Northern States Tour – Reflections

How far did I ride every day?

I always get asked this question.

nst-daily-mileageA faster pace was followed on this trip than prior trips. Daily mileage has been increasing a bit with each long trip and this was no exception. I finished with quite a push, over 1,700 miles in the last four days to get home before hitting bad weather. (Think snow).

Now that you’ve ridden every state, what’s next?

Traveling more interstates than in past trips has me thinking about trying a larger sport/touring bike, specifically the BMW K1600GT. With it, I could cross large distances using the interstate highway system to arrive at a locale quickly and spend more time getting to know that region’s amenities, attractions, and roads.

Geographically, I can see myself doing more of Alaska, Canada, and the US, perhaps regionally focused trips with fast transit to and from, as mentioned above.

How did my gear do during this trip?

I few things gave me grief during the trip.

The Garmin GPS unit, still under warranty, was showing faulty behavior twice. Each time, with the help of the Garmin tech support team, I was able to get it going again. As a result of these calls, I was able to obtain a return authorization and once I send in the unit, the folks at Garmin will send me a replacement.

img_5077The cruise control switch, part of the left-side combination switch failed during the trip. I considered dealing with it until I returned to Seattle, but since I was going to be in Sioux City anyway, I called ahead and they ordered one for me. It was installed the day I arrived. The cost of parts and labor were covered by my extended service package, saving me about $550. I only paid $35 for the expedited shipping of the part. This combo switch has been replaced in the past and I expect it will require future replacement, as well. That’s a shame, given the brand’s reputation.

img_1519My summer gloves wore out completely. They were a few years old now and I wore them all the time.

It was a few days later that I purchased replacements, while I was at the BMW shop in Essex Junction, Vermont.

I bought the BMW Airflow summer gloves, about $110. They aren’t waterproof, but for my tastes, that is fine in a summer glove.

The new gloves got wet several times over the course of this trip and seem to bounce back well. I purchased the large size and, if I needed to replace them, wouldn’t hesitate to purchase this same glove again.

Note, it can be found for about $90 online (Amazon).

tech-mount-gripperNext, my Tech Mount for the cell phone loosened up and in my attempt to tighten it, I overtightened, cracking the nut and making the unit useless for carrying the phone.

I do like this mount system and have ordered a replacement. I just need to be more careful about not over-tightening the next one.  🙂

I did end up replacing the back tire earlier than I expected. The very center threads were down to 3/32nd of an inch after about 7,000 miles. I replaced it and, now that I’m home, will likely replace the front tire with my next service appointment – about 1,000 miles from now.

Finally, I will likely replace my helmet, boots and outer layer  (jacket and pants) over the winter. Helmets get replaced every 5 years; the right boot may not be waterproof anymore (not sure); the outer layer is failing – the pants leak around the seat and are no longer usable. The jacket still works, for the most part, so maybe I will just replace the pants – not sure at this point. I am looking at the Rukka brand as replacements.

In my three years of long distance touring, I have come to appreciate clothing that can tolerate wide ranges of temperatures and conditions. LD Comfort is still my preferred base layer. The long sleeve / long pant base layer can be used at temperatures. It can easily handle the daily / semi-daily wear with quick dry characteristics for easy cleaning. I will likely be purchasing another long set this winter.

I  time, I’ll probably purchase both a cold weather 3-season jacket and a warm weather 3-season jacket, along with a versatile pant. I think I’d like the option of a mesh jacket for tours and rides going forward – one that is well built and protects. I still expect rides to pass through a number of environments and, so weather and temperature changes requiring ‘3-season’ performance. I’ll upgrade my armor in the process.

Do you still like traveling long distances on a motorcycle?

Yes, very much. But for the next few years, while working, I really think focusing on shorter-duration long distance trips are going to result in less stress. For example, 18-day long trips (eight hard-core travel days and ten relaxing days) including staying at nicer hotels and with plenty of time for off-bike activities).

What did you enjoy most and miss most?

I really enjoyed seeing a new region of the country from the seat of a motorcycle. You are out there, in the environment your traveling through. The immersion is pretty intense. I missed Carson’s cooking and my own opportunity to use a kitchen, even if it is to make oatmeal and coffee for myself.

How much does it cost to do this?

I really like 3-star hotels and used them more often on this trip than in the past. I was disappointed with a Hampton Inn, but very satisfied with the Hilton Garden Inn line of hotels, in every case.

I would say my costs this trip were probably $300/week higher than last year – so $1,300 per week, roughly. Motel and hotel prices are up this year and everybody raises prices for last minute arrangements, which I hate. Replacing gear will be expensive this year, or after every three heavy riding seasons. You have to remember to account for that in that estimate.

What was the best part?

Descending Dead Indian Hill from the scenic viewpoint. This was riding the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway on Day 36. It was a beautiful vista and fun to ride.

2 thoughts

  1. These details interest me, even though I do not ride. Thanks for sharing them, Keith. I enjoy your updates and seeing your progress, hearing about your experiences. Back in 1981, when I was 19, I hitchhiked and rode freight trains throughout the West for several months, an adventure I’ll never forget. The road, the solitude, the people, the weather… certain experiences stay with you for many many years. Keep riding safely and seeing new places!

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