As I think of this ride, several things immediately come to mind:
• Taking an extended trip alone was good
• Mom and pop places are on the old roads
• MTN homes take some planning
• The RT is a great touring machine
• Weather happens
• Don’t count on technology
When I planned this trip, I had some concerns over being gone for an extended period of time alone. As it turned out, going alone was not bad at all. On the positive side, I made all the decisions, good and bad. Luckily, I had no problems (mechanical, health, or accident) where having someone else with me would have made a big difference. I guess you can’t count on never having a problem, though. I still like riding with Gary, my usual riding partner, but now I know I can do it alone when I want to.
I like going to mom and pop places—both for lodging and for meals. They are usually much more interesting, with stories and histories that can’t be found in the chain places. I especially like meals at these places. Sometimes they have something that they have specialized and for which they are “famous” (at least locally). Sometimes it’s the décor. Sometimes it’s the people there. While Gary will hunt for a place that sells beer, I’m fine without it; many mom and pops places do not sell beer.
On this particular trip, overall I was a little disappointed with the food I encountered. I did have several breakfasts that were terrific (especially the French toast the second morning), but lunches and dinners were not what I wanted them to be. Not sure why, but they weren’t GOOD. They were okay, and none were BAD, but they weren’t delicious like I wanted them to be.
The mom and pop places are usually located on the outskirts of towns, along the old “major” roads. They were built there because that’s where the traffic went. However, when the new roads were built, the chains built along them, and the mom and pop places lost the traffic. But they held on and some still operate. I like them.
Using the Motorcycle Travel Network is good. I’ve now stayed in 3 homes; one near home and two on this trip. Two were great, with hosts that enjoyed talking and sharing stories of rides and bikes. Both went to dinner with me, and both had great breakfasts. One shared no stories nor provided a breakfast—only providing a bed and bathroom. The up side of MTN homes, IMO, is meeting nice people and sharing the stories. The down side is that it takes some planning to line them up for stays, and there’s no “down” time. The sharing takes literally hours, so there’s no time for rest or blogging. I guess there’s no perfect situation.
For serious touring for a rider (only), the RT can’t be beat. Tons of power when wanted. Terrific brakes when needed. Great gas mileage (avg about 48mpg). Runs for hours and hours and just keeps on humming. Great weather protection. Cruise control. Great storage. While there are faster bikes, and while there are cheaper bikes, none compare to the BMW 1200 RT for serious touring.
Every extended trip brings weather issues. Plan on it. This one brought extreme heat on the second day, way up in Illinois! Probably best to always pack the Sahara Vest if it’s even warm, to help cool off. And it can be colder than you’d expect. Up in Canada, when it was cloudy, it got very cool, requiring me to use the heated grips to keep my hands warm. And it can get wet in a hurry. I think I have the best gear available to deal with the weather, but even so, sometimes it gets very uncomfortable. Such is the nature of touring…
Technology.. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. Those who know me well know that I like and use technology a lot. Wireless signals come and go. Data services work and don’t work. Even the GPS that has been rock-solid acted up some times, particularly around the big lakes, showing me off course by big margins, for no reason at all. My point in this rambling is that sometimes technology works to help you do things better or more efficiently; sometimes it is a nuisance.
As I continue to ride the roads of America, I am constantly amazed at the beauty of our nation. We are blessed to have the oceans, the lakes, the mountains, the deserts, the great plains, and the rolling hills that appear as you ride from place to place. I think we take our surroundings for granted, not seeing the beauty of where we are at the moment. Having now ridden 49 states, only missing Hawaii, we have some absolutely fabulous scenery to enjoy.
On this trip, I rode through NC, VA, KY, IN, IL, WI, MN, MI, OH, and WV. And the Province of Ontario, CA. The trip mileage was 4,086, averaging just over 400 miles a day, which was my goal in planning. That’s enough mileage for a day’s ride, unless you’re really trying to make up some time. The bike’s fuel mileage ran from a low of 42.7 to a high of 50.8, and averaging 48.9 over the trip. The highest price for gas was $4.86 per gallon in Canada. Oh, by the way, the bike uses premium, so all the fuel cost more than usual. I spent much more on fuel than anything else. The GPS says I rode 77.5 hours and averaged 52.6 mph on the trip.
So, I’ll close this one out with gratitude that the ride was good and that I had no problems along the way.
Until the next adventure….