September 14 2009 by Jason Fogelson
Traveling by motorcycle is all about the gear - what to wear, what to take, what to leave behind.
Robin and I have carved our packing down to a science. We start with the essentials, and lay out what we consider to be the minimum amount of stuff that we can bring and still have a good trip. Then we take a hard look at what we're planning to bring, and see what we can leave behind. We usually realize that we're over packing, and we're able to reduce our load before we ever leave.
One thing that we never leave behind on a motorcycle trip is rain gear. A day of rain doesn't have to spoil a motorcycle trip, but without rain gear, it almost certainly will. We each have good two-piece rain suits that are designed for small packing and quick donning. They go in the bag first.
Of course we have to pack our helmets - we wear full-face helmets exclusively. They won't have to be packed on the bike, but we do need to make room in our luggage for the flight out.
Since we're going to be doing a lot of sightseeing off the bike on this trip, I'm glad that I have a pair of riding boots that I can also use to walk around town. My Harley-Davidson FXRG Riding Boots are incredibly comfortable on and off of the bike, and they're easy to get on and off for the TSA check at the airport. So, I don't need to worry about packing my boots plus walking shoes. I do throw a pair of sandals in the bag to wear around the hotel, to the pool and so forth. Robin follows suit, wearing her boots on the plane and bringing along a pair of moccasins for hotel wear.
Jackets and pants are extremely bulky, but we ride with proper gear regardless of the weather (ATGATT - All The Gear, All The Time). I bring my leather pants and wear my Harley-Davidson Denim Pants with Guardian Technology, jeans lined with an abrasion-resistant fabric in the seat and knees. I also pack my FXRG Perforated Leather Jacket, which is a three-season jacket for me. Robin brings her regular gear, which includes leather chaps to be worn over jeans and a textile riding jacket.
We've discovered that the high-tech wicking fabrics pack better than old-fashioned cotton t-shirts and underwear, so we have switched to them for shirts, socks and underwear. In a pinch, you can even under-pack, and plan on rinsing out a few items of clothing along the way.
All of this stuff gets test fit into our saddlebag liners, which we bought to fit an Electra Glide on our Montana trip earlier this year. Everything fit that needed to fit - and we even had room for an extra toy this year. I bought a Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere TM 2 ($149.99) rechargeable portable speaker for the iPod to use in our hotel rooms along the way so that we could control our soundtrack along the way. The system is compact enough to fit in a saddlebag, yet robust enough to provide good sound in a hotel room. It doubles as an iPod dock, and anything that does double-duty is welcome on a motorcycle trip.
So, we've got everything all packed, and ready to go. We're going to be checking one bag per person, and I've been careful to make sure that each bag is under the airline's weight limit to avoid overweight charges.
Our flight goes in to Knoxville. I've called ahead to arrange for Knoxville's Odyssey Airport Taxi to meet us at the airport to take us to our hotel, since we'll be arriving late in the evening.
Our taxi driver Harry whisks us away to our hotel, the Best Western Cedar Bluff Inn in Knoxville. I think they knew we were coming - we were directed to the Presidential Suite. I wish we could have stayed longer to enjoy our room, but we arrived at around 11:00 pm, and would be checking out at 8:00 am the next morning, barely enough time to recover from our flight before picking up our Harley and riding off on our adventure.
Next: Tennessee, Day One: Knoxville to Nashville