Thank you to everyone who came out to the show on Saturday and special thanks to Black Top Society for the great coffee and to Chhun and Subway for the sweet sandwiches that reminded me of the trip all over again… Ha ha ha.
The support, interest and curiosity about this little adventure was amazing to see and hear in person.
I was asked to give a rundown of “what I learned” of sorts about my overall pack-out on the bike for this trip. Basically, what I’d bring that I didn’t and what I wouldn’t bring that I did, type of information. So the dude abides.
Here’s a basic rundown, if you didn’t see the show go check it out. East Fork Supply Co. is keeping the images up for the week you’ll see what I’m talking about.
So as cool as the “stock tool kit” may be and it does fit perfectly in the toolbox on the side of the bike but not exactly the best tools nor would I say complete. Granted I did use the plug wrench on the trip more than anything so yes I’d keep that but lets look at this logically. If your going to carry a set of screwdrivers make it a good set two Phillips, two regular, a short handle one and a long handle one you also want two sizes. I didn’t expect to have to rebuild my carbs from scratch so I had to pick-up a cheap set of screwdrivers from Wal-Mart on the road, which I hate because it’s Wal-Mart and the screwdrivers are not my idea of quality but in a pinch we do what we can.
The best piece of advice I can give about tools and a tool kit is build one specifically for your bike. The work you do the most on it are the tools you’ll need and look for versatile tools Steve had a great tool that I am definitely picking up now that I’m back (http://www.sears.com/craftsman-3-pc-screwdriver-set-finger-bit/p-00941390000P) this thing came in handy and it’s small and can fit in tight places.
Since I didn’t really “know” the bike the tool kit was piecemeal, now I'd build a more well rounded compact tool kit but it will start with good versatile tools. I tried one of those “all-in-one” screwdrivers and I didn’t like it plus if you lose the small bits that’s gone. Allen set is important but the angled shape of a standard set came in handy versus the straight bar set you get in the hand tool.
Again there is no “perfect tool kit,” it’s perfect to what the bike needs. I could’ve cut my tools in half with a better plan so work on your bike using your tool kit and build off of it knowing that this is all you’ll have on you.
There are bulky things you’ll always need especially vintage bikes for long distances like chain lube and oil so make some room on the bike because you won’t always find it out there.
Ask a backpacker is my best piece of advice (I’m sure Chhun at East Fork can point you in the direction for packing for these kinds of adventures). It’s important to travel light and quick to pack and unpack but that can get pricey. I definitely brought some comfort things that I could leave behind. One being the inflatable sleeping mat, nice to have but bulky. I see my gear is becoming outdated because the other guys and some more streamlined down ones they got at REI. Is it needed? No. Does it help? Yes. A goodnight's sleep is important when it comes to long days of riding.
I would update this part of my gear or leave it behind.
The Brixton poncho blanket? Yes it’s awesome and warm and yes it looks cool but is it bulky? Yes. In a modern world where every piece of camping gear is being designed to fit in a stuff sack the size of an apple, a giant wool poncho blanket is pretty obsolete. But it makes a great pillow! I’d personally leave it behind.
Is my tent a little big? Yes. But I’m 6’6” and like a little room for my riding gear to go in so I’ll stick with that for now.
One place for all the little things. I had a really hard time keeping track of all the odds-and-ends stuff like matches, eating utensils, soap etc. It got annoying so find someway to keep all this stuff in one place like one bag for it all that is separate from everything else. Zip lock bags are great but they don’t last long when packing and unpacking everyday.
Rain gear. The cheap set of rain gear I got at Target three years ago has yet to pop the seal so I’d say leave it behind and suffer being wet or buy a trash bag on the road. This depends of course on what kind of riding you are doing and how comfortable you want to be. Obviously, if you are crossing the artic you’ll need the right gear.
What I would keep on me and accessible is food. “Spaceman Meal” freeze-dried meals that backpackers carry would be a good thing just to have. Steve had a few on the road and saved our ass one night. And if I streamlined my pack out down, I’d consider a small fuel supply portable burner for anything longer than a few days. I think it’s smart.
Last but not least as cool as the parachute bag looked completely useless other than to hold everything in one place so as it rained everything stayed nice and evenly soaked… Ha ha ha canvas bag with only minimal water repellent treatment on it doesn’t work that well, I will update and explore options (would love any advice.)
The Wheelmen backpack I have worked awesome, highly recommend it, my problem was what I carried inside.
Ok this one is tricky because there is “dirty” and then there is “DIRTY” I packed an extra set of jeans that I never used so now I know I can handle “dirty” but only one pair of underwear,I don’t think so. Any more days out there and it would’ve been laundry time. Socks are king and keeping them dry is important.
So, I hate to admit it because “the knit” Gentleman sweater is so awesome but I only used it once and it was really just to justify bringing it, pointless to bring and super bulky. I wore my long underwear shirt more often.
Three shirts and three pair of underwear and three pairs of socks seemed to be the right equation for this trip, I guess good things do come in threes...ha ha ha.
REST OF THE PACK:
Spare parts are key and I would not compromise on that so extra cables, plugs, fuses, bulbs, fuel line etc. a must. Putting them in the right place is where I’d look to next.
Fuel can. This gets tricky if you read the horror stories of bringing extra fuel on a motorcycle online it can deter you. My buddy Justin gave me the trick of wrapping it in the survival blanket, great idea. I’d probably carry a bigger can or two of them next time. Again it depends on where you are going but for small bikes that are vintage, extra fuel is a must especially if you are traveling alone. The desert shows no mercy.
Bungees are “god” you always want extra because you never know how much extra stuff you’ll need to put on the bike supplies for the night; wood, water, food etc… nice to have extra for the quick pack before looking for camping.
That brings me to my final subject that was asked of me—did we plan our camping? Answer was “no." Unless you are on a very specific trip with one or two destinations in mind it’s hard to do this. Lets say you are planning to ride 500 miles per day and one day you do 600 or 200 or 50 because your bike broke down...ha ha ha. Your eff’d! You are either behind schedule or ahead of schedule and nothing worse than setting up camp at 4:00pm when you could ride another 200 miles or at midnight because your goal was to be somewhere that you already paid for.
Just my opinion but I have never bike camped at a predetermined spot because I never know where I’ll end-up. Obviously, heading into very busy places such as Yellowstone, Black hills etc… it can be tough but you can always rely on BLM land no fires but a place to rest your head if all else fails.
The 350 was problematic because of weight so I need to consider that for the next trip not that I saw huge issue but as any pack-out can go there is always room for improvement.
Hope that helps, long story short, enjoy the ride and don’t worry so much, things workout the way they do for a reason. You just have to keep on riding and enjoy every minute of it.