Monday, July 11, 2011

Packing For A Multiple Day Motorcycle Ride...

One of the crown jewels of the moto industry’s annual events — the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America’s (MOA) International Rally — will throw open its gates to an anticipated crowd of 10,000 riders, on July 21, 2011, in Bloomsburg, PA. The event’s program, a careful balance of technical and social seminars (ranging from bike maintenance, riding technique, and membership interaction), is expected to draw riders from across the US, Canada, Mexico, South America, and Europe. With less than 10 days to go, I find my own preparations have reached a fever pitch. (This means I have vaguely starting thinking about buying a bottle of rum to stash in my saddle bags.)

My mind regards the ten remaining days on the calendar as a virtual eternity in which to make any of the adjustments and minor tweaking that my bike is likely to need, to get together my rally “wardrobe,” and to finalize my plans for meeting folks whom I’ve been chatting with (online) for the past three years. And yet, wars have been won or lost... Fortunes have been made and squandered... And women have been met, married, and aggravated (by me) in less time. So I move towars readiness like an enraged glacier.

“Don’t you wish there was such a thing as a pre-rally preparation simulator, in which you could experience how things are apt to be around here the day before you leave for this clam-bake?” asked Leslie (Stiffie), my long-suffering significant other. (Her former career as an attendant in a mental institution occasionally puts something of a tone in her voice when addressing me.)

My late father once said, “There are times in man’s life when answering a rhetorical question from the resident Valkyre with nothing more than a raised eyebrow is the safest course of action.” I sensed this was one of those occasions and forcefully wagged an eyebrow in a vain effort to ward off whatever point this woman was trying to jab into my heart.

“Let’s assume the rally is tomorrow,” said Stiffie (Leslie). “Do you know what clothes you’re taking? Is your gear organized? Are your speeches ready? Do you have a primary list of things to take so you can gauge your progress?”

My response was to wag both eyebrows, giving the impression I had windshield wipers on my forehead.

“Stop doing that,” she hissed. “You look like an idiot.” (This woman is crazy about me.)

It was then I replaced the look of chagrinned panic on my face with an expression of vicious smugness. “As a matter of fact, I have a master list right here on my computer,” I said. And with that, I pointed to a folder on the screen labelled: List Of Gear And Support Materials For The MOA Rally in Bloomsburg. “Hah,” I added, with the snort of a cold laugh that carried no humor.

Her shock and surprise was thoroughly gratifying. She bore the kind of expression I would have expected had I slapped her cheeks with a pickled herring. “Admit it... I got you this time,” I said. She said a satisfying mouthful of nothing, but just stood there, blinking. And then came those two fateful words.

“Open it."

I hesitated, and she reached over and clicked on it. The folder popped up revealing a list of one item. It read:
1) Make list of things you need for the rally.

The conversation went pretty much downhill from there. Leslie (Stiffie) did an impersonation of a mastodon stomping around, and bellowing, “I just lost two days of hard work on this fucking computer... What son of bitch moved my helmet... Why didn’t somebody tell me I was down to three pair of boxers... Those fucking bike keys were right here two months ago... The opening lines of this speech were fucking hysterical two days ago; now they suck... Some asshole broke in here and stole my mesh jacket...

“Who are you supposed to be?” I asked, dripping righteous indignation.

“Who do you think?” she replied. “I was wondering what it might be like if you could get out of here on a bike trip just once without scaring the hell out of the dogs or having a S.W.A.T. team sharpshooter shoot you with the rhino tranquilizer dart.”

I let this caustic remark hang in the air, before I gave it the look of askance it deserved. And if Stiffie (Leslie) had not had her back turned at the moment, she’d have gotten an eyeful.

There is no trick to packing for a motorcycle trip. The French philosopher/mathematician René Descartes first proposed a formula for motorcycle pannier packing in the year 1625, just 30 days after BMW rolled out the design for the “R” 1150. The formula is: X=YxC/S; where "X" is packed material, and "Y" is the number of days, multiplied by “C,” which is the opportunity in which having clean underwear (essential for romance), is divided by “S,” which is the existing space on the motorcycle.

It may look like a crock-full at first glance, but this formula makes perfect sense. In fact, this is one of the only things Descartes did that even had a remote connection to fun. In all of his portraits and publicity photos, Descartes usually looks like he is smelling shit, which was liberally tossed out of the windows in most French cities of the day. (So maybe he was.)

