Planning a Cross-Country Motorcycle Trip – OBHF Ep. 15

Paul's been planning a cross-country motorcycle trip for a while.

Paul's been planning a cross-country motorcycle trip for a while.

When Paul told me he was planning a cross-country motorcycle trip, I was both apprehensive and excited for him at the same time. What wife wouldn’t be?! He’s well trained, wears all the right gear and is cautious. The problem is all the car drivers out there who don’t watch out for motorcycles. They’re the ones I worry about.

We have our first Parent Weekend in October in Connecticut and the destination and timing worked our perfectly for Paul’s first trip across the country on his motorcycle. In case you’re wondering, I’m not riding on the back. Nope. Not ever. I will fly to the East Coast and meet him there.

If you’re planning a cross-country motorcycle trip and don’t want to just ride highways, you need to find maps that take you alternative routes. Paul found just such a map by someone who traveled via Vespa scooter across the country.

One of Paul’s requirements was that the trip take him to parts of the country he hasn’t seen yet. His route is through the northern parts of America including Wyoming, Nebraska, and both Dakotas before dropping through Illinois, Indiana and then into the Northeast. He should see some beautiful country, especially Yellowstone, which I am just a bit jealous about.

Planning a cross-country motorcycle trip requires lots of gear.

He really loves his motorcycles.

Paul rides an incredible KTM 990 and has a boatload of gear including two iPhones (one strapped to the bike, one inside his suit), a SPOT device, and a Garmin InReach. He’s using Wolfman saddlebags, wears Sidi Crossfire moto boots, a Motoport Kevlar mesh riding suit and Arai helmet. He loves RevZilla and visited them regularly as he began planning a cross-country motorcycle trip.

Thankfully, he’s buttoned up when it comes to being prepared and defensive.

In this week’s episode you’ll learn:

  • About our agreement regarding telling not asking
  • The importance of good gear
  • Paul’s personal goal of slowing down and enjoying the journey
  • The thing that worries Paul the most about the trip (it’s not cars)
  • And so much more

You can listen to the pod on the blog, on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. We’re so glad you’re listening! And if you like what you hear, please give us a top rating on Apple, it makes a difference and we’ll be forever grateful!

Proudly Sponsored by:

National Conflict Resolution Center

Green Fresh Florals:

  • Planning a Cross-Country Motorcycle Trip Transcript - Podcast Ep. 15


    This our bird has flown podcast is proud to be sponsored by the National Conflict Resolution Center at out their programs for reducing and eliminating conflict in the workplace, relationships between businesses whatever you have. The National Conflict Resolution Center has a way to solve conflicts.

    And our friend Carlos at Fresh Florals one of San Diego’s premier florists. We highly recommend them and we’re proud to have both of them sponsoring the Our Bird Has Flown podcast.

    From the Dusty Urban Ham Shack studio of WB6QWD lit by a single Edison bulb hanging from the ceiling I’m Paul M Bowers [Singing: Paul M Bowers]thank you ladies and this is the Our Bird Has Flown podcast. [World Wide].


    So welcome to this episode of the Dusty Urban Ham Shack based WB6QWD Our Bird Has Flown podcast and I’m your host Paul…

    Indra Bowers:Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on a second there mister.

    Paul M Bowers:What do you mean whoa, I’m no horse.

    Indra Bowers:I’m the host today.

    Paul M Bowers:You’re the host?

    Indra Bowers: Yeah, I’m taking over the reins.

    Paul M Bowers:Oh! You think you can do it.

    Indra Bowers:[Laughs] I’ve had good schooling.

    Paul M Bowers:You’ve had schooling?

    Indra Bowers:[Laughs] I think I know what to do here.

    Paul M Bowers:Fine go ahead, you just go ahead and try. Go on, ready in three, two.

    Indra Bowers:Okay welcome everybody to the latest episode of the Our Bird Has Flown podcast here from the Dusty Urban Ham Shack Studio W I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, wbq 6…

    Paul M Bowers:Whisky Delta and dear listeners if you hear any thumping that’s our dog Lucy she’s thumping the table.

