I just finished a 9,000 mile motorcycle journey across the United States. I’ve ridden motorcycles since I was a kid but I didn’t plan on doing this trip until two weeks before I left.
Why did I do this trip? Because I had your typical middle-class-white-boy quarter life crisis. Except instead of going to India I decided to travel the States.
The following are some questions I’ve been asked about the trip. I thought I’d go down the list and answer each one.
Wanna see more photos? They’re pretty amazing. Click here to see the entire album.
How much did it cost and how long were you gone for?
I left on August 14th and came back on Oct 1…so about 47 days. I spent $2092.72, not counting the new motorcycle I bought halfway through. That cost about $6500 but wasn’t needed to complete the trip. Some days I spent as much as $150 but other days (like rest days) I didn’t spend a cent. I budgeted for $100 a day but my average came out to about $45 a day. Not too shabby.
How old are you?
25 years young.
How’d you get off work?
I’m an entrepreneur in San Francisco and after years of failing I finally made an alright living the past few years. I also save like crazy. The last company I co-founded was acquired and I’ve ran a few other successful (and a ton of unsuccessful) businesses. My latest project was a conference called Hustle Con, which allowed me to take some time off.
What kind of bike did you ride?
For the first half of the trip I rode a 1994 Honda xr650l that I bought for $1,800. They call this type of bike an enduro. It has a medium sized engine, can cruise all day at 70 mph (but not much faster), and can conquer any type of off-road terrain. It’s crazy reliable but also pretty raw and vibrates a ton. I’d compare it to a Jeep Wrangler with no doors and oversized tires. The only modifications I made were a bigger gas tank, windshield, and larger sprocket that increased the cruising speed.
While visiting my folks in Missouri they begged me to get a bike with a bigger engine so I could safely maneuver through traffic on the highways. I ended up buying a 1995 BMW r100gs for about $6500. If the Honda were a Wrangler, the BMW would be a Land Rover. It’s just as reliable as the Honda, can also go off-road (not as good though) but has a max speed of 110 mph so I could easily maneuver out of trouble.
If you’re on a budget and wanna do a trip, get a Honda xr650l or a Kawasaki KLR650. They’re practically the same thing…reliable, easy, and cheap. If you can spend between $5000 to $15,000 then go with a BMW. It’s smoother and will last longer.
What did you eat?
Lots and lots of junk food. Why? Because the most convenient and cheap food is junk. In the morning I’d have water, a Sprite (I don’t drink caffeine), trail mix, and maybe a banana. I bought this crap when I was filling my take in the AM. Afternoons and dinners were mostly McDonalds, Subway, or more gas station food. At the end of the day I was just too tired to cook or go to a real restaurant. On rest days in bigger cities I’d go out to eat with friends. I gained like 10 pounds on this trip…but it was worth it.
How’d you pick your destination?
I mostly made up each day’s route that morning. I knew I would go coast-to-coast and wanted to see a few cities like Nashville and Telluride but winged the rest. I have some motorcycle buds in Nashville who I emailed once a week and they’d give me the coolest off-road routes near where ever I was. I used Google Maps because they have an awesome function called “Avoid Highways.” The majority of the riding was on small, two lane highways mixed with some trails.
What did you pack?
I might be forgetting something, but here’s my entire list:
Clothes – Bilt jacket and pants, Bilt Helmet, Bell helmet (in case I happened to meet any girls who wanted a ride), boots from Al’s Attire, 3 pairs of socks/underwear, Fox dirt bike gloves, 3 t-shirts, a pair of Rogue Territory Jeans, a denim jacket, 3 bandanas, a Timex watch, Will Hoge hat.
