Paul’s Motorcycle Trip Across America – OBHF Ep. 20
We all have dreams. One of mine was to take a motorcycle trip across America.
I can now check that off the list.
From San Diego, CA to New Haven, CT in about two weeks. With stops at Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and more.
Taking a motorcycle trip across America is not something one does lightly. It requires planning. It requires money. It requires a younger man’s body. But I did it. I was pretty tired when it was done. But I did it.
In this episode we talk about:
- My planning resource for the trip
- The highlights
- The lowlights
- My best new piece of gear (thank you Revzilla for the right sale at the right time)
- And more
You can listen to the pod on the blog, on Apple, or your favorite podcast platform.
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- Paul's Motorcycle Trip Across America - OBHF Ep. 20
Paul M Bowers:So I had a motorcycle trip.
Indra Bowers:You had a long bucket list-y motorcycle trip across America.
Paul M Bowers: Bucket list-y, I don’t know if that’s a term that I’m familiar with but yes, it was long and yes I had been thinking about doing it since I was a kid and I can honestly tell you now that I have successfully ridden across America.
Indra Bowers:You did it!
Paul M Bowers:Yeah, it was a fascinating experience; it was very long, I mean the way that I chose to ride it was a very long distance.
My total mileage was forty-five hundred seventy-five miles.
And most of that was not on the freeway. It was these little tiny roads between here and there and was pretty amazing experiences.
Indra Bowers:Those make the trip longer because you’re not going straight?
Paul M Bowers:Well yeah, I mean if there are motorcycling heroes that can get on a bike and ride twelve hundred miles a day and be there you know, in four days or three days, I am no longer a motorcycling hero but it’s much more interesting.
Indra Bowers:And tell our listeners, where your trip route came from?
Paul M Bowers:I believe the website is @gpskevinadventurerides.com and G.P.S. Kevin is an interesting guy. He was a high tech guy who worked for H.P. or something and retired and now he creates these motor rides and some of them are guided. You can actually go sign up.
Siri: I can take you to that website on your iPhone well.
Paul M Bowers:Oh, [Laughter]. My watch, Siri heard it from my watch. Anyway G.P.S. Kevin can do guided trips you can sign up with him and meet a group of like-minded individuals and you go for a ride. They have what people call Ride Yodas. They’re not guides but they can tell you about the rides, they can help you with your G.P.S., they can make sure your bike’s in shape, that kind of thing. And then they launch you on your way.
That’s not what I chose to do. He has a list of self guided rides and this one was a fascinating ride that he created in 2015 for scooters, small displacement Vespas and scooters and he and a group of riders started out in New York and rode to San Francisco.
And because these are small displacement bikes you don’t go on the highways. You’re going on everything but the highways and I thought that’s a pretty fascinating route and I want to give it a try. So my bike is definitely not a scooter it’s kind of the opposite of a scooter.
But still, as he suggested on his website, it’s good for any size bike and it’s a great route and it in fact was a fantastic route. I really enjoyed it, a lot of serendipitous stuff that I got to see that I never would have seen if I had tried to self-plan the ride.
Indra Bowers:So, two weeks on the road or a little bit more maybe.
Paul M Bowers: Yeah, a little more than two weeks.
Indra Bowers:What was the low point?
Paul M Bowers:Well, part of riding in the fall is weather and I’m a Southern California guy, I’ve been in San Diego all my life. You throw some weather at me and it starts getting fatiguing, particularly the cold. There were a couple of days, where it got cold, it was a long route, I was really tired and I pushed to try to get a certain amount of mileage in or reach a certain hotel that I had booked previously.
And those were low points where I was seriously fatigued enough to question my safety and, well, I take that pretty seriously. So those were some low points. It was weather and fatigue.
I got part of the way through the ride and it occurred to me that I’m not young.
Indra Bowers:I was wondering if that was going to come up.
Paul M Bowers:Yet it’s like this is something a young person does. It’s like, you’re almost sixty. Well yeah, I know some people do it and certainly these guys that did it on scooters did it successfully and they’re all about my age.
