Advice for a noob going coast to coast and back?

BrianK

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Hi folks,
This October I’m planning a month trip from here in Massachusetts to visit my son in Silverado CA near Los Angeles, then ride back.

I’m 53 years old and have never considered or undertaken such a journey. Most of my previous riding was local trips, four to six hours in duration.

Three years ago I had 5 strokes and my left arm and leg were paralyzed. After they put heart stents in my brain, and a helluva lot of rehab, I’m back on my feet and back on a bike. But I haven’t ridden much in the last 5-6 years. Really just local riding for the last several months, and given the strokes I’m not exactly in perfect physical condition but I have lost 90 pounds the old fashioned way.

And following the wisdom that “prudence is the better part of valor” I’m staying on paved roads this trip.

As far as equipment I have a 2018 Honda NC750X dct (due to residual weakness in my left foot and ankle making shifting difficult) which will have new Road Pilot 5s, Touratech 31 liter panniers, a 48 liter OEM Honda Topcase, a 22 liter frunk, a Givi 10 liter frunk bag, new full Kilimanjaro suit, Forma Adventure Low boots, a Reevu modular helmet and Aerostich Triple Digit rain covers for over my leather mc gloves.

I just ordered a cot and tent set up. I have Swedish alcohol army stoves, a full Trangia alcohol camping/cooking kit, as well as Solo and Biolyte wood camp stoves.

I still don’t have any type of ultralight folding chairs, camp tables, or good sleeping bag.

Due to chronic post stroke fatigue I’m limited to 6-8 hours of daylight riding per day, and need to get the best nights rest possible, so I figured I’d split camping with staying in hotels depending on how tired I get.

Any words of advice, as far as physical, mental or equipment preps? (I’m not worried about psychological or spiritual issues; I’m a lay member of a religious community and my son is studying to be a priest in a religious order out on the left coast, so I’m looking forward to the relative solitude.)

I have 5 months to get ready and plan to walk every day till then for exercise.
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670cc

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I've ridden motorcycles about a quarter million miles in my lifetime and I would still consider a trip such as you are planning to be a challenge. My weakness on an NC would be how well my butt would hold up on a long, long trip. Maybe it won't be a problem for you, but they call them Iron Butt Rallies for a reason.

Perhaps if your summer schedule allows, you should take a couple long weekend trips, or even a week long trip, to test out your gear, to build up your endurance, and find out where your weaknesses might be for this type of travel.

Good luck!
 

potter0o

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My advice from doing something like this in a car is to be careful of the mileage and saddle time. I was thinking that we would be doing two shifts of three hour stints when we started. This wasn't realistic with the goal of seeing the sights. Currently we travel maybe four hours a day with a planned activity. For example, we drove from Vegas to Visalia today to get set up for parks tomorrow. We stopped at Bakersfield for lunch and tourist information(neat town btw) and on getting to Visalia decided to stay a few miles away in Tulare. My spouse did some of the driving so I could do some work in the back seat.

Riding a motorcycle is much more physically and mentally demanding than driving a car. I have not done any overnight trips but from doing day long rides and training classes I am beat by the end of it. You know your own limitations with your situation so don't push yourself so hard that you miss the point of the trip or wear yourself out. I would recommend some practice runs of some weekends and building to a week to check your stamina and learn how you like to travel. Some people love to camp. Keeps costs down but then you have your set up a tear down. Maybe the cost of a hotel is worth it to skip that and invest in more comfortable/rejuvenating accommodations. Skip the camp stove and food and eat at restaurants. Your practice runs should help you dial in what works for you.

My last comment has to do with the time and to think of the weather conditions. For example the North Rim of the Grand Canyon has full service until October 15. Some areas may becoming cold, wet or snowy in the mountains.

