst ride I've ever been on and it was the best ride I've ever been on. Can't wait to do it again.

banderson
Advanced
Posts: 97
Post More Tips, Pointers, and Thoughts
on: March 10, 2013, 19:02

Quote from Triumphcafe on March 4, 2013, 12:18
I have been been looking forward to this ride for a while, and now I am aproacing my start date. However I notice now that as I am in my planning process I am thrust into a lot of unknowns to me. Then when you search the wed you do not find the caliber of riders that I know are here. I am a motorcycle nut, and it is nothing for me to put 400-500 miles a day on a bike. However on a long endurance run like this it is many consecutive days of riding so I was wondering if I could pose some questions from the individuals that have done these runs.

I'll through my pointers in as well. My answers come after your questions. See below:

1) How many miles / Average a day have the people that ran it do?
Take time to smell the roses, visit friends, follow through with a chance encounter. Don't rush it. Plan to use 19 or 20 days, leaving an extra day for an unforeseen problem near the end of your trip. Early problems that steal time can be easily made up. Stay flexible.

2) What are the border crossings like in Canada?
Some folks seem to have a string of bad luck with the border. I don't know if their brand of bike, their attitude or something in the computer that haunts them. My advice is to act friendly and respectful. Look 'em in the eye. And above all, flip up your helmet face if you can. Otherwise take your helmet off for goodness sake. If you are unfortunate and get pulled out of line for a complete shakedown, take it in stride. Its nothing personal. These guys are simply trying their best to do what has to be a tough and mostly boring job. Who appreciates the border guards? Very few people. Remember that a lot of people commute across the border in the big cities. Timing can be tough during rush hour traffic. Look for the auxillary crossings. For instance, there's a terrific crossing about 5 miles east of where I-5 comes into Canada. Take the path least traveled.

3) Any recommendations on "Must Have" gear to pack?
Expect 110 degree afternoons, 30 degree mornings, hours of heavy soaking rain, wind, humidity and hail. Bring the riding clothing necessary to deal with these realities. Perhaps you won't experience any of that. Wouldn't that be nice? But don't count on it. Pack it.

4) Are you normally able to do the whole run without changing tires?
Put new tires on your bike before you begin is my advice. If you have tires that are only half used up, then ask for them back from your local dealer.

5) How often does everyone change their oil on the trip? (Know it varies on the bike too)?
Don't bother with an oil change during the trip. Do it before you leave and bring an extra quart. Any bike can do 10,000 miles once in a while between changes. Don't sweat it.

6) Any other pointer or advice? Would love to hear from everyone!
Stay at out-of-the-way places. Talk to everyone you meet. When you arrive in town and decide to eat first, ask about motels. If you arrive in town and check in first, then see if there's a local person in the lobby or the bar and ask them for eating advice. My experience is most advice you get from the clerk is worthless. Either they are too poor to eat where you want to eat, they are kids themselves and only know where the McDonald's restaurant is and/or they simply have no sophistication, or worse yet, they get a small bounty for every referral to the crappy Chinese Restaurant two doors down. While you should expect to be relatively free-wheeling, do a bit of research. If you land in Memphis without knowing what's going on with the music scene on the night you are there, well, that's just stupid. Is there a major league or minor league baseball game going on in town? Is there a music festival going on at the Seattle Zoo? Is there an air craft carrier doing an open house in Baltimore? You will be traveling during the summer when every town, city and way station has something going on. Be part of that. Do you have a favorite Country music star? Every one of them will be doing the county fairs. And think of all of the fried shit you'll miss out on if you don't checkout the fair at the edge of town.

Thanks!

See you on the road

Blake P. Anderson
SCMA Chairman
(714) 801-3931
BlakePAnderson@gmail.com

lmark
Beginner
Posts: 42
Post Re: Tips, Pointers, and Thoughts
on: March 10, 2013, 22:53

Hey there my friend, GREAT questions!!

Here are my responses.

1) How many miles / Average a day have the people that ran it do?

Ans.: When traveling multiple days, 475 - 575.

2) What are the border crossings like in Canada?

After about 8 crossings, it was simple. They asked a few questions. I gave the answers and I was on the way. Do have your drivers license and passport with you.

3) Any recommendations on "Must Have" gear to pack?

Absolutely. Go here: http://sc-ma.proboards.com <-- and read the Knowledge Base my friend. There is a packing list there for you and a wealth of other info. I hope I do not get myself into trouble sharing the link with you but it is there for research purposes. You can get a great education there but it is HERE where you really need to ask the questions. The aforementioned web site is in mothballs but I am sure you can learn a lot from it.

4) Are you normally able to do the whole run without changing tires?

That depends upon how much tread u have when u start ur ride and how long ur ride is. But it is very common for riders to change tires on the fly. Just be aware for Harley anyway I think they are typically open M-F and Sat. Closed Sunday. And many closed Mondays. Some ARE open Sunday for service. Best bet is M-F and Sat. You have a triumph I guess so just be aware and plan ahead the best u can.

5) How often does everyone change their oil on the trip? (Know it varies on the bike too)?

[color]I ride a Harley Touring Bike but will change it every 5,000 miles. Maybe 3,500 if I am in very hot weather for extended times. Used to put in only Syn3 (Harley Synthetic motor oil) but now just their regular stuff.[/color]

6) Any other pointer or advice? Would love to hear from everyone!

I can talk on a LOT about this. Trying to keep it brief, checkout the site above as well as the IBA AOW http://www.ironbutt.com/tech/aow.cfm <-- I know that is for long distant riders but there is good info here.

Stay hydrated. Play the "What if." game all the time. Enjoy/pace yourself and always watch the road ahead of u and know where the other vehicles are. Stay AWAY from trucks. When their tires blow, you do NOT want to be beside or behind them.

There is A LOT to say here, I will figure others who put their 2 cents in b4 me with the links I shared with you above my friend will suffice.

Ask away, it is a GREAT way to learn. I look forward to hearing your input.

GLAD you asked such great questions!!

BuzzCap7

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