Trumaker shirts – Since I knew I’d be meeting new folks and old friends (and going on Tinder dates) I needed to bring a few outfits that were rugged enough to hold up on the road but also dapper enough for the city. I already owned a few custom made Trumaker shirts so I shot them an email telling them about my trip. They were cool enough to give me a few free shirts. How cool is that? If you like well tailored and hand crafted at a reasonable price clothes, then check out their site. These are HANDS DOWN the best shirts I’ve ever owned: Trumaker.com
Gear – Headlamp, zip ties, duct tape, selfie-stick, iPhone charger for my bike, Kindle, 13 inch Macbook, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, vaseline, sunglasses, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, tent, towel, Nalgene bottle,
Tools – Leatherman, BMW stock tool kit, spare tubes for the Honda, quart of oil,
Where did you stay?
I used as many services as possible for accommodation. I didn’t decide where I was gonna sleep until about 5 pm each day. I’d figure out the nearest city and use my phone to find a place to crash. Here’s what I used:
Camping – I camped a fair bit. I didn’t love it, but it was fun to try a few times. I used the Woodall’s app to find campgrounds.
Airbnb – I expected Airbnb to be the cheapest and most convenient. It wasn’t. the average room was about $60, which wasn’t bad, but a Motel 6 was half the price and more convenient. The only reason I wanted to stay on Airbnb was so I could meet locals, but Couchsurfing was better for that.
Motels – Without a doubt, motels were the most convenient and comfortable way to go, specifically Motel 6. Rooms were $30 and they were everywhere! For most of the trip I’d figure out the nearest city and drive there around 7 or 8 pm and find the nearest motel. This way I could relax without talking to anyone and use the internet.
CouchSurfing.org – Couchsurfing was just as convienent as Airbnb…only it was free! I’d have to email 10 or 20 folks to get a yes but the app was easy enough. Plus, even the smallest towns had folks on the site. Now, I know what you’re saying: “Isn’t it wierd crashing with someone you met on the internet?” No, not at all. If you’re gonna do a cross country trip then the folks who host on Couchsurfing are just like you: young, fun, and adventurous. The best part about couchsurfing was because it was free (unlike Airbnb) I bonded with the host more like a buddy vs just a business transaction. In Telluride my couchsurfing host spent the day showing me around town. It was a blast!
Facebook friends – Because I bombarded my Facebook friends with photos each day, I reckon just about all 2,000 of my fb friends knew I was traveling. Whenever I posted what city/town I’d be in next one of my Facebook friends would offer a bed or introduce me to a bud of theirs in that city. People like seeing folks they barely even know doing interesting things (like traveling) so I wasn’t shy about spreading the word.
Did you find yourself?
Well, kinda. It’s not like I had this crazy epiphany but travel has some weird way of making new paths present themselves. I certainly learned what I DIDN’T wanna do. Because I met so many people I was able to catch a glimpse into their lives. While everyone was so kind and happy, I realized that small town living isn’t for me, nor is working a normal 9 to 5 job. I’ve since begun working on a new startup with the co-founders of my previous startup.
How did you meet people?
Tinder. I met tons of awesome girls on Tinder. I’m gonna write an entire post about this but I gotta say that Tinder was so helpful. I use it to either meet up with girls to show me around the city or even just chat with them without meeting up so they could tell me cool things to do.
Why America? Why not backpack Europe?
To quote Kenny Powers, “Sure, I’ve been called a xenophobe, but the truth is I’m not. I honestly just feel that America is the best country and all the other countries aren’t as good. That used to be called ‘patriotism’.”
But seriously…I decided to travel America for a few reasons. The first is America is SO big yet most Americans (like me) have barely explored it, so I wanted to get to know my country. Another reason is that the States have literally every type of geography you can imagine…who doesn’t love diversity? And the final reason I chose to ride my bike cross country vs. backpacking in Europe is quite simple: motorcycles are cool as shit. There, I said it.
I wanna do something like this…should I do it?
Wanna see more photos? Click here to see the entire album.
Have any questions? Wanna see more pictures? Friend me on Facebook. I’m super active here and am more than happy to answer your questions.
Oh, I almost forgot: next post is about how I user Tinder to meet people on my trip. Enter your email to be notified when it’s done!