I would like invite you all to join me in my travels across the continental US - Los Angeles to New York. It will take place second week of August and will last for 3 weeks (one-way). I will either sell or ship my bike back and fly back to LA. Enjoy the first blog entry! More to come soon
My blog that I created for this trip: Student of the Road
Still needs work and it will be improving throughout the weeks. Feel free to give me any advice on what you'd like to see changed re: the layout.
My first "official" post:
This is where it all began - Joshua Tree on a cold windy night staring aimlessly at the stars. My really good friend Derek and I went on a camping trip to JT back in March and had a blast quoting Jim Carrey in some of his classic movies and being on the other side of the spectrum discussing important topics throughout the night. One of those topics was "what are you going to do make this year an annus mirabilis?
Jumping back before this night, I had a strong urge and thirst to do something beyond the typical this year. Something that is frankly beyond and more than my subjective life. I work a Monday through Friday "eight to late" job and didn't want to use my vacation time for... a relaxing vacation. I wanted to go out and experience an adventure that will teach me more than what a margarita and vitamin D would on an exotic beach. Something that would alter my viewpoints, challenge me physically and mentally, and somehow make me a better person by an experience that could potentially last 2-3 weeks. That's some tough shoes to fill which is why it took me so long to figure out what I wanted to do.
Returning to that night in March when I was explaining my mindset for this year and with the help of Derek, I decided I was going to travel from Los Angeles to New York on a motorcycle. Mind you, I'm an impulsive-juggernaut decision maker. So when I plan to do something, I strive to do it well.
Being at the ripe age of 24 (recently turned 25), I began researching rigorously what this journey would encompass. And with the help of my good friend and colleague, Sam (here he is with his freshly cooked mouthwatering chicken), he made sure I took everything into account and realize the extremity of a trip like this.
So the easy stuff: I signed up for a MSF class, studied for my written test, and within a week I had my motorcycle license. Before I jump ahead and start discussing motorcycles, I want to thank Sam for all the help and information he provided me throughout my time of research. He opened my eyes to what this really entails and pushed me forward when I was having doubts. Thanks again Koala.
Running parallel to my moto class and studying, I signed up for some motorcycle forums such*as BARF and ADVrider. I made my first post on BARF which you could view New Rider, need advice on getting a bike to ride from west coast to east coast - BARF - Bay Area Riders Forum
243 replies and nearly 5,000 views. Needless to say people had strong opinions about what I was attempting to do. I read every post a few times and I couldn't thank the BARF community enough for enlightening me on the severity of this trek. There were a lot of nay-sayers for good reasons. Disregarding my 4 day trek in Bali on a motorcycle and some dirt bike experience during my adolescents, I had pretty much nothing on my repertoire. So to the one's who said no and still say no, thank you. You made me more aware of the gravity of this trip. Cheers to all of you! With the help of BARF, Sam, ADVrider, motorcycle shops, hour long phone conversations with people from these forums, I had my decision down to a few bikes:
My initial appetite craved an old school cruiser style and that stuck with me for a few weeks. I searched for cruisers aggressively and apathetically sought for KLRs and V-Stroms. Over the span of a few weeks it dawned on me that I would need something that is built for utilitarian purposes and not just aesthetic appeal. Not doubting that a cruiser wouldn't make it, but my type of riding called for a dual-sport. I concluded that a V-Strom would be my safe bet and with my last name being Storm, I knew I couldn't go wrong. And it was an amusing coincidence.
AT LAST! I had one bike to look into. I searched dauntlessly on Stroomtrooper (forum specifically for V-Stroms), Craigslist, and various other forums including the two above. It was getting to the beginning of May and I have yet to find a decent bike to embark on this trek. Well, I take that back. There were many opportunities but me being frugal hindered my choices. So I ultimately had to up my budget. I did find one decent one and was ready to pull the trigger, but ended up not working out. Everything happens for a reason!
After that, I was strolling on Craigslist one day and found a bike that was near my price range. No pictures just a quick "selling my bike in a few weeks" sort of thing. Got in touch with the guy and we scheduled a Skype video chat for 15 minutes. We ended up Skype-ing for about an hour and a half.
His name is Liam, 23 and from London (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5nnhkr0cho
). He hopped on a plane in London heading to Florida and was going to ride from Florida to Los Angeles on a motorcycle. SPOILER ALERT: The bike he ended up buying was going to be rightfully the one I take back to the east coast.
At the end of May he finally arrives in one piece. He stays at my place for a few nights, goes to Yosemite and comes back to spend his last couple days in Santa Monica before he flies to Australia for a year (lucky bastard). Check it out his and see what he is up to - Bike Packer Travels | Seeing the world on two wheels
. Here's him and I are and his last minutes in California:
And here is a standalone
2007 V-strom 650cc ABS
Acerbis hang guards
3 Givi panniers w/ 12v + usb charging units
2 small soft panniers
Overall ready to go on an adventure!
