Every big adventure starts with a small seed idea. In this case, it was:
“I’ll go visit family in Maine during the summer.”
Pretty soon that began to grow and develop…
“I’ve got a motorcycle. I should ride it to Maine and back. It’ll be fun…”
Sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it?
“I could look for nice roads to ride. I bet there’s an app for that… “
It turns out there is, and that seemed like a good place to start.
A little back-story: My current bike is the fourth motorcycle I’ve owned.
(Considering a motorcycle or scooter? TAKE AN MSF COURSE! It’s free; it’s fun; they let you use their bikes; and you will learn a ton of useful skills.)
Back to my bikes…
– Yamaha Vision 550 (a “Standard Japanese Motorcycle”)
– Suzuki GSXR 750 (a sport bike or “rice rocket.” It screamed; a total blast to ride)
– Kawasaki Ninja 250 (needed work when bought, still needed work when sold)
– KTM LC4 400
My current bike is the KTM. KTM is an Austrian company known for building top notch dirt bikes for racing. Mine is considered a dual sport bike, but that’s because it has all of the lights needed to make it street legal. I also don’t have knobby tires on it at the moment but its built for them. I primarily use it as a commuter bike. It averages mid 40s for mpg in the city. I know there are hybrid cars out there that get that with no problem, but my bike cost 5 – 10% of what it would cost to buy one of those, and besides, who has more fun: me trapped in an electric turtle like every other Jones or Smith; or me zipping around on two wheels? But I digress…
A friend of mine turned me on to ADVRider when I bought the KTM last spring. It’s a forum dedicated to folks that like to see where two wheels can take them. Many of the members have ridden across countries far and wide. Think Paris-Dakar without the racing part, or Long Way Round (a tv series where Ewan MacGregor and his buddy circumnavigated the globe on motorcycles). The amount of knowledge held by membership as a whole about adventure travel on two wheels is pretty staggering. And there are some really cool photos too!
“Hey, I bet I could find some cool routes on the ADVRider forum!”
Next thing I know I’m knee deep in .gpx files trying to view, edit and transfer them onto an aging GPS unit I borrowed. After several days of fiddling with various pieces of software and getting nowhere with the GPS unit, I decided to use my iPhone. The tracks Are of back roads and forest service roads, fire roads, etc. that run from Georgia to Northern Maine (sort of like an Appalachian Trail for motorcycles) with branches that reach into WV and the New Jersey coast.
So the grand plan was to ride the TET (Trans-Eastern Trail) from Philly to Vermont to visit friend, go camp in the White Mountains, then head to the Maine coast for family, then back through Vermont, over to the Catskills (where it just so happened that one of the ADVRider members was hosting a weekend of group trail rides), and back to Philly. Well, I stitched all of the tracks together, and the route looked like it was… Oh geez, it was 12-1600 miles by GPS, but I felt like 250-300 miles a day is doable, and budgeted four days of riding each way.
Here’s a sketch of parts of my route to give you an idea of how wiggly the paths are. Notice Rockland, ME in the top right corner and Philadelphia, PA in the bottom left. These are roughly the end points of the journey.
“This is going to be an Adventure (with a capital A)!”
Next up… Crunch Time