As just another anonymous forum poster my opinions are free to do with as you wish. Sending positive wooo jooo your way and hope you have a great experience. :)
 

Chabon

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A long trip is just a series of short trips connected together! Mixing in the motel is nice, it takes a bite of time setting up and breaking camp everyday. Take 1/2 the stuff you think you need. You can always buy something on the road easier than shipping excess back. I hauled a little table and chair for a while but anywhere I camped had a table and bench, when using your cot make sure you have insulation or an insulated air mattress under your bag, cold air will get you! My goal was to take a big ride one year after brain surgery, did it and haven’t stopped in the last 10 years.
 

Jt105

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Sounds like a fun trip!

Take a camp chair. Most all campgrounds have a picnic table. Unless you plan to find remote sites you can leave the table at home. If your panniers detach, you can use that as a table.

I like a hot breakfast, so your alcohol stove will work fine for coffee or oatmeal. Lunch and dinner is nice to sample local restaurants and experience the towns and people of the different areas. I usually carry a few food items if I really just want to crash at camp and cook something simple.

Long travel is more exciting if your schedule is flexible. You may find out about an interesting stop and spend a few hours there.

Camping around national parks and monuments may require reservations far in advance. Those stops would then be ‘fixed’ in your travel timeline.

Hotels are nice sometimes to refresh and if it has been raining for a few days. It’s nice to be dry and have a real bed.

Try to pack light. Since you are visiting family at the midpoint, you can have gear you forgot shipped to you. You can also have gear you are not using shipped back home.

Hydration is important. It is nice to have a way to hydrate in the road. Then you can empty out at gas stops.

Take a sleeping pad and use it with your cot. It helps with comfort and also insulation under your body when the nights are chilly.

JT
 

Doc True

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Everyone has offered good advice so far. The 2 biggest travel mistakes are packing too much, and riding too much.

-If you have enough for 3 days, you have enough for 3 months

-Pack less than what you think you need. You'll be in America, not outer Mongolia. If you need anything, you can buy it. Its much easier to buy things you need, than deal with shipping things home or moving it out of the way all the time. On a bike, you will touch almost everything you pack at least twice a day and sometimes more. The less you have, the less you have to touch

-You have a new bike. It's a Honda. You're not going to have a drastic mechanical issue. You need to be able to adjust the chain and that's it. Every auto parts place has loaner tools.

-Slow Down! Attempting to ride too far or too fast will ruin you trip before you realize it happened. It creates fatigue and boredom. It effects you in small doses, but these doses accumulate exponentially. You can wear your self out past the point of enjoyment and safety before you realize it

-Schedule some days off, or at least several half days off. Travel is about relaxation and discovery as much, or more than a destination

-Eat healthy. You can get a pre-made salad at any Walmart for $5.

-Look into the Tent Space Sign-Up Thread at advrider.com These are great people. You make new friends, save on lodging, have help for mechanical issues, and expand your world. This is the most important thing you can do. I promise you that, apart form seeing your son, it will be the best part of the trip.

-If you ride through Louisville, hit me up, we have this drink here called bourbon. We'll go get one. I think you'll like it
 

FezUSA

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Physical
Cardio is good (walking etc.) but strength is just as important. Core strength as well as the large muscle groups. If you haven't already, you should be doing some weight or resistance training. You don't need a gym, body weight and resistance bands are enough. You can always add some actual weights such as kettle bells if you need to. Do not underestimate the toll on your body of riding a lot. Your upper body especially. Range of motion is also good, so don't forget stretching etc.

Gear etc.
Whatever gear you narrow it down to, make sure you test it out with multiple trips beforehand so that you can learn what works and what doesn't. Tools - make sure you have some basics to help with your gear and your bike, but don't bother with tools to perform jobs that you're not comfortable performing. If you plan on calling for service should you have a chain issue, don't bother taking a chain tool!! Generally, the lighter the equipment, the more expensive it is, and you're usually giving up some comfort too. Camp chairs for ultralite are $100-150 for good ones, but can make kicking back and relaxing by a fire or on a beach so much more comfortable than the provided bench or ground!
 

