Longing for Long Distance Riding?
By Victor Wanchena
How often has this happened? You’re on a long ride, but when you reach the end you want to keep going. For endurance riders the answer is simple; don’t stop. The reasons are as varied as the riders. Some love the challenge. Some love
pushing boundaries. Others love riding 1000 miles for the right slice of pie.
The term endurance riding conjures up many images. Some think of a haggard rider on a heavily modified sport tourer, a huge gas tank, and aircraft landing lights for headlamps. Those riders are out there, but endurance riding (also known as long-distance riding or LD) is a facet of motorcycling enjoyed by riders on all types of bikes.
The concept is simple; ride as far as you can in measured amount of time. It is not a test of speed, but of endurance. It is the marathon of motorcycling. But, like anything simple in concept the execution is a bit more complicated. A rider must prepare both their machine and their body to handle the rigors of long hours on the road. The basic test for an aspiring LD rider is the ability to ride a motorcycle 1000 miles in 24 hours.
Many LD riders get their start competing in a LD rally. These rallies are a modified scavenger hunt. Instead of bringing back items you often bring back photos or information about a specific location. The bonuses are often kooky out of the way locations like the Worlds’ Largest Ball of Twine in Darwin, MN or Carhenge, a full sized replica of Stonehenge made out of cars in Alliance, NE. At the start of a rally the organizers give you a route sheet with a list of bonuses. Each bonus is worth a specified amount of points. The goal is to collect as many points as possible. The key to success is never speed; it’s efficiency. The rallies are laid out in such a way that discourages speeding and instead rewards a rider covering the shortest distance for the most points.
There are several organizations devoted the sport of LD riding. The Ironbutt Association (www.ironbutt.com) is the national organization best known for LD riding and sponsors the toughest of all LD rallies, the Ironbutt Rally. Covering 11,000 miles in 11 days, the Ironbutt is the ultimate test of rider and machine. Minnesota has produced many excellent competitors and two Ironbutt winners, Marty Leir and Peter Behm.
At a local level, Minnesota is blessed with TeamStrange. The product of the late great Eddie James, TeamStrange has been putting on endurance rallies since 1995. The highpoint of each year is the Minnesota 1000 or MN1K. The MN1K is a one day slice of the Ironbutt rally. Competitors often cover more than 1000 miles in 24 hours gathering bonuses. They also offer an alternative for those interested in LD riding but wanting to test the waters. The Team Lyle Rally is an 8 hour version of the MN1K that offers all the fun in a condensed version. For more information about TeamStrange and the events they organize visit their website (www.teamstrange.com).
LD riding can be done on any machine. Many riders choose touring or sport touring motorcycles for their dedicated LD rides, but really any bike will work. Case in point, in a challenge that turned into a dare, I once completed a 1000 miles in 24 hours on a 250cc scooter. The dare was from another rider that matched me mile for mile on a 250cc motorcycle. We knocked the miles out in just over 20 hours during a MN1K. It was surprisingly easy to do except for the frequent gas stops due to a tiny scooter gas tank. I had a blast and surprised myself how much fun a 250cc scooter could be.
Are you curious about exploring LD riding? My first suggestion is to read up on the tips for a successful ride. A quick internet search will yield a lot of information. A few things I’ve learned in my LD riding are:
• Make your bike comfortable. Anything that is a minor annoyance at hour 1 will be a real pain at hour 15.
• Practice quick fuel stops. Make your fuel stops 10 minutes or less. Lingering at gas stations is precious time wasted.
• Speeding doesn’t pay off. Ride the limit or below; you’ll have less fuel stops and less fatigue.
• Do all maintenance a week before your ride and test-ride your motorcycle. Anything done the night before is an invitation for disaster.
• Plan a simple route that avoids high traffic areas and allows you to enjoy the ride. A looping route that begins and ends at home is a popular option.
This story is reprinted from Issue #69, August 2004. It’s appearing here to show that no matter what you ride or how you ride it, 1000 miles in 24 hours is achievable. Plus, it’s a great story.
24 Hours of the Kymco. Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Scooter.
By Victor Wanchena
It all started innocently enough. A few friends chatting during the annual motorcycle show. The conversation was, as most that day, very motorcycle oriented. Someone commented on a story he had read in a British cycle magazine. Seems they were quite proud of the fact they had taken a 1000cc bike and torture tested it over 2 days by putting 700 miles on it. We all laughed, on good days we could do that before noon and 350 miles a day on a 1000cc was downright average. Well as fate would have someone spouted something about a challenge would be to do it on something small like a scooter. Well one thing led to another and I find myself out at 3am making my second lap around the metro area on the interstate, 900 miles on the odometer so far.
After the birth of the initial idea the details were quickly hammered out. We would run a scooter no bigger than 250cc as far as we could in 24 hours. The goal was to put on a thousand miles on in the span of one day. The 1000 in 24 concept
has its roots in the Ironbutt Association’s Saddle Sore award for successfully riding a motorcycle 1000 miles in 24 hours, a benchmark for endurance riding. The riding would be continuous rain or shine. The only stops would be for rider change offs and fuel stops. We would use a team of eight riders going two hours at a time. The decision to use a large team came from the fact that everyone that heard about our plan wanted to be a part of such a history-making venture. We would run it early summer to hopefully avoid temperature extremes.
Last on the list we needed to find a sucker, I mean willing donor, that would allow us to torture their machine for a day straight. In stepped Bob Hedstrom of Scooterville and the Kymco People 250. We approached Bob and pitched the idea to him. He nonchalantly agreed. We explained it to him again in case the convention center din had reduced his willpower to say no. He not only said yes but also was excited. Bob was very passionate about how well built the Kymco scooters are and knew this would be a great way to demonstrate it.
The Kwang Yang Motor Co or Kymco is based in Taiwan and has a long tradition of building quality machines. Kymco started by building engines and parts for Honda from 1963 into the early 90’s. During that time they started their own brand and expanded internationally. With their seven manufacturing facilities in Taiwan, Kymco produces over one million units per year including motorcycles, scooters and ATVs. Kymco is imported to the US through STR, who has a respectable market share, upwards of 10%, of the US scooter market.
The scooter Bob selected for us is the People 250. It is one of the new generation of big-wheeled scooters. The large wheels give the People better stability at highway speed and mean that the top speed of the scooter is relatively high, but more on that latter. Otherwise the scooter was completely stock. Bob uncrated it, put just a few break-in miles on it and surrendered it to us.
And we’re off. I take the first shift and head north on I94 to about St. Cloud then turn around. After just about an hour I return and hand off to the next in line. I am amazed I just ran 70 miles in the space of an hour on a scooter. The looks I got were great. I am fully geared up slightly tucked in running up the freeway on a machine that weighs just a little more than I do. Several drivers were very emasculated by the thought of being passed by a scooter and had to speed up to avoid that disgrace. The hand off went smoothly and on it went, hour after hour. The miles continued to pile up in an uneventful way. About 5 hours into this Bob Hedstrom calls to see how the run is progressing. I told him that all was well and that we had over 300 miles on the People already. “You mean 300 kilometers?” asked Bob. “No, we’re over 300 miles.” I replied. He was impressed.
Into the night the People soldiered on. The MMM corporate headquarters served as a base of operations. The coffee pot and grill ran round the clock to keep the riders fueled. The pit crew ready for each returning rider and handoff. The miles kept building and building. By early the next morning we had broke the 1000-mile mark and the scooter was still going strong. No need to stop now, we had hours and miles to go so we continued. And when the 24 hour timer started beeping the Kymco rolled into the driveway with over 1466 miles having rolled under it’s tires in the space of just 24 hours. To put that distance in perspective, we rode the Kymco the equivalent of all the way into Mexico or to Florida and on a single cylinder 250cc scooter to boot. Our average speed for the entire trip was 61miles an hour including rider hand offs and fuel stops. Our fuel economy had been just shy off 50 mpg.
Try as we might, the only item we managed to break was an exhaust bracket. At about hour 22 the scooter went from quiet to very loud, as the nuts holding the exhaust on had vibrated off. This was traced to a bolt that came loose and caused the bracket to give under the increased stress. It was quickly repaired but did cost us some time overall. That being said the reliability of this machine is phenomenal. Considering that large men, read 200, 250 and 300 pounds, rode the People 250 by holding the throttle wide open for 2 hours at a crack and the only thing we could break was an exhaust bracket is downright amazing. I felt that the belt drive CVT transmission would be the weak link but it never hiccupped in the least. Further proof of the well-built nature of the People 250 is that over the course of 24 hours it did not use any oil. It was checked at every rider hand-off but remained good for the duration despite having a mere on the clock 200 miles when delivered. We essentially tried to break the People 250 but were really unsuccessful. The Kymco shattered all our preconceived notions about scooters and what they are capable of doing. A big MMM thanks to Bob Hedstrom and Scooterville for giving us the chance to try and wreck a Kymco. Further adventures may be on the horizion….
Midnight, the bewitching hour. Since I pulled the 12 til 2 am shift I figured the best way to keep me and the Kymco away from the bar crowd was to get us the Hell outta Dodge. And quick. The People 250 was more than happy to oblige…
I figured a Westbound run up I-94 was in order, so a few ticks after Midnight the Kymco and I left the clandestine bunker of MMM and headed off into the night. The previous riders had almost no reports of rain, but I was not to be so lucky. We sailed up the ramp onto the freeway and I couldn’t help but think this thing’s got WAY more power than I had expected. Of course I had low expectations of how quick a scooter should be. I was sailing up I-94 passing, and getting passed a couple times, and I was getting use to the 250 and really starting to enjoy it. And then things took a turn for the worse. I had been watching the lighting off in the distance, and figured I would be getting wet at some point, but the storms ahead looked like they might just miss me. I little rain around Monticello (are we in Monticello already?) and we looked to be in the clear. Around St. Cloud I found out we were going to get more than just a little wet. As the rain fell harder and harder and the winds picked up I started to back off the throttle a bit and the storm just kept a comin’.We rocked and rolled through the storm and all I could think about was the opening credits to Gilligan’s Island where the S.S. Minnow encounters a violent storm. Yes, that’s pretty much what it felt like although the 250 held it’s ground remarkably well and the Kymco was not lost…
By the time we reached the St.Joseph exit we were out of the storm and at the 1 hour turn around point so that’s what we did. Other riders had mentioned the scooter’s gas gauge and the needle’s tendency to stay on the full mark and then plummet to E. When the needle started dropping like the big ball on New Year’s Eve, I found the nearest gas station and pulled in. Back on the interstate I settled in for the trip back and braced myself for another pounding, but was treated to only a moderate rain. The rest was smooth sailin’. I rolled in a little after 2 and my ride was done for the night. What a great way to spend a couple of hours and in that time I had grown fond of the Kymco People 250. Even now, I’m looking at my garage and thinking “it really wouldn’t take up THAT much space….”
Kevin Wynn –
Now that the Scooter 1K is over and I have more miles on this Kymco scooter than I have on my big, fancy, supersport-touring motorcycle for the year, it’s easy to see the attraction of a scooter for quick, relatively inexpensive and worry free transit on a daily basis. True, nearly every mile I rode (of 264 miles in four hours) was WFO, but the fact that it handled it so well just proves that this is more than just an urban commuting machine. I hit a max of 79.6 mph (GPS measured) and it held about 65 mph while climbing Charpentier’s Ton-Up Hill. That makes it a viable SUB-urban option too.
“I can’t believe I am passing a tractor trailer on a step-thru scooter on the freeway.” The last scooter I was on was a PUCH and that was when Nancy Reagan was president. After my ride on the Kymco People 250 I can tall you the scooter has changed from a glorified bicycle to a motorbike with form, function and speed. Over the course of our 24-hour ride, I was on the scoot for about 4 hours and just under 400 km (260 miles). As Sev pulled up the well-oiled machine of MMM kicked in. Scooter up on the center stand, kill engine, check oil, this is all happening as I was pulling on my helmet, zipping up and swinging a leg over the seat. With a thumb up from the pit crew, last minute instructions and a firm open hand swat on the butt I was off to leap over my first hurdle. What the hell am I supposed to do with me feet?
It’s an automatic! No foot controls? Break levers are up on the bar and twist the throttle to go.simple. A couple of stop signs later I am merging onto I-94 heading towards Monticello and I am keeping up with traffic nicely. Acceleration was pretty darn good considering it was moving an 1/8 o’ ton of fun through the air. Heck, I was even passing some traffic. I had had a couple of sprinkles up thru Augusta but after that my evening and early morning rides were flawless. I found that the scoot could hold her own up to about 80 miles per hour. After that, there was no more twist in the wrist. For daily commuting the People 250 would be ideal. She has plenty of [room for] junk in her trunk and her get up and go will make commuting a breeze. You could even take it to Duluth and at least be able to keep up with traffic.
