Sunday, June 7, 2009

Motorcycle rides; when is too far to far???

Morning everyone, I’ve got a question for you. I guess this goes out to the more experience motorcycle riders out there but anyone is welcome to chime in. How far is just too far to ride? Here’s my problem, I’ve been thinking of riding my bike to the big Sturgis Rally this year.

THE PROBLEM? …It’s in Sturgis, South Dakota and I live in Petal, Mississippi. That’s a little over 1500 miles one way…oh yea and I would only have a week off from work to do it. I just did a little work on Google maps and it looks like 3,442 miles round trip. Yeah I know, I added a side trip back through Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
It just looked like the proper time to get some of those pesky northern states added to the States I have been mapping, out of the way (see map below).

LETS BREAK IT DOWN…I would have 9 days off (Saturday-Sunday) lets say 3 of the 9 days for the Rally…so that leaves me 6 days to get there and back…3,442 divided by 6 = 573 miles a day of riding time…hmm is that to much??
I know, I know it can be done…but is it too much too really enjoy yourself? Truth is, it's more about the ride for me, the rally itself. Well lets just say I’d love to say I’ve been there, but I know myself well and feel sure I’d only spend one or two days at it at the most. For me it’s the journey…not the destination
as many bike riders have said before me. I guess I should mention that around 400 miles in one day is the longest I have ridden in one day….I do remember it to be an easy ride, with energy to spare. So what do you think…easy ride? Or, is it something I should think long and hard about?
Big Al


Allen Madding said...

consider what you figure your average speed will be and how many hours it will take to knock out your miles per day requirement. Such as 60 mph x 8 hours = 480 miles plus time for fuel and meals. Then ask yourself, do I think I can ride thee solid days, rest three days, and ride three more solid days.

After commuting for 18 months and some 4 hour rides. I set off on an 8 hr ride. I enjoyed it and did not have any problems, but I doubt I would have been up to do it for an additional two days. That doesn't mean you can't. You might ride to Sturgis and elect to shorten your return plans.

Let me suggest this idea. You have a preliminary plan. Now work up two alternative plans. What if plans if you will. Plan B, what if I have some mechanical problem and it takes me an extra day to get there? What is my alternative return trip plan? Plan C, what if I just don't feel like 3-4 days on the way home? If you have several contingency plans, you will be better off before setting out.

I know I can successfully ride 12 hrs and then I need rest. And on a trip like you are considering, I would personally make a miles per day plan and then try to do a little more than the plan on day one and two. Then if I hit bad weather or a flat tire or something, I'm not behind the 8 ball.

Whatever you decide, make sure that you have enjoyment factored in. Its difficult sometimes to knock out all the miles and enjoy too. If you have three days in Sturgis, I'd imagine you'd have time to relax and enjoy. I doubt you'd really want to spend a whole week "in" Sturgis. But the landscape just outside Sturgis is well worth drinking in.


Paige said...

Just stopping by from Blogger's "Blogs of Note." What a great blog you have. I will be back soon to visit agian! Have a great week.

the rider said...

500+ miles per day is a lot but we have found that an early start with about 150 under the belt and then a stop for a good breakfast and a break helps a lot. Later in the day you will start getting tired so it is usually best to get most of the mileage done in the first part of the day and taper off in the afternoon. Good luck, go for it, I will read with interest.
One of my goals is to visit Sturgis one day, many South African bikers have done it and so will we.

Annie said...

We trailer out to Sturgis every year, but we generally go for two weeks, and do as much riding as possible.

We are older riders, my husband has some minor health issues, and we both detest riding in bad weather, so that sums up our preferences.

I do have to share with you, on our trip back one time we were going through miles and miles of corn fields and we ran into some sort of 'bug storm'. Whatever these things were they hit the windshield like hail relentlessly for over an hour. Motorcycles were pulled off the road to get out of it.

There's a lot to be said for the adventure of riding to Sturgis, and I guess you really wont know unless you try it.

chessie said...

It depends on you. 500 miles a day isn't that bad, unless your not into driving alot, wind noise, vibration, inclement weather that you will struggle to get through... Swelling hands, sore butt...

