Home » 2015 Solo Cross Country Motorcycle Trip

Front Royal, VA

Saturday, April 25, 2015 - 2:45pm by Herb
323 miles and 7.5 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


Up the Block to Start the TripUp the Block to Start the TripAs an electrical/computer engineer of Germanic descent, it might be obvious that I would be a bit of a perfectionist, maybe a bit stubborn, and one who prefers to "do it all yourself", instead of depending upon the supposed expertise of others. I also have almost a clinical fear of failure and/or being made to feel like a fool.

As such, once the idea of this trip had been solidified, I started the process of trying to maximize my chances for a safe, uneventful, and enjoyable journey cross the continent. Both the bike and myself would need to be in top condition. I had the month of March and most of April to finalize my preparations.

My own physical condition was basically sound, as both Lorry and I regularly exercise daily throughout the year. However, I do have some spinal challenges. My lower back L4/L5 when misaligned can develop severe sciatica down to the left toe, and my neck C3/C4 vertebrae result in numbness in two fingers of my right hand. Sitting on a motorcycle without much opportunity for exercise could certainly aggravate both conditions.

Spelunker Burger DinnerSpelunker Burger DinnerSo,,, for the 5 weeks prior to the trip I would take extended rides once or twice a week on my bike into the Catskills and along the Delaware river from our home in northern NJ. I started off with just a hundred miles, and worked up to 350 miles prior to starting the trip. Fortunately, I had a Gerbing heated motorcycle jacket and heated grips on the bike that allowed me to ride even when the temperature dropped below freezing. I even had to dodge a snowstorm once in the Catskills before returning the the relative safety of I95 and the slab of highway for the ride back home.

My Bike, a Honda ST-1100 with a water cooled V4 engine that I purchased new in 1996 also needed to be in top shape for the trip. While it had over 40K uneventful miles on the odometer, there were still a few things I needed to take care of before this trip.

First on the list of bike maintenance was the brakes. This particular bike, especially when ridden over salted winter roads has a tendency to develop corrosion in the aluminum brake calipers where the piston seals are seated. As such, the brakes may seize in the ON mode at the most inopportune time, resulting in continuous breaking and possible overheating of the brake disks. Don't ask me how I know that it costs $450 for a replacement front disc. Anyway, I did a complete rebuild of all brake pistons, seals, and front and rear calipers.

I also changed all brake and clutch fluids, rear differential fluid, and cooling fluids. Spark plugs, air filter, and battery were also replaced. Finally, the rear drive shaft gearing was lubricated and wheels removed for new tires and balancing at the local Honda motorcycle dealership. FWIW, tire changes where the only maintenance items that I had performed by a dealer in almost 20 years of ownership.

I also put together a comprehensive repair kit of tools, spares, and even tire compressor and patch kit that I hoped would keep me on the road in case of mechanical failure.

Scottish Inns RoomScottish Inns RoomI put together a packlist and organized my gear in both side saddle bags, the rear GIVI bag, front tank bag, and two waterproof duffle bags that held clothes and camping gear. The plan was to motel it most days, but camp out whenever a beautiful warm opportunity presented itself.

When the day of departure finally arrived it was with a mix of excitement, anticipation, and mild fear that I kissed Lolo and started riding up our block towards the west coast. We had rarely been apart for this length of time during our 30 years of marriage so I was uncertain if loneliness would be a factor. Fortunately, modern electronics once again would help. I had a new Sena motorcycle audio system with which I could use the cell phone to both navigate, play music, and also call Lolo periodically for updates. In addition, we were location sharing on Google Maps so that Lorry could literally track my progress on computer monitor. This would prove to be quite useful when crossing Texas.

Day one went pretty much as planned. I rode from our home south down 287, across the Delaware River on 78, to 81 past Allentown PA, Harrisburg PA, and eventually to the Scottish Inns in Front Royal, VA. This was primary interstate highways which Lorry and I had done once before so it was pretty uneventful. It did serve the purpose however of positioning me at the start of the scenic Skyline Drive which would be the highlight for tomorrow.

Front Royal location map in "high definition"

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