Why did the piston blow?
Thanks, LuvNot, for your interest and your questions. I'll be glad to do my best to answer them:
1) Roughly how much did you budget?
Budget? I just hauled off and did it!
But the cost? That I can talk about. And to answer another question, I did stay in motels, which affected the cost the most. I did that because:
a) I didn't want to haul a tent, sleeping bag, possibly cooking gear and food. It's a small bike; I thought running light was a good idea. It meant that I had to plan to be at a motel and restaurants every day, but that was not hard. It did however mean that I HAD to make a certain number of miles per day. If I were to do as some have said and only make 10 miles in a day on certain TAT sections, I would have been in trouble with no tent.
b) I am an old fart (69 years) and wanted to take a shower and have clean sheets every night.
c) I don't have kids in college, I don't have a mortgage on my house, I don't have payments on my car, truck or motorcycles. So I could afford to do it.
I have not done an exact calculation, but I estimate motels averaged $85-90 per night. I did wind up staying in some ratty places. It's sometimes a crap shoot. And sometimes I was ready for a really nice place after that experience.
So my expenses were roughly the motel, plus gas, plus food. I usually had breakfast at the motel, carried a couple of bottles of 32 oz Gatorade and several bottles of Boost in my milk crate. So I had that for lunch on the road. The Boost provided all the calories that I needed for the day, and was really easy to carry. Then had a pretty good dinner after I found the motel.
Gas prices ran from $2.15 to about $3.75 per gallon depending on how remote the service station was. I got about 60 miles per gallon when going 55 mph, better at slower speeds. Once I went 88 miles and put in one gallon of gas.
A big expense for me was the two major repairs on the bike. I don't know if this is good or bad pricing as I didn't have the option of bidding it out at the time. My first big repair cost $1200, my second $900. I spent about $80 for a dealer to put on new spockets and install the x-ring chain I already had. I bought a new battery in Oklahoma for $35. So what's that? $2,200 - $2,300 for repairs. I would hope nobody else would make the mistakes I did and therefore not have the major repairs. Oh, I put on a new Shinko front tire before the second part of my trip. I think the tire was about $70 and installation $25. So add another hundred there. My back tire now has about 11,000 miles on it and is about ready for replacement.
Oh, and it turns out my speeding ticket in Port Orford cost me $380!!! That stung.
2) What gear did you wear (coat/pants/boots/gloves/helmet)?
I didn't buy anything special. I wore Olympia pants and jacket. Milwaukee boots. A pair of TourMaster warm gloves, but wished I had brought my Gerbing electric gloves. I didn't expect the temps to get so low. I also had a junk pair of summer gloves with the finger-tips out. I just like them. Of course, I mentioned that I have a Gerbing electric jacket liner, which was a life saver. I got my Shuberth C3 Pro helmet when I was at Sturgiss in August (on my Yamaha FJR). I guess it was my luxury item. I thought it was a deal at $500 with the communications kit included. I must admit that I never listened to the radio on the communications set or communicated with anyone else. I like being alone with my thoughts! I had two sets of travel underwear, which I like to call "rechargeable underwear." Almost every night I washed the briefs, long-sleeved T-shirt and smart-wool sock liners out in the sink, rolled them in a towel, mashed that around under my knees, hung them up, and they were dry by the next morning. For warmth, I had a nice pair of lama-wool ski socks that I wore I think every day. I had a set of UnderArmor heat-gear pants and long-sleeved shirt which also helped in the cold. I had boot rain covers, rain pants, and a rain jacket liner. The rain pants and jacket liner were sometimes worn to block the wind for warmth. I think that is about it except for toiletries. Oh, I had a pretty good stock of medicines and bandages in case of emergency. I didn't use any except Ibuprofen, which I took often. I found taking a couple of Ibuprofen at noon helped a great deal with the butt-pain in the afternoon. And I usually took some at night because I was sore all over every day. I do have a nice gel pad that I put on the seat, which made the seat remarkably comfortable. I had all the tools that I knew to fit my bike, and even had tire repair tools, which I was glad to never have to use.
3) Did you do any camping at all, or just motel stays?
As mentioned above, I did no camping. Just motels.