    Indra Bowers:She wants in on the pod.

    Paul M Bowers:No!

    Indra Bowers:Okay.

    Paul M Bowers:But she doesn’t talk well so.

    Indra Bowers:Oh, but she’s sweet as pie. Alright..

    Paul M Bowers:She sweet as a toast.

    Indra Bowers:Hey, everybody we’ve got an interesting show today. I get to interview Paul. She is panting, you’re probably going to hear that too. I’m interviewing Paul today because he’s about to embark on an epic journey.

    And he’s planning a cross-country motorcycle trip!

    Paul M Bowers:  So wait I get to talk about myself this whole time?

    Indra Bowers:I’m going to ask you a few questions.

    Paul M Bowers:Well that means I get to talk about myself.

    Indra Bowers: Well yeah.

    Paul M Bowers:Well, that’s what I’m talking about, that’s my favorite subject. [Laughs]

    Indra Bowers:So instead of you interviewing, I’m going to interview you.  Alright?

    Paul M Bowers:Okay, now remember, project.

    Indra Bowers:Oh! I am.

    Paul M Bowers: Okay good,alright.

    Indra Bowers: Ok, can everybody hear me?

    Paul M Bower:[Mocking]

    Indra Bowers:Usually everyone can hear me.

    Paul M Bowers: [Mocking] Mr. Bravo 6ku

    Indra Bowers: Okay… so, let’s begin.

    Paul M Bowers: Alright.

    Indra Bowers:Let’s begin, alright, so by the time.

    Paul M Bowers:I was born…

    Indra Bowers:Aha by the time our listeners hear this your epic quest will have begun.

    Paul M Bowers:  Okay.

    Indra Bowers:I want to roll this back a little bit, let’s start with your love of motorcycles

    Paul M Bowers:Mm-hmm.

    Indra Bowers:And how that started?

    Paul M Bowers:Now, would that be an addiction?

    Indra Bowers: I’m trying to be kind here.

    Paul M Bowers:An obsession[Laughs].

    Indra Bowers:I’m trying to be nice here.

    Paul M Bowers:  I had for a very long time and it started with bicycles but I was not allowed motorcycles when I was a kid because my parents were medical folks and my dad saw all kinds of horrible accidents and things on motorcycles and so, we were just told no, we weren’t allowed to do that. Which means, no means just don’t let them see it, that’s not what they meant.

    Indra Bowers:Oh! Sneaky Sneakerson.

    Paul M Bowers:So it became forbidden fruit, which as we know is even more attractive.

    Indra Bowers:Oh yeah.

    Paul M Bowers:So I started out riding mini bikes, little taco mini bikes with Briggs & Stratton motors in them and pull starters. Rode those for a little while and then graduated to the Honda mini trail that my buddy Dave Stack down the street had.

    Indra Bowers:How old were you at that point?

    Paul M Bowers:I started a mini bike at about ten or eleven.

    Indra Bowers:Wow! Yeah?

    Paul M Bowers:Because the kids down the street, we lived in the country at the time and I mean, country.

    Indra Bowers:Wow! Country for San Diego.

    Paul M Bowers:Yeah, this suburb. Right?

    Indra Bowers:Yeah.

    Paul M Bowers:But we had some trails out there, some dirt trails and so we would go ride the taco mini bike and it had no suspension it was just an evil thing. Nevertheless it was fun.

    Then I was about ten years old and then we moved into a more urban area but one of the more permissive parents, his kid had a Honda Mini trail 70 and I rode that a few times. The one with a very close together handlebar.

    Later on my buddy Craig down the street had a Suzuki TS 250 and he had a Honda 50 mini Cub step through that I rode a few times. Then finally at about 16 or 17 I started riding my buddy’s Yamaha 175 which was great. That was a real motorcycle. Then I had three wheelers for a while, go to the desert ride three wheelers.

    Indra Bowers:I didn’t know that, I thought you didn’t like those.

    Paul M Bowers:  Well it was a dark time, but I did ride three wheelers like I was crazy and then I was probably like twenty eight or nine I got my first dual sport bike and that I loved. Then I went and I got a BMW sport touring bike and I rode sport touring bikes. So this is a very long answer.

