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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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First Major Road Trip: MI to TX

So, I'm in the early planning stage of what I hope to be my first major road trip by motorcycle. I'm planning on taking my 2016 RGU from my home in Michigan to visit family in Austin, Texas (about 2600 miles round-trip). My question is this: What tips do you have for someone like me who hasn't really done any long-distance touring by bike yet? What sort of things are "must haves" (aside from rain gear), what are "nice to haves," what should I try to avoid bringing, and what should I avoid at all costs?

I'm thinking about making this trip probably towards the end of September/early October so as to not completely roast in the Texas heat, and not completely freeze as I come back home. If any of you from Texas can comment on places to eat and the typical weather around that time of year, I'd appreciate that input as well.

Thanks in advance!

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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 01:37 PM
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September is pretty damn hot but It's starts getting better closer to the end. October is a great riding month.

Check out downtown Austin but don't lock yourself in to it. there is plenty to see.

Plan a day or two to ride to Leakey, TX. Namely Ranch Roads 337, 336, 335.

Check out Revival Cycles if you want to see some cool handbuilt motorcycles

If you have a hankering for BBQ, then get in line at Franklins....voted best BBQ in the world. So they say. I've never been.

"Just put that hammer down and give it hell" -Jerry Reed.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 02:44 PM
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Tons of good roads in the Hill country. If you take 35 south into Austin check traffic and be ready to bail off to alternate routes. Good luck getting into Franklins, people line up early in the morning. Definitely hit the sisters mentioned above but don't leave out other roads like up toward Llano (Coopers is pretty good bbq, get there early), Enchanted rock, Willow City loop and many more. Lots of single lane back roads out there with good scenery. In some areas cattle have free range so watch out when you are in cattle guard country. Msg me if you want some routes. We go out there a bunch and I have friends that live and grew up in the boonies out there so I think I have ridden every paved road out that way plus quite a few unpaved ones.

  • Lots of good places to cool off. We like to ride a bit then get in the water. If you're really brave (or crazy) hit Hippie Hollow for skinny dipping. Just remember there are some things you can't unsee.
  • There are some spots on 335 you can jump in the water. We just walk into the tall grass and change.
  • Hamilton pool is a nice park to spend the day. Cool Geology. Get there early they only allow in so many people. Bring your swim suit.
  • Perdenales Falls State park is a good stop. Again cool Geology. Bring your swim suit.
  • Roadside park going into Hunt on 39 has a nice spot to cool off as well.

  • Esther's follies in Austin is a pretty fun show down in the sixth street area. Tons of bars down there.
  • Lots of good restaurants in the warehouse district and south Congress it just depends on what you want to eat. In the north the Arboretum area has some good restaurants
  • Good BBQ in Lockhart. I personally like Smitty's but Blacks and Kruez are good also.
  • Watch the Bats at the South Congress Bridge at dusk.
  • The Nimitz Pacific War museum in Fredericksburg is pretty good.
  • Go to Luckenbach and buy a tshirt and enjoy stripper priced beer.
  • Lots of wineries out that way. Perdenales Cellars has a great deck. Wine is decent.
  • Look up Circuit of Americas Moto GP is there in April but they may have something good when you are coming.


What to take.
  • Credit card, cell phone, and number for towing just in case.
  • I am capable of most repairs on the side of the road so I have a pretty comprehensive tool kit, fuses, assorted nuts and bolts, jiffy stand spring, assorted zip ties, duct tape, Tire plug kit (I also use ride-on) and a compressor. There are some remote areas where you will not have cell service.
  • Pack in ziplocks or vacuum bags saves space. Layout what you think you need and then cut that it in half.
  • I like souvenir shirts so I don't pack much there and wear home what I buy.
  • You will need rain gear but no cold weather gear as it will be in the 90s-100s in Texas. My boots are waterproof and that is really nice on the road in a storm.
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Last edited by rg_dave; 02-18-2016 at 02:55 PM.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 02:49 PM
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First Major Trip

Plan your first few days for lower mileage, don't try to make 600-800 miles in the saddle the first days of your trip. Maybe set 400-500 at the most for the first couple of days. Stop after every couple of hours, fuel the bike, fuel yourself ie eat something, drink water, pee. This is important, staying hydrated helps you keep alert.

I carry either beef jerky pieces and/or m&ms in my pocket to snack on while riding. The salt and the sugar will make you thirsty so drink water, best to have a cup holder or bottle holder within reach. This activity keeps you alert.

Pack light, 4 shirts (at least 1 long sleeve), 4 underwear, 4 pair socks, lightweight hoodie and a layered riding jacket system. invest in good quality rain gear, boots and gaitors. Pack your heavy items low in the saddlebags and low in the tourpak.

Have your pharmacist blister pack your meds like they do for folks in the seniors home, helps you track what you've taken, what day your took it on and eliminated bulky pill bottles. They can put the labels on the inside cover.

Even the cheapest motels have shampoo and soap and a hair dryer. I highly recommend taking your own tooth brush, toothpaste, shaving equipment and deodorant or anti-perspirant.

I take birkenstocks for wearing on my feet after the days riding, some folks like sneakers. The sandals pack flatter.

Put everything you think you will need and want on the bed before the trip and then pack only what you need.

