Planning the route

On my first adventure across the pond, I didn’t spend much time on planning the route before I set off. I knew I was going to Chicago and Sturgis, and I knew I wanted to see some of the famous sights like Seattle, Yellowstone National Park and the Redwoods, but I had only the sketchiest route in mind before leaving. Most of the route planning was done on the fly just a day or two in advance. This gave me a lot of flexibility, but I’m not convinced I got as much out of the trip as I could have done. Don’t get me wrong, I had a fantastic adventure in 2011, but looking back with two years hindsight, the most memorable things were a) the people I met and b) the amazing sights and countryside, ¬†probably in that order. Many of the great people I met, I met in bars and shared a few beers with, but on some days I rolled into a town tired, looking for a bed for the night. Having found a bed, I then struggled to find a bar, and on more than one occasion I had to make do with sitting alone in a “dry” diner without even a cold beer for company. Those nights were definitely some of the most miserable of the trip. I really want to avoid nights like those if I can help it, so this time I’m going to do things differently.

This time I am going to plan the whole route in reasonable detail, so I should know where I will be and when. I can then make sure there is always a bar wherever I stop, preferably a biker bar. As well as a bar being one of the best places to meet people, the last trip taught me that there are three things I want most at the end of a hard day’s ride; and that’s a beer, food and a bed.

Knowing the route in advance is also going to be useful because there are quite a few people I want to meet up with again whilst I am in the States, and knowing where I will be and when, should allow me to at least let them know roughly when I’ll be arriving.

The main aim of the trip this time is to visit the 14 states in the south-east I didn’t have time to get to last time, but I won’t need the whole 3 months to do that, so I am also going to re-visit some the best bits from last time and to meet up with friends all over the country.

The rough idea I had before planning in detail was break the trip into 5 phases:

  1. Riding Route 66 and riding the west coast again.
  2. Visiting Yellowstone and riding Beartooth Pass again, before heading down to Sturgis for a week.
  3. Meeting up with Doreen and riding the Rockies and southern Utah with her, and visiting friends and family from San Diego to Austin
  4. Visiting the southern “14”
  5. Riding back to Toronto to spend a week with friends there before flying back.

The planned route I’ve come up with is too complicated to show on one Google map, so I’ve broken it up into weekly segments, which I’ll post separately. I am viewing this as just a plan, which I’ll probably adapt and vary as I go, not least because I’ll have to fit in servicing for the Trooper along the route and there is always the chance of break-downs. I had one major and a couple of minor ones last time, and the Trooper is two years older now. But there are times and places I am going to try very hard to stick to, because they are points I am planning to meet up with friends, and I’ll cut other bits if necessary. I’ve underlined these points in my weekly plans, which hopefully will be useful for my friends if they are wanting to find places to catch up with me.

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