I love it all...I've done it (do it)...but I would only do 2 days at Sturgis, and use the extra day for allowance to relax while on the road. Two days in Sturgis is enough for me...

I enjoy not having to struggle with a daily mileage log. So having the extra day to meander makes my riding to and from pleasurable.

kathy said...

It's easy to do 500-600 miles on the first day out. The adrenaline is high and the ride is new. The following days seem to get a bit longer, so plan for less miles. We did a trip from Ft. Lauderdale to Nashville, TN in 10 days - 2700 miles round trip. We spent 4 full days on the bikes - 2 to get to NC - one to ride the Dragon and through the Smokey Mountain National Park - and one to ride from NC to TN. Then we spent 1 day at a friend's house, 1 day riding to the rally, 3 days at the rally, then 2 full days on the bikes back home. This was our first long trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The earlier you start the better. Leave really early and stop for a hearty breakfast. Plan to stop before dark and get a good night's rest. It makes such a diference.

Sturgis is on our list - just not this year. I say go for it - life's too short to wait. You just have to ride your own ride - at your own pace. Stop when you're tired and don't worry about how many miles you need to go. With riding - it's all good. You can always cut short the drive home and get those states another time.

bikerphoto said...

I ride each year from Baltimore to Daytona Bike Week. I divide that trip into two days each way, which is about 375 miles a day. My record in one day is 640 miles, and that give you NO TIME at all to stop along the way, look around, take leisurely breaks.

A few weeks ago I rode from Baltimore to Charlotte and back on a two day weekend, riding about 200 miles Fri night after work, staying in a hotel, and then another 250 miles on Saturday to arrive in Charlotte. Sunday I rode all the way back to Baltimore (450 miles in the rain). For me, anything more than 300 miles in a day is pushing the limit of enjoyment and safety, but I do ride farther sometimes.

Steve Hoedt said...

Hey Big Al: If I might mention one word, that all of us two-wheelers hate, RAIN. I got caught in 2006 300 miles from booked motel room and forced to leave the room I was in. Ride from HELL... soaked through, pouring puddles out of my boots at regular intervals, trucks up my azz at 55 mph, cant see squat, full body shivers after 3 hours, aaaah twas truly a time to remember! YEECH! But whatever you decide, good luck and dont ride tired. Good blog by the way.

Darcy said...

I see your age but what are you riding? It would be a great trip. Going by yourself or with a passenger? I'm thinkin Allen has the right idea, actually all have good input. Take a weekend before and ride 575 miles and see whats what, could you do it 3 days straight, probably. But what will you feel like doing the 4th day?
Life is short, go for it.

GYMONR said...

Morning everyone thanks so much for the input:
Allen Madding: looks like you’re the math major of the group. Ha-ha you saved me a lot of time counting on my fingers and toes…looks like around nine hours a day…hmmmm?
Paige: welcome…welcome…welcome!!!!
The Rider: Mmmm food, you sound like my kind of rider. Ha-ha
Annie: hmm can’t wait to have that much time off (my time is coming soon…I hope) oh yea you could of left the part of the bugs off. Ha-ha. As for putting my bike on a trailer…well Chessie (below) as already threaded my life if I trailer my bike…I got to admit I’m a tiny bit scared of her…ha-ha…just kidding chessie you know I love you 
Chessie: you know me well by now, I will be lucky to spend a day in Sturgis…there are just so many things out there to see and do.
Kathy: I agree it’s not how many miles you ride…it’s the journey..
Bikerphoto: yea that what I’m afraid of , as much as I love to ride I don’t want to spend all my time just ridding…I want some time to play!!!
Steve Hoedt: dam!!! You had to mention RAIN!!! I was trying to block that out. Ha-ha.
Darcy: I’ll be riding a Yamaha 2008 v-star 1100….I’ll be riding alone
Thanks everyone again for the input…I have made my decision and will post it on my next blog (cliff hanger) don’t you just hate people that do that. Ha-ha.
Big Al

Natalie said...

You only live once. You might as well try.

Baron's Life said...

The longest I've done in one day is 612 miles...and it was a killer on the bum....sounds like you're in for fun...ride safe.

blorange dice said...

Wow, this is awesome! First blog I've ever visited about a motorcyclists. (: I don't know if you've already been, but I go to school in Arkansas, and it's absolutely beautiful; although, I hear the summers are pretty humid... I'm sure you'll enjoy it anyway!

Ann said...

I say go for it. Just remember to bring your Aleve. :)

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jwc082 said...

Sturgis is an amazing place. I knew a guy who rode there from Missouri while his two kids sat on the bike with him - one behind him, one on his lap. There's some wild stuff going on there.

As for the trip, figure out if it's worth it money wise, as well as fun wise. I mean, if you don't enjoy riding, and you'll have to lug yourself 500 miles for three days because you can't slow down to spare the cash for another hotel room and food, then decide if 6 days of hell riding on the interstate are worth it for the bike festival. See what I mean?

I rode 300 miles on my BMW K75 one cold afternoon in April and it was a mistake. I mean, when I could have left earlier and enjoyed myself, I had to haul as fast as I could the whole trip - because I didn't have the option of stopping in a hotel overnight. Planning ahead really can save you a lot of pain. Personally, I would rather take all the back roads to Sturgis, so that I could enjoy the trip and see something I've never seen before. A wise man once said that if you travel 100 miles in one hour you will see nothing, but if it takes you 10 hours to go one mile, you will see everything. I wouldn't really go that slow, but you get what I'm saying. It's hard to enjoy the trip when your teeth are clenched the whole way.

It depends on what it's worth to you. If you like trucking for long stretches and just want to get to Sturgis, and you feel comfortable, go ahead and try to make it in 3 days, but definitely plan ahead for stuff like bad weather. But if you've got another few days and can afford to take the back roads and enjoy yourself, to me it sounds a lot more feasible, and fun. Something you'll remember.

Anonymous said...

nice post

Anonymous said...

My parents rode to Sturgis from Houston, Texas. I do not remember how much time they had to do it. I know that they both thoroughly enjoyed it.

Susan D said...

Greetings, Happened on your spot thru the Blog of Note. I ran into a friend of mine just a couple days ago who made the trip last year. She said it was grueling. Not so much the ride out there, but the ride back home. I asked her if she'd do it again and her response, "NO. I'm glad I did it, but I won't do it again. Next time, we're trailering them." And we live much closer to SD than you. She rides a Low Rider. Blessings, SusanD

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Anonymous said...

I could never discourage anyone from going to Sturgis. We live in Colorado and make the ride, there is soooo much to see in the area. For us it should be an 8 hour ride but last year took 4 days before we ever reached the City of Sturgis because of all the side trips we did along the way. For us, one day in Sturgis was enough to see all the vendors on the street, we preferred to see the sights in the surrounding area. Make the won't be disappointed

MeanDonnaJean said...

Ah hell, boy....stop all them silly mathematical equations, slap on yer leather, pull up them chaps 'n just go for it! You'll be kickin' yerself in the ass if ya don't.....or, *I* may just come 'n kick yer ass if ya don't! (fyi...ya ain't gonna see MY sickly 53 yr. old fat ass makin' that rough haul any time soon. I may be MEAN but I sure ain't CRAZY! LOL).

Pinky said...

DO IT! Trust me, it's worth it. I did it two years ago, and live in Shreveport -- round trip with our side trips to get in a few extra states, it was right at 4,000miles. We had ten days total and only spent three at Sturgis, but that was plenty of time. The ride was something we'll always talk about. Of course, one day we did a 700 mile day, so if you're not up to that, it might be disheartening. We didn't plan it that way, but had some mechanical problems and were a bit delayed. I wrote an article about it in Whiteline magazine and you can read it in the archives or go to my blog -- it's not posted there yet, but I'll get it there in a couple of days. Email me if you have any questions.
The blog is

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Julie said...

The longest ride I've done in a day is 500 mi., but that was before I had a windshield. I remember being pretty whupped the next day. I don't think it's a matter of the mi. being too much per day as much as it being three days in a row of that hard riding.

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States I’ve traveled to over the years

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