Day 1 – 5/30/13

After packing the bike with everything I’ll need for the next couple of weeks, I pulled out of the driveway at about 9:30 this morning.  Today was all Interstate riding so there was nothing too exciting.  I took I88 to Binghamton and then I86 West to Erie PA where I got on to I90 West.

The first day of the ride always seems like a long day and this year was no different.  It takes a couple of days to get used to the fact that I’ve got nothing to do except go for a ride.

The weather was high 80’s and low 90’s all day making the ride a bit on the warm side.  Other than road construction, the traffic wasn’t too bad with only a minor delay around Cleveland.  I stopped for the night in Ashland Ohio.

Miles today: 567
Total miles: 567
States: NY, PA, OH

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The Day before the Ride

Well, it’s the day before I leave on my annual trek from NY to CA and as I look at the national weather, it’s looking like I’ll be heading towards Ohio, Kansas, and Colorado.  Temperatures look like they’ll be reasonable and it appears that the worst areas of rain will be in the northern states.

Of course this is subject to change when I actually get on the bike and leave tomorrow morning.  One thing I like about getting started on my trip is that I no longer have to think about where I’m going – I am where I am and simply deal with whatever comes along.  It’s about the ride, the adventure, and the freedom to go wherever I want to go and change my route at any time without having to worry about a schedule or specific destination.  As long as I’m going in the general direction of California, it’s all good.

This will be my 6th trip to California on a motorcycle. This year’s trip will be different in a couple of ways.  First of all, instead of a Harley Davidson Electra Glide, I’ll be riding the BMW K1600GTL.  Secondly, since I’ve been across the country 10 times (5 times West and 5 time East), many of the places I’ll ride through will seem familiar.   I know what to expect as far as the landscape and weather conditions are concerned.

There will be rainy days, sunny days, hot days, cold days, long stretches of endless flat highways, spectacular mountains, and barren deserts.  Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate all of the amazing places that this country has to offer.   When I took this trip for the first time in 2008, I thought of it as a once in a lifetime adventure.  Now, it’s become something that I look forward to each year.   I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to make this trek each year.

New Riding Gear

As I prepare for this year’s NY to CA trip, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the riding gear I’ll be using.  In the past, I pretty much just packed whatever gear I had and headed out on the road. This year, safety and comfort are the primary considerations and have led to a whole new outlook on riding gear.

This change really began late last summer soon after bringing the K1600GTL home.  It didn’t take long for me to come to the realization that the performance of the BMW was going to change how I ride.  Safety was going to become much more of a priority so I started with an HTC modular helmet and a Tour Master textile jacket with some basic body armor.

After riding for almost 7 years riding with a cheap half helmet, it took some time to get used to the full face helmet but after a couple of weeks, I had embraced it and became very comfortable wearing it.

The Tour Master jacket was easy to get used to.  In fact, it was warmer than my leather jacket in the cool weather and opening the vents allows your to control how much cool air flows through as it gets warmer.

Unfortunately, I find that the HJC helmet is quite noisy and has a somewhat cheap feel to it.  Not surprising really, it was only about $175 making it one of the lower priced modular helmets available.

With my vacation quickly approaching, I decided it was time to invest in some nice gear for this year’s cross-country trip.  I needed to address a couple of key areas – summertime comfort and better protection.

The first purchase was a flat black Schuberth C3 Pro helmet.  My research  indicated that this was one of the quietest modular helmets available.  The C3 Pro is an expensive helmet made with top notch materials and a nice feel of quality to it.  So far, I’m quite pleased with this helmet.  It’s quiet, comfortable, reasonably lightweight, and fits me quite well.

Next up was clothing.  I’m satisfied with the Tour Master jacket but it’s really intended for cooler weather riding.  Once the temperature gets up to around 80, there’s not enough airflow to remain comfortable.  I also have a Tour Master heated jacket liner and Tour Master rain suit.  I’m happy with these items and will continue using them.

First on the list of gear was a lighter and more summer oriented jacket.  I spent many hours looking at jackets online and settled on a Dainese Spedio D-Dry jacket.  This jacket is a combination textile jacket with mesh panels for airflow and a removable waterproof liner.  It comes with shoulder, elbow, and arm protectors and I added a Forcefield back protector to round out the armor.  It’s a good looking jacket that I hope will provide comfort and a reasonable amount of protection during the summer months.

Next on the list of protective gear was a set of riding pants.  I’ve never worn anything other than jeans while riding so riding pants are new to me.  I really didn’t want bulky pants so Dainese was once again the brand I ended up looking at and chose the D-System D-Dry pants.  These pants have a flap that opens near the knee to allow air to flow through them as well as a removable waterproof liner.  They also have good knee/shin armor and some thin hip padding.   I’m hoping that they flow enough air to keep me cool during the hot summertime weather.

The final bit of new riding gear was a pair of TCX X-Move waterproof boots and Joe Rocket gloves.  The boots are mid-cut boots with good ankle support and protection .  They look good and can be worn without looking like you are wearing motorcycle boots.

While style isn’t at the top of my list of priorities, it certainly was one of the criteria used when choosing all of this new gear.  I didn’t want gear that is bulky, baggy, or contains any high-visibility materials and clearly my choices of gear reflect this.  I know that I may be compromising some protection but I’m just simply not ready to go that far with gear right now.  Up until now, my summer riding gear has been jeans, t-shirt, a half-helmet, and occasionally some fingerless gloves so this is a major move in the right direction.  I really hope that all this new gear proves to be comfortable this summer.