Afan

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I want to share my 2 cents too... :D

Mental preparation
Actually, I think it's much easier than you think. Just think about
1. you are going to travel, you will see many beautiful places, and, since you dedicated a whole month - you can see REALLY a lot of places;
2. you are going to meet a lot of nice people. People are good, friendly, eager to help... What we see on TV is just a couple percent that brings money to TV corporations
3. you are going to visit your son, see him and spend some time with him. Probably the best part. I know what that means, from my own experience.

Physical preparation
You survived 5 strokes, and you are back on the track. I'm pretty sure you are physically ready for the journey. :D DCT option is very smart move - I ride DCT and I'm really happy with it.
I think the weakest point is going to be your butt. So, I would recommend to make over weekends as much as you can daily rides of couple hundred miles. Multiple days trips will be even better. Train your body. I rarely ride more than 350 miles. Very often only 300 miles - enough of riding and enough time for stops to see places. And, before October, you will know where you are mileage wise. You can make this journey of yours on your motorcycle, in your car, on a bicycle... or any other transportation, it's a "tool". See places and talk to people to me was the most important part. Of course, doing it with your motorcycle is the best way, no doubt. :D

Test wooden beads (https://www.amazon.com/Double-Strun...+wooden+beads&qid=1556115863&s=gateway&sr=8-4) or sheep skin. Never used a sheep skin but the wooden beads is one of the best investments. Needed couple hours to get used to it - I felt sliding left and right all the time, but later, actually, I used that "movement" to relax mu butt. :D

I think it's very important to make route/plan/map of your ride with as much as possible interesting stops along the route. Far from you have to stop on all of them, but if you need to make a break it's nice to know there is something around. You'll probably not see half of them, but I HATE when I'm back home and realize that I missed something good within a mile! Having a break on a gas station, standing next to your bike is actually not best break and relaxing time at all. But if you can take a little walk and see something, 30 minutes is just enough - it relaxes you a lot. At least in my case...

I NEVER ride on interstates. To me it's commuting, not riding. I feel more tired after 4 hours on interstate than 6 hours on "regular" US highway, state road, or a such... It's strait, boring... And lots of trucks and cars. Using US highways you will ride through cities and towns and see many interesting things. Like Radiator Springs :D

As most of the guys already said, you have no idea how many Walmarts are around, in case you need something. If you are not sure about some items - don't take them with you.

What to eat - it depends of your diet, you already now that. What to drink - water. A lot of water. Dehydration is big issue. I drink a lot of coffee. Not to keep me awake. Just because I like the taste of coffee. And tea. I don't drink pops and sodas and a such.

Mixing camping and motels - great idea. Camping are great experience, and there are always people around you. I doubt you'll ever eat and/or drink alone while camping. Although, motels are the best to recharge the "batteries" (your body). Nice long shower feels soooo good. Stretching on the good bed, washing clothing if needed...

As somebody said, cot is good but you still need air mattress or pad between you and the cot because you can get cold. There's noting to protect you from cold.
If the cot helps you a lot getting up then OK, otherwise I would skip the cot and sleep on the ground - less things to carry.

I don't carry much of the clothing, mostly synthetics. Dry Fit stuff. So small when packed, much easier to wash, dry within a minutes (even if you put on while still wet). My pillow is kinda synthetic too - if it's hot night and hair is sweaty, it makes the dawn pillow wet too, and you can't to dry it easy. ;)

Camping towels (https://www.amazon.com/WildHorn-Outfitters-Microlite-Backpacking-Microfiber/dp/B076PNRTB1/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=camping+towels&qid=1556115277&s=sporting-goods&sr=1-4)

Cut your hair as short as possible - October still can be hot, and sweaty hair makes your helmet very smelly. That's why I wear head liner (skull cap) all the time - you can wash it and dry it at the end of each day for couple minutes.

