Advice for a noob going coast to coast and back?

melensdad

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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.

...

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.
View attachment 38059
I'm a 58 year old with a 58 year old wife.

We are planning a trip around the Great Lakes this summer. Time may force us to cut the trip a bit. The minimum route will be Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, hopefully farther. Full trip is right about 6500 miles.

We are also walkers. Walked coast to coast across England. Walked 600 miles from Southwestern France through Northern Spain to the Atlantic Ocean along the Camino de Santiago Catholic pilgrimage trail for the Feast day of St James festival. Looking to walk the Way of St Francis in Italy next May (Florence to Assisi to Rome). Plenty of others too. I'm reasonably fit, I'm an olympic style saber fencing coach at a couple high schools and the local fencing club. But a run to the mail box out at the end of the driveway will have me seriously winded so I'm not super-fit.

Best advice I can give from my limited time with our NC700DCT and an NC750DCT is to break up the riding into 60 to 90 minute rides. Stop, walk around, eat, whatever. Get back on and ride another 60 to 90 minutes. Take another break. Ride another 60 to 90 minutes. Take another break. Ride another 60 to 90 minutes and be done for the day. 3 to 4 rides per day, running 60 to 90 minutes each. Plan for an occasional rest day or, at very least, a "short day" with maybe a maximum of 2 60 minute rides, and do those short days or rest days at least 1 time every 7 days. This is based on our long distance hiking experience.

What I have found is that the body can run some long runs over short durations but over the long term the body will fail miserably if a daily grind is too intense. Run a 1000 miles in 1 day? Yup it can be done. Run 500 miles a day for 2 days. Sure, that can be done too. But run 500 miles a day for a week and you will probably be recovering in bed for a week. Daily runs of 200-to-250 miles per day for 30 days with some 'short' or 'rest' days mixed in to travel 3000 miles each way is probably reasonable for a 50+ year old body.
 
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ld_rider

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Appreciate the thoughtful response!

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.
How about this: Be neither but instead a realist ;-)

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?
Certainly not impossible and I can appreciate how you built up your endurance over a year or so, moving from a 3 day trip to eventually a 13 day trip covering many more miles. Doing 13 days and 4,500 miles as a "noob" probably wouldn't have been very practical. Or safe.

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..."?
No, the reason for the blisters and discomfort is related more to the lack of recovery time between rides. If I did a 600 mile days back to back (or maybe two out of three days) I had the blisters. Prior to the ride out to New Mexico I was regularly doing long days in the saddle. But, only one day at a time for a single day on the weekend with a bunch of days off in between. It is the cumulative affect that was the issue and despite me being sort of LD legend in my own mind, I had to figure that one out painfully by myself ;-)


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.
Anything is possible. The question isn't what is possible, but what can be done safely with a high probability of being successful. He has never ridden 6-8 hours a day for days on end. I think he mentions his actual riding (not what he hopes to do) is more like local rides of 4 to maybe 6 hours. Maybe he has ridden 8 hours a day but even so, has he done it more than twice? five times? In all kinds of weather? No.

Getting 8 hours of daylight riding time might be difficult in New England and other parts of the U.S. in October. Remember, we are talking about "riding hours" not fueling hours, getting lunch hours, setting up camp hours, getting lost hours, etc, etc hours.

A 350 or 400 mile day is I think a very nice, comfortable pace and if the weather/traffic/etc cooperates would actually be pleasant. String a bunch of them together though and the calculus changes due to limited recovery time between rides. Otherwise, a 84,000/mile year would be an easy peasy ride, since it is just (mathematically) a string of pleasant 7,000 mile/month rides which are nothing but a string of sunny afternoon 350 mile rides 20 days out of the month ;-)

It doesn't work that way but that thinking has trapped (and killed) more than a few riders.

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?
No ;-)

Being "mentally tough" is for the movies. To ride 7,000 miles in a month you need to be in reasonably good physical shape and have an through understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. Especially at recognizing fatigue.

I agree with you about the training though...As Dave and others pointed out, that would a great start, just to get a baseline (which currently doesn't exist).

I hope this long rambling post helped clear up my previous long rambling post ;-)
 
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BrianK

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Appreciate the thoughtful response!

How about this: Be neither but instead a realist ;-)


Certainly not impossible and I can appreciate how you built up your endurance over a year or so, moving from a 3 day trip to eventually a 13 day trip covering many more miles. Doing 13 days and 4,500 miles as a "noob" probably wouldn't have been very practical. Or safe.



