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My first trip to Daytona ... and where I went instead


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In the spirit of getting back on the road after a long, cold winter, I thought I’d go to Daytona for a few days of R&R. Heck it’s only 1,100 miles from here and by the beginning of March it has to be thawing out, right? Here’s the story of how I didn’t get there, had a couple of days of good riding and a few lessons that I learned along the way.


I was all packed up and ready to go last Tuesday with the plan of making an early start on Wednesday morning. No cooperation from Mother Nature: 8 inches of snow. But it’s OK the forecast for Thursday is warmer and dry.


So much for weather forecasts … Thursday morning: another 3 inches. However, by lunch time they’ve plowed and salted the daylights out of the streets and I’m on my way. Roughly 450 miles later it’s dark (gotta get aux lights) and cold (in spite of electric vest and polartec). Pulled over at a Super 8 who gave me a nice warm room for the night. I think it was Kentucky Lake just off I-24; they were great – told me to park the bike up front where they could watch it for me.


As Friday dawned the math was pretty obvious; by the time I got to Daytona there would be roughly enough time to have a Diet Coke, stand on the beach for 5 minutes and turn around and ride back. So with the help of my SO back at ride headquarters, I hatched a new plan. How about messing around in Kentucky for a while?


Great idea, rode over to Mammoth Cave National Park, pitched the tent and watched the stars. Rode the back roads for a few hours and reminded myself that my skills need some polishing after the winter. I’d never been in the area before and loved it, my RT even got to ride on a ferry!


Saturday came and it’s time to head home. Without benefit of the Weather Channel, I wasn’t sure what the weather was like on the road, but I knew it was warm (65+) in KY and above 40 in Chicago, so it seemed like a good day to head back. Good logic based on bad data.


After a couple of hours working my way west to Evansville, the winds were really picking up – nice, hairy side winds which were catching the high sail area of my loaded RT (full camping gear loaded on the passenger seat, plus a tank bag, see What I learned, below). Now I know how to counter-steer for wind, but soon I was leaning at extreme/alarming angles just to stay out of the ditch and the closer I got to Indiana, the more exposed the road became. I checked in with the SO and she confirmed that the winds were, indeed, 25mph gusting to 40 out of the south, or perpendicular to my direction of travel.


Now for the good news, as I reached the Ohio River, I had to turn north to cross. My crosswind became a tailwind and I was across the river pretty much without using the engine. In fact, I’m not sure that my tires were on the road.


That lasted about 20 minutes and then the wind started swinging to the west – you guessed it – cold front approaching and so I started fighting the crosswind again. Same wind speed, same gusts. After another hour of that, I quit. Found another Super 8 and ordered a pizza. After all, once the front went through it would be an easier ride, right?


Well not exactly. The wind didn’t die down much, but the temperature sure did drop. As I left southern Indiana my thermometer said about 30 degrees. To cut a long story short it was a long, windy and extremely cold ride back home. The official temperature when I got home was 11 degrees with a 20+ mph wind. I’m not sure what that makes the wind chill, but I can testify, it was cold.


Anyway, that was my trip to (not) Daytona; equal parts fun, pain and aggravation. As I’ve reflected (and thawed) over the last couple of days, I thought a “lessons learned” list might be in order, so here it is:



What I learned

  1. When weather is variable, I should allow more time and be more flexible in my travel plans. If I’d been willing or able to wait a couple of days I could have had a pleasant ride back to Chicago.
  2. When the crosswinds got bad, I should have repacked to reduce the “sail area” of my bike. I could have moved my camping gear onto the top of my side cases as I do when we’re 2-up. Bad decision on Saturday because I hate the way that gear packed that way blocks my mirrors (see comment on GS mirrors, below). On Sunday, I don’t think I was making many good decisions at all.
  3. Hypothermia is real and it’s serious. Looking back to Sunday, I was probably suffering from early- to mid-stage hypothermia for a while. Evidence my inability to make good decisions about repacking my gear and (perhaps more alarmingly) my inability to coherently order food and hot coffee or offer up the correct change at several of my Sunday stops. Even though I stopped more and more frequently as the temperature fell, I just wasn’t dressed for the weather.
  4. Counter-steering into the wind gusts really works. Thanks to the advice from many on this board last year, I knew what I was doing and it worked pretty well. It does feel strange, though, to be going straight at 70mph at a seeming 10+ degree lean angle.
  5. Stuff to buy: GS mirrors are at the top of my shopping list. As the rally season gets going this year, I want to be able to pack properly and see what’s going on behind me. If I set out for a long trip again in questionable weather, I think I’ll be packing a weather band radio. Better information would have helped me make good decisions.
  6. Electrics only are good to a point to keep you warm and you can only add so many layers. After that it’s just cold.


What I’d like to know


In my more lucid moments, I wondered how much you can lean into the wind before you’re on the ground? It seems that there must be some relationship between side forces and bike weight, tire traction, etc. Surely someone here has done the math?


So that’s my story. Ride Safe!




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>had a couple of days of good riding and a few lessons that I learned along the way....(to Daytona)<


You forgot rule #7: Do not rely on the Weather Channel for accurate weather information. Accu-weather radio info or the national WX broadcasts on a scanner will keep you alert to changing conditions. Hell, even a copy of USA Today weather page is somewhat accurate.



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No doubt ... sign me up as another victim of snappy marketing without good quality content. Yes, I could have bought a newspaper.


I guess a moral of my story is that sometimes I'm not as smart as I think I am, or, alternatively, it's never too late to learn.

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I have wondered this also in the recent years cruising thru the desert cities along I 10 in California , one dead give away there is the wind generators arent there to adorn the landscape ....... I was always confident tho that having a 650# plus bike, rider, and gear I was safe to travel In more than I was encountering , altho I was always extremely aware of flying debris , which once was a refrigerator door left untied for the move .

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SC: dEWD, Spring for the GERBING's. No disappointments - ever.


Once you're cold - YOU'RE COLD!! Do yourself a huge favor and get the jacket/pants/socks/ plug it all in and live in the cold. You reside in a region that screams for it - break down - do it once and pay the way to play in the cold. wink.gif

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I know, I know ...


I thought I could get by with the BMW electric vest that I bought last fall. It worked pretty well until last weekend. Clearly wasn't up to the mega-chill of real Chicago winter.


Unfortunately, shaky employment situation dictates strict cash management. But it looks like spring is on the way. cool.gif

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