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post #1 of 24 Old Apr 10th, 2013, 4:44 pm Thread Starter
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How To Plan?

So in 2015, I would like to plan an epic ride out west (from central Ohio) and was looking for a little planning advice. How would you approach a potential 3,000 mile trip?
Bike preparedness? Route Planning? Reservations? In what order do you do things? Am I already behind the 8 ball in planning?

For clarity, heading to South Dakota and Wyoming.

Gotta admit - I am pretty anal. I want to use spreadsheets, etc. to help lay this out visually, but maybe that isn't the right approach? And if it is, does anyone already have something built they would be willing to share?

Looking for any and all advice. Thanks!

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post #2 of 24 Old Apr 10th, 2013, 4:54 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

For the last ten years I have taken at least one 3k trip per year, usually associated with Curve Cowboy Reunion. The first couple I was pretty anal about where I would stay and where I would get gas and how many miles/hours per day. I really enjoyed the planning part but the execution was like going to work with a bunch of deadlines that detracted from rather than enhanced the experience. Now I have a final destination out west with a time a place. I will put kind of a spider web of routes in my gps on how to get there and decide as I go based primarily on weather. I usually stop about 4:30 p.m. and make reservations for where I expect to be by 9:00 p.m. Don't turn the tv on in the hotel room and don't use an alarm as I figure my body can best determine how much rest I need. If I get ahead of schedule then I will turn to the back roads if I get behind I will slab it. I do most of my "sight seeing" on the way out west and while out west. When I leave i usually head straight to the barn 1,500 miles or so over a couple of days. Works for me, your mileage may vary. BTW I always plan to visit family on the way out west, have visited family I have never met before and folks I haven't seen in many years. I don't stay with them but usually have a meal with them.

YMMV

Jeff

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post #3 of 24 Old Apr 10th, 2013, 9:07 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

I like Jeff's comments about not being too rigid with an itinerary. We've done the trip you describe on our LT and had a blast. We had a basic list of things we wanted to see; saw most of them, but saw the most unusual/unexpected things when we weren't looking for them! (like the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN, and the world's largest frying pan in Iowa)

We use a combination of large paper maps, AAA Tour Books, internet info, and a GPS. The paper maps give us the big overall picture, the GPS gives us guidance to gas, hotel, specific locations, etc. I would say that on many days we threw away "the plan" for the next day and chose something close, but different. Maybe you have different goals, so take that for what it's worth...

On our trip we were determined to not come home the same route. Too much to see to duplicate any roads!

One more piece of advice? Be flexible. Don't be too disappointed when something you want to see is closed for some reason, or otherwise unobtainable. There's something just as interesting nearby.

We didn't make any reservations until we were within a day or two of the ultimate destination. Only got turned away once.

Have your bike serviced and ready to do all the miles you expect, and more. Have a printed copy of the BMW dealers list (available on the BMW web site). Have the means (credit card, cash, travelers checks - whatever you prefer) to do extra things along the way. Apologies if that sounds obvious.

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post #4 of 24 Old Apr 10th, 2013, 10:36 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

+1 Jeff's comments

Pick some must see places but leave flexibility in your schedule. You can always evaluate how the day is going mid-afternoon and make adjustments. When you see something interesting pull over and check it out.

While riding through Kansas one time I saw a sign for the Negro Baseball Hall of Fame, so I took the exit and checked it out. Just so happens there was a Jazz museum there too. So I called my dad and told him where I was, 18th and Vine. Long story short this was the same place he had visited in his youth, known as a hot spot for live Jazz. That was truly priceless.