Indra Bowers:Well a scooter is not the bike you were riding.
Paul M Bowers:Well, in some ways it’s easier but nevertheless it did occur to me that hey stupid, you’re not twenty or thirty anymore and I could feel it. Now I had enough built into the schedule that I was ok and I didn’t have to push really hard. I pushed just because of poor planning. I pushed a little harder on a couple of days than I should have and I probably should have taken a couple more off-bike days.
Now that would have been a better idea but that’s kind of not my personality. I’m very focused, when it comes to motorcycling I’m very focused. Otherwise I’m completely ADHD, look Lucy’s here, did I tell you that Lucy’s here she’s right underneath here.
Indra Bowers: Yeah ok.
Paul MBowers:Oh sorry.
Indra Bowers: Tell us about the high point.
Paul M Bowers:There were a number of them, pretty much any time there was a serendipitous road. I keep riding on and I was prepared for it and it is rather boring. You got through the plains and it’s flat and it’s long. You go through the highway and it’s lonely. It’s called the loneliest highway in the world and guess what, it pretty much is.
Indra Bowers:You weren’t lying.
Paul M Bowers:They were not lying. And the route, the way that it works is, you load it into your G.P.S. in my case G.P.S.’s because I had a few of them which was tremendously helpful. But all of a sudden it’s calling for this weird, I’m looking at a ribbon of highway and it says turn left and I was like really!? Turn left on what appears to be some little road? This is a mistake right? But it will route me through some fantastic places and those can be either woods and you know, a canopy of trees and forest and these kinds of things or it could be a cut through a residential area in this little town, where I could take Main Street and ride through Main Street instead.
Kevin routes through a neighborhood that I never would have seen, I never would have picked a neighborhood, I’m like wow! I’m in a neighborhood
Indra Bowers:And you see how people live? Their yards and they’ll have grass and trees and it’s different from California.
Paul M Bowers:Right, now there were a couple things that I wanted to see specifically and the route went to Mount Rushmore for example. So I got to see Mount Rushmore and I’ve never seen Mount Rushmore. Remember Rushmore is an out of the way place and so I got to see Mt Rushmore, went to Yellowstone so I got to see Old Faithful.
[ Laughter] I got to tell you, how old Faithful was and then the traffic getting out of Yellowstone was just nuts. It was like a twenty-mile traffic jam and I could do some little bit of lane splitting here and there but people were getting mad. There was one woman who actually turned her car to block me. And I’m like lady I’m going to be gone from your life in half a second, you will never see me again, it’s not going to slow you down a bit, it’s not going to change your life at all but you are so angry at me. She’s got kids in her car and she is deflecting her car to get in my way. It’s like come on you’ve got to be kidding me.
But the other thing is there was a number of things that I wanted to see specifically about Rushmore and Yellowstone I wanted to get those picnic baskets by the end of the day, and then I wanted to go to Chicago. The route goes through Chicago and I wanted to go to the Art Institute there and there were a couple of things I wanted to do in Chicago but I started getting so tired and it was running so long and the traffic through Chicago, so I skipped that. I bypassed that, I hauled ass around and I went to Cleveland. Cleveland has the Rock & Roll Hall of fame which I’m a big fan of and I went there and sure enough it was the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.
Now last time I’d been there Jesse and I were there together and it wasn’t very crowded and it was really fun this time it was pretty crowded at least.
Indra Bowers:It was a Saturday I think.
Paul M Bowers:It was and there were a lot of people and so it was fine, it was good. The hotel was really nice and I had a good place to park a bike, so I thought I’m going to take another day. So I took another day and I tried to figure out what the heck I was going to do. So I thought well I’m going to try this art museum and let me tell you this Art Museum in Cleveland was one of the best I’ve been to in the world.
Indra Bowers:That’s a big statement.
Paul M Bowers:It was I’ve been to the Louvre, I’ve been to the Uffizi, I’ve been to all those places but this one the curation was so awesome. Even in things that did not terribly interest me. Most of it did, but the way that the building was, the way that the art was displayed, the architecture of the building itself. It was really a serendipitous experience and I would love to go back with you there and spend some more time there.
