First "long haul" musings No. FLA to Virginia

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First "long haul" musings No. FLA to Virginia

Post by Skyryder »

To begin, this is the first time I have taken a trip that lasted more than 2 days. It is one of the reasons I have always wanted a 'Wing and while now exactly how I had it planned, was for the most part just plain fun. I learned a lot about "what to do", but even more importantly "what not to do". The trip was from the St. Augustine area to S.W. part of Virginia where I grew up. I won't discuss the routing issues that were a big learning experience. I was pretty pleased with my pre-trip planning as far as clothes are concerned. A background in aviation and an aversion to riding in the rain whenever possible, especially in chilly weather, I paid a lot of attention to the weather forecast and it paid off big time. I was able to arrive at the destination ahead of a big rain system and with a little bit of revised timing got back home on the backside of the one that followed. I read a lot of posts on a few boards about layering clothes and was glad I did, it was a life saver. The only part I neglected was warm gloves, I never thought that heated grips were really necessary....boy, was I WRONG! However, I did validate that using a pair of nitrite mechanics gloves under my "warm" gloves kept the digits toasty. Knee length compression socks with wool hunting socks on top kept the "piggies" comfortable as well. I rode a couple of the mornings at least with temps in the mid-forties and was comfortable, except for the one place on my neck I could never quite keep cold air from finding. The other comfort issue I had was my helmet. The one I had was not comfortable with my glasses as it pressed my ears too hard on the temple pieces. I got new contacts that allowed me to not wear the glasses and thought it would be all good. I was wrong again. I know it is not a good idea to wear a new helmet for the first time on a long ride, but there was NO way I was going back home wearing that head vise of a helmet. The new one is very comfortable thankfully, and the place I bought it in Roanoke really treated me well.
I took a collapsable cooler with Gatorade and some water, glad I did, but when my wife is able to go along, not sure that is going to make the cut, or will have to be secured elsewhere. I made it a point to stop for gas every 150 miles or so to take a rest and more often later in the day. I had planned tow 5-6 hour days, but due to issues the first day on both legs turned into about 8 hours. I took some back roads and did one of my favorite things, which is find some local diner type places to eat lunch or dinner. My first lunch stop in a very small town in Georgia turned into a 90 minute "gab fest" when three local gents asked me if they could join my table and wanted to talk about where I was going, enjoying riding the bike, life in general and a bunch of other topics. It destroyed my planned timing, but was worth every minute!
The original plan was to ride the Skyline Pkwy as part of the route home, that didn't work out due to weather, but my brother reminded me of back way to the Blue Ridge Pkwy, that turned about to be a fun ride as well. Not much time to enjoy the view when you are concentrating on staying in a corner! I found out quickly that I needed to be "speed aware" in the "twisties", when one of the first curves I misjudged my entrance speed and had to push harder on the low side handlebar than ever intended, lesson learned. That was the first time since I was about 18yrs old that I had ridden a couple of roads that presented those challenges and it showed. Plus, before it was on a Honda 350 or 650, not a 'Wing. I have waited a long time to enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway on a motorcycle and it was a glorious day for it, a bit cooler than I would have preferred and the wind was 'brisk", but really fun. A bit of smooth jazz in the helmet and the sun shining in the mountains, just awesome. The last day was mostly interstate due to the weather and that was a bit of a slog, but the bike really does well on the road, very happy with sound level, smoothness and handling.
I almost put the bike down 3 times, and all were due to my inattention to handling and not focusing on the task at hand. Once approaching a gas pump, once making a turn into oncoming traffic and the last one was as I was coming into my driveway at the end of the ride. I was reminded of when I was learning to fly airplanes with a tail wheel and the instructor told me that you have to "fly the plane" until the tie down ropes are secured or you will pay the price. I got lucky this time, and will try hard to make sure there isn't a next time. It also showed my how important it is to continue to practice the skills needed to operate the bike correctly in many situations. I had taken a private lesson about a week before I left on this trip. The Goldwing is the biggest bike I have ever ridden by a bit. This instructor was/is an instructor for the Maryland State Patrol and had been a former motorcycle officer with the NY State police. I chose this course because he was accustomed to teaching people to ride large bikes. As it happened, I suspect part of what I learned that day probably saved me a lot of trouble. One of the things we practiced was avoiding debris in the road, and if you could not, how to maintain control as you rode over it. Early one morning on a 2 lane road in South Carolina, I came over a rise only to find a dead deer laid out perfectly across my entire lane. Too make it even more fun, there was traffic approaching head on in the form of a semi. I was able to slow and avoid the deer using the skills I had learned that day, which was the preferred outcome, I could have gone over the top if necessary, but who knows what damage it would have caused and I am sure at the least the mess would have been terrible to clean off the bike. The money for the class was well spent for sure.
That is about it, the bike never gave me a bit of trouble, which was a new experience for me given my former ride. I am looking forward to the next opportunity for sure, and my wife is eager to join me. I expect I will make at least one more short one and do some more practicing before putting her onboard, but it will be soon. I've got a lot to learn, about packing, how to choose a route, but that is part of the joy. I know this is a bit of a ramble, but I hope it was worth your time to read it. I am grateful for all the advice and suggestions from other members, thank you for sharing your expertise with me. Be safe!

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Re: First "long haul" musings No. FLA to Virginia

Post by WingAdmin »

Fantastic! Sounds like an amazing trip!

And yes, the "brake hard and then swerve" has saved me many times as well. Threshold braking to get the speed down, then off the brakes and swerve hard. Sounds like your course was well worth the time and money!
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Re: First "long haul" musings No. FLA to Virginia

Post by Kryakozavr »

Just make LA-Boston trip.
Was amazing.

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