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Photo by George Guille, It's going to be a long 300km... Bolivian Amazon

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!

Photo by George Guille
It's going to be a long 300km...
Bolivian Amazon

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Old 8 Aug 2014
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Student of the Road - Solo trip from Los Angeles to New York


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:

Honda Shadow

Yamaha V-Star

Suzuki V-Strom

Kawasaki KLR650

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

Extended windscreen

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.
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Old 8 Aug 2014
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Coming up on blast off day and can’t be more excited to take off. My mind is already on the road; my body is going to have some catching up to do.

I wanted to spend some time introducing the charities I am riding for and their niches. Before I do that though, I want to inform you that everyone can donate to these charities throughout the length of my trip (and a bit after). Simply go to my blog Student of the Road (or if you’re reading this on my blog) and on the right hand side you will notice a “Donate Now” box. Click and you’ll be able to donate! All proceeds will be sent to the charities. Without further adieu:

African Wildlife Foundation

Founded in 1961, the purpose was to train Africans to maintain game reserves professionally, ensuring an adequate supply of game for hunters on safari. Later, the mandate evolved to supporting western scientists in studies of protected animals in their natural habitat. More recently, the focus has been on developing sustainable systems that benefit both animals and local human communities.

In short, they have been a leader in the fight against poaching of Africa’s endangered species for over 50 years.

Some of the most important are the poaching of black rhinos and elephants whose tusks and horns are being used for archaic Chinese medicine. Black rhino population is down 97.6% since 1960. In the wild the rhino has no predator . . . except for humans. Let that sink in a bit.

Their efforts are exponential in the conservation of African wildlife. Just peeping at their current projects, they have their hands in every basket. You can view their current projects here

Conservation Fund

“The Conservation Fund has led land conservation efforts for nearly 30 years. During this time, we’ve protected more than 7 million acres across America, from the park down the street to historic battlefields, wild areas and favorite destinations of all kinds. We work hand-in-hand with community and government leaders, businesses, landowners, conservation nonprofits and other partners to save the places that matter most.”

They do tons of work in conserving land for our nation’s wildlife and fueling a sustainable livelihood to communities around the country.

Their conservation strategy is broken down intro three parts:

Conservation Real Estate - Helping National Park Service, wild havens, government, and community leaders conserve their land; they even work with public and private landowners to “secure conservation easements on lands with high conservation value.” Since 1985 they have conserved more than 7 million acres, completing over 2,000 real estate projects.

Sustainable Programs - Focused on supporting sustainable economic development and bridging the gap between wildlife and people. They’ve trained more than 10,000 community and business leaders nationwide.

Conservation Ventures - helping small businesses produce and employ sustainable working environments.

National Park Trust

NPT began in 1983 with a focus on inspiring younger generations to go out and explore our enchanting wildlife. Their motto sits home with me: “NPT’s mission is to preserve parks today and create park stewards for tomorrow.”

They have worked on more than 100 conservation projects servicing 43 national parks and public lands.

Their mascot is pretty awesome as well — it’s called “Buddy Bison.” Merry little stuffer to have by your side when you’re out experiencing the outdoors. A good cuddling partner too.

Here are their Completed Projects

Here are their Current Projects

All three charities have been rated by Charity Watch as top charities (from their rigorous analysis). Percents below are the charity’s budget spent on the programs and services it delivers (Percentages are based off of 2012 annual reports and financials):

AWF – 84.7% – Rated A- by Charity Watch

Conservation – 96.2% – Rated A+ by Charity Watch

National Park Trust – 80.95% – Rated A- by Charity Watch

Last but not least I want to send many thanks to the following people who have already donated to the charities:

John Robb – $100

Anh Nguyen – $20

Kevin Lewis – $25

Brian Allodi- $25

Craig Kaplan – $25

Seth Mason – $25

Yuriy Aydinyan – $25
Early adopters always receive the biggest bear hugs. Thanks again everyone, really appreciate supporting these charities.

Now that we are all acquainted, hope you’re excitement is equivalent to at least a fraction of mine.

I can’t stress enough how important it’s been to talk to seasoned riders about my trip. Nothing could have suited me better than hearing recommendations, suggestions, and stories from them. In fact, here is a good story to tell:

I’m on a few moto forums and one day I end up private messaging one of the readers/riders about my trip. The guy was giving me superb recommendations. Finally we end up scheduling a time to chat and dive into the trip some more. And we FaceTime:

His name is Bob. Sincere, down to earth, and ardor for motorcycles. He was taking his RV around the country with his wife and he took some time out of his vaca to drop some knowledge. We could have confabbed for hours if I didn’t have to jet. We settled for a solid hour and a half.

While he was reminiscing of his own motorcycle accounts, I was sitting there like a little school boy, legs crossed, looking up waiting to say “But Why?”