No, the reason for the blisters and discomfort is related more to the lack of recovery time between rides. If I did a 600 mile days back to back (or maybe two out of three days) I had the blisters. Prior to the ride out to New Mexico I was regularly doing long days in the saddle. But, only one day at a time for a single day on the weekend with a bunch of days off in between. It is the cumulative affect that was the issue and despite me being sort of LD legend in my own mind, I had to figure that one out painfully by myself ;-)



Anything is possible. The question isn't what is possible, but what can be done safely with a high probability of being successful. He has never ridden 6-8 hours a day for days on end. I think he mentions his actual riding (not what he hopes to do) is more like local rides of 4 to maybe 6 hours. Maybe he has ridden 8 hours a day but even so, has he done it more than twice? five times? In all kinds of weather? No.

Getting 8 hours of daylight riding time might be difficult in New England and other parts of the U.S. in October. Remember, we are talking about "riding hours" not fueling hours, getting lunch hours, setting up camp hours, getting lost hours, etc, etc hours.

A 350 or 400 mile day is I think a very nice, comfortable pace and if the weather/traffic/etc cooperates would actually be pleasant. String a bunch of them together though and the calculus changes due to limited recovery time between rides. Otherwise, a 84,000/mile year would be an easy peasy ride, since it is just (mathematically) a string of pleasant 7,000 mile/month rides which are nothing but a string of sunny afternoon 350 mile rides 20 days out of the month ;-)

It doesn't work that way but that thinking has trapped (and killed) more than a few riders.


No ;-)

Being "mentally tough" is for the movies. To ride 7,000 miles in a month you need to be in reasonably good physical shape and have an through understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. Especially at recognizing fatigue.

I agree with you about the training though...As Dave and others pointed out, that would a great start, just to get a baseline (which currently doesn't exist).

I hope this long rambling post helped clear up my previous long rambling post ;-)
Actually I really appreciate your posts. I’ve said many times, I’m neither an idealist nor a pessimist, but a realist. You raise realistic issues, and it’s making me take a hard look at how I’m going to prepare for this trip.

Given the input I’ve received, I’ve already decided to rule out camping and just stay at hotels to maximize good rest and minimize time spent on camping set up and break down, cooking etc.

And I’m going to limit my daily mileage to 300 miles, breaking it up with more frequent stops, and rest up on Sundays. instead of riding. It’s about a 3000 mile trip each way, which equals about 11 days out and 11 days back including rest days. Because of my son’s schedule at the Abbey, I’ll only get to spend Friday night, Saturday and Sunday with him. I’m planning on visiting Catholic sites around Southern California before and after my visit with him. That should make for a full week break as rest from long distance riding, right in the middle of my trip.

And I’m going to make it a priority to do longer regional trips here on the east coast on a regular basis prior to my trip. As I get these under my belt I’ll have a better idea whether this kind of trip is even realistic to consider for me.

Finally, I might move up the dates so I’m traveling middle September to middle October to avoid cold weather riding as much as possible.
 

BrianK

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I'm a 58 year old with a 58 year old wife.

We are planning a trip around the Great Lakes this summer. Time may force us to cut the trip a bit. The minimum route will be Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, hopefully farther. Full trip is right about 6500 miles.

We are also walkers. Walked coast to coast across England. Walked 600 miles from Southwestern France through Northern Spain to the Atlantic Ocean along the Camino de Santiago Catholic pilgrimage trail for the Feast day of St James festival. Looking to walk the Way of St Francis in Italy next May (Florence to Assisi to Rome). Plenty of others too. I'm reasonably fit, I'm an olympic style saber fencing coach at a couple high schools and the local fencing club. But a run to the mail box out at the end of the driveway will have me seriously winded so I'm not super-fit.

Best advice I can give from my limited time with our NC700DCT and an NC750DCT is to break up the riding into 60 to 90 minute rides. Stop, walk around, eat, whatever. Get back on and ride another 60 to 90 minutes. Take another break. Ride another 60 to 90 minutes. Take another break. Ride another 60 to 90 minutes and be done for the day. 3 to 4 rides per day, running 60 to 90 minutes each. Plan for an occasional rest day or, at very least, a "short day" with maybe a maximum of 2 60 minute rides, and do those short days or rest days at least 1 time every 7 days. This is based on our long distance hiking experience.

What I have found is that the body can run some long runs over short durations but over the long term the body will fail miserably if a daily grind is too intense. Run a 1000 miles in 1 day? Yup it can be done. Run 500 miles a day for 2 days. Sure, that can be done too. But run 500 miles a day for a week and you will probably be recovering in bed for a week. Daily runs of 200-to-250 miles per day for 30 days with some 'short' or 'rest' days mixed in to travel 3000 miles each way is probably reasonable for a 50+ year old body.
Great post, thanks. And an interesting coincidence. I’m planning on walking the shortest route that qualifies as completing the Camino pilgrimage in late summer/fall 2020. So my current walking is also the beginning of my preparation for that trek next year.
 