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post #5 of 24 Old Apr 10th, 2013, 10:47 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

We are planning almost 4 week trip to western Canada. I will be riding out to Calgary by myself and my wife will land in Calgary on June 24. I will leave Ontario on the 19th or 20th depending on the weather forecast. On the way out I will go through Michigan's upper Peninsula, over to Minneapolis and I want to be in Billings Montana for the 23rd. Then Calgary airport before 11:00p.m. on the 24th. I have no reservations for the ride out but may make one for Billings. I have made the reservation at a Calgary airport hotel and then for the next four nights in Banff and Jasper after that we will be less organized and will only plan a day or two out. We have taken several long trips in the past and know that weather can have a big impact on how much we can accomplish. We know that we will have to make it to Vancouver on July 15 for Cherie's flight home. We have a general idea of the route we will take but will be flexible so we can spend longer at exploring some area we find interesting or if there is an event along the way we want to attend.

The bike will be fully serviced before I leave and my guess is that the tires will need to be replaced in Vancouver before I head home.

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post #6 of 24 Old Apr 11th, 2013, 12:06 am
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Re: How To Plan?

+2 with Jeff and Greg. When I travel on long trips with a friend of mine, he gets way to ridged and anal about being in a curtain places and times. Once you blast past the midwest and hit the mountains, there are hundreds of roads to ride and things to see. Mt. Rushmore and western S. Dakota is a must. Devils Tower in Wyoming is very cool as well.

One thing to plan for is late afternoon rains in the mountains in the summer. They come on all of a sudden and only last for 20-30 minutes. We have a habit of pulling into the motel by 4:00pm and avoid them.

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post #7 of 24 Old Apr 11th, 2013, 4:56 am Thread Starter
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Re: How To Plan?

This is all great advice and I really appreciate it. I was afraid approaching this like a "project" might take some of the fun & adventure out of it - sounds like it probably would.

I would love to visit some family - however they are even further west in Moab and Portland! LOL

One other thing I didn't mention is that I will likely be solo, so any thoughts around that is welcome as well. I am probably going to invest in a SPOT2.

Thanks and keep the advice coming!

2011 BMW R1200RT - currently ~24k miles; bought new 2/23/12
2007 Honda Rebel - 4,588 learning miles...she served me well...

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post #8 of 24 Old Apr 11th, 2013, 9:34 am
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Re: How To Plan?

I had your same thoughts when I put my trip together how should I approach this &
what is my objective??? scenic landmarks, museums, national parks...
how many miles do I want to ride in a day??? restrictions if any (vacation time)
popular vacation sites make lodging reservation ASAP.
create spreadsheet with names confirmation number address dates phone #
hope this helps and have a great time.

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post #9 of 24 Old Apr 11th, 2013, 11:37 am
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Re: How To Plan?

To keep track of travel plans I use an App called Evernote https://evernote.com/

The great thing about it is that there are versions for phones, tablets and computers and if you make a change on one it will be made on all other devices that share that account and it is free. They have versions for iOS, Android, PC, Mac and if you are Linux user you can access the account via the net. My wife and I share the same account so we are up to date with each other without even trying.

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post #10 of 24 Old Apr 11th, 2013, 5:24 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

Can't argue with any of the previous advice. However, it seems that planning two years in advance might be a bit much leaving you second guessing your plans as time passes. In 2012 I started planning my 4+week trip out west with Lee (See ride tales) in June. We left after Labor Day. That was plenty of time to plan and prep.

My only suggestion is about your daily mileage. How comfortable are you after 200, 300 or 400+ miles? Especially since you're going solo. I prefer one or two long days and then a short distance to my destination. If you plan to hit Yellowstone, do you want to arrive after a 400 mile leg, totally whupped? Or, get there after a short 200 mile stint with time to set up your camp or grab a motel then relax and maybe consider a short ride into the park?

I once decided to extend my time in Nova Scotia by doing the 1500 miles in two days instead of three. I made it in two and spent the third day sleeping in and feeling ragged. Not much fun.

So far the best advice I've read and will concur with is to be flexible. Always have a bag full of options. If it's too damn hot for Mount Rushmore, consider a tour of Jewel Cave where it's nice and cool. Pouring rain? Museums! If there's a bump in your trip, so be it. Don't let it ruin your whole journey.