    Indra Bowers:Yeah, that was way longer than I expected but thank you. Alright so, why don’t you tell our listeners what you are embarking upon in a couple of days.

    Paul M Bowers:Well our listeners know that we live in San Diego. We’re based in beautiful San Diego and Our bird has flown, our bird has flown .

    Indra Bowers:To?

    Paul M Bowers: Connecticut and it’s parents weekend.

    Indra Bowers:In October of course. They’re very smart to have us come at peak beautiful fall season, so we feel happy about our investment.

    Paul M Bowers:Yeah, I keep sending that money. [Laughs] So yeah, I thought well here’s an opportunity to do something that I’d always wanted to do which was a coast-to-coast ride. But I don’t like Interstates. I don’t ride big gold wings or anything like that.

    I ride an adventure bike that’s used to being off-road but will also work on the road and so I thought “well, why not just ride?” I mean I’m now somewhat retired, I mean I’m no longer in the full-time dad business. I’m now moved to the full-time executive support module.

    So I have the luxury of planning a cross-country motorcycle trip.

    Indra Bowers:[Laughs]

    Paul M Bowers:Have you been noticing the increase in quality of your evening meals now?

    Indra Bowers: Awesome,

    Paul M Bowers:I have more time to do that kind of stuff for you now, so I thought well, this is anopportunity that I could get on the bike and ride. So I did a little hunting and there’s a guy named GPS Kevin who has a route and he designed it for scooters to ride from New York to San Francisco and that means that there’s no interstates so, I’ve got an adventure.

    Indra Bowers:Good.

    Paul M Bowers: No not necessarily.

    Indra Bowers:Well, you make me nervous honey.

    Paul M Bowers: I’m going to take a big adventure bike on a little scooter ride.

    Indra Bowers:Okay and you are going on the upper part of the United States tell us about your route?

    Paul M Bowers:That is correct. The proposed route and if you look on our Instagram and our Facebook you’ll find the link to the route it goes from here. That route actually ends in San Francisco but I’m reversing it.

    So I ride from San Diego to San Francisco which I’ve done many times and I have a lot of really good roads to ride from here to San Francisco. Then from San Francisco I go up through a little corner of Idaho across Nevada, the Dakotas, I’m going to see Mount Rushmore.

    Indra Bowers:First time?

    Paul M Bowers:Yeah, I go to Sturgis, which is not a place you would catch me dead in but the Sturgis Rally is not happening so I can go and at least see the little town where it happens. Yellowstone, Jellystone Park. I understand there’s a bear in there whose name is Booboo. There’s all kinds of little things along the way and also some towns. I go through Chicago. I go to Cleveland. It’s my intention to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame again.

    Indra Bowers: Nice.

    Paul M Bowers:And I go through New York, I go across Pennsylvania. So I have to pick up a cheesesteak which is not my usual thing but I’m going to give it a try.

    Indra Bowers:You’ve got to. [Laughter]

    Paul M Bowers: Yeah, yeah.

    Indra Bowers:And maybe a pretzel.

    Paul M Bowers:A pretzel.

    Indra Bowers:Yeah and actually if you go into Philadelphia proper that food market is incredible and they have the best porchetta sandwich with the broccolini.

    Paul M Bowers:Yeah, I’m not going there.

    Indra Bowers:Not going there? Okay.

    Paul M Bowers:I stay in the central to northern part of the state because I’m going horizontally across it.

    Indra Bowers:Okay, so I’ve mentioned this upcoming trip to many of my friends and colleagues most of them look at me wide-eyed and wonder how I feel about that.

    Paul M Bowers:And do you say well, “he’s telling, not asking.” [Laughter].

    Indra Bowers:Yeah, we know that [Laughs], because we know to go along is to get along.

    Paul M Bowers:Because we know how that works already.

    Indra Bowers:That’s how marriages work folks. [Laughter] but I do think that it’s important that people know what a safe rider you are and the precautions that you take, so there is peace of mind for your loving wife. Planning a cross-country motorcycle trip.

