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HOW TO PLAN A SOLO MOTORCYCLE TRIP ACROSS THE USA

LAURA ROSE FITZPATRICK
Writer, Motorcyclist Honda Shadow 750RS @laurarosefitzpatrick
Do you dream of hitting the open road on your motorcycle? Planning a solo motorcycle trip across the USA perhaps? Laura Rose is a motorcyclist from Dublin, Ireland currently residing in New Orleans, who did just that.
With a new motorcycle license and an insatiable thirst for adventure, Laura Rose embarked on a solo motorcycle trip across the U.S.A. from Savannah, Georgia to Seattle and back. Laura Rose took some time out from working on her new book about this adventure and her work as an apprentice in a motorcycle shop in New Orelans to share how she planned her road trip. Are you considering an epic motorcycle road trip across the United States? Need some inspiration? Need some ideas? A little push maybe? Then read on my friend. 
There’s a handy comment box at the end where you can share your own tips or experiences. We’d love to hear them!

These are Laura’s tips for:

How to plan a solo motorcycle trip across the USA.

In an attempt to inspire and encourage women to ride a motorcycle across the USA I have tried to compile an easy step by step guide on how to do so. However, if I am to write this from personal experience I can’t complete an easy step by step guide because my planning was a little more romantic than realistic. It involved watching old western movies, reading Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck books and immersing myself in all things Americana.
I spent more time reading about the West and the American Indian than I did my Sena headset manual. I survived but I would have liked to have known how to change a song on the road. Planning a solo motorcycle trip is a personal process and different for everyone.
It’s impossible for me to cover everything so I will share what I learned from over 10,000 miles of experience on the American road.
In saying this, take precaution, don’t be ruled by your fears, but embrace them and use that energy to fight off any threat.

The first step in planning a motorcycle trip across the USA:

The Motorcycle.

This is quite an obvious one; what bike are you going to ride? This really depends on what type of riding you want to do. I learned whilst on the road that I am a person who is driven by challenge and adventure. If I were to do this trip again I would choose an enduro motorcycle that rides well on the highway with deep treaded tires providing good traction for riding off-road. My poor Honda is emotionally scarred from our road-trip experiences but she remained loyal and reliable throughout. She didn’t complain when we were stuck in the desert and she never broke down when I fed her bad gas in Texas. When choosing a bike think reliability, control, power and most of all connection.  You’ll know when you find the bike that suits you and when you do you’ll learn that this is the only travel partner a girl needs.

The second step in planning your motorcycle trip across the USA: Money.

How are you going to fund this trip and how much does it cost? So you’ve just bought all your riding gear, camping equipment, your bike is serviced and ready to go with money put aside for what you may need miles down the road (new tires, oil change etc.), how much now do you need to set off? This depends on a few things; how long do you want to go? Where are you going to sleep at night? How are you going to feed yourself?  

What I did: 

I recommend taking the longest amount of time you can to cross the country. I planned to be on the road for two months and I budgeted at $50 a day. This included gas, food and accommodation. Gas is affordable if you can avoid the gas stations in National parks. However, when it comes to food, I look back and see how I could have saved money here. Riding 300 miles a day is physically tiring and from time to time you must remind yourself to eat and drink well to maintain focus and fight off fatigue. After a long day a burger and a beer is all I craved and my daily stipend was stretched for these small rewards.  
What I learned: With this in mind, the task for my next trip is to create a portable kitchen on my bike where I can save some pennies and maintain a healthier diet. You can check out some tips on what to pack for motorcycle camping here.

Accommodation for a motorcycle trip across the USA.

As for accommodation, I bounced from camping to motels to staying with friends of friends. I recommend camping to anybody planning a trip like this. America is home to some of the most incredible parks and the best way to experience the magic of the landscape is to sleep in it. I had never camped before this trip and was positively terrified every single time. While this may be true, it was an absolutely incredible experience and gave me the most powerful, rewarding feeling.  

How to plan your route:

Now that you’ve figured out your budget you need to figure out where you are going to go. Will you head East going West or vice versa? What route will you take to get there? I headed West and I personally believe this to be the best direction, primarily based on the sequence of landscape and having sunny California as your final destination.

To plan my route I held up a physical road map of the U.S.A and with a pen I marked the best motorcycle roads to take, all National and State parks and other sites of interest that I wanted to see. I researched each state by googling;

‘Best things to do’, ‘Best roads to ride’ and whatever

else Google spewed at me then I marked it on the map. When the map filled up with dots I began joining them with different colored pens. Getting in close and seeing how I can go from A to B to C. In doing this you begin to see your trip in terms of geography and secondary roads.

Google maps is an invaluable resource whilst on the road but before you get there it’s a fun process to see where strange geological things occur and then plan to ride through it. When you have this marked map with several iterations of where you might go, take it out for other people to see. You’ll soon find that most Americans will have something to add and you may end up with a long list of places to stay throughout your journey.

Top tip when choosing your route across the United States:

For me the most valuable piece of advice I received from sharing my map with people was how altitude is a factor to consider on a route. I had been living in the swamp for months and it never occurred to me how far below sea level I was. So of course if I’m ten feet below sea level now and its hot and humid, what’s it going to be like if I’m 10,000 feet above sea level? Cold and icy at certain times of the year. This realization changed the course of my trip.

With this in mind, remember to drink lots of water when riding in places of high altitude. Of course I never did and paid the price of becoming dizzy and fatigued in the Colorado mountains.

Is it safe to travel solo across the U.S.A?

The American road trip is different from all other journeys. Challenges will arise that you could have never predicted and the fears you did have will vanish. Overall, it is a very easy country to travel as a female on a motorcycle. In saying this, take precaution, don’t be ruled by your fears, but embrace them and use that energy to fight off any threat. For my safety I carried bear spray, I’d arrive at my destination before dark and I didn’t keep food in my tent. That’s really all it came down to in the end. For me the hardest part of doing this trip was snapping up my kickstand and taking the first mile out of here.

In conclusion

To any female who dreams of riding her motorcycle across the USA, I say just go do it, you’ll be fine! The road will rise up to meet you, the wind will be at your back and the sunshine will warm your face. So in Irish, ’Go n-eiri an bothar leat!’

Do you have some tips of your own for planning a motorcycle trip across the United States?

Chime in and share your tips or experiences in the comments below. 

 

4 Comments

  1. Ohene

    So Very Grateful to Laura for sharing this, and to the Motowitch for giving her a forum to do so!!! This was a welcome respite from the monotony of sheltering-in-place and working from home during this pandemic; but it really made me crave the road even more. ❤

    Reply
    • Kojii Helnwein

      Thank you Ohene, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed Laura’s story. May we all be back on the road very soon 🙂

      Reply
  2. Xander Robb

    Great writing, very inspiring

    Reply
  3. Deirdre Vaughan

    Laura- I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting you personally but am a long standing friend of your mother!i now understand where you get your determination from, am proud of you not having met you! Well done young lady!

    Reply

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Laura Rose Fitzpatrick

Laura Rose Fitzpatrick

Guest Writer

Laura Rose is a motorcycle rider from Ireland. Two years ago when she learned how to ride a motorcycle in Savannah Georgia, her opinion and understanding of life in America had changed. This new curiosity and passion for the country inspired her to take a long road trip across America alone. To see for herself what life is like in America her motorcycle travels have only fueled a desire to keep going. An unexperienced motorcycle rider and an aspiring writer, this is the beginning of her journey. Website: laurarosefitzpatrick.com

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