Introduction: Traveling by Scooter
Second Prize in the
Lonely Planet Travel Tips Contest
I recently rode my new Honda Ruckus scooter over 150miles in one day and had a great time. I rode form Columbus,Ohio to Akron, Ohio on a trip home after working in Columbus for the past 5 months. This was quite an undertaking due to the fact the Ruckus tops out at about 40mph so I had to ride the back roads the entire trip. The trip took a total of 6h 10min which included stopping for lunch, gas, and to figure out where I was and where I needed to go. On the plus side the Ruckus gets 100mpg and is a blast to ride.
My inspiration for buying this scooter and making this trip comes from one person, and his name is Wan. Wan is from South Korea and in last October he came to the US to travel to entire country on a Honda Ruckus. He has since put over 17,000miles on his Ruckus and will be heading back to Korea in July. His amazing story has been fully documented on TotalRuckus.com a forum dedicated to the scooter. Many members of the forum have supported him along the way, by allowing him to stay in their homes, eat their food and be tour guides to many locations across the US. A map of his journey with links to all of his posts and inspiring pictures is here Wan's Route I would recommend reading through all 160+ pages of parts 1 and 2 of this epic story. I guarantee you will be inspired by the good will of everyone evolved with his travels.
I wanted to go over a few tips I came up with during my recent travels so that if you ever make a trip like this you can be a little more prepared. My advice comes from my limited experience but I hope it can help
Step 1: Plan Ahead
Before you start a long distance scooter ride you need to at least make a few plans, and have some sort map. I have used Google directions in the past and had reasonable luck, but things didn't turn out to well for this trip. Google directions allows you to drag your route on the map which is what I need because I can only ride on certain roads but the directions only gave road names not route numbers. This is import because most road names are not shown in rural areas. I did some more research and found that yahoo maps allows you to drag the path and gives directions with route numbers.
One good tip would be to give someone else a copy of the directions. So if you get really stuck you can call them and explain where you are. I gave what I thought was one set of the directions to my Dad before I left but I actually gave him two copies of the first page of the directions and one copy of the second page. All I had was a copy of the second page and two copies of the thrid page, not very helpful.
So I had to make my own way using the GPS and the map. I remembered some of the routes but an import part of navigating in this manner is using the good'ol compass. I knew I needed to go Northeast, so if I was heading north, east, or even better northeast, I was making progress.
I tried to stay on main roads. Riding though neighborhoods and on county roads will make things more difficult then they need to be. Ride right through the center of towns and look for junction signs for the next route.
Most of the roads I took had a 55mph speed limit so I was getting passed by cars the whole time. Just watch your mirrors and pay attention when someone is approaching.
Step 2: Items to Bring
It is important to be prepared for almost any situation when you are traveling on a scooter. I have a small bag that holds a kit of "Just in Case" items. These items included:
Pair of Gloves
I brought some more items, which included:
Extra batteries for the GPS
Bike tire Pump
Small first aid kit
I also wore my hydration pack which held more than enough water for the whole trip. This was very nice to have whenever I needed it. I also brought some cash and the phone number for the road side assistance I got with the scooter. I think this was one of the most important things and if you don't have it look into it. AAA does have motorcycle service but its only with the most expensive plan. Another thing I didn't show in the picture is my fully charged cell phone, which is another necessity.
I also included a picture of Wan's items. He carries everything he has with him on his scooter. He has camping gear because he sleeps on the side of the road or at a camp ground during the majority of his travels. One thing he has that I should have brought was a lock. The Honda Ruckus weighs less then 200lbs, so two guys in a pickup could make quick work of steeling the scooter. Its always good to be a little extra secure.
Step 3: Bring Food
If you are doing a day trip like I did its a good idea to bring some food. I packed an entire lunch because I planned to stop at a park, but even if you plan to stop at a restaurant, its a good idea to bring some snacks. I prefer chips, pretzels, and fruit but just bring what ever tickles your taste buds.
Some important tips for packing food would be to use many plastic bags, especially for the fruit. It will keep the juices from getting all over everything. Also bring some napkins and plates. I forgot these so my fingers got sticky and I made a mess.
If you bring a jug like the orange juice one in the picture do not get the pop top kind, get the screw on kind. I made this mistake and while attempting to shove everything into the duffel bag the lid popped off and spilled OJ all over. I ended up not taking the extra clothes because of this.
Step 4: Stop to Smell the Roses
About half way through the trip stopped at a park to eat lunch. This was a fairly large state park which had a fire tower over looking the entire area. So I ate my lunch and climbed to the top to take a look around.
This was a good break from riding and was something I had not done before. This type of thing is what traveling is all about, experiencing something new. I my opinion traveling should be as much about getting to your destination as it is about being at you destination.
One final tip would be to take as many pictures as you can, because you might only get to be there once. I should taken more during this trip, so I learned my lesson for next time.
I hope my tips can help some of you during you next adventure. Have fun and be safe.
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