    Paul M Bowers:Oh yeah, well I am. I have a lot of experience, I have 30 something years’ worth of experience. I have trained at racetracks, I’ve trained in safety courses, I ride off-road a lot so have a lot of traction limited type experiences. I’m not going to say this is a safe activity.

    Indra Bowers:Okay, but yeah, what do you wear? You don’t wear jeans.

    Paul M Bowers:No, no, no, I’m always geared up.

    All the gear all the time for me. I do not mess around with that.

    I have fallen off motorcycles enough, I’ve had incidents with cars. I’ve been through this before you know.

    I’ve been very fortunate and for the record, if I thought that there was a significant chance that I could be injured doing this then, I wouldn’t do it, it’s just that easy. I just would not knowingly take that level of risk. Is it riskier than driving a car? Yeah probably but you know I mitigate the risk as much as I can and I’m careful, I’m experienced but yeah, there’s some risk.

    Indra Bowers:And you do make an effort to keep us connected, right?

    Paul M Bowers:Yeah.

    Indra Bowers:Tell us about that.

    Paul M Bowers:I actually carry well, I have two cell phones and two satellite communicators and one cell phone sits on the handlebars. It’s for, I’m actually trying some new navigation aids and so that may eventually supplant my existing GPS. I have a phone in my pocket protected, if I need it.

    The two satellite communications device ones a SPOT device and one is an InReach.  The InReach has two-way texting. Both of these devices have a button that if there’s an emergency I can hit the button and it doesn’t need cell service, it doesn’t need anything like that. it goes up to the satellite and then back down. Both of the devices are tracking devices as well, so you can actually follow along and see where I am at a given point.

    Indra Bowers:Thank you-

    Paul M Bowers:You’re welcome.

    Indra Bowers:For doing that.

    Paul M Bowers: I like the geeky stuff.

    Indra Bowers: Yeah, we know you do. Okay, so what are you most looking forward to on this trip?

    Paul M Bowers:Well, I want to see stuff, I want to see stuff that I haven’t before. I want to do it. It’s always been a, I hate the word bucket list, which is actually two words I hate the two words bucket list. List is fine and bucket is fine but bucket and list is not as good. And it’s something that I’ve wanted to do. Since I was a kid. I have this opportunity now, the timing is right, I can jump on the bike and go. So I want to experience that.

    It’s a very long trip, it’s the longest trip I’ve been on. Ten days before, ten days off-road which is really fatiguing but aha.

    Indra Bowers:Will you go off road on this trip?

    Paul M Bowers:There’s a couple of small off-road probably gravel roads because it’s designed for scooter, so it’s not really doing anything heavy. There’s a lot of roads that I’m leaving on the table. There’s beautiful roads all through where I’m going but I can’t go on all of them and I don’t have time. And off road when it gets remote like that, that’s not such a great idea to be doing solo.

    So as a solo rider, I’m going to avoid the more challenging off-road parts but there’s some good off-road stuff there. Like gravel road and that’s fine.

    Indra Bowers: What’s the thing you’re most worried about?

    Paul M Bowers:Bambi [Laughs] those rat with hooves. Like I know, I know they’re beautiful and they’re creatures of non-specific higher power that’s great…

    Indra Bowers:That’s great.

    Paul M Bowers:So don’t run in front of me for crying out loud Bambi. And your daughter or your son just stay over there.

    Indra Bowers:Yep, stay off the road.

    Paul M Bowers:I won’t run into you if you don’t run into me. Do to have a deal? But you know what? They’re not very smart [Laughter].

    Indra Bowers:Yeah, and I have had one of those encounters and it was not pleasant. In upstate New York. I know what you’re talking about.

    Paul M Bowers:Now is it possible that there’s venison on the menu at some point? Maybe so. Do something with like an elderberry sauce.

    Indra Bowers:And will you be doing any camping? Your favorite.

    Paul M Bowers: I’m bring camping gear because here’s the thing. If I find a really nice camping spot and the climates okay, then that’s fine. This is a very long ride though. And I like to sleep.

