WIP— Ride to Eat

That’s “Works in Progress” and I’m going to post a few excerpts from items that I’m working on to see if there is any interest in these (or feedback from readers.) Please do comment if you would like to see more of something.

This title is “Ride to Eat” and here’s the introduction and along with other parts which might end up in the finished book:

Introduction

About the authors: Pamela J. Dodd is a part time instructor at a local technical college; she has published fiction under that name as well as one other pen name. Her husband’s name is David, and he did contribute to this effort. As Pamela is the principal author, any first person references are from her perspective.

I grew up riding small motorcycles. My husband, David, received a small motorcycle as a young teen. My dad taught me most of my riding skills, but David learned through lots of trial and error. My first ride was a two and a half horsepower minibike, but David began on a Honda 65.

When we learned riding skills, we were merely having fun, traversing pastures and dirt roads near our homes. Both of us upgraded our rides during our teen years. Time passed, of course, and we were occupied with such matters as college and early careers. By the time we were married, in our late 20s, our skills were rusty. Then David took a bad spill going around a curve near Dahlonega. After that, we rode even less, and after a few years of marriage we also became new parents, thus, we sold our bikes.

After a nearly two decade hiatus from riding, when our kids were more or less grown, David bought a used Triumph Sprint. He rode on weekends or an occasional day off, mostly solo, as our former riding companions no longer had any interest. Within a few years, David faced a serious illness. He had often said he wanted us to do some two-wheeled touring in retirement, but as we were unsure of the certainty of a joint retirement, I decided to resume riding. By this time, he had added a Suzuki Burgman 650 to the bike stable. After trying out an older Honda motorcycle, I chose to join the maxi scooter movement, as I really liked the built in storage and the automatic tranny. My first scooter was a Suzuki Burgman 400, which was a surprisingly good tour bike with stellar fuel economy. I currently ride a Honda Silverwing, which also makes a good tour bike, and it is a bit more solid feeling on the road, without being overly large for parking lot maneuvers.

Perhaps out of maturity, we both acquired a lot more safety gear than we used in our youth, including armored jackets, modular helmets, and motorcycle specific pants. (More on that will be addressed in the “gear” section.) Almost immediately, we realized that riding just for fun wasn’t enough motivation to put on all that safety gear that had been perfected since we last rode motorcycles. So, we began doing a bit of touring, with a lot of half-day trips around our area.

During one of our day trips, we were in a parking lot admiring a Harley with lots of “Live to Ride” farkles here and there, and David smiled broadly.

“What” I asked, puzzled.

“We don’t live to ride. We ride to eat.”

There’s a lot of truth in that observation. Since he made that statement, we have enjoyed a lot of roads and food. This small book is our way of sharing the roads and destinations, as well as some touring tips. Obviously, there are motorcyclists who know more about touring or camping, or have a different style of riding, but we hope to inspire some good trips on two wheels.


Part I— Our Touring Tips

Our home base is right outside of Athens, Georgia, so our trips begin there. Of course, you should plan based on your location. In general, we are open to all sorts of destinations, but realistically, lighter traffic, fewer boys in blue, and safe parking lots are very helpful. By and large, the suggestions here are half day or day trips for us, so there will not be much information about over night stays. David and I do research new spots, and while we use various internet review sites, our favorites are Trip Advisor for food and lodging, and Yelp for food and services, such as motorcycle repair.

Where to stay when on the road:

First of all, know that we are what is sometimes termed “credit card campers.” If that term is unfamiliar, we don’t do tents or campgrounds. When we tour, I usually plan our route and reserve rooms at mid-priced hotels. That is our choice. We have met other riders who do pack up a tent and all the required gear. We have also seen riders towing a mini camper behind a Goldwing. I admire the adventurous spirit, as well as the potential cost savings, but as we tour more casually, hotels and the occasional bed and breakfast work for us. (Again, for Northeast Georgia, we have few hotel recommendations, as these suggestions are all day trips for us.)

That said, when we go longer distances, I generally choose mid-priced or lower price chain hotels, with cancellation policies that make sense for motorcyclists. Occasionally, I have altered our plans to avoid bad weather, so this feature is very helpful. Another amenity that I seek is a decent on-site breakfast. Neither of us care to check out before breaking the fast. Nor is putting on all the gear for a ride down the street to a cafe all the that much fun, so we usually read reviews and find a spot with a “free” breakfast.

When touring, we’re usually tired of sitting in the saddle all day, so having a good spot for dinner close by the hotel, that is, within walking distance, is also a good feature. Again, if traveling to a new destination, a combination of reviews and internet mapping can identify potential dinner destinations. A smart phone is your friend in such situations, of course, but I usually create a “short list” of eateries near lodging or along our intended route.

