The Gear

 

The Bike

A 1996 Yamaha Seca II, 600cc. I purchased the bike in December of '98 with only 6,000 miles on it. Longing to take it for an extended ride I took a trip from Virginia to Texas and back in April of '99. This bike, although a sports bike is actually rather comfortable for a long ride. It was actually designed for a better posture and riding position. Although it would be nice to be able to extend my legs from time to time. I've always wanted to ride across the country and after my trip to Texas and back I then realized that I could handle the journey and hoped that this bike could as well.

 

A Helmet

Of course you have to have a helmet in most states and I even wear mine in the states that you don't need to. Mostly because by that time I don't have anywhere else to put it. But also because it does make me feel more secure and protected from the elements..

 

The Sleeping Bag

Yeah, Dad's sleeping bag has come in real handy. However, I strap it right to the top of everything else and occasionally it bounces up and into my back. I had to yell at it from time to time and throw it back.

Please read about my travels to the Florida Keys where I almost bought the farm because of this sleeping bag.

 

A Travel Guitar

A very special treat on this trip. Donated and on loan from Pickers Supply in Fredericksburg, the "Baby Taylor" as it is called is a very nice guitar and actually, although it appears like a toy guitar, it is very professional with extremely good sound quality. The travel guitar has come in handy for those times I've been stuck by weather or just feel like taking a break from riding or for those times that I've had ideas. The neck of this guitar actually comes off and can easily be removed with two screws and it fits very nicely in a smaller, more compact space. I have taken it apart on several occasions to conceal it in my large bag for protection against the elements. I had hopes of making some live recordings while on my trip, but never got around to it. 

 

What's in the bags?

Everything

I have two saddle-bags that rest on the back of the bike. Since these hang down pretty low and sometimes rub against the exhaust I decided to try to keep them light and keep most of my clothes in them.

The much larger bag I have placed in the center of the seat where a passenger would normally sit. This bag has pretty much everything else in it. Cameras, laptop, battery chargers, tools, maps, etc. 

I know it looks very bulky and all the little things do add up to quite a bit but it does look worse than it actually is. The large bag weighs in at maybe 50-60 lbs. and the rest not much more. I have gotten quite a few looks from people and they seemed concerned but when I tell them the obvious they understand. The fact that all the gear added together only weighed in at around 100 lbs. total, it doesn't weigh near what another person or passenger would weigh. Which definitely puts it into better perspective. 

 

A Tent

I really hadn't concerned myself with a tent and didn't originally bring one with me. I decided to see how well I would handle it without one. However, I did see a real small one at Wal-Mart for only $25 so I figured, "Why not?" Since then I have loved this thing. Although the outdoors doesn't really bother me this tent is quite cozy. So very simple to set up I can have it up within a minute. Yeah, I practiced and timed myself. This is actually made for two people and is 6' x 4'. I can just barely lay out fully extended if angled from corner to corner. I could also fit myself AND all of my gear in there, if, and when I had to.

 

Tarp

I had anticipated running into some adverse weather conditions but had put off purchasing some type of protective covering. Procrastinating I thought I would just buy one when I needed it. Waiting too long I had come to the conclusion that when the time came that I needed one, it might be too late. So I stopped at a hardware store and I think that I jinxed myself. As soon as I came outside with my new 8'x10' plastic tarp, it began to rain. I had, since then, been through quite an onslaught of rain and annoying weather conditions. But at least I got the tarp.

 

Bungee Cords

With a few of these everything seems to stay pretty secure and I didn't have to worry too much about things falling off or throwing me off balance. Except for that stupid sleeping bag on occasions. Things did shift over at one time and I thought I was riding in a strong side wind until I realized what was happening. It was quite difficult when I pulled over, getting it all shifted back up right, I almost fell over several times.

 

The Video Camera

With my Sony 8mm video camera I planned to get some good footage to be able to use in the production of a video when  I get finished with my trip. I hoped to edit and mix in my own music for a nice tour of the country. Unfortunately, I kept this camera snuggled deep inside my big bag so I didn't get it out as often as the still camera. So I never really got much video from the trip.
Before the rise of the digital video camera this camera was quite the nice unit. Still like new I use it often and actually enjoy the analog video quality.

 

The Digital Still Camera

Ahh, my favorite toy. I take picture after picture with my Sony Digital Still Camera. The Mavica MVC-FD92 stores the images on the small convenient memory sticks but also has the capabilities to copy and store images to a floppy disk with its built in floppy drive. This has come in handy on numerous occasions. To be able to give anybody a copy of my pictures and to be able to insert a disk in any computer for immediate viewing, without having to install some drivers or worry about connection issues.