Finally, you have two years before you head out west. Make sure you do some "shakedown" trips to find out what works and what doesn't. Nothing beats experience in my book.

Keep us posted.

Take care,
Chris

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post #11 of 24 Old Apr 11th, 2013, 9:01 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

I always travel solo. Spot is a must to keep the parents, wife and kids comfortable. Lots of people follow me and since I don't know ahead of time what route I will take or how many miles I will do in a day, it keeps them wondering. While the geographic destinations are always cool, I find that it is the people stories that I remember best. When I stop for the night, I always like to ask the hotel clerk what their town is most well known for. I ALWAYS get a story and it is usually totally unexpected. Feel free to share with the cleaning staff about your trip, you will be amazed at the many kindness' then can extend. If you see someone eating by themselves when you stop for a meal, ask if you can join them, you will learn so much. Ultimately for me its about the folks and if you really want to meet some interesting folks, join us at CCR in Bend.

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post #12 of 24 Old Apr 13th, 2013, 3:56 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

Enjoying this thread. I am doing a solo trip in about a month or so from SoCal to TX to ride the Texas Hill Country. My wife won't ride street, so she is going to fly in to the Dallas area where we will get a hotel and rental car to spend 3-4 days visiting family and friends in the area.

The extent of my pre-planning so far is new tires, purchase of a V1, time to check out Tombstone AZ, the Texas Hill Country and notification to friends and family of when we plan to be in the area and hope to visit with them. Thought about a Spot unit before ... kind of on the fence, but realize it is probably a good idea.

I will keep collecting the communal wisdom posted, thanks!

Chris

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post #13 of 24 Old Apr 13th, 2013, 4:30 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

I completed a trip of 8600 + miles last May and June, from Charlotte, NC through Canada at Soo Ste Marie, Thunder Bay, Winipeg, back into N. Dakota and places West back to Charlotte. I only had company for 1/3 of the way. I used the following rules: No interstates (only to go around a big city), no franchise restaurants, no reservations (except for Yellowstone which you must have in advance), no time table and had a blast. For years, I cut out rides from various bike mags and saved them for just this trip. I laid out the route to encompass as many of these magazine rides as I could and man, did I have some great rides and good restaurants to visit along the way. A lot of work, but it was worth it.

Several years ago, I had a book that listed the 100 most scenic routes in America and planned a two week trip by linking as many of those together as possible. It was the success of that method that generated the magazine route method. The magazine ride method was better, as it was bike specific. The scenic route method was OK, but not bike specific.

Start looking for a place to stay the night around 4 PM and check it before 6 PM. Otherwise you may be riding all night. Don't ask how I know this. When fighting 50 MPH crosswinds all day, make it a day early. I am already planning for the next trip to pick up more of the mag routes.

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post #14 of 24 Old Apr 15th, 2013, 1:10 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraLT
For years, I cut out rides from various bike mags and saved them for just this trip. I laid out the route to encompass as many of these magazine rides as I could and man, did I have some great rides and good restaurants to visit along the way. A lot of work, but it was worth it.
Did the same thing for my trip out West. Mostly I use Favorite Rides and Trip Reports from Rider. After I finish the magazine it comes to an ungraceful end by having said reports ripped out and saved in a folder. And that becomes the basis for trip planning.

I was pretty sure I wasn't the only one doing that.


Greg


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post #15 of 24 Old Apr 15th, 2013, 10:31 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

National Geographic is my middle name
That said I pretty much know where I want to venture. Though not quite a bucket list I have certain things to see close up and personal. Throw in family here and there and the dream of touring on an LT completes the pages of the magazine in my own mind. Over the years I have expanded my foot-print by way of 4-wheels and paper maps the gas station type for us younger folk. Now I can refresh some memories and make some new ones. So my planning is wherever I decide in the off season. This year hopefully its west. And since some of you have already been there done that or live there then I glean from your vast knowledge in these threads to add to the intrigue and easy flow.
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post #16 of 24 Old Apr 15th, 2013, 10:45 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

Always have a plan B. Works every time. Build in a rain day or plan alternate routes. Do make reservations on Friday and Saturday nights. Two first aid kits, air pump, tire repair kit.

