Had I had the benefits of Dale Conyer’s book, The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Travel, back when I took my first real motorcycle trip, I would have been a good deal happier. There we were, two 17-year-olds tearing around for two months on a pair of used 250s, and I think the closest thing we had to raingear was my old army poncho. We didn’t even have any real notion of how to fix a flat tire, let alone the tools.
What is that line about some higher body looking after fools and young motorcyclists?
For anybody who has never traveled far in a single trip, let’s say a thousand miles, this book is a real savior, covering the rudiments as well as the latest electronic sophistications. The basics of travel are the motorcycle, the way you pack the bike and what you wear.
I remember well starting off on a three-day trip, with my wife riding her Ninja. I did an admittedly cursory check of the bikes, noted that my rear tire was a bit worn, but figured it could last one more go’round. Two days later we arrived at the top of 8,700-foot Ebbetts Pass in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I had been accelerating hard going up the steep eastern climb, and Sue pulled up alongside and said, “You have a white stripe around half your rear tire.” Down to the cord. It would have been a lot easier and cheaper to change it at home. Look after your bike’s condition, same as back in the 19th century when you would have watered and fed your horse before doing the same for yourself.
Packing? If you’re carrying 200 pounds of gold ingots, you should not put them in the scoot-boot, trunk, whatever you call the big box that sits high up behind the rear axle.
Riding gear? Don’t start a trip with a brand new suit and helmet–they might turn out to be uncomfortable. Best to use gear that has been properly broken in. On at least two organized overseas tours I’ve seen riders struggling with flashy new clothing that did not fit.
I realize that the great majority of Rider readers are already pretty experienced travelers, but beyond the basics Coyner’s book deals with all the latest electronic gimcrackery, from communication systems to helmet cameras–very useful. I should add that this is the 2nd edition, the first having come out in 2007, and the new edition has a lot on the latest gizmos, dealing with advances in the last seven years, making this updated edition useful even if you already have the original–pass that one on to your niece who recently got her motorcycle license and wants to go see Grandma, who lives a thousand miles away.
Back to that first trip of mine so many years ago. Fortunately, neither of us suffered a flat tire, and there was very little rain that summer.
Dale Coyner’s The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Travel, 2nd edition, published by Whitehorse Press, runs 190 pages, with some 275 photos. Cost is $27.95, and it can be ordered through most bookstores, or by visiting whitehorsepress.com or calling (800) 531-1133.