Calgaryglide


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2019 FLTRU, Tyggr
2016 FLTRU, Ruby, moved on to a new owner
2012 Road King Police, rain bike/teaching aid/will only go in circles
2011 Suzuki WeeStrom, Great Pumpkin, gravel rider.
2008 FLTRI, Miss Louise, moved on to greener pastures
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 04:20 PM
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So, let me know what part of Austin you will be going to. According to time of day, it can be a bugger. I would tell you to exit off of I-35 in Hillsboro and head west on 22 until you get to Hwy 281 then turn south. After you got thru Marble Falls (great place to eat there called the Bluebonnet Cafe) go left (east) on Hwy 71 and it will take you all the way into Austin. IF you are going to the the north side of Austin, you can turn off of Hwy 281 at Burnett to the left (east) on Hwy 29 and go til you get to Hwy 183 and take a right (south). It will take you into the North side of Austin. By taking these routes you will avoid the infamous traffic jams that can start 1 1/2 hours north of Austin according to what time of day it is. I would avoid coming in on Int. 35 unless you just love traffic. I lived in the area for 5 years.

A few other roads to ride while you are in Austin is head to Dripping Springs and from there go to Wimberley. Just outside of Wimberley there is the famous Jacobs Well. One of the most beautiful and famous blue deep water swimming holes around. Also from Wimberley you can access the Devils Backbone and the River Road which is the back way into Gruene where the famous Gruene Hall is. Great food at the Grist Mill in Gruene across from Gruene Hall. There is always live music that time of year at Gruene Hall so you can grab a beer and listen to some Texas Country music. Normally all Texas musicians playing there. Another great town to visit is Bandera southwest of Gruene and San Antonio. Some great riding and several famous old saloons in the town. Good luck and have a blast.

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
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My Uncle lives in Marble Falls to the northwest of Austin, so I plan on staying relatively close to that area. I've been to area previously, but that was probably 20 years ago now when I was either a HS junior or senior. I'm aware of 6th Street's reputation, but as I just mentioned, I wasn't quite old enough to partake of the festivities there. I do remember going to Barton Springs.

I know Austin City Limits festival will be going this year on the weekends of SEP 30-OCT 2 & OCT 7-9. Is it worth it to attend or should I avoid the area around this time?

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The Best Marine is a Submarine. USS Los Angeles (SSN 688): The First and Finest ~ 2002-2006

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 05:54 PM
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I like to carry a small plastic bag for used socks and boxers....keeps them from smelling up the rest of my clothes.
I roll my clothes for maximum packing and it work's great.
I guess my best tip would be siesta's.
I like to take one of these in the middle of the afternoon about 3pm.
Most interstate rest areas now have wifi and i've even found some city parks that also have it.
I either use my jacket or carry a light sleeping bag to lay on but just chill out for a hour and relax.
I'll grab my playbook and look at maps or hell just watch the clouds form and go by.
Dont try to do too much in a day...listen to your body.
If it says "Thats enough" then thats enough.
you can find great deals at Hotelcoupons.com
You can find this also at rest areas along the interstates.
I used to just go with Super 8 or something cheap.
But over the last few years I have wanted a better sleep so i dont mind paying the extra few bucks.
Still....with coupons you can save quite a bit.

She might not be the fastest bike on the street, nor the lightest, nor the best handling but with her pipes it'll sound like God's coming to dinner and he doesn't like what's being served. IBA #56452

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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 06:23 PM
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If you haven't done 400-600 mile days before , start werking your way up to them now .. I have an air-hawk air cushion and can go all day now with no issues and I'm an old fart .. But six hundred ish is about my limit any more ..

Make these short hops to get everything on the bike adjusted for you , bars , hiway pegs , back rest , etc .. Be amazed at how much comfort increases with a small change in bar position .. Oh did I ask , you do have a back rest dont you ?

If you still have the heel toe set up , remove the heel and use toe only , a full floorboard is much more comfortable than the half or less with the heel toe set up , and I love heel toe , but a full floor board I love more ..

Tylenol or some other pain med like that , on a trip I take one thirty minutes before I start the days ride and keep taking them all day , makes a huge difference in your comfort ..

Stay hydrated , dont push your self , I stop between 125-150 miles or so , and stop for only ten minits or so , long enuff to fuel up , walk , hydrate , protein bar or chocolate , you take a thirty minit break in the middle of you riding day , and it will throw you out of whack ..

Pack light ..

Have fun ..

Planning for me is just as much fun as the trip ..
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 06:27 PM
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Agree with calgaryglide and would add suntan lotion and chap stick Enjoy your ride but more importantly your family


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Mako Fade Shark added Tour Pak with pass backrest-drivers backrest-pass floorboards-saddle bag guards
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 07:25 PM
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Plan your route accordingly. We left Ohio last year and took the slab most of the way. Big traffic around Memphis and Nashville. I'd recommend the Parkways through KY to Illinois to be able to skirt around Memphis at all cost. Once we hit TX, we went south at Texarkana and took the 2 lanes the whole way to when we went west to Waco on the way down. 79 is a great route to take. 2 lane with most of it 70mph so you won't be losing time or fighting big traffic around Dallas or Houston if you were inclined to go that route.

Don't be surprised by the TX drivers. They're courteous (at least 95%) of the ones we encountered. They move over to the shoulder to let you pass.

Most of the other people have covered the other important stuff.

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