The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.


One of our members Doug Armstrong giving a presentation on his Alaska trip. Doug also rides a DL-650 V-Strom.

Planning is always an interesting topic when it comes to trips. It really does come down to comfort level. Some people like to just grab their stuff and go, see where the road takes them. Others have to plan every detail, every step of the journey. I’m sort of a hybrid. I like to plan my journeys but I also like to leave some leeway in there to explore certain locations in greater depth. The other side of this coin is of course, I have a limited amount of time to get done what I want to do. This means you need to figure out what your days are going to be. So while I think you can over plan, there’s no such thing as too much information because at any point you can deviate from whatever you have set out for yourself if you have the knowledge that allows you to make that call.

So right now my plan is to leave on June 12, heading west toward Salt Lake City. I will be meeting up with my buddy Kelly in SLC either late that Sunday or the following Monday morning. Which effectively gives me seven days to cross from Mississauga to SLC. The plan after that is to head to Moab and spend three days tooling around there, before heading to Pike’s Peak for the Thursday and Friday practice sessions and then spending another two days around Colorado Springs exploring the terrain there as well. After that Kelly will head home and I’ll have a few more days to myself to visit some national parks I want to get to before I also had for home.

Time as you can see, is going to be at a premium and seeing as I’m trying to also create a short if not informative book on the dirt roads of Colorado around the areas I’ll be visiting, I need to be very precise with my time. So as you can guess, most of my planning is focused on when and where. This of course involves a lot of time working with my mapping software and my Garmin GPS unit.

My current unit which has served me faithfully if not sometimes sporadically over the last six years is on its way out. This of course means I have been looking at either the Garmin 600 or 650 as a replacement. The issue there of course is these are not cheap units and I’m having to overcome a certain amount of sticker shock. I am after all Scottish. Though to be fair, I always look at these sort of investments especially if they’re expensive as something to be looked at over time. So even though a new GPS may push into the $700 range, it’s not so bad when you consider that it’s going to be part of your main equipment for the next several years. And with price does come better flexibility in what you can do with your technology. If there’s one thing I have found over the years, it’s that standard Garmin units will rearrange your track even if you have programed waypoints. Not such a big deal when it’s your typical Sunday ride but when you’re actually exploring a new part of the country you’ve never been to, it’s can cause you to miss stuff you were looking forward to seeing.

Now of course a certain amount of your planning will revolve around what you’re going to bring with you on a trip. I’ve pretty much got my gear down to a science. My panniers carry my spare gloves, extra footwear, rain gear and tire repair. I do tend to keep my tools to a minimum and so far with a couple of minor exceptions, that’s worked out for me. My top box is for my camera and some of my smaller electronic gear. I keep my clothing in two 10L dry bags which I strap to the top of my panniers. I also have a 40L dry bag which I strap across my passenger seat with a cargo net. It holds my tent, my sleeping bag and my camera tripod. There are also two 2 Gal. ROTOPAX gas cans on the outside of my panniers. These give me a total range of around 700 km, not to mention peace of mind when I’m rolling.


It’s taken me a while to refine this set up but I find it compact and not too heavy, which is a pretty critical consideration if you’re going to be doing any amount of off-road as well as your riding on the slab. The dry bag on the passenger seat also functions as a pretty effective and comfortable backrest. My last piece of equipment is of course my SPOT Gen 3 satellite tracker. It allows my wife and friends to see where I’m at and it gives me the ability to call for help if needed. So as far as how my bike is appointed, I feel I have that covered.

But here I sit roughly three months and six days from departure and much like my Translab trip I know the time is going to go fast. So I’m going to be spending a lot of time refining my routes. I guess I also need to spend a lot of time learning how to properly use the Adobe program that I’m going to use to create the book. Because this time I really do want to get a lot of what I have to show across in pictures.


The Badlands of South Dakota, Sept 2006

My two thrillers Devil’s Gambit and Reliance are available in print and for Kindle on Amazon.

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