My 1986 Honda Rebel is packed with everything I need for Columbus.

My 1986 Honda Rebel is packed with everything I need for Columbus, and the rainy drive ahead.

Not using a car as my transportation has both benefits and drawbacks. But the biggest benefit is planning out longer rides. My packing styles and riding ability have definitely changed since I first struck out on a trip, but the basics stay the same.

Riding Problems

The biggest problems I’ve found while being on the road are mainly fatigue, and not being able to see my map (that white thing on the top of my tank) at night. It also gets a lot more tiring for long trips on a motorcycle rather than in a car. While I can drive an easy 12 hours in a car or van, I definitely stop about every hour on a motorcycle.

What I’ve found helps with fatigue is whenever I stop for gas, about every 100-150 miles (though my range is near 200), I do squats. Not the barbell squats, but just standing, with my feet apart, and dipping down, and standing back up. It’s a simple exercise, but it gets the blood pumping through my legs and butt, and gives me time for my coffee to cool.

Places I’ve Ridden

I’ve ridden my bike all over Michigan’s lower peninsula, and to a few places in Ohio, and have had my share of adventures doing so. A lot of what’s happened with my bike was due to ignorance of the issues, but I’ve practically replaced everything on it at this point, so it’s a pretty save drive now.

Some of my more notable trips were:

  • Columbus, Ohio: my first major trip on my Honda Rebel was to Columbus to see some friends. It rained hard the whole way there and back, and I still had my old tires on, so my traction wasn’t great. Therefore, I made the trip going about 45-55 mph the entire way, while it stormed, at night. The weather was the same on the way back. It took a ridiculously long time.
  • Kalamazoo, Michigan: My best friend in college was having a wedding shower in Kalamazoo, so I took my bike. I didn’t know that I’d be leaving my exhaust collars behind. On the way back, I could barely make 55mph, and had to stay in 4th gear. I never thought to stop and look at the bike, though. My thinking was “it’s still running, so I’ll keep going till I get home.” That’s really not the best way to think about things.
  • Almost to Columbus again: I had a job interview in Columbus, and as a non-car-owner, I put my bike together, got my riding gear on, and headed for Columbus. I’d done the drive before, so I knew what the worst of driving experiences would be. Unfortunately, completing the trip wasn’t going to be in the plans. At around mile marker 60 on US-23 (I-96 exit), I lost my right shock. It broke off. Instead of pulling over to see why my ride was suddenly more bumpy, I was determined to make this interview. I continued till I was at mile 17, the Dundee exit. I parked in a Kroger parking lot, and looked at what happened with my bike. My friend Leona picked me up; the bike fits in the back of her minivan.

Friends I Ride With

I have two motorcycle friends that I like to go riding with, though we generally just stay within a one-tank trip. Riding to Hell and back makes for a fun introduction, but when people find out there’s just a bar and an ice cream shop in Hell, then they’re usually disappointed (unless they’ve been there before). Both of my friends also have a lot of riding and repair experience, so they’ve been able to help guide me and my broken bike ways. Leona and Shelley mean a lot to me. Leona’s two main bikes are a Honda CB750 and a Kawasaki 454, both vintage, and Shelley’s main bike is a Honda Interceptor 800. The CB750 and Interceptor are way too tall for me to ride, but the Kaw 454 is fun to drive. Shelley also has a Yamaha Exciter SR250 – it’s 100% stock!

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