Indra Bowers:Oh yeah, I’d love to see Rock N Roll Hall OF Fame, I’ve never been there.
Paul MBowers:So there you go, so those were high points for me. High points were also arriving; I was like I am here.
Indra Bowers:I would say it was quite a sense of relief for me, I can only imagine what it felt like for you.
Paul M Bowers:Well I think for you it’s a different reason, for you’re afraid, you’re afraid I’m going to crash, you’re afraid, you’re afraid that someone is going to..
Indra Bowers:Hit you.
Paul M Bowers: Right, and so there’s a safety issue for you and I am less concerned about that because I’m more in control of that. I am not in control of it but I’m more in control of it. you’re basically a victim of it, an on looker. So it is really out of your control. But I was tired and I reached my goal and it was like great! Took a picture in front of his dorm room and I was done.
Indra Bowers:So other than realizing your age was there anything that surprised you? That you really did not expect?
Paul M Bowers:Well there were certainly things I saw that I did not expect. Well I expected there to be cornfields in Iowa but the route took me on these dirt roads through the middle of nowhere which went on and on it was like being in a giant corn maze Fortunately, I had my route on the G.P.S. now at some point it was getting late and dark and I had to deviate from that. While trying to find my way out of the corn maze was yet another thing and I was running low on fuel which yeah, I thought I’m going to have to camp here and it was forty-two degrees or something which was really unpleasant.
But still these are things that you expect. You expect to find them on the road, you expect to find yourself in time jams and that’s part of having a motorcycle road trip.
It was really flat, a lot of really flat, like you get across the Dakotas.
There were some challenges certainly though there was one day in particular that was fiercely windy and it was one section and if you look on our website I think it’s there certainly on our Facebook, you can look in the images on the Facebook and one in particular was crossing the Missouri River and there’s a long low bridge. I think they might call it a causeway but nevertheless it’s a long low bridge and I’m looking at it and I’m sitting on the side of the bridge and there’s a left to right forty to fifty mile an hour gusting wind coming across there and that’s enough to move the bike across a lane.
And if there’s a truck coming the other direction, it interrupts that wind and you have to learn how to roll with that and it’s very tricky. But when you get out on these low causeways across a river there’s no break in the wind so it’s pushing really, really hard. I sat there for a minute going maybe I should just call it a day. I was nah, I’m going for it. So that was a surprising thing that I don’t encounter everyday in San Diego.
Indra Bowers:Before you left there were a lot of packages, and when say a lot I mean a lot of packages arriving from Amazon. So I’m curious, now that you’ve gone through the ride what was the piece of gear that you were happiest you had procured afterwards?
Paul M Bowers: I have a lot of really good gear, I’m really well equipped for this. This is not my first motorcycle ride. it is certainly my longest but it is not my first so, I already was pretty well equipped. There were things I had to do for the bike and needed new tires but then I used the same tires, it needed new tubes, it needed an oil change all that’s pretty much standard.
But what I did do was I changed helmets. I ride with an Arai X D4 which is a dual sport helmet. It’s sort of looks like a dirt bike helmet but it has a flip shade on it. It’s a great helmet and I love it but it’s not the best choice for long road rides where with too long sustained high speeds it tends to pull on your head and so you have to keep your neck stiff all the time.
So anyway I thought, I need a road riding home for this and so I did a little shopping for good helmets and I only use good helmets which are really expensive and then at the last minute Revzilla had this sale on. I don’t even remember if it’s a cruiser type helmet, I don’t ride a cruiser bike, it’s meant for a more upright riding position and it was on sale and when I say on sale it’s four hundred dollars. You can buy helmets for one hundred dollars but I don’t buy those.
I got it on sale, so they could ship it to me, Revzilla does a great job with this. And by the way Revzilla is not a sponsor although they could be up there. They sent it to me and it was tricky because you should not go on the longest ride of your life, so far, without testing the helmet a lot and I had one ride, a couple hours, to make sure that this helmet would work. And it felt ok before I left and it really came off for me. It was a good helmet kept my neck relatively relaxed, good airflow on it and had good vents although I didn’t need an awful lot of help except for Sacramento which was hotter than hell. So the helmet was the big thing and I am very fortunate to be able to have a helmet like that and it’s there with the bike.
