Monday, August 30, 2010

Lessons Learned on the Devils Tower Road Trip

We couldn't have asked for a better first road trip. The weather was perfect. The bikes were great. The destination was great. The company was perfect. :-) We even ended up having a house guest to stay in our house while we were away.

We didn't camp so we didn't have to carry nearly as much stuff as we would have otherwise. For our first trip and only a week of travel, I just thought it would be better to spend the extra bucks for our own bed, shower and some air conditioning. Turns out, the chalet was only $4 more a night than the KOA. So, that was a no brainer really.

All of our gear fit inside our side and top cases. Hubby's GL650I had two rear side cases, a top case and a tank bag. My G650GS had two side cases, a top case, a tank bag and two tank panniers. We only had to bungee stuff to a seat once, when hubby's latch got stuck locked after we unloaded on the first night. Fortunately that happened after he had taken everything out of it. He also was able to repair a couple of nights later.

The bike-to-bike communication was a great investment. We bought them just for this trip and I think we did only one test ride. Or maybe we just walked around the house with our helmets on to test them out. At any rate, it was not something we were used to having but is now something we will probably never ride without. That was another good reason not to camp. We needed to charge them each night. Having the ability to talk to each other during the ride enabled me to be the lead rider throughout the trip. I have very poor sense of direction. Hubby can almost always figure out where we need to go. But, when he leads, he told me he constantly checks his mirrors for me. Not for any particular reason but he just does. This slows him down, which really annoys me. I tend to ride up on his back wheel when he's leading. With me in the lead, I can set the pace and he can see me all the time. It works great! :-) We were both very content with that arrangement. With the ability to talk to him, I can ask for directions and not lead us astray. We can also discuss where and when to get gas, when and where to stop for food, when and where to stop to pee, etc. It makes the ride so much easier and more relaxing.

Another invaluable accessory was the evaporative cooling vests, also purchased just for this trip. Wyoming in July is so very hot. Turns out we arrived at our motel in Hullet on the hottest day that year. The vests work in a similar way to the cooldana. You soak them in water for a few minutes so the absorbing gel gets saturated. Lightly wring them out so they aren't dripping. Put them on under the mesh jacket and off you go. Instant A/C! We soaked ours and then put them into over sized zip locked bags and stuffed them into hubby's trunk until we needed them. They stayed wet and we didn't have to find a place to soak them on the road.

We both learned that our stock seats are not so comfy after a hundred miles or so. I learned that I really needed some highway pegs to stretch my legs. (That's already been taken care of by my love!) We had just enough space for all of our stuff - probably more than enough if we really thought about it. We road at night only once but wished we'd had our reflective vests when we did. I think we had a lot of electronic gear but I'm not sure we had too much. All of the chargers and things take up a lot of space. We used a lot of faux packing cubes which made packing and finding things much easier.

The trip as planned worked well for the amount of riding per day. Being our first long trip we wanted to have relatively short travel days without making us too worn out each day. On the way home we rode the most miles to get home on Friday instead of Saturday. That was also a good decision giving us a full weekend to recover before going back to work.

About the only thing I would do differently was to bring a small cooler to keep cold drinks. We wore camelbak packs but it was hard to drink with a full face helmet while riding. I would have liked to have cool drinks once we stopped but that was a minor detail really. Stopping for cold drinks was a good excuse to stretch the legs and resoak our vests and some times even sit in an air conditioned store.

Other than that, I would not have changed one thing! It was a fantastic trip! Happy Anniversary my love! Where should we go next year?? :-)

1 comment:

  1. What communication system did you select?

    This has been a nice series. I enjoy reading trip reports, especially when it covers places that I've never been to before. My last road trip through Colorado and Wyoming was a while back so I really enjoyed your posts.

    Thank you