Some of his tips:

Ride your own ride

Worry about the heat and overall weather

Don’t try to impress others. Going fast through one curve only yields an accident waiting to happen- especially through mountainous roads. There will be many curves to come. Ride at comfortable and confident speeds.

He is an awesome guy. I’m sure he is reading this – Thanks for the gloves and knowledge B!

On that note, I continuously revert to one of my favorite life maxims: just ask. Just ask someone for help. A bit lost or confused? Tap on that woman’s shoulder and ask if she knows. We’re all in this intricate world – some things others know better than you and vice versa. People (for the most part), want to help and there's no better feeling than weight of uncertainty or confusion being lifted off your shoulders. Who knows . . .might meet a friend that way

Same story on my end, been practicing more, prepping for the ride, purchased a new back tire, and just finished packing.

Journey light ignites shortly…
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Old 8 Aug 2014
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Sounds like you've dug in and done your homework!
I think you picked one of the best bikes for the job. I put 90K miles on my DL1000, never missed a beat.

The DL650 is lighter, more manageable when loaded. Keep reading Strom
Trooper ... lots to learn regards basic care and maintenance.
It's a simple, reliable bike. Nearly NO maintenance really. Take care of tires and chain and sprockets. Change front sprocket at around 10K miles. This will extend chain life by a BUNCH. The stock chain is not great ... only good for about 15K or so. Don't start trip with a nearly worn out chain. Get a NEW
DID QUALITY X Ring chain and NEW sprockets. I normally got 25K miles out of a DID X Ring chain (VM2) Once you chain begins to stretch and need adjustment everyday ... your chain is DONE and you could be in trouble if you don't deal with it. Rivet link only when you replace it.

Glad to see you researched charities. Many waste donations on operations. Hopefully, someday you'll be able to visit some of the countries in person ... and see where your money goes. I've worked for several NGO's around the world, saw them in action, in person. (S. America, Asia, Africa) Some good, most NOT so good.

I like the BARF owner Bud, but don't visit the site much. Not much dual sport or travel focus there. Mostly sport bike guys and "racers", but overall a good group, friendlier than ADV Rider and local to Bay Area is a big plus.

Some of the ride reports on ADV Rider are good (if you have a lifetime to devote to their study) I don't. I have a couple favs I follow. (Most are crap, not worth the time, IMO).

Very few ride reports here on HUBB ...good to see you posting yours here. HUBB needs it!

I'm surprised the BARF guys classified your ride as "extreme" or "risky" and can't believe anyone would discourage you. Do they think riding a motorcycle is rocket science? A ride across the USA is Cake. You have support nearly everywhere you go and are rarely even out of Cell range and NEVER out of GPS or SPOT coverage. There are roads everywhere with thousands of great options for exploration.

I think you underestimate how much your very early dirt riding experience helped you. Dirt riding crosses over nicely to street riding. With time and miles your confidence riding your DL will improve, skills will get better too. Practice what you learned in MSF ... especially braking and avoidance. (so many just lock up, target fixate and run straight into what they are trying to avoid! ) BRAKE, then steer around the obstruction.

VStrom in high wind.
This is a very common issue with this bike. (one of very few problems with the bike actually) LOTS of info on it. What I did to help was to RAISE the fork tubes UP in the triple clamps about 1/2", then CRANK UP the rear shock pre-load by an additional 30%. This reduced wind sensitivity by about 30% on
DL1000 ... and buddies claim it helps on the 650 too.

When in high cross winds ... relax your grip on bars, use you legs as sort of
"outriggers sails" to help stabilize/steer the bike. Other than that, let the bike wander around and relax. After a month or two ... you'll get better at managing sharp cross wind gusts. (Deserts are the worst for sudden gusts)

Not sure what the point of going all the way East is ... IMO, all the good riding and sites are out West. Once East of Colorado, this country is pretty pathetic for motorcycle touring. Parts of the South are good but the Northeast, to me, is a pit.

I would focus on CA, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Oregon and Washington .. and don't forget parts of British Colombia. Save the Yukon for another tour. That's a year of travel if you really dig in and explore all there is to see. Maybe two years.
I've crossed the country 3 times on a bike ... and dreaded it once out East.
The West is your Oyster. Enjoy!

Vstrom in Copper Canyon, Mexico

Vstrom in Baja in 2003
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Old 9 Aug 2014
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Very, very cool. That's gonna be a fun ride.

The best part will likely be all of the nice people you meet along the way.

I look forward to updates on your progress, as well as some photos.
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Old 9 Aug 2014
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LIAM!! Got to spend a couple of hours with him here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, took him to lunch. Great guy and he was LOVIN' that bike.
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Old 9 Aug 2014
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Very, very cool. That's gonna be a fun ride.

The best part will likely be all of the nice people you meet along the way.

I look forward to updates on your progress, as well as some photos.
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Old 20 Aug 2014
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Hope you have a good trip
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