    Indra Bowers:Yeah.

    Paul M Bowers:And so sleep deprivation is kind of not my thing. Nevertheless if I see a nice spot I have the equipment to do it. Now sooner or later I have to get this motorcycle back and on the way back I might try a different route that involves more camping and involves other people to ride with and involves more off-road stuff but that’s down the road.

    For now, the idea is to ride there and store the bike and I’ve made arrangements already to store the bike during the winter time and then go back and revisit when I would ride that home.

    Indra Bowers: Ok and will you be taking photos and taking notes so that you can share with our friends online this trip?

    Paul M Bowers:No.

    Indra Bowers:What?! Wait a minute, that’s part of the deal.

    Paul M Bowers:Oh! So why did you ask?

    Indra Bowers:Because I want our listeners to know that they’ll be having an upcoming..

    Paul M Bowers:What our listeners get from this is that you’re asking nicely, when in fact you were commanding.

    Indra Bowers:I’m not.

    Paul M Bowers:You’re not asking; you’re telling.

    Indra Bowers: I’m not.

    Paul M Bowers:You’re not asking.

    Indra Bowers:Yeah, I sort of did, I told him if you’re going do this you have to share it with our various Our Bird Has Flown viewers and readers.

    Paul M Bowers:Well, I think it goes back to what are you, and this is paraphrasing your question is what are you trying to accomplish with this? I don’t think you actually said that but go ahead you should say that.

    Indra Bower: What are you trying to accomplish with this Paul?

    Paul M Bowers: Oh! why thank you. There’s a little personal growth here, one of the things about my style of riding that I don’t think is very healthy well, that’s not unhealthy but I like to get on and just start hauling ass and I don’t like to stop. I like to just go and watch everything go by. Feel the bike all the time, be on alert all the time.

    It’s a cool thing to do. It’s also very fatiguing and I miss a lot. And you know, I’ll ride with my buddies and they say hey, did you see X Y Z over there, I would say no, I was riding too fast. So there’s going to be a little exercise here in self-discipline. Going slower, taking pictures. The route itself is timed for scooters at 200 miles a day.

    Well, 200 miles a day is something that I would generally do before breakfast.

    So there should be plenty of time barring any weather events. There should be plenty of time to get to Connecticut by the deadline. So that means and it actually it’s designed this way there’s not a lot to do in Connecticut if I get there early right? Our son is going to be in college he’s going to be in class. He’s going to be like dad you’re cramping my style dude.

    So there’s nothing in it to get there early. Like if I were coming home sometimes when I’m riding home from long rides it’s like, I haul ass home. Oh! I’m going home, I like my wife, I like good food so.

    Indra Bowers:A good bed.

    Paul M Bowers:Yeah! exactly, but this time there isn’t that attraction at the end so I am definitely going to try to take it easy, go slow, look at Mount Rushmore, appreciate Mount Rushmore. If I get to Chicago early I would like to spend the day at the Chicago Art Institute my favorite Museum. Beautifully curated place, I loved it. So hopefully maybe I can get to do stuff like that.

    Indra Bower:So you’re going to enjoy the journey?

    Paul M Bowers:Well you know, that’s the plan, that’s what I’m going to attempt to do.

    Indra Bowers:Excellent okay, anything else that I didn’t ask you about this trip, that our listeners should know about?

    Paul M Bowers:Well you didn’t ask me anything about my motorcycle.

    Indra Bowers:Oh! Wow, there’s a miss. Okay Paul…

    Paul M Bowers: Yes?

    Indra Bowers:Let’s hear all about your amazing, beautiful, fully tricked-out ready to ride the country motorcycle.

    Paul M Bowers:Well, you and I own together, because community property state, you own one of the finest thoroughbred motorcycles ever made the KTM 990 adventure. This is a gorgeous machine beautifully designed it’s like an overgrown dirt bike. It handles beautifully both on and off road, has plenty of power almost a hundred horsepower.