The 16-inch wheels made the People 250 float over the road. It was stable, it was nimble and it was a step through scooter that made people turn their heads. I can only assume that they too had last been on a PUCH and having witnessed a scooter on the freeway keeping up with traffic I am sure that their next thought was “Where do I get one of those”. Scooterville of course, and thank you for supplying the People 250.
Bob Waitz –
When we first started talking about doing an endurance run the only criteria was that the bike needed to be something generally though to be unsuitable for long distance riding. I was thinking we would get a scooter or a moped and ride around Lake Harriet until we were asked to stop then move to Calhoun, then to Isles… To me, a 250cc scooter fell into this category. When I broached the subject with Bob Hedstrom he assured me his scooters could keep up with traffic on the interstate. I think I said something clever like, “You’re kidding!” Well, he wasn’t. After a couple of circles on the cul-de-sac, I jumped straight on 94 and had no problem at all keeping up. I even passed several cars and trucks! The bike was stable, handled well, and had great brakes. Because of the automatic clutch, it’s pretty quiet, too. My mind changed instantly from “I think I can take two hours on this thing” to “I wish I had two more hours!” I was surprised at how easy it was to ride and how comfortable it was. I’m 6-3 225 which puts me in the middle of the pack for height and weight of the people who were riding. Two hours on a lot of bikes can be a crippling experience. I had no fatigue or pain at all after riding the Kymco. The fit and finish were also excellent. I honestly can’t think of anything bad to say about it at all and that’s so not like me. Without question I would ride this bike to Sturgis or in the Minnesota 1000.
I had fun actually passing vehicles that doddered along at 65 mph. The People 250 did lose two or three mph when climbing grades, but never dropped below a corrected 68 mph while on the boil. Amazing! The only drama I encountered was when I met a Mullet driving his ratty T-top 80s GM sedan. Evidently the threat to his masculinity when passed by a man on a scooter wearing a riding suit and full face was too much, for he floored the mighty 3.8l V-6 and passed me on the right. I chuckled as he took the next exit. Sure showed me. I then started hunting for a “funeral procession” of cruisers to pass. You’ve all been blocked by these clowns; doing 55 in the fast lane, riding two-abreast, showing the world how bad they are. Unfortunately, I came across no other riders during my leg. The only other machine I even saw was a cruiser rider heading the opposite direction. He didn’t return my wave.
The People 250 is designed for errand running, commuting to class or work and short drives. While our test was brief, I can see that it is well-suited for these tasks. The People 250 has a full fairing and tall windshield for decent weather protection. The floor boards are wide and covered with a rubber mat that provides both traction when wet and easy cleaning. Most notably, there are twin vents in the ‘dash’ that you can use to direct excess engine heat onto your hands or torso. I found that even at 72 mph, the fairing provided a large enough bubble of still air to ‘keep the heat in.’ Hot day? Simply close the vents.
It seemed innocent enough at the time. It was late March during the International Motorcycle Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center when I was approached by Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly with the idea of running one of our 250cc Kymco scooters around the clock. Scooterville was entering its third season of selling Kymco Motorsports products. I had total confidence in the reliability of the bikes and this seemed like a great opportunity to document their durability. When the Kymco People 250 was introduced in late May, my first short ride told me we had our contestant.
Having never been involved in any marathon riding sessions, I couldn’t quite grasp the notion of iron butt rides. Why? Because it’s there? To pile up unnecessary miles on your bike? The test began at 1:00PM on a Tuesday. Because of my commitment to work and family I wasn’t able to get to Victor’s house until 9:30 that evening. I also wasn’t prepared for my own reaction to the madness. When I walked into the garage, which was the home base for rider exchanges, I sensed a certain electricity in the air. Seeing the mileage log tallied on the wall already reading over 400 miles in just 7 hours. Meeting the other riders involved. By the time my People 250, thick with all manner of bug species plastered on its front, rolled into the garage at 10 PM for a quick oil check and rider exchange, I was completely consumed with the idea of piling on as many miles as possible. I hung around for a couple hours to share some stories and to map out a route for my shift the next morning.