Also, there is one more thing I HAVE to have on my longer trips: communication. I use SENA, hook up my phone so I can hear when Google Map/GPS talking to me, I listen podcasts, sometimes music, I can answer the phone if family and/or friend calls. And, when bored, talking to somebody helps a lot on long boring stretches of the road. Or, you are tired but have to ride one more hour to your destination ;).

And, at the end, if your route takes you through Des Moines, Iowa (I know, sounds funny :D ), I will be more than happy to welcome you.
 

StratTuner

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I have been across the US on an NC. (San Diego to Jacksonville), and other long rides. (Calif to Omaha)
Suggestions:
- 300 to 500 miles a day max (gives you time to set up / take down camp in the daylight)
- do not cook your own food (less to pack and better eating. fast food in the morning and at dinner right before you camp)
- RV camps with tent spaces and showers (a shower really revives you. map them out in 300-mile legs) also see: FreeCampSites.net. (motel 6 if you can afford it.)
- have an escape plan: mine is --- rent u-haul pickup truck, put NC750 on truck bed, drive home.
- pack good rain gear even in high summer

If you'd like to read through the preparations I made, please find them [HERE]. There are links to almost everything I packed.

It would be easy to say "Don't GO", but life is short. Carpe Diem.
 
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670cc

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Another thing came to mind. If you are likely to go outside of cell phone range, and/or your health could give you trouble, or you just want another method of summoning help should something go awry, I suggest getting an InReach satellite radio (or the competitor, SPOT), and subscribing to their $14.95/month service plan. You can use this radio for interactive SOS whether you have cell phone coverage or not. You can also send unlimited preprogrammed messages to family to let them know your location and status.
 

Doc True

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Another thing came to mind. If you are likely to go outside of cell phone range, and/or your health could give you trouble, or you just want another method of summoning help should something go awry, I suggest getting an InReach satellite radio (or the competitor, SPOT), and subscribing to their $14.95/month service plan. You can use this radio for interactive SOS whether you have cell phone coverage or not. You can also send unlimited preprogrammed messages to family to let them know your location and status.
I disagree with this. He might go out of cell range, but it sounds as if he's traveling on well used public roads during mostly daylight hours. I think this falls in to the unnecessary pile
 

dduelin

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In addition I’d suggest two or three 3 or 4 day trips between now and October just to see how to pack and how little you really need to take, what works for you, etc.
 

BrianK

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A hearty thank you to everyone who offered their wisdom so far!

I’m really leaning towards going the all hotel and eating out daily route, as opposed to packing camping and cooking equipment. It will give me more time for both sightseeing and quality rest.

However, I also really like the “Tent Space” threads at ADVrider and would like to take advantage of that, so I’m undecided. However, the after effects of the stroke make getting up off the ground a real chore, so the cot is a necessity. And despite the weight, I’m going with a DiscoBed cot for cot height and stability and because there are no bars under your back. I’m topping it with a Kamp-Rite "IPS" cot tent.

All these inputs are most welcome and are clarifying my thoughts for both the months ahead and the trip itself!
 

Afan

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In addition I’d suggest two or three 3 or 4 day trips between now and October just to see how to pack and how little you really need to take, what works for you, etc.
Yup. Agree. Right now top priority.
Such a shame you're not closer to me so we can "train" together. :D
 

drdubb

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On my long trip I got a medjet policy to get me and the bike home "just in case" of injury or health issue. I ended up shipping camping gear home and staying in motels. A banana and coffee in the morning. ride awhile, stop for "brunch". Dinner after finding a place to stay the night.

I live on the east coast, so I ended up waking early and usually on the road by sun-up. Usually quit early. Averaged about 425 miles a day. Over 500 in the plains, shorter days in the mountains and interesting places. Meet people. It makes the trip better.

I took some heated gear and glad I did. (June) got cold up in the mountains.

I used a duffle to carry everything I would need in the room. I then just removed that when entering the motel.

