Back in August 2020, Amanda Zito, a.k.a. As The Magpie Flies, took a 24-day, 8,000-mile motorcycle trip from her home in Oregon across the USA and back. If you're looking to live vicariously through someone else taking a big motorcycle journey, I highly recommend watching The Flight Of The Magpie. Today, however, we're looking at seven lessons she learned from this trip, which the rest of us can apply to our own motorcycling adventures.
1. Get To Camp Before Dark
Amanda was on a tight schedule, so it was tempting to use her last hour of daylight to put a few more miles behind her. This meant she almost always set up camp in the dark. This is more difficult and less fun. Campsites are often quite scenic in and of themselves. It's good to arrive early enough to enjoy them, not to mention eat before dark and take pictures or video.
2. In The East, You Need A Campsite Reservation
This is a lesson that I learned the hard way myself. Not so much now in winter, but as she got to the midwest and especially the east coast, Amanda realized that it was necessary to reserve a campsite in advance. Thanks to COVID-19 shutting down most of the usual summer activities, more people than ever are camping, which means every campsite is full.
3. Have Waterproofing Redundancy
Many items that claim to be "waterproof"—gear, luggage, etc.—are sometimes not in the real world. Failures and wear happen, too. While Amanda's new Wolfman luggage worked perfectly, her jacket leaked, and she had to keep riding for a while to get to a store to get some generic rain gear. Emergency ponchos take up almost no space and are worth having in case of this kind of failure. You could also keep a couple of garbage bags handy to wrap your luggage if needed.
4. Stake Out Your Rain Fly
If you put a rain fly on your tent, always stake it out so that it touches your tent as little as possible. This improves your tent's ventilation and prevents moisture from condensing between the rain fly and tent, defeating its purpose. As Amanda says, "There's no point in doing a job half-assed."
5. Have More Than A Headlamp For Light
This is one thing Amanda actually did and reaped the benefits of doing. She brought along a cheap pack of string lights, rechargeable by USB. She hung these up inside her tent and enjoyed some good ambient lighting rather than relying solely on her headlamp. This also allowed her to preserve her headlamp's batteries for the emergencies it was intended for in the first place.
6. Use A Waterproof Phone Cover
If you have a large windshield or fairing, your phone may get some protection behind it while you're moving. If you're stopped, though, or if you have no windshield, your phone is vulnerable to the elements if it rains. This is a real bummer if you rely on your phone for navigation while you ride. Get at least a water-resistant case for it, is not something completely waterproof so you don't have to worry about it.
7. Zoom Lenses Are Perfect For Travel
This one's more for the photographers and YouTubers, but it's still a good lesson. Amanda broke her zoom lens the week before her trip, wasn't able to replace it in time, and seriously missed it. Even just taking snapshots on my iPhone 11 Pro, I've found its optical zoom lens to be quite useful to give me the framing I want for a picture. I can only imagine how much better this works with real camera equipment.