When I hopped on the scooter at 6:00 AM I was feeling like a player in a contest. One goal. Pile on the miles. I headed up I-94 toward St. Cloud. The beginning of my route which would take me on secondary highways north to Princeton, west toward St. Cloud, and south to Monticello before heading back into town. The bike felt better than it had just a couple days earlier when I dropped it off for the marathon. It easily reached 75 MPH and was topping out around 80. I was tempted to scrap my route for a wide open run up 94 where I wouldn’t encounter any traffic signals or stop signs. I stayed with the program until, reaching Monticello with 45 minutes remaining on my shift, I headed west on Hwy 10 to tack on more miles. No sense in coming back early. My fuel stop turned into a pit-stop race to get my credit card out, fill the tank, and get back on the road. Two minutes. At the end of my two hour shift I found myself wanting more. What had begun as a basic endurance test for one of our models changed me. The logic of a ‘round-the-clock run may still escape me, but the desire is definitely there.
This story is reprinted from Issue #85, June 2006. If you haven’t done an Iron Butt ride, check it out. You are guaranteed a great story as well as a lot of laughs.
The Brit Butt 1000
By Lee Bruns
It’s dark, it’s raining, and the inside of my helmet smells like dog urine. Why am I here?
The whole thing started the winter of 2004. A discussion among friends about which would make a better custom bike, a XS650 Yamaha or an old British twin such as a BSA or Triumph. My position was that the XS650 was a better choice
since as everyone knows old British twins are simply too unreliable to be ridden daily. In fact it was so well known that multiple searches of the Iron Butt Associations logs could show no record of anyone finishing a Saddlesore 1000 on an old Triumph. The Saddlesore 1000 is a 1000 mile ride in 24 hours. It can be run anywhere, anytime but must be certified by the IBA. Sure there was that a fellow in Finland who did it in 2004 on a BSA, and there were several Norton twins, but no old Triumphs. Well, one thing led to another and a friend, John, offered up his ‘74 T120 Bonneville for me to ride a Saddlesore 1000 on to prove how reliable they could be.
Normally I wouldn’t leave on a 1000-mile ride on a bike that I was convinced would leave me stranded along a lonely Minnesota road but this was a special case. A couple of friends had never ridden a 1000-mile day either, so we set a date for the folly. I mounted a windshield on the Triumph and updated the charging system with a solid-state regulator rectifier and a new Lucas brand stator and rotor. The original charging system left me stranded the day I rode the Triumph up from Iowa. Other than that the bike was stock right down to its Amal carbs.
I fired the Brit at 3:30 AM the morning of the ride and headed out only to sputter to a stop a mile short of the starting point. Out of fuel before I even got started. This was not a good sign as it only 115 miles on that tank of fuel. Stopping every 100 miles for fuel would add over two hours to the voyage. My companions, Jayd, Verne and Nels were waiting at the station when I finally arrived. Once fueled up we were on the road by 4:15 AM.
We rolled south on Interstate 29 directly into a wave of camera flashbulbs capturing this momentous ride. Only the light pops weren’t flash bulbs, they were lightning strikes and we were headed right at it. The rain lasted till we got to Sioux Falls 100 miles and two fuel stops into the day. Nels was kind enough to ride next to me to augment the Triumphs rumored lighting system so I was able to avoid running over any alligators in the dark.
Fuel stops were a demonstration of efficiency. Get in, get fueled, and get going, no dawdling. Gas cards make for great receipts right at the pumps.
After slip sliding up a diesel-fuel soaked onramp in Sioux Falls we headed east into the morning sun as it peeked through the rain clouds. The ride easy towards Tomah Wisconsin highlighted the best of fall in Minnesota. Golden fields ready for harvest, a convoy of thousand-pound pumpkins rolling down the interstate, Amish buggies on the side-roads, and cool fall air to ride in. The Triumph responded by purring along in its 69mph sweet spot, running in a very un-British manner. The handlebars were vibrating a bit, but the throttle lock allowed me to shake the numbness out of my paw every now and then.
Just east of Albert Lea the bike abruptly died. I coasted to a stop along the side of the interstate and flipped up the seat to try to find the trouble. No broken or loose wires were seen, and the fuses all looked good. Then Nels pointed out that the key switch was in the OFF position. The windshield had been pushed back from the wind and turned the key off. BLIMEY!! I wedged a piece of paper towel behind the windshield t to hold it away from the key and off we rode.