I am very content of how things fell into place. Once Liam left, the baby was all mine! Still haven't named her yet...
Fast forward through a week of brief, short-ranged rides to work, I ended up venturing out to Joshua Tree which will be classified as my first "real" ride.
Friday after work, I rush home, pack everything up, and go. I'm not sure if you've ever experienced LA traffic (or anything alike) on a Friday at 5pm but even the optimist would be red in the face.
Aside from majority of the ride entailing cautious lane splitting, there were some nice gaps of decent speeds. The last stretch of the ride blew me away, literally. The wind near the wind turbines gave me a good shove laterally.
After the wind subsided I had about 45 min ride to my destination. I had to rush it a bit so I could find a good spot. I didn't like the feeling of rushing an experience like this. It filled my mind with fret and made the journey lose a bit of value. Typically it's not about the destination but heck... If I didn't make in time I would be entering JT past dusk.
I finally get into JT, go through some fun curves and find a quick spot to stay the night. I was doing a one-nighter so I didn't need much food besides CLIF bars and trail mix. Set up the spot and got to hanging with the stars.
One of my reasons for this trip is to enjoy the night sky on nights where there is minimal light pollution. Stargazing is endless fun. Metropolitan areas don't have the luxury to see the Milk Way and it's a bit sad because it is one of the most beautiful sights to see. On this night the MW was a bit shy, but it made a soft introduction.
I recently got into astrophotography and I took a couple shots with my 50mm. My 14mm was en route so I had to settle with a restricted view.
A nice silhouette of JT and the remnant of the sun
Couple shots of the Sagittarius Milky Way. A beaut I tell ya!
A shot from my tent!
I was feeling a bit bould in the morning so I took this shot
At first light, I was up and adam, ready to haul back home. I wanted to have a quick preparation experience of that up and go feel... especially since this will be me for some odd weeks. It felt amazing waking up and riding. The smells, the view, the feeling of being up before a majority of people was like I had up against them. Before I left JT I snapped a quick shot of the babes:
Got home safely and just had a huge smile like a Cheshire cat. Had many takeaways from this day trip and made some mistakes. Whether I like it or not mistakes and misfortune are*going to happen. Just have to react in the proper manner so I can relive those experiences and say, "Well I'm not making that mistake again." I suppose that relates to life one way or another. We all have misfortunes and problems that we accidentally*roll into but you have to find the best route that will end with mishaps turning into valuable lessons. My next ride the following weekend was up to Newcomb's Ranch in Angeles National Forest.
One of the best motorcycle roads in the area, arguably in the west. Practicing countersteering, throttle control, and braking – that’s all motorcycling is… right?!
Some riders on this route were hauling. I saw one guy go around a turn pushing 80-90mph. His brass balls must have helped with his countersteering. I grabbed a quick coffee at the restaurant, watched the end of the Mexico vs. Dutch match and headed back down to Venice. Another great ride followed by some smiles.
In addition to my weekend getaways I have been creating my route. Ultimately deciding that a set route is worse than having no route at all. At times I can be a control freak so this alleviated well needed pressure of preparation. I have sights and places I intend on visiting of course. But part of the adventure IS creating a route – my route on the fly. It will be created by the people I meet and my daily decisions.
I based my general route on 3 topics: National parks (in brick red), best roads (from various generic articles – in blue), and light pollution (you guessed it, black). I sort of gave up on dotting the national parks that weren't in the general direction of my route so excuse the outliers. The best roads that I put are few and far between just because I gave up on finding them. The best routes are better understood by locals not articles. The black marks are areas where very minimal amount of light (if any) affect the night sky. Once you hit the Midwest say goodbye to the Milky way. Here is a satellite photo of the US at night:
Fascinating isn’t it? The amount of people who can’t see a majority of the stars. We are so wrapped up in “US” that we forgot the N, I, V, R, and two E’s. But I digress.
Saving the best for last here…
I am going to be riding for a selected few charities. So far on the list we have National Park Trust (National Park Trust - Welcome
) and Conservation Fund (The Conservation Fund | The Conservation Fund
). This is my next big update and will be working to acquire a couple more hopefully soon. This is where you the viewer become a part of the experience. We can do a $.XX/mile or by the end of the trip send over a lump sum to the charity of your choosing from the list. I would like to keep track of the donations because my company will match 1:1 up to $1,000. I will be updating this topic on my next blog in the coming weeks. Keep your eyes peeled!
P.s. Please, feel free to reach out to me. I love criticism and any suggestions or recommendations are well received and appreciated.