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I wanted to share some thoughts on my first trip on my 900 with the actual planning and ride itself. As a background note, I moved up from the 500 to the 900 a couple months ago. I have never really camped in the past, nor gone on a bike trip of over 150 miles. My goal with getting the Vulcan 900 was to be able to do some traveling on the bike, and I would like to go out West this summer, possibly to Yellowstone (I am in Illinois).

As a starting point I felt it would be good to go on an overnight trip in the area to see how I liked it, to learn about planning a trip and to learn what changes I need in supplies or planning. I kept waiting the past couple weeks for decent weather for a Thursday-Friday trip, and last Thursday it was raining in the morning in the north suburbs of Chicago, but by afternoon it appeared I could go. My travel route was to go out to Galena, IL (about 160 miles away) on Thursday, camp out, then do some roads in that area Friday (that I found on motorcycleroads.com). I then would proceed to Savanna, IL, along the Mississippi River, and continue down to Dixon, IL (Ronald Reagan's boyhood hometown). From there, travel up to Rockford via Rt 2, which goes along the Rock River, and then back home. Only travel on the slab would be about 20 minutes. (On a side note, the night before I did the gas gauge fix with a 270 ohm resistor, and it worked like a charm! At half a tank I was at 110 miles, it was consistent up and down the gauge, and even though it does not change the fuel light, it appeared to work better as I have had it on before around 130-140 miles, and I was at about 165 miles and still not on. Really a good mod for me...thanks!).

I packed up the bike which went well, with rain gear in one saddlebag, tools and such in the other saddlebag, a saddleman's seat bag and then my sleeping bag/mat on the luggage rack. I barely had any clothes but already felt like there was a lot....wonder how it will be for a 10 day trip! I was about ready to leave when I realized I didn't do a pre-ride check, especially tires. Luckily, I found that I needed 10 lbs of air in both tires.

There was a rain threat, with it being cloudy and cool (mid 50's), so I wasn't thrilled with that, but the trip to Galena went really well. I made decent time but since I started out later in the day (after 3) I did no side trips. It took about 3 1/2 hours and got to the camp site and set up the tent by 7:30. I rode back into downtown Galena, found a sports bar, plopped down and ate dinner while watching the first period of the Hawks game. I didn't stay for the rest due to wanting to get back to the camp before it was too dark.

Overnight camping was fine....even in low 50's I was comfortable in the tent, which was a concern. Packed up the next morning and was out by 8 am. Checked out US Grant Park in Galena, then went out along Old Stagecoach Rd. A nice ride with some hills and sweeping twisties (especially for Illinois), where I ended up nailing my first wildlife with my bike. A dove flew up and smacked into my windshield. I could only imagine if I didn't have the shield it would have smacked me in the chest or helmet. It was a good experience to hit that and not be rattled and keep total control of the bike. I then proceeded down Scales Mound Rd (another route from the web) and that was enjoyable too. They said you would see deer, and that I did. I continued down to Savanna, IL which goes along the Mississippi River, so there were some bluffs and enjoyable scenery. Grabbed gas...proceeded to Dixon, IL which was more of a open farmland ride.

The day on Friday was beautiful...sunny and low 70's. In Dixon, I checked out Reagan's boyhood home which I actually enjoyed...a good couple side stories about Reagan were told. Ate a late lunch, and then to Rt 2 which goes alongside the Rock River for about 40 miles. This was a great scenic ride. Rode through Castle State Park with some twisties and tree covered rodes. There is a statue of Chief Blackhawk overlooking the river on the opposite bluffs. Would not mind riding that route again. From Rockford I then traveled back rodes to home, and 25 hours and 400 miles after setting out, I was back home.

Overall thoughts.....first, really enjoyed the challenge of getting away. I had no problem riding by myself and having fun. Second, need to get bike ready with more time....not a good idea to rush to get out of town. Third, mustang seat was a great purchase! I had no problem riding multiple hours. Towards the end my shoulder/upper back was getting a little sore (doesn't help I have rotator cuff issues), but I have phatrisers at home that I need to install so that might help. Things I forgot includ a towel for a shower, the ipass for the short time on the slab, kleenex and tp (just in case). Rain gear and my own coat take up extra room...want to get the Joe Rocket alter ego coat that covers a range of weather. I also took two helmets on this trip...a full and a half helmet. I wanted to experience both but for a longer trip I don't think space wise that would be convenient.

Hope you don't mind that this was long....I wanted to share. Any thoughts about traveling on longer trips or tips I would certainly appreciate. I am definitely convinced that I want to go on longer trips. I will post a few pictures too.
 

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Discussion Starter #2

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drgck,

Great write up, thanks for sharing. Good idea on the one day trip to iron out the issues etc. My solution has always been to carry the plastic card and buy what I forget, when possible, but that doesn't work all the time...
 

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Great trip summary. Have been wanting to try camping with just the bike. Your pics are wonderful (since I have never seen that part of the country, so green). You'll have to figure out how to carry more clothes for a 10 day trip, but you'll find a way. Did you find anything you packed that you could do without (mainly any camping gear)? That will free up some space. If you have ever back packed, this will give you an idea on what to pack and save space (though my longest was 5 days when I was a kid).
 

