Mr and Mrs MotorbikeWriter on a Victory Cross Country Tour in the US
It’s been almost a week since we parked the gorgeous Victory Cross Country Tour in Minneapolis after our 6400km (4000 mile) epic trip from LA, through the deserts, Rockies and prairies via Sturgis. Now, pillion Mrs MotorbikeWriter makes her biggest confession:
I have had a few days to reflect on our big bike adventure and surprisingly I miss it!
Previous to this I had only done a three-day trip so this was a big step up for me. I have been a pillion on numerous test bikes that MotorbikeWriter has brought home over the years, but this one takes the cake and there is no going back for me. It was just so comfortable and felt safe and strong. I hate it when MBW scrapes the footpegs going around corners, but he did something with the suspension (pumped up the rear air shock – MBW) and we only scraped once, although I think he was riding extra carefully so he didn’t annoy me.
When we get home, I don’t know that I will ever get on MBW’s BMW bike for more than an hour or so.
The Victory was not only very comfortable but the luggage space just kept on giving, which is important for me. I need decent space for my clothes as well as for my purchases along the way and the Victory just kept taking it.
My day job is teaching so I like order and, most of all, control. Being a pillion I have limited control which just freaks me out. However, I guess it is the same in a plane or as a car passenger. I know that MBW loves me more than any bike in the world so I just trust that he will get us there safely otherwise he would have two alpha daughters to answer to. Thankfully he didn’t show off and do anything stupid or daring.
My only complaints about the bike are the vision and music. I couldn’t see over the top of MBW’s big Reevu helmet which also upsets my sense of control. I suppose a smaller open-face helmet would make a difference. I also couldn’t hear the music very well, even though there were speakers at the back. The only time I could hear the music was when MBW had his visor open and his intercom microphone picked it up. Other than that, I could only tell what song was playing when MBW started singing along. Yikes!
I also like to plan a long time in advance so not pre-booking accommodation on this trip was living on the edge for me. Our idea was to ride and explore most of the day with no set plans, then find a wi-fi spot (usually Maccas) around mid-afternoon and book a hotel in the next town on hotels.com. It worked just fine and allowed us freedom to do what we wanted without having to rush to reach a destination.
MBW and I also have different ideas about bikes. For the first week we couldn’t post any photos of the Victory on Facebook because of a press embargo on the 2015 model bike. I did explain to MBW that my Facebook friends would be more worried about whether or not the bike clashed with my jacket and helmet than what model of bike we were riding, but he was insistent on not breaking the embargo. Anyway, the look of the bike and how I dress to match is important to me. Thankfully I love the modern styling and the pearl and silver colours of the Victory. My white jacket matches perfectly. I probably should have had some Victory gear to go with the bike, although I don’t like to be overly branded.
Looking back on our ride, I have grown to appreciate the joys of riding, the changes of temperature, the sensation of moving, the close connection with the scenery and smelling the world. In an air conditioned car, you have limited idea about the temperature and the smells that are passing you by but on a bike you can feel it all and smell the flowers and conifers … as well as the road kill!
I also loved the fact when we arrived in a small town with our jackets on and our helmets under our arms, locals engaged with us. They wanted to know our story, where we were from and where we were headed. They freely gave advice about weather, good roads, where to stay, what to see. It felt like they wanted to nurture us because we were vulnerable. But I think they also admired us – and envied us – because we were like their pioneering forebears. I really miss that engagement with people and how easily you can strike up conversations. You just don’t get that when you arrive somewhere by car. No one pays you any attention and I like attention!
MBW and I have different opinions about good bike roads. I like straight and he likes wiggly. In America, there is a good combination of both. However, the fast and crowded interstates made me a bit nervous with so many trucks and big RVs around us.
Some other differences between MBW and me when we are travelling: His main concern is finding the most authentic bar and mine is finding the most authentic earrings; when we meet people from the biking fraternity he asks what they are riding and I want to know where they are from and their life story; and when we were in Sturgis for the motorcycle rally I was people watching, while he was bike watching. Actually, it was quite funny; I said “did you see that?” after we passed a topless woman with pasties on her nipples, and MBW says “yeah, that was a radical bagger.” I thought he was being rude and inappropriate, but then I realised he was looking at a bike.
Getting caught in the weather can be a bit scary on a bike. The weather changes very quickly sometimes and you only get a mini-second to get ready. We went through two drenching storms and one short hail storm.
Unfortunately, MBW overestimated the weather protection on the Victory and only brought wet jackets for us. After a solid drenching in Wyoming, we went searching for wet pants for me, but the bike stores didn’t have any, so we got me some angler’s waders at Walmart. They were not chic or at all cool, but I guess they served a purpose. When we finished the trip, we ceremoniously dumped them in a bin and I intend to get a decent set of wets when we get home. They will have to be 100% weather proof, bright for safety and very compact so it doesn’t interfere with my shopping space. Any leads on good wet gear would be appreciated.
It’s been a great time of bonding to spend almost three weeks with the one person and have them so physically close, sharing the same experiences and having his voice in my helmet all day. You can’t can’t get away or pretend that you aren’t there. Our bonding also turned into some really slick routines for getting on and off the bike, fuelling up and checking in to hotels. We each had a job and we became very fluid and efficient.
At times it would have been good to have others for company – such as at wine time – but I think the positives of travelling solo and not having to compromise for the sake of others far outweighs any negatives.
Am I hooked? Well, we are already considering our next big motorcycle trip. It’s a choice between the European alps, a South American tour with a professional company such as Compass Expeditions, or a return to America, which we have grown to love so much and where we have only scratched the surface, even after 6400km.