As with any trip or project, there are always things you think of afterwards that you might do differently, and there are events that make impressions on you that last a lifetime. Our trip to North Carolina is no different. There are things that I might do different, some I would not change for anything, and I will definitely remember it for a lifetime. Here is a brief reflection on those things.
Timing is everything. August is HOT! I would definitely wait until late September to make the same trip again. Although it would mean that the roads at elevation might be a bit cooler, it would certainly help with the 100+ Deg F days getting to North Carolina. Unfortunately, the TSRA Sprint ST Rally is the same weekend again next year and we really want to participate. So....
It is advisable not to pack everything including the kitchen sink. The GIVI luggage on the VFR holds so much stuff that I found myself thinking of extra things I could bring just because I had the room and might possibly need them. The lesson: pack light even if you have the room. It is just less stuff to keep track of while on the road. Always bring a sweat shirt, even in the summer, you just never know!
Good photography takes time and effort. It seems that I always feel rushed when I am taking pictures on a trip, this one is no different. It helped putting all of my camera gear in a modified tank bag so that I would have it right in front of me for quick access without having to dismount the bike. But it always pays to spend just a minute thinking about what you are taking a picture of and how you want it to look. I am seldom satisfied with many of my pictures. I would like to take a trip where the photography was more of a priority. Then once I get good at it, I can be quicker on other trips. Most importantly, I took lots of pictures of bikes. However, it was the people that we met on the trip that really made it the exciting adventure that it was. I need to focus on taking more pictures of the people, and remembering their names, something I am terrible at doing.
When you are zipping along the road at a fast pace on the motorcycle, it is not always practical to check out the scenery around you. Therefore, I think it is a good idea to stop every hundred miles or so, whether needed or not, just to stretch and look around, kind of like smelling the roses. It makes all the difference.
Bike to bike communicators rule! All the funky hand signals and gesturing are fine. But when it comes down to it, simply saying, "I have to stop and take a leak!!" is just way easier than the gymnastics you might use while trying to control your bike and riding next to another bike. Also, there were several times where the group was fragmented and out of sight. The communicators have about a mile and half range, so getting close helps you get everyone back together. It is also great to be able to point things out to each other. Although, for the most part, we tend to keep the chatter to a minimum.
There is something fun about sitting down and planning out a trip. I love looking over maps and imagining the roads and what they must be like, what the scenery is like, and what the people are like. But it is also fun to leave part of the trip open so that you can play it by ear as you go along. It is that very flexibility that allowed us to spend such a great time with the Triumph folks.
Now if I could just figure out how to take these trips and make a living doing it!!