Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vacation Chapter 1

The anticipation of riding my motorcycle 1718 miles to reach Denver, Colorado began to build early. Initially, Repo and I were planning to go in August to attend the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) International Women & Motorcycling Conference in Keystone, Colorado August 19-22, 2009 and stay with our buddy and his new wife. As it turned out, we changed our dates of travel to coincide with Repo's family trip instead. This meant we would have the chance to cheer on Repo's neice in her softball tournament - FUN!!
 There was so much to consider (aka "worry about") before embarking on a trip of such length on our bikes: Our health, the health of our bikes, which route to pick, where might we stop, what to pack both for the journey as well as the week of visiting without bringing too much on the bike, etc. One thing that did not require any discussion was that we both agreed to try for an Iron Butt Association certificate, the Bun Burner 1500, on the way out. In a nutshell, it's an endurance ride of 1500 miles within a 36 hour time frame. We had plenty of miles in front of us, so it was up to us to make it happen. But could we do it?
I made mental checklists of what I might need for various situations.
  1. Riding Gear - Not wearing ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time) was never an option, so I had to consider what gear to wear that would be flexible enough for extreme heat yet still allow for layers when cool. I decided on my everyday Olympia mesh gear (with orange safety vest - I LOVE all the pockets!!), Frogg Toggs for rain and extra warmth, and a Gerbing heated liner for cooler weather but minimal layering.  I planned on wearing my every day Cortech mesh gloves and brought an extra pair of waterproof gloves that would double for colder weather riding if necessary. Plenty of SmartWool socks is always mandatory attire inside my waterproof SIDI boots that are really comfortable.. My underlayer consisted of Under Armour clothing for hot weather. Finally, a camelback for hydration and a waterproof kayak bag from REI for my clothes .
  2. Bike Maintenance - Air compressor with pressure guage and tire patch kit, small tool roll with basic metric tools, spare head light bulb, extra fuses, flares, flashlight, and bike cover.
  3. First Aid Kit w/bug spray
  4. Hotel stays - essentials
  5. What clothes to bring
  6. Medications
  7. Audio Books ( I SO love listening to books in my helmet!)
Repo and I also had the same communication systems installed in our bikes that were expandable to bike-to-bike communications with the addition of a walkie-talkie type radio. We did some research online and purchased Kenwoods and appropriately sized waterproof bags. For a great place to get waterproof bags for your electronics, check out Waterproof Cases. I even picked up a waterproof bag for my StarCom remote from here. It has a clear screen for easy access to the remote's buttons. Nice..
I bought a new Toshiba N310 mini laptop so I would be able to keep up with my homework while on the road. This has turned out to be a fantastic purchase. It's lightweight, compact, yet powerful enough to run all of my applications and surf the internet. Love it!  It has wifi built in, and connecting to any wireless network is extremely easy. It takes up minimal space, and in its bag it fit with room to spare in my top case. I'm still trying to figure out how to use my BB Storm as a modem. I know there has to be a way to do it, but I haven't had any success with it yet. Still trying..

Overall, I felt my luggage was packed extremely well. I brought everything I wanted to bring, and had only the kayak bag strapped to the back seat. This particular bag has integrated loops for straps to go through. Very efficient. I used Rok Straps to cinch the bag down onto the back seat and had minimal drag. Here is a picture of me en route that shows how my bike was configured. The kayak bag was strapped to the seat, and the Kenwood was secured to the kayak bag in its own waterproof bag. Not a bad set up for a two week road trip!
Repo had our IBA documentation printed out and had our departure witness standing by when I arrived at her office in Oakton, VA on June 25th, 14:30. The forms were filled out appropriately, mileage noted, and we were off.
Chapter 2 - The Way to Denver is next...

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