I take a more casual approach to packing for a motorcycle trip. On the bed I have just slept in, I lay out my clothing for a five day motorcycle trip in five separate piles. These piles consist of 1 pair of boxers, 1 undershirt, 1 pair of industrial strength white cotton tube socks, and 1 moto-themed tee shirt. Alongside this impedimenta, I place one tightly-rolled pair of Diamond Gusset brand “Defender®” jeans. These are denim riding pants lined with bullet-proof Kevlar®. (I am still too huge to spring for a custom-made pair of riding pants from CyclePort, about $1100, with the options I want. No other manufacturer has anything I could possibly fit into off the rack.) I can get five days of hot summer riding out of two pairs of jeans (one to wear and one packed). Since I am going to wear one pile of clothes going out the door, that leaves three piles of clothing to go into one of my OEM BMW side bags and one pile to go into the other. The bag with the least amount of clothing will get my computer and shaving kit. (I like to keep both bags balanced.)

There should be a second flashlight packed in with your clothing, as well as the one packed in the tool kit. Why two?

You may be out cruising around at dusk, and develop a problem. You will want the flashlight with the tool kit, secure in a place where you can find it in the dark, not packed with your clothes back at camp or the hotel. Or, you may be in your hotel room, when the fire alarm rings, the lights go out, and the hall fills up with smoke. You will want the flashlight that you have packed with your clothing, not the one down on the bike.

Here are some absolutely free packing tips.

1) Tape a business card with your name, address, and cell phone number into each side bag. (This way, if anything should cause the bag to come off, and it stays intact on impact with the road, the driver who pulls it out from under the front end of his car can contact you directly, and possibly return stuff you may need to finish your trip.)

2) Lock the side bags to the motorcycle. (The locks on my luggage can be easily smashed open by the heel of a boot or a hammer, but they will not open under normal operating circumstances, keeping them attached to the bike. I had a BMW OEM pannier come off the back, but it had to be hit by a minivan first.) I have seen older “R” bike side bags secured to the motorcycle by the secondary means of a back-up strap, but this is unnecessary for my application.

3) NEVER PUT ANY OF YOUR PRESCRIPTIONS ALL IN ONE BAG ON THE MOTORCYCLE. (If you lose that bag through stupidity, theft, or accident, the ride may be over.)


5) PACK YOUR COMPUTER IN THE MOST APPROPRIATE CASE, SEAL IT IN A PLASTIC BAG IF YOUR PANNIERS ARE NOT WATERPROOF. THEN CHECK THE BAG EVERY DAY TO BE SURE THERE IS NO CONDENSATION. JAM THE COMPUTER INTO THE SIDE CASE, SURROUNDED BY CLOTHING. (When the minivan slammed into my K75, the right side bag came off and smashed into the ground. The bag remained closed and locked. Upon inspection the next day, my computer, an Apple 13” MacBook, worked fine. It ran for another year, until it got cooked in the side bag. See above.) Never put a hot computer in a plastic bag. Never bring a switched off computer in from a cold environment to a warm roo, and turn it on either.

6) When packing life-preserving Rum, Gin, or Irish Whiskey into a side bag, transfer the liquid into two 24-ounce Sigg Bottles, or other types of metal bottle containers. In the event of an accident, the Sigg Bottles will not smash or crack, soaking the contents of the bag, or the accident scene, with the reek of alcohol. It becomes one less thing to explain to the cops. The Sigg Bottles will not flavor the contents.

I find it important to pile each day’s clothing into complete outfits, as opposed to one pile of 5 undershirts, one pile of 5 boxers, and one pile of five tee shirts, etc. Why?

It was 4:45 AM when I surveyed all the neat little piles of clothing, ready to stashed in the OEM BMW side bags. I was still somewhat groggy, not having slept well owing to all the excitement of the pending ride. I picked up the side bags and laid them on the bed. The K75’s side bags are peculiar in their dimensions, and sort of resemble a slanted trapezoid. I then proceeded to put every little pile of stuff in evidence into the two bags, and quietly carried them down to the garage. I’d said “goodbye” to Leslie (Stiffie) the night before, so she could sleep in.

Ten minutes later, I sat astride the quivering machine in the driveway, about to snick it into gear, when I got bopped on the head by a copy of my cigar book (paperbound). Stiffie (Leslie) had thrown it out the window to get my attention. I looked up just in time to get draped by five pairs of boxers. I’d left them on the bed upstairs, as I had put the side bags over them. By packing each day’s clothing in a little collection, I can never forget all of it, nor do I have to rummage throughout the cases for a complete change of wardrobe.

See you at the rally.

"Be Part Of History..."

