I’ve read numerous articles about preparing for a long road trip. They universally make a lot of sense telling you which tools to take and why, what to wear and what to avoid drinking etc.etc. My problem is I always suck at taking sage advice. If someone came up to me and asked how to prepare for a long road trip, I would more than likely regurgitate the list of do’s and don’t’s as I recall them. So why, knowing all this, do I completely disregard it all when I ‘prepare’ for a trip?
As has been mentioned before in these pages, Hammer and I are due to head out the day after tomorrow (as I write this), weather permitting, on a 4,000 mile trip... and THEN do the Long Road on the way to the Smoke Out 12, which will be long over by the time you read this. On the face of it, it’s going to be great riding for three weeks straight and logging some serious miles. We’ll both be on rigids, my fuel tank is good for 100 miles at a clip, which is plenty long after a while in the saddle.
I’m not totally oblivious of preparation, this isn’t the first time I’ve logged long miles on the Shovel by any means, and when I’m on the road it seems all I need is protection from the sun, liquids often, and gas stops. The couple of times the Shovel broke down, no amount of ‘tool roll’ zip ties and crescent wrenches would have helped. Both times it was the drive to the Hunt Magneto that was a problem. The first time is was a bearing that went out, the second time it was a non-standard part in the magneto drive that failed. Neither time was a failure of the magneto itself and I still believe in them as a preferred ignition.
I’ve never really taken much in the way of tools with me, just a few basics usually, with the hope that anything more major could be handled by professionals somewhere on the road. Not passing the buck here, but if something is beyond a roadside fix, I’d like to find someone who knows what they are doing with a shop. In previous years there has usually been the ubiquitous ‘chase truck’ anyway, with a cooler full o’ Gatorade, spare oil, plugs, air conditioning etc. Well, there’s none of that this time. Just like those ‘Stampede’ guys, we’ll be out there dealing with stuff as best we can. Of course we won’t be running balls-out every day either.
And then there’s the pain to consider. These trips always hurt, I have a tendency to grip the bars too tight when I’m not thinking about it and usually end up with some nice blisters on my palms after a couple of days. The leg/foot pain is always a consideration, after a while it doesn’t matter where you put your feet. As then there’s the backside pain, this may vary from bike to bike, last year I was in serious pain as we arrived at Rockingham. I know I’m sounding like a whiny baby here, and I don’t mean to, these things don’t stop me from doing the rides, it’s just something that I really should prepare for. This year, I had my Fabricator Kevin Muskrat seat pan recovered by J-Rod over at Hard Luck Designs. He did a cool job and incorporated the HORSE logo nicely. This feels a little stiffer than it did with the gel pad under the naugahide that I’ve been running since it has been a hardtail and I’m hoping I’ll be able to go longer with it like this. So far, the rides around here with the seat have given me optimism. If I could find a spare container of Vicodin that might help also... but maybe Ibuprofin will have to do.
Because we’ve always had the truck, I’ve never had to actually haul anything on the bike, it’s been nice blasting through states unencumbered by the crap people normally have to strap to their bikes for these trips. Yeah, back in ‘the day’ for the first few Smoke Outs... actually the first seven or eight... I had to strap the old saddlebags to the bike and bungee some crap onto the back fender etc. Since the bike has been a rigid (spring 2008) the saddlebag thing won’t work because of the shotgun pipe on the right. I picked up on of those ‘left side’ bags they make to go on Softails or rigids, but they really don’t hold much. How much space do you need? No idea... more than that though. Steve Broyles keeps one on his Panhead bobber ‘Pike nut’ and it has a one gallon gas can in it... and that fills it.
So when I saw the way cool bolt-on rack that Fabricator Kevin designed and built for Hammer’s Knuckle project, I figured that was a good way to go. I hated to ask Kevin to take the time to make me one since he is a busy guy, but he was gracious enough to knock me one up and custom fit it. It’s unpainted at the moment, I’ll probably blast off the rust when I get back and have it powdercoated. I think it’s kick ass, everyone should have one of these babies! I picked up a leather bag from eBay to bungee to it, and so I figure I’m all set. I changed the oil and filter in the Shovel and changed the trans oil also.
I still need to pick up some memory cards for the video camera, since I’m not taking a computer and won’t be able to download the cards. Oh, maybe a pair of boots would be good, and remember to pack the gun case for when we go through Illinois, other than that, what’s the worst that could happen?