Indra Bowers:OK, perfect lead and tell us about..
Paul M Bowers:It’s a segue.
Indra Bowers:Yeah that is a segue, thank you Paul. So tell us about the bike and what’s next for that bike? Where is the bike living?
Paul M Bowers:Well, the bike lives in what we call our apartment in New Haven Connecticut.
Indra Bowers: Old people [ Laughter].
Paul M Bowers:It’s not in the best part of town and we call it an apartment, I think they call it a storage locker but it’s down in a basement, there’s big ramps in a very old building. That building has got to be one hundred fifty, two hundred years old and it was probably a factory or something. But they divided it into storage locker.
We have a five by ten-foot storage locker. And I put the bike there. It’s on a trickle charger for the battery maintaince. Tanks are completely full with fuel stabilizer in them. So the bike is sitting there and I left most of my street riding gear there, so I can then fly and visit Jesse and throw a leg over the bike and go ride around New England.
Indra Bowers:That sounds wonderful.
Paul M Bowers:Put it back in its apartment and lock it up and keep it there and fly home. It needs a maintenance here, some tires and things, it needs a chain and sprockets. There was a problem with the center stand that needs to be remedied. The head light bulb partially, that’s a LED light at last one of the arrays on it, so I’ve ordered a new one. So there’s a little bit of maintenance to be done and certainly an oil change but with minor maintenance fixes bike will be ready to go and play again.
Indra Bowers:Alright and what’s next for your riding habits.
Paul M Bowers:Well, now it’s winter and so because we live adjacent to the Anza Borrego Desert Park, it’s my favorite riding time of year where mid-week, a group of us meet out at a diner out there and we have some scrambled eggs and stuff and then we go ride in the desert for several hours.
So I truck the small bike I have a smaller version of the bike that now resides in New Haven and truck it out there in the morning have our scrambled eggs, ride around, put it back in the truck and ride home. I’ll drive it home. I’m not sure that there is a lot less to worry about.
Indra Bowers:I still worry.
Paul M Bowers:Well there’s not traffic when I ride like this, when I ride in the winter time….
Paul M Bowers:Here in the desert so that’s one factor. Now ok, I tend to be a little nutty out there but it’s soft sand to fall. So it’s that riding season and that’s one of the things that precipitated this long ride to New Haven was my big bike sits here all winter.
I don’t ride it all the time and then the summer time it gets really hot and so I could say last year I didn’t ride that bike very much and I thought why don’t I just relocate it to somewhere that is more appropriate for those kind of rides, so that’s what I did.
Indra Bowers:Ok thank you for sharing your trip, is there anything I didn’t ask you that you think we should know about you ride?
Paul M Bowers:We didn’t talk about hotels. You know, who else is not a sponsor? Is IHG hotel is not a sponsor and they really should be a sponsor because I stayed in those Holiday Inn’s hotel motel. Holiday Inn. Holiday Inn Express is my favorite. It was always a good stay, they always welcome me because I’m a member.
Indra Bowers:Their good. I stayed there a couple of nights and I have to say I had a really good experience. I stayed in one in Indiana.
Paul M Bowers: Yeah, there was one which was a brand new hotel and just opened like a month before I came in. They say thank you for being a member, I said; that’s great and if you’re so grateful and it moves you to upgrading my room I would happily be open to that and they gave me this suite. This huge suite, it’s huge you know, they’re like four beds in it, two bedrooms a kitchen and who knows I’m staying overnight right?
But I took a picture of me thumbing through my phone that you can find on our Facebook page @ourbirdhasflown.Lots of fun photos from this trip there. Anyway IHG highly endorse them. They’re not a sponsor, but they could be!
Indra Bowers:Ok, I think that wraps it up.
Paul M Bowers:That wraps our show from the Dusty Urban Ham Shack Studio WB6QWDwe’re out thanks for clicking and we’ll hear you next time.