We turned the corner off of I-90 onto I-94 and stopped to fuel up at Tomah Wisconsin. As I fueled up the Triumph the convenience store clerk abandoned her post to come speak to me.
“Sir, you’ll have to pay for that.”
“Huh?” I said.
“Sir, you will have to come inside and pay for your fuel.” She repeated, noticeably annoyed.
“Yes ma’am, I’m not prone to driving off without paying for things.”
I still have no clue why she thought me prone to theft. However, once inside the store they had a great display of freshly harvested cranberries, so I loaded my map pouch with them before heading out.
Back on the road the rearview mirror was out of adjustment, but when I tried to adjust it, it came off in my hand stem and all. I stuffed it in the tank bag and resigned myself to full shoulder turns before lane changes.
Things began to go wrong though. When we reached St Cloud the Bonnie was stalling at intersections and becoming difficult to restart. Once up to highway speed though it ran fine. By keeping the RPM up over 2500 and slipping the clutch I managed to make it through St Cloud with the Brit still running under its own power. By the time we reached Fergus Falls though there was no avoiding it, the Triumph needed attention. I parked the bike away from the pumps and pulled the soaking wet tool pouch from the tank bag. It didn’t seem odd that the tool pouch was wet since we had ridden in so much rain. I dumped the tools out and stuffed the wet tool pouch into my upturned helmet. The point gap checked out so I checked the battery. It tested at 8 volts with the bike off, and 11.5 with the bike running. The charging system was fine, but evil lurked in the battery. I stuffed the tools directly into the tank bag and went to throw the wet tool pouch away. Only then did I get a good nose-full of the stink emanating from it. It seems my dog had gotten into my garage and urinated into the tank bag as it lay on the floor. So now the inside of my helmet reeked of dog pee. I could hear the Brit-bike Gods laughing at me.
I limped the Bonnie into Fargo with the lights off as the sun set. The lightning show started up again in the west as the Triumph was fueled for the final leg down I-29 back to Watertown SD. After thirty or so kicks the Brit fired and off we motored as the skies opened up again. My lights were bright enough to be legal, but not bright enough to be useful, so Verne pulled his Concourse up next to me to light the way.
We rolled into Watertown just after 10 PM. I let the bike stall and congratulated the other riders. Final mileage as per the Smiths odometer was 998 miles. I kicked mercilessly at the Triumph but it steadfastly refused to fire to ride the additional two miles. Technically I was proven right as the Triumph failed to achieve the magic 1000 mile day, but to be honest I was really hoping to be wrong. Maybe it’s just as well that I came up two miles short. It gives me all the reason to restore an old Brit of my own and try again.
‘Long-Distance’ Is A Relative Term
By Guido Ebert
It’s the middle of summer. Have you done any long distance motorcycle touring?
Today, motorcycle touring encapsulates a number of different niches, including Sport Touring, Adventure Touring, Full Dress Touring, one-up touring, two-up touring, etc. Bikes used for long-distance riding come in all shapes and sizes, and nearly every major manufacturer counts a Tourer among their best-selling models.
Check it out: BMW’s K1600 GTL was its second-best seller in 2012, the FLHX was Harley-Davidson’s best seller, the GL1800 was Honda’s third best seller, the 990 Adventure was KTM’s second-best seller, the DL650A was in Suzuki’s top three bikes, the Tiger 800 XC ABS was in Triumph’s top five sellers, and the Cross Country Tour proved Victory’s top-selling bike.
As many folks (maybe YOU) have proven, long-distance riding can be achieved on any size motorcycle.
With that said, perhaps not surprisingly, the relatively expensive Full Dress Touring market (marked by the BMW K 1600 GTL, H-D Electra Glide, Honda Gold Wing, Kawasaki 1700 Voyager ABS, Victory Vision, Yamaha Royal Star Venture S) has held up in these recent years of economic turmoil relative to the other cruiser categories and represents a growing percentage of total cruiser sales as well-heeled consumers of traditional cruisers seek more utility and a greater number of creature comforts from their bikes.
Whichever bike you choose, small or large, remember “long distance” is a relative term with a unique meaning to each individual. Whether you plan a 100-mile jaunt or a 3,000-mile haul, the important thing is that you have chosen to do it on two wheels.