Three pair of socks, three undies, three tees. On set was washed in the motel sink each night. Put in a mesh bag on the top box in case they didn't dry. One set of street clothes.

I carried an extra throttle cable, extra brake lever, and oil filters. I also had a tire plug kit and pump.
 
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Afan

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... However, I also really like the “Tent Space” threads at ADVrider and would like to take advantage of that, so I’m undecided...
In this case you kinda MUST do couple overnights with your camping gear, couple days in a row. If you feel not rested and miserable after 2nd of 3rd night, abandon the Tent Space idea for this trip.

There is one more thing I forgot to mention: according to many riders I talked to, when you leave your home, the biggest "crisis" is about 3rd day. After 3rd day everything goes much smoother. I don't know why is that...
 

BrianK

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In addition I’d suggest two or three 3 or 4 day trips between now and October just to see how to pack and how little you really need to take, what works for you, etc.
That’s definitely in my plans for the next several months. I’ll be heading up to Arcadia in Maine as well as the northeastern Canadian provinces in a couple weeks, and I’ll be making multiple trips to Pennsylvania to visit family this summer.

It’s ironic that these strokes which caused me to retire young from a 21 year solo practice in Podiatry (I never thought I’d walk again at the time) has provided the time and finances (disability settlement) to make some travel plans I never would have considered if I were still “healthy” and in practice.
 
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dduelin

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On my long trip I got a medjet policy to get me and the bike home "just in case" of injury or health issue. I ended up shipping camping gear home and staying in motels. A banana and coffee in the morning. ride awhile, stop for "brunch". Dinner after finding a place to stay the night.

I live on the east coast, so I ended up waking early and usually on the road by sun-up. Usually quit early. Averaged about 425 miles a day. Over 500 in the plains, shorter days in the mountains and interesting places. Meet people. It makes the trip better.

I took some heated gear and glad I did. (June) got cold up in the mountains.

I used a duffle to carry everything I would need in the room. I then just removed that when entering the motel.

Three pair of socks, three undies, three tees. On set was washed in the motel sink each night. Put in a mesh bag on the top box in case they didn't dry. One set of street clothes.

I carried an extra throttle cable, extra brake lever, and oil filters. I also had a tire plug kit and pump.
Drdubb, I heartily agree. When I started motorcycle traveling I was given three good pieces of advice.

1. Do 40 miles before breakfast. If you are one of those that sleep late and/or prep meals in the campground you never get anywhere. Pack a small ditty bag with a Jet Boil or MSR Dragon Fly and stuff to make a cup of coffee. No other meal preparation tools or gear necessary.

2. A big breakfast on the road somewhere around 10 am, ride into the mid afternoon and eat another meal on the road around 4 or pick up a sub or the like to eat in the campground.

3. The 3 Pile Method of unpacking. Take small trips to get used to motocamping before a long trip. When back home from a small trip, unpack all the stuff into three piles. Pile 1 was stuff you used and will take next time. Pile 2 was stuff I didn't use but might use next time. Pile 3 was stuff I'll never use or I can easily buy on the road if I need it. After a few trips you can pack really light, everything remaining is Pile 1 Worthy.

Often we think jeans and tee shirts are good riding or camping clothing. Jeans are heavy, pack big, and take forever to dry, tees only slightly less so. Three days in damp cotton underwear will chap your a**. Invest in synthetic technical apparel that is warm, or cool, will dry overnight in a motel room and pack very small and doesn't stink if you are forced to wear it a couple extra days. Two light layers mo better than one cotton one. We can endure a lot of adventure if we can stay comfortable and dry. Uncomfortable and wet makes adventure an ordeal.
 

ld_rider

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Hi folks,
This October I’m planning a month trip from here in Massachusetts to visit my son in Silverado CA near Los Angeles, then ride back.
Soooo..You are talking about what? A 6-7,000 mile trip. Have you ridden a motorcycle for say, five out of seven days straight, without the benefit of any other transportation for a couple of weeks? Have you camped while traveling on a motorcycle for weeks at a time? Camping on a M/C can be fun, doing it for a month, rain or shine sounds like torture but that is just me ;-)