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You'll have to figure out how to carry more clothes for a 10 day trip, but you'll find a way.
That's an easy one. Pack 3 days worth of clothes plus the ones you start out on (4 days total). On day 4, stop for lunch. There ussualy is a diner near a coin-op Laundry. 35 minutes in the wash and 20 in the dryer while you eat and your back on the road with 3 fresh days worth of clothes. On day 7, rinse and repeat (sorry but had to be said :) ). This gets you to day 10 and hopefully your house. Cuts your clothing space down to 1/3 that of a different set for each day. In the longer trips I have taken breaking it down like this makes the trip managable.

In addition, pre-planning a town or city to stop in for a laundry visit can also mean ensuring the town has a shop in it. This way if there is some unforseen needed adjustment (cable, oil, belt, tire, etc.) it can be taken care of while part or all of your laundry is being done along with giving you piece of mind along the way.

Just my 2 pennies, ride safe.
 

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That's an easy one. Pack 3 days worth of clothes plus the ones you start out on (4 days total). On day 4, stop for lunch. There ussualy is a diner near a coin-op Laundry. 35 minutes in the wash and 20 in the dryer while you eat and your back on the road with 3 fresh days worth of clothes. On day 7, rinse and repeat (sorry but had to be said :) ). This gets you to day 10 and hopefully your house. Cuts your clothing space down to 1/3 that of a different set for each day. In the longer trips I have taken breaking it down like this makes the trip managable.

In addition, pre-planning a town or city to stop in for a laundry visit can also mean ensuring the town has a shop in it. This way if there is some unforseen needed adjustment (cable, oil, belt, tire, etc.) it can be taken care of while part or all of your laundry is being done along with giving you piece of mind along the way.

Just my 2 pennies, ride safe.
+1!

And, okay, let's just be honest- you're camping. You won't suddenly kiel over and die if you re-use a T-Shirt once. I'd be inclined to pack several pairs of socks and underwear but still get by on only a few shirts and shorts/jeans. Granted- that depends entirely on the weather. In the middle of a heat wave when you're sweating quite a bit- maybe not.

You can ALSO do laundry on the campsite! Just do some googling. There are lots of products out there, and techniques, for washing your clothes in a river or lake, or just using a couple bottles of water and a bag. Hang to dry- voila!

Another option, which is what the wife and I plan on doing, is a hotel room mid-way through the trip. There are hotels with on-site laundry and even some with the washer/dryer (combo unit) built into the room. You stay in a hotel one night instead of camping, do laundry, get a good shower in (better than a campsite shower or a truck stop!), etc.
 

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I love reading things like that. If you are near Northern Iowa on your way out west, you are more than welcome to shower/sleep at my house. PM if you are interested. Safe riding!
 

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Sounds like you're ready to stretch the ride a bit.
Try the Lake Michigan Circle Tour. 1,000 miles and a couple of days. The Michigan portion is particularly scenic. Google "tunnel of trees".
 

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trip ideas

drgck-nice wright up! sounds like you had fun. if you head out that way again, i suggest heading to Lena, Il. that's were stagecoach trail starts and you can follow that all the way to galena. from galena, take blackjack road to hanover road to derinda road which becomes scenic ridge road and takes you into savanna. lots of curves and lots of fun! plus check out Poopy's in savanna. it's a very popular biker bar. they have a website you can check out. i live north of you in the rockford area and this is one of our favorite day trips.
 

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Well my question to you drgck, How do feel the 900 did compared to the 500. Do you think you could of used a bigger bike?
 

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forgot to mention

also worth checking out in Savanna-the Ironhorse Saloon and Palasades state park. the park has an amazing overlook of the Miss. river and camping too...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Sorry for the late response but thanks for the suggestions. Dranzaz....yes, I read about just packing for 3 extra days and then washing clothes, it's a good idea. Romans5.8.....yes, I thought also that I will use a hotel for one or two nights, especially after the longer day rides. However, I didn't put that together with washing clothes...a good time to do it. Defiant.....thanks for the offer! My initial plans heading out is to stop at Pikes Peak State Park, and thus be able to ride part of the Great River Road along the Mississippi. Johnnyplano.....I heard going around Lake Michigan is a real nice ride. I do plan on trying that but in the back of my mind I am hoping to get my girlfriend on the back and do that trip with her. Doughnuts....I took part of the Stagecoach trail but did not do blackjack road. I also heard about Poopy's and thought going through Savanna I would have seen it, but alas, I didn't. I need to check out ahead of time what street that is on.

ErnieC.....I enjoyed the 500 for trips around town, very easy to handle and you could ride it in a sportier manner. However, did not enjoy it on the slab. The 900 feels much more stable, and with the mustang seat it is comfortable. Also, with being bigger I feel it holds more luggage and such. Even though I pretty much avoided the slab on this trip, I did have the 900 on it yesterday for about 45 minutes, and at 70 and under it was fine. Over 70 I keep wishing for another gear. Whenever possible I will stay away from the slab on longer trips as it is much more enjoyable seeing the countryside and smaller towns. I think personally if I was on the slab more frequently, or going two-up on longer trips, then a bigger bike than the 900 would be more preferable.
 

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Its been years since I lived in the area, but I think Poopy's is on the south side of Savanna, on 84.
I've heard some of the roads between Galena and La Crosse make for a nice ride, but moved to Texas before I ever got the chance to find out for myself.

Sent from Motorcycle.com Free App
 
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