Great American Motorcyle Tours :: Q and A with Gary McKechnie

How have you improved the second edition?

In the first edition I wanted to "break the links" with chain hotels and franchise restaurants so my recommendations centered primarily on bed and breakfasts. But when I heard from riders and readers asking for more nominally-priced options, I revisited the country and greatly expanded selections by adding clean and well-kept motels and motor courts, historic local diners, and including a reference list for every chain hotel within a ten mile radius of a destination. I also spent months tracking down and updating websites, motorcycle shops, area codes, prices, attractions, adventures and an in-depth appendix for additional infomrmation. This book contains everything a rider needs to take off on a great journey.

2) What was your favorite ride?

When you've traveled 20,000 miles across the finest landscape and most majestic sights in America, it's hard to pick one. I loved the solitude and expanse of the ride from Missoula to Bozeman, Montana, yet I also loved the lush forests and mountains of Highway 100 in Vermont. And for some reason, Death Valley, even with its absence of.... anything... was a spiritual experience I cannot forget.

3) What was your favorite bike?

Again, maybe it was a combination of the environment (Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota), but for me the Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad 1500 was just the right size and style for me.

4) How long did it take you to make these trips?

My first ride was on September 7, 1998, (Buddy Holly's 62d birthday) and the last was in July, 1999 (someone's birthday but I'm not sure whose.) I'd go out on the road for a month, return home and write for two or three, then go out again. I had to plan the trips so I'd miss the snows in New England and the Pacific Nnorthwest so it took a bit of fine tuning. But I'm a mighty,. mighty man so I did it.

5) Why can't you do this by car?

You canand I'd recommend that Congress pass legislation requiring motorists to carry a copy of GAMT in their cars. As I wrote in an article in the Miami Herald, "...there are no roads specifically designed for motorcycles ... just as no roads are built only for cars or RVs ... but motorcycle travelers know what they look for in a great ride. We seek freedom from the interstates and an escape from the homogenization of America. We search for back roads where we can shed routine and make every minute an adventure. We want to hone our senses with views of waterfalls and fields of wildflowers, to travel roads that rise and fall like the Roman Empire and lead to general stores and diners where the waitresses call us 'honey.'"

6) Why did you name each bike 'Kuralt'?

I was inspired to see America in large part due to the life's work of CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt. Even as a kid, I saw him traveling the country and showing me people and places that seemed foreign to a kid growing up in Florida, but were mine if I took the initiative. It was in his honor that each bike was given his name. I was thrilled when his daughter read a copy of 'GAMT' and told me that it was a wonderful book that her father would've liked.

7) How did you carry all the gear you'd need?

I was accompanied on all my journeys by my faithful Indian companion, my wife Nancy Howell (who is one-eighth Cherokee). She braved mountain passes, blizzard conditions and months of solo driving just to support my quest. What a woman!

8) Are you available for appearances?

Yes. There are stories about discovering America as well as meeting challenges that seemed impossible. There are dozens of stories interwoven into this adventure regarding emotions, relationships, discovery, spiritual enrichment, and taking a risk to do what you know is right-even if it means spending your life's savings.

9) I've got a full-time job/wife/husband/kids/responsibilties. How can I do a trip like yours?

Decide. I had the luxury of an open schedule and few responsibilities since I haven't had a regular job in ten years. I want my book to encourage you to go out and explore on your own. Even if you can only carve out time for an overnight, do it. As time goes by you can work on longer blocks of time and expand your riding range. But don't copy me. As I say in the introduction, "make your own discoveriesuse my book as a guide, not the Gospel."

Don't ignore your kids, though. Maybe you can ride with another couple, splitting time between a car and a bike. Be creative. And if the kids are grown and only a job ties you down, ask yourself the question I used when I had to make a choice between life as an employee or a freelancer: "If I had a million dollars and didn't have to worry about money, what would I do?" That got me real honest real fast and I answered myself that I wanted to travel and to write. With that, I knew I had the key to decide what I really wanted to do with my life. From there, it was a matter of figuring out how to do it and make a living.

10) You have a sharp sense of humor.

That's not a question, but people aren't used to reading a motorcycle book that doesn't deal with mechanics and a "coming of age" story. I can't fix a damn thing and I hate getting dirty so I left the fix-it and "watch me become a better man" books to other writers. I love the tempo and style of James Thurber, S.J. Perelman, Dr. SuessSeussSuess, Kuralt, Twain, Robert Benchley, P.J. O'Rourke, and John Hughes, so this was a chance to break the mold of boring travel books and write something as diverse and exciting as the nation I was seeing.

11) Why the Tina Louise reference in the 'Pack It Up' section?

Tina Louise (born Tina Blacker on February 11, 1934 in New York) portrayed starlet Ginger Grant on the CBS series 'Gilligan's Island'. The former model and nightclub singer trained at the Actors Studio and the Neighborhood Playhouse but is best known for her sexy comic role as the Marilyn Monroe-ish stranded movie star. Having first seen her on TV when I was six, I'd like to think that she was my first girlfriend. I'd also like to think that she is receiving the mental transmissions I send each morning at 5:43 am.

Ability Road Training Motorcycle

The DSA Part 2 Motorcycle Test

If you are under 21 years old then you may only take your test on a 125cc and then you are restricted to 33 bhp for two years.

If you are over 21 you may take your direct access test on a bike over 46.6 bhp.

So assuming that you are legally able to take the direct access option, what are the pros and cons?

Obviously the major downside to taking your test on a smaller machine is the two year limit on what you can ride. The benefit is that the cost of your training will be cheaper, and you can ride on L plates prior to taking your test without an accompanying instructor.

However our experience here at ABILITY shows us that nearly everyone who is eligible for the direct access scheme (DAS) takes that option. The cost of training does increase, but more often than not this is offset by having a wider choice of motorcycles to purchase once you have passed. Supply and demand in the second-hand market dictates that everyone under 21, and those over 21 choosing not to do the DAS option, will be after a limited number of bikes, thus forcing up prices.

And the bottom line is that anyone doing any kind of serious mileage, are going to find themselves feeling very restricted on a limited power machine. The choice is yours. We are happy to train you in the way you wish.

Indian Motorcycle – America’s First Motorcycle

INDIANΠMOTORCYCLE POWERPLUS٠100 V-TWIN ENGINE

The Power behind the Legendary Indian ChiefΠMotorcycle

True to the classic styling and performance heritage that makes Indian one of the most admired brands in American history, the powerful 100 cubic-inch (1638cc) 45-degree, Powerplus٠100 V-twin engine recreates the unique look and robust feel that captured the affection of motorcycle enthusiasts around the world.

For 2003, the flagship Indian ChiefