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Hittin’ the road?

May 31, 2011
GTS, with pace notes

The GTS, with old-skool GPS

Have you noticed how many people are planning long road trips on scooters and small motorcycles? Maybe you have your own plans… and you’re wondering how to prepare, what to bring, etc. Back when this here blog was getting started, Shreve Stockton’s Vespa Vagabond, a journal of Ms. Stockton’s journey from San Francisco to New York on her Vespa ET4, was one of the top scooter blogs. In the most recent post, she answers a reader’s questions about the very subject of long journeys.

Longtime readers will recall the 2008 Oregon Road Trip I made on the PX. It was an interesting exercise, but I’m not ashamed to admit I wouldn’t do it again, at least not on a bike like that. The reader plans to do her trip on a GTS 250, which would be a much more comfortable mount, but I think any scooter capable of at least 60 mph would make sense.

Since Ms. Stockton made her trip, GPS navigation devices have become quite cheap; one of these would be better than having a bunch of maps (or even old-skool GPS, aka pace notes). AAA’s Plus RV membership includes towing for motorcycles and scooters and is a worthwhile investment. Of course, have your scooter thoroughly serviced before you leave, and get new tires while you’re at it. Carry some basic tools and a few spare parts, because things can break at the worst possible time, and most likely will do so in a place where the local repair shop has never seen a scooter up close.

I’ve personally found 200 miles, give or take, to be a comfortable daily distance (your mileage may vary, of course). And I second Ms. Stockton’s advice about hydration and snackage—fruits and grains are better than junk food. Oh, and if you take medications, make sure you have a sufficient supply (or are able to get refills along the way).

Follow Rick Steves’ advice and pack light, but make sure you have sufficient clothing for any weather you are likely to encounter. And above all, keep the rubber side down. Favicon

  1. May 31, 2011 6:28 am

    Orin: I think there is something alluring in the American experience about a road trip whether in a car, bike, motorcycle or scooter. Growing up I heard all through high school about mythic trips to California by kids who had graduated. Riding away from home is an act of independence and may be the strongest sense of tangible freedom we ever feel. Maybe that’s the lure.

    As I play with maps and locations juggled against time and circumstance I feel the road trip song louder every day.

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  2. May 31, 2011 1:37 pm

    Make the time, Steve. You’ll be glad you did! 😉

  3. May 31, 2011 2:38 pm

    Steve, we’d welcome you in CA with open arms!

    Cross country trips on 250 or larger scooters have become pretty commonplace. Doing it on any size scooter is an accomplishment, but I think there’s something more adventurous and ambitious (and romantic) about doing these kinds of voyages on sub-200cc scoots. It’s the trips like Alix’s PEACE Scooter ride and TrackPete’s trip to the arctic on a Ratler 110 that are not just interesting to me, but downright inspiring.

    Someday… (as too many of us say…)

  4. May 31, 2011 7:28 pm

    I would love to make a trip to California and then up the coast to Orin country. Right now I can’t see how to make it happen unless I retire or something.

    And I see the doctor in the morning to begin the search for why I feel like crap a lot of the time lately.

    Someday…. (I’m one of the too many)

  5. Jack Riepe permalink
    May 31, 2011 8:49 pm

    Dear Orin:

    I had to laugh at the picture of the directions taped to the dash of the scooter. Years ago, 2005, when I started riding any distance again, I bought a plastic sleeve from Whitehorse Gear. It had four magnets in the corners and its purpose was to hold an open map steady on the gas tank. Only when I laid it down on the K75’s tank did I realize it was aluminum, and the device was useless to me. Now I have a Garmin on the handlebars.

    Ride far… Drink well… And multiply…
    (Ancient Vulcan Farewell)

    Twisted Roads

  6. May 31, 2011 10:50 pm

    My slightly more high tech version: Printout from Google Maps taped to the glovebox!

  7. June 1, 2011 6:35 pm

    Having just returned 24 hours ago from an epic, 600-mile roundtrip from Nashville, TN to SEMO, I wish this would have been posted last week. 😉 All went well, but I gotta tell you — the wind in SEMO on U.S. 60 is a m*****f*****. I wasn’t sure I was gonna make it, but being 85% to my destination, I forged ahead.

  8. Dave permalink
    June 2, 2011 11:10 am

    One trick I learned for directions is to write them on the windshield with a dry erase marker. That way you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to look at directions. When you get to your destination just wipe off the directions with a cloth or paper towel.

  9. June 2, 2011 12:57 pm

    An excellent suggestion, Dave! The PX didn’t have a windscreen, and anything you tried to tape to the headset blew off in short order; that’s why I put my old-skool GPS Post-Its on top of the glove box.

    Now that I have the GTS, I write pace notes on a sheet of reporter’s-notebook paper and tape it to the windscreen with low-tack Scotch Tape (the blue label)…

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