My first day on the road taught me some awesome things that I never knew before getting out and taking an adventure for myself. I've only traveled 300 miles so far, but what I learned from today's ADV may help you on your own journeys, and that's what this blog is all about.
- Keep baby wipes in the tank bag so you can clean off your face shield after playing chicken with june bugs and have quick-access for potty breaks. Baby powder is also nice in a tank bag to re-apply whenever you stop for gas or a pee-break. You can also use it as a smoke screen in case you're being chased by bad guys. Just pop the cap and use it like a grenade. Not really... but it's fun to fantasize about bombing that overcompensating tail-gater, isn't it? Then again... a trucker bomb (a coke bottle filled with urine) MIXED with baby powder would be epic. Now I'm daydreaming. "Taste the sweetness of my revenge, you idiot cager in the gigantic white truck that overcompensates for..." I digress...next tip.
- Ear plugs. Put them in your pocket. Put them in your tank bag. Put them in your back pack. Put those things EVERYWHERE so you never go without them. Hearing loss while riding is real, my friends. If the exhaust noise doesn't get you, the wind noise will. Use ear plugs, especially on long rides.
- Get one of those curly, bright-colored, little wrist-loop key chain thingers to put on your key. That way you're more likely to see it and remember to take it out of the ignition at the gas station. You can also loop it around your wrist so you don't have to put the key in your pocket and rummage for it later. You can snag a five pack at a dollar store, or get one from Wal Mart for like $3. Cough*RIPOFF*cough.
- Packing things behind you on the seat is not a bad thing, and wearing a backpack doesn't cause fatigue if it can rest on the seat or on something you've packed behind you. When your butt gets a little tired you can half-stand on the pegs and distribute your weight through your legs and rest your hams (not your butt) on whatever you've packed behind you. Riding like this is actually mega comfy provided you're following the next tip.
****UPDATE**** Riding with your backpack on is doable, but it is far more comfortable to simply strap the backpack down somewhere else and keep all that weight off your shoulders. Even if the pack is propped up by a bag behind you, it's just more comfortable to leave it off.
- Take the peak off your dual sport helmet while on the highway. It might block a few centimeters of the setting sun during the five minutes of the day that that's even a problem, and granted it does make you look like a ridiculously-cool ADV veteran... but riding with that thing on the freeway is like flying a giant fourescent orange flag from the top of your helmet. Aerodynamics and comfort should trump looking cool every time.
- Get a tool tube so you can save room in your soft luggage. I've poked holes through soft bags with tools before... it's better to have them in a hard container. I picked up a welding rod holder from Harbor Freight for 5 bucks, and will hose-clamp it onto the front of the skidplate.
- Get a Ram Mount for your phone... that thing was AWESOME! It gets the GPS right up there where it's visible, puts the phone in a place where you can use one-button voice commands, and generally allows you to safely (and securely) use the moto-centric features of your phone hands-free on the road. Also, once the phone is in the "X Grip"... it is IN there. I have ridden some intense enduro with my phone in there and it didn't move a centimeter. Now don't get me wrong I HATE when people use their phones in their cars and you're an idiot if you use it while on the bike. However, it sure makes it a lot easier to access phone features WHEN YOU PULL OVER instead of fumbling through your tank bag or pocket where it's prone to scratch. It's also nice to see who is calling before you pull over to rummage through your stuff only to find out it's a telemarketer or ex.
- Get a Sena Headset to listen to music and get handsfree phone calls while on the road. This thing was seriously a life saver, and sounds a LOT better than wind noise, even with earplugs in. I often turn my Sena up a bit with my earplugs in. No wind noise, no exhaust noise, just clear music and phone calls to make the miles fade faster than memories of said exes. You might think that the people on the other end of the call can't hear you well? Nope. Comes through loud and clear. I love this thing.
- Get the Green Chile Adventure Gear soft rack to hold your whatever. That thing is AMAZING! It held my laptop case on solid as a rock, and then was modular so I could strap stuff on TOP of the case. This thing is ESSENTIAL for adventure! Or even for a commute! I love this thing because I can also use it on my DRZ 400 without the hassles of installing a rear rack. It's way less expensive than a rack, way more modular, no bolts or loctite, easier to remove, lighter, easier to strap things to, and did I mention it's rock solid?
- Get a Seat Concepts seat... they are well worth the money and IMHO the best value for the dollar in motorcycle seats. You'll have to spend some time installing the new foam and cover to your old seat pan, but unless your time is worth $200 for 30 minutes and a few staples, Seat Concepts seats are a steal... and a well-known player for value and comfort in the ADV seat market. As you know, I've had issues with my buttocks that at one point threatened to end my motorcycling permanently. Surgery definitely helped, but let's just say that I would not be taking this 4000 mile trip if not for my confidence in this seat.