DirtFlier

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My advice is to take several 3-4 day trips before your big adventure. No matter how much you plan things, in regards to packing and setting up the bike, you'll find some things need more development. Having shorter trips first will allow you to smooth all those wrinkles after you get home. :)
 

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Actually I really appreciate your posts. I’ve said many times, I’m neither an idealist nor a pessimist, but a realist. You raise realistic issues, and it’s making me take a hard look at how I’m going to prepare for this trip.

Given the input I’ve received, I’ve already decided to rule out camping and just stay at hotels to maximize good rest and minimize time spent on camping set up and break down, cooking etc.

And I’m going to limit my daily mileage to 300 miles, breaking it up with more frequent stops, and rest up on Sundays. instead of riding. It’s about a 3000 mile trip each way, which equals about 11 days out and 11 days back including rest days. Because of my son’s schedule at the Abbey, I’ll only get to spend Friday night, Saturday and Sunday with him. I’m planning on visiting Catholic sites around Southern California before and after my visit with him. That should make for a full week break as rest from long distance riding, right in the middle of my trip.

And I’m going to make it a priority to do longer regional trips here on the east coast on a regular basis prior to my trip. As I get these under my belt I’ll have a better idea whether this kind of trip is even realistic to consider for me.

Finally, I might move up the dates so I’m traveling middle September to middle October to avoid cold weather riding as much as possible.
Three years ago, did a similar trip and the idea came out of the blue.
I just packed and took off without much thought, with minimal prep.
Sure enough as others have posted, too much stuff and ended up checking into motels more often than planned due to weather.
The next year I took on a bigger challenge, ride the Trans America Trail- a longer, more demanding route coast to coast.
While the prior year's experience really helped the second time around the challenges were still omnipresent.
My conclusion is no matter how much experience you think you have, don't overestimate your skills, stamina, resolve etc. be humble
there is nothing to prove here. You're just making a journey/adventure and it's yours.
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If you have the gear and a desire to experience the outdoors, you will regret not having the gear when you reach beautiful areas such as CO, UT and so on.
Just a few nights camping in those places makes it worth carrying them a few thousand miles. That's just me tho'.
Get the experience and ship back what you don't need. It's worth it.
I also benefited from having subscribed to a hotel rewards program where the 6th nite is free.
.
Just because you are traveling backroads and seemingly public roads where there are people,
don't underestimate the vastness of this country. There are many areas without cell service going miles on end.
.
If you ignore everything posted here, you'll be fine but not having a lifeline does not make sense to me on such a trip.
670cc suggested the Spot (which I also have) but there are other similar devices just as good; the point is to have one.
 

davidc83

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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
Many areas without cell coverage..Heck I live about 4 miles from I-65 and have 0 cell coverage from any courier...Traveling south on I-65 from Cave City to Tennessee, I have no cell coverage (Total Wireless)... Many areas out west has no cell coverage, I think it is a good idea; plus, add a rider on insurance just in case, god forbid, an accident occurs and you have to be flown by helicopter---most insurances dont cover this...
 

davidc83

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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!
Hey Brian,, if you come thru southern Indiana, I have 10 acres you can camp on (surrounded by State Forest); heck, even have a couch you can sleep on if you like (cant be allergic to cats though, as I have a house cat); or you can throw your cot in one my barn (no leaks).
 

melensdad

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Great post, thanks. And an interesting coincidence. I’m planning on walking the shortest route that qualifies as completing the Camino pilgrimage in late summer/fall 2020. So my current walking is also the beginning of my preparation for that trek next year.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE try for a longer route. I know nobody who did the Sarria to Santiago hike who didn't wish they took a longer variant.

That is also a very crowded and often noisy part of the trail as the quantity of pilgrims is exponentially larger. On the east end you can walk for hours in solitude. The stretch from Sarria is crowded with large tourist groups, singing kids, and tourists. You see THOUSANDS of them, fresh off the bus, wearing their clean exercise shorts, spandex and Nike running shoes joining the trail. Prior to that point you see a mix of trail weary (but happy) hiking pilgrims in need of a shave, small groups or even singles walking in meditative solitude.