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post #17 of 24 Old Apr 26th, 2013, 2:43 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

Free Style is best for me. Yea, I know where I want to go and when I might get there. I usually take the road less traveled and I don't know I'm taking it until I get to the intersection. HUMMMMM, left or right???

I recommend that you look for hot springs resorts. Most have rooms and/or camping. Why stay in a town when you can relax after a great day of riding in a natural hot spring. Just get on the web and look them up, you'll be glad you did!!!!

I'm assuming you'll have the bike in riding shape and carry your gear. The one item I carry and rarely use is a small umbrella. Laugh now!!! But when you wish you had one, you'll be glad you did!!!
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post #18 of 24 Old May 2nd, 2013, 4:48 am Thread Starter
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Re: How To Plan?

Thanks again everyone (been busy at work - hard to check in sometimes...)

I wish I had the time and $ to get to Bend, but my first CCR will need to be somewhere a little closer to Ohio in the near future. Couple of sons graduating High School this year and next year along with a couple of big back to back work implementations have pretty much laid claim to 2013 and 2014. I guess that's why I'm planning for 2015, keeping the dream alive... LOL!

Seriously - this is great information. Be practical and thoughtful in planning, be flexible, have a few "what if" scenarios and above all else have fun...

2011 BMW R1200RT - currently ~24k miles; bought new 2/23/12
2007 Honda Rebel - 4,588 learning miles...she served me well...

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post #19 of 24 Old May 2nd, 2013, 9:00 am
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Re: How To Plan?

I am planning on a 4000 mi trip, leaving later this month. The main reason for the trip is for me to complete my desire to have ridden a motorcycle in all of the lower 48 states. There are 6 states on that list. I started my plan by searching various WEB sites that provide info on things like favorite rides or interesting things to see listed by state. A few of those Sites are listed below. Using my GARMIN mapping software I plotted a bunch of the routes and interesting way points that I found to be in the general direction that I was planning to travel. I then pretty much simply connected the dots to create a closed loop route from my home in Florida through WI, MI, ND, SD, NE, IA, which are the 6 states that I need to complete the lower 48. I am hopeful that planning a route in this manner will provide me with interesting roads to ride as well as many interesting things to see. That route includes only one stretch of interstate. I also planned an alternate or champion route which includes many more miles of interstate as the individual traveling with me is under more of a time constraint than I am. The plan is to use some combination of these two routes to fulfill my 6 state goal while meeting our time constraints.

http://www.motorcycleroads.com/

http://www.motorcycleroads.com/best/?s=75

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/location/nd

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post #20 of 24 Old May 2nd, 2013, 9:39 am
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Re: How To Plan?

If California is in your itinerary I highly recommend www.pashnit.com.


http://www.motorcycleroads.com/best/?s=75
I am surprised Hwy 36 was not on their Top 3 list. I've been through Deals Gap and Hwy 160 through the Ozarks. I do not agree with the list. Deals Gap gets crowded on the weekends with other slow noob bikes or cars plus the best time to go when there are less vehicles there is during the late fall season.

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post #21 of 24 Old May 2nd, 2013, 11:52 am
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Re: How To Plan?

I am doing a 4 corner trip in July/ August time frame. leaving NC, going north to Maine, crossing into Canada, going west till Glacier National Park, crossing back over, hitting Washington, turning back to Yellowstone (only place I have reservations), going south till the Grand Canyon, going west till California, turning east back to Florida and back north home. I plan on staying mostly at KOA kabins along the way if at all possible, if not, hotels are not far. 30 days, no plans other then to go wherever. bike will be serviced, new tires etc and take it day by day. I will carry some tools, but not a whole lot, will probably do an oil change along the way.