At The BMW MotorCycle Owners Of America's
Annual International Rally
Bloomsburg, Pa
At 9:30am, On July 22, 2011,
In The Big Room Under The Grandstand,
At The Fairgrounds

Jack Riepe
Publisher of Twisted Roads
And The Humor Editor For TheBMW MOA's Monthly "Owners News" (ON)

Will Reveal The Cosmic Secrets Of:
How To Breath Life Into Any Ride Report Or Motorcycle Story

Riepe will Explain:
How To Mezmerize Readers...
• How To Make A Ride To The Drug Store More Exciting
Than A Ride To Alaska Or The Amazon Jungles
• How To Make Women Write You Fan Letters...
• How To Use The Truth For An Occasional Surprise Ending

And he will do all this, in a moving dialogue, filled with the anecdotal data that makes his blog and monthly column a highly regarded source of moto information.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2011


RichardM said...

Maybe a bit overdone, but a good description on how to pack. Entertaining. Looking forward to your talk at the rally. See you there.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Richard M.:

I made some adjustments to the text. See if it isn't a bit slicker now. Can you please send me a direct email address for you? I want to send you my contact information and telephone numbers for the rally. If possible, I'd like to meet you, Steve Williams, Nikos, Rick Slark, and Chris Luhman all for lunch on Friday, somewhere on the Rally grounds.

I can hardly wait to see you guys...

Fondest regards,

Cantwell said...

K75 whisperer eh?
does that mean you stand in the garage and whisper "I will ride you someday..."

See you soon,

hardwaredeals said...

Nice blog...keep up the good work!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Cantwell:

Every night, before going to bed, I say this little prayer: "Dear God... Please give me Cantwell's knees and hips... And please give him mine."

Fuck you, Mike...

See you next week.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Hardwaredeals:

I do the best I can with what I have to work with.

Fondest regards,

Hope springs eternal, Ihor said...

, or some such tripe. Don't hesitate to start preparations and packing immediately. We've been on trips in the past where your concept of preparedness and timeliness resemble feces flipping time at the Bronx Zoo monkey house. I recall an early camping trip when Bill and I became sub-contractors at your grocery job for a couple of hours. Ready the bike, pack your stuff and be done by the evening of the 18th. Use the remaining time to relax and saturate your neurons and ganglia, your muscles and tendons, your joints and attitude with meds sufficiently to make the trip an easy going fun ride.
Let me know if you need a lift to the event, I'll bring a couple of books to fill the days!!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

My arrival at the rally has now been guaranteed. One way or the other, I am going to get there. Too bad you do not live closer. Even though you do not ride a motorcycle, you would find this rally absolutely fascinating... If just for the rare and beautiful motorcycles that fill the fairgrounds.

Because they move the rally from one section of the country to the next, it will not be on the east coast again until 2015. I am going to start lobbying at this point for the event to be held in Lake Placid... And then take two weeks off to get the most out of it.

Fondest regards,

Nikos said...


As usual good advice but what happens when the squeeze in your life joins you on the pillion seat?

I'll tell you what happens - the rear suspension sags.

See you soon!


Very good then, Ihor said...

, hope all aspects conspire for an excellent event. If you tilt reality sufficiently for the event to be in LP in 2015 or then abouts, I shall be living alot closer!
Get going with the prep andpacking!!!

Canajun said...

Enjoy the rally - with or without all your gear!
But 10,000 BMW riders all in one place? Won't that seriously upset the balance of nature?

Brad said...

I have ridden in every state, except Alaska. That's next year. I love cross country riding. It is the only kind. I also have a packing list that I use. You can review it here:

Classic Velocity said...

Dear Jack, I will be at the rally, and you owe me a rum and coke since Tenessee. As for your packing tips, fortunately this rally is local and you can run home....see you there.

BeemerGirl said...

Damn, damn, damn!! Looks like the weather is shaping up to be damn near perfect for the rally. Your proximity is stupendously lucky. Who did you pay what to get it so close?

Hey! Pull that camcorder out of the mothballs and record that presentation for those of us unlucky enough not to be able to attend. We would at least enjoy the chance to ridicule the speech-maker over the web.

I'm catching up with the blogs, so will be leaving more annoying comments on your last recent ones. :)

I, too, am heartbroken that I will not be able to attend the rally and meet up with you. Ride safely, have a great time and have they erected that pope-like plexi-glass stand for you at the fairgrounds for any over-ripe fruit that might be smuggled in?

-Steel Cupcake

GF said...

You forgot the most IMPORTANT thing to pack for the BMW MOA rallies, a BATHING SUIT......and a F*&king fan.
Last year in Redmond it was hot, this time it was SCORCHING, PLEASE PULL SOME STRINGS and make sure they have a pool right in the middle of the campground in Missouri next year.
The only saving grace was attending your seminar.


leather motorcycle clothing said...

And I just missed it. Well, better luck to me next time.

So guys, how was the rally?

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