Seriously consider starting 1 major city east, in LEON and see the splendor of a major Spanish Cathedral. You will walk through the modest but beautiful medium size city of ASTORGA, home of the restored Gaudi designed "Bishop's Palace" and another major Spanish Cathedral. You will not regret starting in Leon. You will thank me later. I promise you will not be disappointed if you start in Leon. And if you need a packing list of what to carry, what style backpack to use, etc, or just want to talk to someone who has done it to pick up some ideas, please feel free to contact me.

None of the western part of Spain is an intimidating hike. Its a pleasant walk. The mountain ranges and river crossings are long gone. The dreaded Meseta is long past as well, so not going to be any real issues for a walk from Leon. But from Leon to Astorga to Sarria will be a steadily growing crowd. You will find some solitude on the trail if you wish, you will find fellowship along the trail if that is what you wish. From Sarria the whole dynamic changes. Its a party, sometime raucous.
 
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Many areas without cell coverage..Heck I live about 4 miles from I-65 and have 0 cell coverage from any courier...Traveling south on I-65 from Cave City to Tennessee, I have no cell coverage (Total Wireless)... Many areas out west has no cell coverage, I think it is a good idea; plus, add a rider on insurance just in case, god forbid, an accident occurs and you have to be flown by helicopter---most insurances dont cover this...
1. I live in a city with a population of 400,000 and can't count on 4G cellular service at home. Usually 2 bars but sometimes 2G or none. When crossing the entire US, there's a lot of empty areas which have poor coverage (I see this when traveling back home to see family).

2. A few years ago I was part of a forum where a rider went missing on a trip. Had lunch with a friend one day but didn't arrive at the hotel that night (or something like that). They eventually found his body 30 feet or so down a hill but it took nearly two weeks. Not sure if a SPOT would have made a difference but it would have saved suffering time for his family. He was a seasoned distance rider so they assume he tried to avoid a deer or something and lost control.

Other thoughts I haven't seen mentioned...
I'd take and extra pair of boots. If you get caught in a rainstorm, you don't want to be stuck riding in wet boots (mine seem to get wet even with rain gear). Or riding in damp, sweaty boots day after day. Extra gloves in case they get wet in unexpected rain.

As far as preparing, that's not too difficult since you've decided to mostly use hotels and you're retired. Ride 300-350 miles. Come home and sleep in your own bed. Repeat for a week. While doing this, use mostly what you'll take with you to get an idea of what you need (make note of what you don't need). Adjust your trip time accordingly.

In 11 days, weather could be bad enough to delay you. Plan to arrive at least 2 days prior to spending time with your son. If you're delayed a day, you'll still have a day to rest up before time with your son.

I didn't seen any USB ports mentioned. If you're using your phone for GPS and directions, it probably won't last 300 miles on battery alone. Get bluetooth in your helmet so you can hear the directions. Might need a different windshield so you can hear it better. Maybe a phone mount if you want to see the maps but waterproof mounts can make the phone hotter than usual.
 

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PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE try for a longer route. I know nobody who did the Sarria to Santiago hike who didn't wish they took a longer variant.

That is also a very crowded and often noisy part of the trail as the quantity of pilgrims is exponentially larger. On the east end you can walk for hours in solitude. The stretch from Sarria is crowded with large tourist groups, singing kids, and tourists. You see THOUSANDS of them, fresh off the bus, wearing their clean exercise shorts, spandex and Nike running shoes joining the trail. Prior to that point you see a mix of trail weary (but happy) hiking pilgrims in need of a shave, small groups or even singles walking in meditative solitude.

Seriously consider starting 1 major city east, in LEON and see the splendor of a major Spanish Cathedral. You will walk through the modest but beautiful medium size city of ASTORGA, home of the restored Gaudi designed "Bishop's Palace" and another major Spanish Cathedral. You will not regret starting in Leon. You will thank me later. I promise you will not be disappointed if you start in Leon. And if you need a packing list of what to carry, what style backpack to use, etc, or just want to talk to someone who has done it to pick up some ideas, please feel free to contact me.

None of the western part of Spain is an intimidating hike. Its a pleasant walk. The mountain ranges and river crossings are long gone. The dreaded Meseta is long past as well, so not going to be any real issues for a walk from Leon. But from Leon to Astorga to Sarria will be a steadily growing crowd. You will find some solitude on the trail if you wish, you will find fellowship along the trail if that is what you wish. From Sarria the whole dynamic changes. Its a party, sometime raucous.
Three years ago I couldn't walk at all. Now I'm able to walk 1 1/2 to 2 miles per day, with no real training for the last year. I'm hoping to increase my daily endurance over the next year and a half so I can complete the minimal requirements of the "official" Camino pilgrimage. If my training goes better than I anticipate, I may try for a longer route. Right now, walking on perfectly flat trails is about the best I can do. Big hills or mountains are out of the question. But after a year and a half of conditioning, hopefully that will improve. I'd love to make the additions you advised here, thanks!
 
