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International Possible US trip - what to expect?

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by titus, May 31, 2015.

  1. There is a possibility I'll find myself in the southwest USA later this year (their autumn), and I'm contemplation a short three or four day tour out of Las Vegas. I've researched the rentals and stuff, all I need is the finances.
    The one thing that's nagging at me is the relatively huge distances I'll be taking on. I know from experience (a long time ago) that interstate travel means a lot of straight slab between destinations. What I need to know is whether it's feasible to average the fairly high state speed limits in normal traffic conditions. Is it practical to maintain 75mph+ averages on rural interstates? For hours on end? I'll admit that I'm no ironbutt rider. 500km a day is what I'd normally manage on tour but rarely on freeways.
    The other thing is altitude. Some roads exceed 3000m above sea level. I don't suffer from altitude sickness but I've never ridden that high. Anyone had experience of these conditions, and got any tips to offer?

  2. My suggestion is to gear up with a winter/waterproof set with the option of removing the warm thermal for those warm days. That way, you're packing less and have something to take care of any weather condition. Also when it comes to speed limit, just go the speed limit that is addressed & as soon as you notice that you're fatigued, stop and rest. I myself am an auto-narcoleptic where I am unable to drive or ride for roughly 2+ hours at a time without stopping to rest. When it comes to altitude, keep riding as usual but if you notice a sudden sharp strike of pain inside your ear/head, you can either slow down, yawn/swallow or stop until you've recouperated & keep going.
  3. Hmmm, gear will be a challenge for sure. Potentially 38deg+ to below 0. I'm my own worst enemy with distance, I keep going until I'm exhausted instead taking breaks. Must learn to do better.
    And thanks for the wishes Goldenberri.
  4. #5 Vertical C, May 31, 2015
    Last edited: May 31, 2015
    It will probably be cold. A lot of that country is quite high altitude. Utah and Arizona.

    I would be inclined to go from La, then ride the highway 1 instead at that time of year.

    But if you do go to nevada The limit is 80 most of the time and people drive 10 above that. Miles of course
    • Informative Informative x 1
  5. Agree with you VC, but we will be driving Highway 1. My only opportunity to ride is out of Las Vegas for a few days. At least it will be early in their autumn (fall) so I'm hoping to avoid snow. But I'm under no illusions about how cold it can get.
  6. What bike you hiring?
  7. 3000m isn't really an issue for altitude sickness but it will rob a naturally aspirated engine of a measurable amount of power. Anything with a carburettor will start to run rich and you will get a smelly exhaust.

    You are right to be concerned about the temperature at those altitudes, especially early and late in the day. It may of course be quite mild but it is hard to say.

    You can cover quite large distances in a day on American highways. 500 MILES (800km) can be a doddle. There are usually plenty of rest stops along the highways for a good rest.

    US cops usually don't worry if you are only going 10mph over the speed limit out in the country but play it safe in and around the towns.
  8. This may not help as I drove a Mustang over there. We covered 2000 miles in under 3 weeks and it's all very easy driving. Driving 6+ hours in a Day is really easy, I don't know why but it is.
    If you sit on the limit you'll get left behind go with the flow of the traffic on the interstates.
  9. Thinking of a Tiger 800. Was going to go for an F800GS but they wouldn't allow me to take it off sealed roads so I couldn't see the point.
    I'm hoping modern injection will deal with that to some extent.
    Actually this is what I want to hear. Back in the day the national limit on interstates was 55 but now the states set their own (much higher) limits.
    I just need to cover some big distance the first day and I was concerned that the locals might still be slow. Apparently not.
    Thanks guys.
  10. I would want a faired bike personally. 90 all day on a basically naked bike will be tiring and it will be warmer behind a fairings.

    I used the heater on my goldwing in June in Colorado. That was above 3000 in the late evening and early morning though.

    But its your ride.

    Oh and the interstate is just as if not more boring than our freeways.
  11. Fair points, and although I'm not a Goldwing guy there is still a possibility of something bigger and more comfortable. I've got to balance that against the plan to try and include some, er, challenging bits of road.
    I'm not expecting corners on the interstates. Even thinking of taking an Airhawk along to ease the pain.
  12. Sounds like an awesome trip.

    Are you planning to buy some bike gear as well? US prices are cheaper.. .
  13. I'm an absolute skinflint, so it would have to be extraordinarily cheap. But maybe...
    TBH I'd rather spend any spare cash on more saddle time. Maybe a bit of off road around Moab...?
    All depends on me keeping the fam happy. And the weather.
  14. We were reliably advised that highways in the US in and out of Nevada would be quiet. We just happened to pick the weekend that there was a Nascar race in Vegas that weekend. Oh. My. God. I think they lost track of the number of people there for the event.

    Temps can get to below freezing on some of the mountain passes. They usually have warnings posted all over though. The AA there is also very proactive about it.
  15. Confirming that you just go with the flow of traffic on the interstate. Depending on where you are, expect flow to be about 10 miles over the posted speed limit.

    My mom and dad have done 3 rides from San Antonio, Texas to Colorado on their Goldwing. They are not they type to be overly prepared and they did okay. Riding on the interstate is boring as shit (especially in the southwest) and riding at 80 mph will take it out of you. Make sure you have a comfortable, smooth riding bike and layer, layer, layer.

    If you have time, I recommend you head North to Lake Tahoe/Yosemite through the Sierra Mountains. If you can't ride PH1, this is your next best route. It will take a while to get to something interesting out of Vegas and it will be cold, but that part of Western CA/Eastern Nevada is unbelievably beautiful and your best bet for using your time wisely.

    Let me know if you want more info. Happy to help.
  16. Thank you HH, all info gratefully accepted. I'm a long time devotee of the southwest but it's a very long time since I was last there. Rest assured we will be seeing PH1, Yosemite (Tioga Pass) the Eastern Sierras and Death Valley, but unfortunately not by motorcycle (this time). I've decided to use my very limited riding window to tick off as many of the Utah parks as possible, in the knowledge that corners can be few and far between, but the sights are the reward.
    I've had to curtail some of my dual sport ambitions but there will still be a little bit of dirt so I think the Tiger is a reasonable compromise. Not sure I'm ready to take a Goldwing up the Mokee Dugway ;).
    Def need to pack more layers.
  17. Off the interstates you will struggle to do 75mph+. Plan for 65.

    It will be cold in the mornings and afternoons. Altitude won't effect you until 4-5,000ft and then only if you are walking around in a hurry. On a bike you wouldn't notice it until probably 8-9,000ft. Saw plenty of bikes doing 12-14,000 ft passes in Colorado.

    Make sure Zion national park is on your itinery.
  18. We did LV to Lake Tahoe via Death Valley with a night in Mammoth Lakes. What an amazing part of the world with just as amazing roads!

    The only day we had a Harley of course, was the only day of torrential rain! We drove to Reno, collected and Electra glide Classic and did a full loop of Lake Tahoe, very memorable experience.
  19. Thanks again guys.
    Zion is on the itinerary, as is Mammoth Lakes. But sadly not Tahoe. I think the highest point will be in Grand Staircase/Escalante, hopefully mid-afternoon. Highest lodging at Bryce (2400m) - but with no heating! Brrrr.
    I've noticed that Google maps is pointing me to the interstates probably due to the higher limits. A lot of the trip will be state highway I'm not overly keen on pressing my luck with state LEOs off the freeway.
    Cut to the chase, I need to cover 600km in 6 hours, including fuel stops (mostly 75 or 80mph limit). Do-able?