4) Which GPS unit did you have that allowed you to do the live-tracking thing? Was that a SPOT in addition to a TomTom/Magellan/Garmin GPS? Or was it an all-in-one unit?
I decided to spring for the Garmin Inreach system, plus I did navigation using my Samsung 6 Active phone. I paid the ($60) subscription fee to Garmin so that I could have the tracks uploaded every ten minutes, and my wife and others could see exactly where I was any time during the day. That was completely worth it to me since I was traveling alone and the whole issue of having trouble in some remote area was a serious problem. With this I could send texts to my wife by satellite or send SOS signals by satellite. I paid the $18 for a year of insurance through Garmin to cover up to $50,000 of search and rescue expenses, which I thought was an amazing deal. I only used the satellite texts a few times, so I would opt for the lower tier package next time. I had the unlimited plan just in case. After the trip, I suspended the account so that it will only cost the basic $25 per year, and I can activate it again any time I go on a trip.
I was surprised that I wound up doing most of my navigating with the Android cell phone. I had downloaded gpsKevin's tracks on it, and found following those very easy. I think there was only once that the phone did not want to navigate when out of cell phone service area. I had the Garmin Inreach gps as a backup. PLUS I had bought the full set of Sam's paper maps before I left. I used the roll chart for the first few days, but found that entirely too cumbersome and a pain to load the new charts every night. Plus I had too much stuff on my handlebars with the phone and the GPS mounted there. So I wound up taking the roll chart case off. I decided to follow the blue line on my phone and use the paper maps in my tank bag for back-up. And I never had to use the paper maps.
I had rigged a charger cord for the phone to the bike battery. The Garmin Inreach did not need charging during the day. I think it would run three days without a charge, but I charged it every night at the motel.
5) How did you decide on routes once you started going tarmac instead of TAT?
I was in Utah when I finally gave up on the TAT altogether. I had "cherry-picked" it up to that point. I rode much of it in every state until then, but I had done some tarmac in almost every state as well.
Mostly, I used Google maps with the option to avoid freeways to plot routes to the major towns the TAT went through anyway. I would have roughly taken gpsKevin's route through Nevada, but when I tried to make motel reservations, I found that there was no vacancies along that route. There were only small towns with few motels in those places. AND Nevada is very remote, even on pavement. So I decided to go north early and went through the Salt Lake City area because I knew I could find vacant motels there. Unless my target city was in a larger metropolitan area, I usually made a reservation for that night's motel. I didn't want to arrive after a hard days ride only to find no vacancies and have to ride further into the night to find a place to stay.
6)If you were to do it again, what would you change?
A) I would have someone with me! That would make everything more fun, much easier and less scary. But I didn't have anyone who could go, so it was Don't go or Go alone. I'm old. I won't have many chances. I decided to go alone. But I DID have some back-up plans through the Garmin Inreach, and I had AAA. I guess most of all, I had luck. Both times I had a breakdown, someone helped me within five minutes of the breakdown. It could easily have been SO MUCH WORSE. I went through a lot of really remote areas. I am very grateful.
B) I am not an off-road guy. Though I have ridden about 90,000 miles by motorcycle since I began in 2003, I had virtually no experience at off road riding. If I had it to do over, I would take an off-road course before attempting the TAT. Most of what I rode was pretty easy gravel roads, but I kept getting into some really tough situations on remote mountains. They were not undoable for me, but they were uncomfortable for me, especially being alone. And because I am such a beginner, those sections really took me a long time. In fact, I thought this was funny: Google maps kept track of where I went the whole time. It's a standard feature of Google maps. When I got home and looked back through each day's record, Google assumed that I was riding a bicycle when I was on the most of the off-road sections! That's how slow I was going! I think a weekend course in off road riding would have been very helpful to me.
Yeah, I think if I had someone with me I could have done the whole TAT. I would have to carry a tent and sleeping bag because I doubt I would have been able to make enough speed to get to the motel cities. But I'm Okay with what I did. It's enough for me. At my age, I think I'll just stick to being a pavement guy. It was adventure enough for me. I am satisfied with it. I am proud of it. I feel good about it, and will enjoy reflecting back on it the rest of my life. Thanks for your interest.