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I just shared this with friends on FB:

"Now that I'm living in a lay community in Massachusetts, I asked the directors here if it was okay if I took a sabbatical early this fall to drive out to California and back to visit my son at his abbey there. And since I'm back on two wheels, I told them I've decided to make this into an epic cross country - and back - motorcycle road trip!

"They thought it was a great idea, especially from the perspective of one of their members who was "paralyzed on the left side from strokes three years ago, has had a miraculous recovery and is making an epic motorcycle journey."

"One of our directors here even suggested making this into a fundraiser for our community (the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy), asking our contacts to pledge a cent or two per mile traveled as a donation!

My office mate just quipped, "We'll call it "Brian's Cross Country Motorcycle Mercy Tour.""

"They're going to let me take a sabbatical for both September (so I can prepare) and October (so I can take a full month to make a leisurely trip given my physical limitations from post stroke fatigue.) Plus whatever days I need for preliminary conditioning trips between now and then.

'I'll probably do a combination of camping and staying at hotels.

"Let the planning begin!"


So I'll probably get the sat phone device, so I can at least update family and friends of my progress. If I do a fundraiser for our community, I'll definitely do that to update our supporters.
 

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A chain oiler, and a new front sprocket.
It’s a 2018 NC750X with 4200 miles on it currently. Think it might need a new front sprocket during this trip? Should I just replace chain and sprocket prior to starting the trip?

I’m honestly not sure what mileage to expect out of either on a relatively new bike.
 
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Hey Brian, opinions vary on the need for sprocket/chain replacement. Really though, only you can tell if there is any or enough wear that would require replacement. AND... a good can of Chain Lube spray goes a long way in making the trip without issue. :{)
 

670cc

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It’s a 2018 NC750X with 4200 miles on it currently. Think it might need a new front sprocket during this trip? Should I just replace chain and sprocket prior to starting the trip?

I’m honestly not sure what mileage to expect out of either on a relatively new bike.
Without using an automatic oiler, I've been getting about 17,000 miles from aftermarket VX2 chains and at least twice that many miles from a front sprocket. In fact my front sprocket wasn’t worn at 35,000 miles but I changed it for the heck of it. The original chain is not a good as replacements, but I’d still expect 12-14,000 miles if well maintained. Your mileage may vary.
 
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BrianK

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Without using an automatic oiler, I've been getting about 17,000 miles from aftermarket VX2 chains and at least twice that many miles from a front sprocket. In fact my front sprocket wasn’t worn at 35,000 miles but I changed it for the heck of it. The original chain is not a good as replacements, but I’d still expect 12-14,000 miles if well maintained. Your mileage may vary.
Ok great thanks. That answers my questions.
 

670cc

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Ok great thanks. That answers my questions.
Towards the end of the chain’s life, it usually needs more frequent adjustment, and tight links become more common. This can be a headache if you’re far from home.

This is an NC forum, and we all accepted the headaches that chain drive motorcycles bring when we bought the bike, but nonetheless, I still hate chain drive for long distance touring.

The engine oil is good for 8000 miles so you can start with fresh oil and probably complete your trip.
 
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SergeantChuck

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Think it might need a new front sprocket during this trip? Should I just replace chain and sprocket prior to starting the trip?

I’m honestly not sure what mileage to expect out of either on a relatively new bike.
I am in the same boat as 670cc. I changed my front sprocket the first time around 35,000 miles. I honestly thought I had probably pushed it too far until I compared the new with the old and I didn't see much difference. I feel it could have easily stay on longer so in my opinion you have a long time before you need to worry about that. I use the same chain as 670cc and my chains last about 14K. Plus, I am lazy about chain maintenance. I lube mine about every 800ish miles. Changing a chain is easy if you have done it a few times and you have a center stand. Didn't pay attention if you have that setup. Not sure I'd want my first chain swap to be conducted while I'm out on a trip across the country.

If I were in your situation I would change the chain prior to the trip which gives you some practice and gives you a little experience just in case you have a problem while out on the road. I was out on a gravel trail once and my chain was probably a tad loose. A rock flung up from the rear tire and got caught between the chain and sprocket which derailed the chain. This was prior to my first chain swap and I had no tools not to mention I was out in the middle of nowhere. Crap happens so better to have some limited knowledge/experience working on the chain. A chain alignment tool is cheap and I highly recommend using one over the tick marks on the swing arm.
 
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