It was a long hot Saturday. A test run for things to come later this summer.
My idea was to day-trip it from Kansas City to Carthage, MO…about 300 miles round-trip. I wanted to try and do that all in one day, and take all back roads, on my KLR 650. My questions were, could my butt take that sort of saddle abuse? Could I properly navigate long distances via nothing back deep back roads? How often and where to stop for food and rest? What would my average speed be and how many hours would it take to do the full 300?
First thing…yes, there is life away from the Interstates. An amazing world of country roads and muddy hidden barely passable dirt tracks through some of the worlds best farmland. It’s the most scenic way to travel, but surely not the fastest.
Things I learned on these country roads:
- Never assume a puddle is shallow (it looks shallow but it’s DEEP and muddy)
- ALWAYS stop at railroad crossings. I almost got hit by a fast running coal train.
- Motorcycles are even more invisible on dirt roads. Seriously…people won’t even look around corners or at crossroads, and will gladly run you into the muddy ditch.
- Take lots of breaks…driving tired is a recipe for mistakes and pain. Set time and mileage goals for breaks. Take them whether you think you need to or not.
- GPS, GPS, GPS. It’s easy to get lost…and most times that’s the point. But if you have a destination and want the scenic route, GPS will keep you on track.
- …and yes, the country is connected by unknown dirt roads and trails. Get out and find a new way.
In the end, I made it to Carthage and back in one day. Avoided freeways and most major highways. It was a long day and I averaged about 35mph, but I answered a lot of my questions. With the proper route and GPS I could easily do 300 miles a day on my stock KLR…and I could still take a reasonably scenic route. I want to stick to all small country roads and dirt. The KLR shines in the 45 – 60mph range, especially on dirt roads. It could do that all day long and it’s a smooth ride (for dirt roads, that is).
Now I need to start shopping for the right GPS unit, some good summer gloves, and a few more day-trip routes.