    It’s relatively light for its weight class, it’s only 500 then you put all the crap on it it’s probably 600 pounds maybe. And when I put my fat ass on top of it it’ll weight more but it is a glorious motorcycle, the finest motorcycle that was ever inspired by non-specific higher power.

    Indra Bowers:Nice, you have strong feeling about this?

    Paul M Bowers:I do, it’s kitted out well. It has an auxiliary Rottweiler tank. It would be nice and Rottweilers exposure and has a Rottweiler auxi fuel tank. I’m using Wolfman saddlebags. I’m using Mosko moto top bag and a Giant Loop top bag, none of whom are sponsors but sure ought to be.

    Indra Bowers:Yeah alright, we’ll make sure that we link out to them on the blog and maybe they’ll pay attention. [Laughs]

    Paul M Bowers:Are those backlinks?

    Indra Bowers: I don’t know, we’ll figure it out.

    Paul M Bowers:Oh!you’re supposed to know this stuff.

    Indra Bowers:Yeah I know, I know. Yeah, sort of.

    Paul M Bowers: You didn’t ask thatOh!Arai helmets and CD crossfire boots andMotoportKevlar mesh riding suit.

    Indra Bowers:Okay.

    Paul M Bowers:We like Motoport.

    Indra Bowers:Yeah,

    Paul M Bowers:Wayne Boyer he’s an old buddy of mine and he makes a great product there in San Marcos California

    Indra Bowers:Our neighbors.

    Paul M Bowers:You can actually go up there and they’ll measure you out and check out your suit for it, it’s an awesome thing.

    Indra Bowers:He did. Well, if you go to one of our very first videos on YouTube you’ll see Paul all dressed up in his suit I like to call him “bike man”. When he walks in, he’s already 6-2 and when he puts those moto boots on he’s even taller and when he puts the helmet on he’s even taller, so it’s quite the specimen when he comes striding through in his full gear.

    Paul M Bowers:Yeah, clumping along.

    Indra Bowers:Yes, there’s something superhero-ish to me about it. Okay, I think that’s all the time we have.

    Paul M Bowers:That’s it!

    Indra Bowers:Yeah, I think our time is up, so unless you’d like to talk more about your trip I know you’re excited.

    Paul M Bowers:No come on, I want to talk more about myself come on.

    Indra Bowers:Do you feel like this is going be physically challenging?

    Paul M Bowers:Yes, it’s going to be physically challenging. It’s going to be tiring but see that’s part of it is that there’s enough time built in that if I want to sleep in one morning or whatever I can do that and honestly that’s part of the Bambi thing because I like to ride first thing in the morning.

    I like to get up before sunrise and start riding because that’s when the pictures are best.

    That’s when everything looks best and that’s when Bambi’s out so I have to kind of balance the two of those. So we’ll see but it sounds like that’s all we have time for today so, I’d like to thank our sponsors Green Fresh Florals.

    Indra Bowers:Thank you.

    Paul M Bowers:And the National Conflict Resolution Center, thank you to the

    National Conflict Resolution Center. I was going to say that.

    Indra Bowers:Well, I was supposed to close this out

    Paul M Bowers:Oh,

    Indra Bowers:But you see you jumped in.

    Paul M Bowers:Well then you go ahead, I’ll just be quiet over here.

    Indra Bowers:Hey! Gang, thanks. Alright thanks for sharing we’ll be looking for your photos online so please do share. If you aren’t following us on Instagram Paul will be posting on stories as he’s going through.

    Paul M Bowers:What!

    Indra Bowers:This is going to be great Paul you’re going to love it. Thanks for listening gang and we’ll talk to you soon.

    Paul M Bowers:Our Bird Has Flown podcast is proud to be sponsored by Green Fresh Florals at greenfreshflorals.comand the National Conflict Resolution Center at ncrconline.comwe are produced at the Ramshackle Dusty Urban Ham Shack Studio of WB6QWD, be sure to check out our website at where we talk about getting ready for college and what happens afterwards thanks for clicking in be sure to subscribe to our podcast and we’ll see you again soon.

    [Singing: Our Bird Has Flown]


    [Singing: WB6QWD]