If I choose a bed and breakfast, before I actually book a room, I usually call the innkeepers to gage their reaction to having motorcyclist guests. Again, I generally choose mid-priced options, after reading some reviews online, and thus far, the innkeepers I have picked are fine with it, but I do like to be up-front. Luckily, all of our bikes (maxi-scoots and the even the Triumph) are reasonably quiet, and I explain that to any potential innkeepers, as “peace and quiet” are usually very important to their guests.

In our area of northeastern Georgia, there are few “motorcycle specific” campgrounds or lodging, and we did spend a night at the Lodge at Copperhead just outside of Blairsville. Although it was a bit quirky, we do recommend it.

Luggage and other touring gear:

(For the blog version of this manuscript, I will insert a few links to items on Amazon.)

Hubby likes a dedicated GPS device such as this TomTom; I prefer my phone. Either way, electronic guidance is most helpful, just like in the car. However, you may have to do some fiddling to find the right way to mount your device, as security and weather protection are factors. David has a homemade rig to attach his GPS to his Burgman’s handlebars, as the padded covers on scooter handlebars make mounting devices a bit more difficult than the round bars found on motorcycles. David also added a 12V Receptacle to his bike, since he serves as the primary navigator on our trips, and he needs to keep reliable power going to his GPS. I have a Waterproof Cell Phone Holder that I purchased online. It attaches to the mirror bracket, and I have to rely on the phone’s battery, as I don’t have a convenient power outlet. Of course, if my phone battery fails, I have to charge it elsewhere. Obviously, I seldom act as our navigator. We strongly suggest that travelers also have a paper map as a back up, in case of a technical failure. If your lodging gives written directions, it is good to print those, also.

Although our maxi-scooters all have large (55+ liter) waterproof storage under the seats, that is not enough for touring. We have a few helpful items of “soft luggage” for our trips. My favorite item is a Nelson Rigg CL-1040-TP Expandable Sport Motorcycle Tail Bag; it fastens with adjustable straps that run under the seat of my maxi-scoot. The tail bag comes with a rain cover, but it will resist a moderate rain without it. David has Givi hard bags and a hard tail trunk on the Triumph. When he tours on the Burgman 650, he either uses a  Dry Duffel Bag strapped down on the passenger portion of the seat, or he uses the Nelson Rigg bag. I have used either of those bags; we just switch them out based on our needs at the time. Because the Honda Silverwing is my touring bike, I have added a Bestem hard tail case to it. Although quite inexpensive, this trunk has added enough waterproof storage to hold both a full-face helmet and a jacket.

Regardless of what sort of luggage you add to your touring rig, remember to put the heaviest items down low on the bike. For instance, if you have saddlebags and a tail bag, put those tools and heavy leathers down low, and keep the chips and tee shirts higher up. This will help keep your bike stable. Also, check the manufacturer’s recommendation for gross vehicle weight, and make sure to stay within the load limits.

When doing overnight touring, I pack clothing and gear in large zip-lock bags. This inexpensive method keeps items both organized and dry in the event of heavy rain. I keep the “valuables” in the locking under-seat storage of my scooter. Items that I want handy, from maps to my camera, are in the outer pockets of the tail bag. I also keep a locking bicycle cable in an outer pocket of the tail bag, because it can be used to secure a helmet or a jacket if those items can’t be stored out of sight while we are away from the bikes. Another item to have handy is a basic first aid kit handy, with larger bandages and some anti-bacterial ointment, because the only time I scraped something, it wasn’t a small spot!

We keep small (snack sized) clear plastic bags with insurance and registration information in one of the “glove” boxes built in each scooter. Actually, when the new insurance cards arrive each year, I switch out all of that information for all of our bikes. That way, when we are ready to go, there is never a need to hunt for those items.

Packing light is necessary for extended motorcycle touring. And realistically,  kevlar lined jeans and/or textile riding pants don’t get that dirty while riding down the road, so it is acceptable to wear them for more than one day prior to washing them. I generally bring a change of underwear and socks for several days, and we wear safety gear while riding, including dedicated riding pants as well as jackets, gloves, and so forth. Off bike wear tends to be items that go together and don’t wrinkle much. I also pack yet another zip lock bag with a couple of detergent pods and a dryer sheet so I can do a couple of loads of laundry in any hotel that offers that option. This very much cuts down on how many items of clothing we must carry with us.

For long distance tours, or just for peace of mind, there are a number of items that riders should consider adding to their luggage. Certainly, a good quality but a good LED Flashlight is a must, as are a few bike specific tools. I have a CruzTOOLS Metric Tool Kit, rather than the almost useless one that came with my scooter, so do check your took kit, and be sure what you have is what you’d need for emergency repairs. If yours doesn’t have some zip ties and duct tape, those are handy additions. Spare bulbs and fuses take up very little room and could keep you on the road rather than hunting for a dealership. For roadside repairs, J-B Weld  can be helpful. For bikes with a chain, have a spare master link. A quart of oil and a disposable paper funnel is a good idea, too.

Clearly, touring takes a bit of preparation, but we built our kits up over time, and now we have these items stored in an old wardrobe in the garage.

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