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post #22 of 24 Old May 2nd, 2013, 6:17 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sheldan2
I am doing a 4 corner trip in July/ August time frame. leaving NC, going north to Maine, crossing into Canada, going west till Glacier National Park, crossing back over, hitting Washington, turning back to Yellowstone (only place I have reservations), going south till the Grand Canyon, going west till California, turning east back to Florida and back north home. I plan on staying mostly at KOA kabins along the way if at all possible, if not, hotels are not far. 30 days, no plans other then to go wherever. bike will be serviced, new tires etc and take it day by day. I will carry some tools, but not a whole lot, will probably do an oil change along the way.
If you're visiting Yellowstone be aware of timing your exit from the park. I'll assume you're staying at the West Yellowstone KOA. Most tourists will try to leave around sunset. This is also feeding time for elk and bison along the park road which means every car will want to stop to take pictures creating a huge back up. If you wait until dark you run the risk of having a close encounter of the large ungulate kind.

KOA cabins are not too bad. My only criticism was a shortage of outlets needed for charging laptops, cameras, cell phones, smart phones, headsets, etc. A short cord/power strip solves this problem and takes up very little space.

The basic cabins have no water so you might want to consider a collapsible water bladder (MSR, Platypus, etc.) so you have water on hand for drinking and coffee.

The nearest KOA to the South Rim is almost an hour away. There are several motels very close to the main entrance (The Grand and a Best Western). They might be more expensive than the KOA cabin, but the time saved by not having to ride for an hour+ could be worth it.

Going to the Sun Highway was under construction when we were there in 2008. There were times when we had a twenty+ minute wait. Darn the bad luck that we had to get off the bike and enjoy a spectacular view for twenty+ minutes.

Sounds like a great trip. I hope you'll post a ride tale with pictures.

Take care,
Chris

"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God" Kurt Vonnegut

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post #23 of 24 Old May 2nd, 2013, 7:40 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sheldan2
I am doing a 4 corner trip in July/ August time frame. leaving NC, going north to Maine, crossing into Canada, going west till Glacier National Park, crossing back over, hitting Washington, turning back to Yellowstone (only place I have reservations), going south till the Grand Canyon, going west till California, turning east back to Florida and back north home. I plan on staying mostly at KOA kabins along the way if at all possible, if not, hotels are not far. 30 days, no plans other then to go wherever. bike will be serviced, new tires etc and take it day by day. I will carry some tools, but not a whole lot, will probably do an oil change along the way.
What's the game plan for this maneuver?
I have a little trip in store rounding out to 7000 miles. I too want to do an oil change most likely and if lucky in San Diego. I am taking a stock filter and minimal tools. But if out on the road how do you accomplish an impromptu oil change. I am camping so that should take care of half the worry. And basically riding at my leisure with just 2 family tete a tete CA and WA. Yellowstone and Mt Rushmore on the way back to home base. Time-table is mid June. No other restrictions.
ride safe
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post #24 of 24 Old May 2nd, 2013, 7:54 pm
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Re: How To Plan?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tracus
If you're visiting Yellowstone be aware of timing your exit from the park. I'll assume you're staying at the West Yellowstone KOA. Most tourists will try to leave around sunset. This is also feeding time for elk and bison along the park road which means every car will want to stop to take pictures creating a huge back up. If you wait until dark you run the risk of having a close encounter of the large ungulate kind.
KOA cabins are not too bad. My only criticism was a shortage of outlets needed for charging laptops, cameras, cell phones, smart phones, headsets, etc. A short cord/power strip solves this problem and takes up very little space.
Sounds like a great trip. I hope you'll post a ride tale with pictures.
Thanks for the heads up out in the wild.
All your mentions are great but I especially took note of the feeding frenzy and the power cord. Last year for the fall colors on the Blue Ridge I made a note of some of the well prepared campers had extension cords for portable heaters and what nots. I needed it too a couple of real cold nights. So glad for the reminder.
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