Riding that type of distance on a commuter motorcycle will be a challenge. A huge challenge with (possible) life changing results (good or bad) so don't take it lightly. How many gas stops are you planning for? At any of the more elevated speeds (found out West) and fully loaded your range will be much, MUCH less than you get puttering around town. Riding in heavy traffic: You think traffic gets bad on 495 or the Mass Pike? Compared to large areas of Cali those Mass highways will seem like raceways as you crawl along at 10mph afraid to lane split.

Have you ever ridden long distances on the bike you have now (not a previous one)?

I mean this with no disrespect but if your longest rides have been 6 hours or so a day I think you will find it VERY challenging to travel 7,000 miles without some serious off the bike recovery time. Can you ride 7,000 miles? Probably, but doing it safely in all kinds of traffic, weather, road conditions, etc, etc, would be tough for any rider and especially on a motorcycle with a completely different design mission than a more focused mount, and with (relatively) zero experience in multi day rides. I don't like those ingredients and for me the risk/reward wouldn't work. Can it be done? Sure! Would I do it? Nope.

Not trying (ok, I sorta am) to discourage you but please think of your actual abilities, the motorcycle's abilities and compare that to what you can realistically expect on not one, but two transcontinental rides taken back to back (!). Godspeed if you decide to do this..

EDIT: Couple of summers ago I rode from Maine to New Mexico. Previously I had done quite a few long day rides on the bike. Like 600 mile long day rides. No problem. BUT what I found out was that when you start stringing those rides back to back to back. etc you get tired. Quickly. And sore. Like (not to be too graphic) bloody blisters on your butt sore. Don't underestimate the recovery time you will need when off the motorcycle.
 
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Afan

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Soooo..You are talking about what? A 6-7,000 mile trip. Have you ridden a motorcycle for say, five out of seven days straight, without the benefit of any other transportation for a couple of weeks? Have you camped while traveling on a motorcycle for weeks at a time? Camping on a M/C can be fun, doing it for a month, rain or shine sounds like torture but that is just me ;-)
Somehow I read your post a bit darker then it actually is. I agree there are many not so nice things that could happen, but usually they don't. I'm rather optimistic than pessimistic. let's help the guy to do his "ride of the lifetime", point him in the right direction, help him to see himself can he or he can't do it. Not to discourage him on the beginning.

In 2015 I had my first more-than-3-days trip, to SD from IA. In 2016 I had 13 days trip to California, about 4,500 miles. So, it's not impossible, right?


... EDIT: Couple of summers ago I rode from Maine to New Mexico. Previously I had done quite a few long day rides on the bike. Like 600 mile long day rides. No problem. BUT what I found out was that when you start stringing those rides back to back to back. etc you get tired. Quickly. And sore. Like (not to be too graphic) bloody blisters on your butt sore. Don't underestimate the recovery time you will need when off the motorcycle.
From your picture (the license plate) and the part "... Like 600 mile long day rides... back to back to back..." I see you are long distance rider. Somebody enjoys sitting on his bike 12+ hours, to get as far as possible, not doing many stops. Maybe, I'm assuming, that's the reason of the "... bloody blisters on your butt sore..."?

BrianK, in his post said "Due to chronic post stroke fatigue I’m limited to 6-8 hours of daylight riding per day...". That's, let say about 350 miles a day, right? That's what usually I do. Plenty of riding, plenty of relaxing time. And never, ever had an issue with blisters, or anything similar. So, it is possible.
Also, his ride will take probably between 6K-7K miles, to LA and back home. Riding 350 miles/day, it's no more than 20 days. And he dedicated a whole month. To me it still sounds very doable. And, to me, he's mentally ready - most important part. What's left is just "training". Right?

;)
 
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