“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell
I’ve got one month until I take The Ride. Gathering necessary gear and mapping the route is detailed, granular work that requires sustained focus. I’m getting it done.
The logistics of sleep was my biggest challenge, and I turned to my colleague and fellow motorcyclist, Jim Seida for advice. He suggested a sleeping solution from REI. I bought their Halfdone 2 tent and a self-inflating mattress for the nights I’ll spend camping. My goal is to camp 2/3 of the nights while travelling. I’ll splurge on a hotel every few days to shower and wash clothes.
The bike is shaping up. It took a while, but I’ve got the Corbin saddle and trunk installed. The trunk is about 40 lbs. when it’s empty, and it rides high. It can negatively affect how the bike handles if I’m not mindful of weight distribution.. So, I’m learning to pack all the bulky, light stuff in the trunk and put heavy things like tools, photo gear and water down low in the saddle bags.
I have a few nagging concerns. The first and most important is the butt/back pain that happens during sustained riding. I recently did a three-day ride through the North Cascades, and I was somewhat disappointed with how my new Corbin seat performed. I was uncomfortable after about 45 minutes in the saddle, so I had to stop a lot just to walk around and relieve the pain. Corbin says the saddle requires a 3,000-mile break-in. That’s fine, but I hurt now! After doing some research, I found what looks like a good solution to this middle-age problem. Air Hawk makes motorcycle seat cushions. Reviews commonly say these cushions can easily double your saddle time. Some people claim they can ride all day without pain. I’d be thrilled with two hours of pain free riding. I ordered an Air Hawk cushion a few days ago.
My other concern is about tires. I have 8,000 miles on mine, and they are in great shape. However, a flat tire is a single-point-of-failure, and there are a lot of sharp little objects out there. So, this is a risk I’ve got to minimize. The good news is that catastrophic motorcycle tire blowouts are rare. You’re much more likely to pick up a nail in your tire and develop a very slow leak. You usually discover this problem the next morning while loading the bike.
A flat tire used to be a show-stopper, but some smart engineers have created emergency tire repair kits that allow you to temporarily plug a leak and re-inflate your tire with CO2 cartridges. The idea is that you’ll patch the tire and carefully, slowly ride to the closest motorcycle shop. I’ve now got one of these kits, and I’m mapping out all the motorcycle shops along my route. I view this as insurance. I absolutely hate having to buy the kit, but it’s a purchase that I’ll thank myself for if I end up needing to use it.
There are a lot of other small problems that I still need to deal with, but as a powerful man recently said, “These are very good problems to have.”