I have had a variety of different Mavica models over the past few years and really enjoy this one. Although I would like to have something with a little more resolution, the images from this one have been quite impressive. Printing to as large as poster size has presented some pretty remarkable results.

 

The Laptop

This has been probably the most valuable of all the tools and equipment on my trip. I actually didn't plan on having such a nice tool as this particular laptop but a company in Washington DC donated this unit for my trip. The Sony Vaio PCG-SRX87 is actually a slightly smaller version of their popular Vaio line. With a smaller display of just over 10" this unit takes up very little space and is very light. However, with its Pentium III 850 Mhz processor, 256 Megs Ram, it has all the power of a full system. With the 20 gig hard drive I have plenty of space for all my images, web pages, and software. This unit, like most of the Sony lines also has a built in Memory stick slot for easy upload of my images from the camera.

I wrote a simple program to speed up my downloading of the images. I simply insert the memory stick and click an icon and it copies all the images in all the right folders, ready for me to access.

Those little touch pads drive me nuts so I had to bring an optical mouse with me.

I also have with me a small, external, USB, 20 gig hard drive for extra space and keeping everything backed up.

 

A Tripod or Two

With one full-size tripod and one miniature tripod, I have the flexibility to keep my cameras steady as I do some of the stupid things that I do.

 

A Minidisk Recorder

This little unit is great and I use it quite frequently as I am constantly bombarded with ideas. I have to have quick access to this thing because those ideas also seem to disappear just as fast as they come to me. With the tiny condenser microphone that I made myself, it gives it incredible sound quality.

 

Cell Phone

I haven't had a cell phone in quite some time but finally decided to get one for this trip. It had come in very handy for the most part, but "knock on wood", I haven't had to use it for an emergency yet.

Of course I'm glad that I didn't really have any major problems and get stranded anywhere. Obviously, when I might have needed it the most would have been if I had gotten stuck in some remote area, where there would have been no signal anyway.

 

Clothing

Gee, what do you take on a long motorcycle trip across the country? What do you wear? Well certainly don't concern yourself with fashion sense at all. Travel and pack light but definitely be concerned about the radical weather conditions. Since I am traversing to points way north and then to places way south I have to be prepared for anything, but at the same time not pack too much. Since I'm crossing many distances I do run across radical changes in geography that also affects the temperature and other conditions. One moment I'm taking everything down to a t-shirt while the next I'm bundling up with many layers of clothes. I did turn out to have about everything I needed and even dumped a few things off when I got further down south. I had a very good thick coat, like a ski jacket that slightly faded throughout the trip. Three different pairs of gloves. Several pairs of jeans and a few pairs of shorts for those off road hiking occasions. Several different shirts focusing on a few with long sleeves to keep me out of direct sunlight for long periods of riding. Socks and underwear didn't take up much space so I had about a half a dozen pair of each. One good towel and a wash cloth for those necessary moments.

 

CD's

Since I did have a CD and DVD player with my laptop I brought for my own enjoyment a handful of CD's and DVD movies. I also brought some of my own music on CD's so I can share them and have done so on a few occasions.

 

Minidisks

Using my minidisk recorder for various memos and recording little bits and pieces of songs I had also brought a handful of minidisks with music on them as well. That way I could also erase and reuse them if I needed to. I got some awesome recordings of different sounds like birds and ocean waves.

 

Tools

Just a few bare necessities here. A multi-use screwdriver, a small crescent wrench, and a few other light items. I could do many light repairs myself but definitely didn't have the space to carry too many large tools. Fortunately I never needed them too much.

 

Battery Chargers

Yeah, these are some things that took up some space but were a definite necessity. Charger and adapter for the laptop. A charger for the cell phone. A charger and adapter for the camera battery. The Sony video camera and still camera actually use the same type of battery so that's handy and I only needed one charger for each. 

 

Food

This tends to, of course, change as I eat them. I maintained a few light snacks that I occasionally pulled out as I ended up somewhere and was really hungry. 

 

Maps and Travel Accessories

Maps are minimal. I had one US atlas that I used most of the time. It didn't go into too much detail but when I needed that I had a street atlas loaded on the laptop. This had every street in the US and had become quite handy for looking up things and finding out where the next Kinko's was. Which I also had a little book showing the various locations of those as well.

I kept a handful of leaflets in my bag to hand out.

 

Money?

Nope, didn't bring any money with me. (Just kidding) I carry very little cash on me and mostly use credit cards and my check card for purchases and gas. I really enjoyed paying at the pump. I did have to pay for several of my cards up front for a few months since I was going to be out here for a while.

 

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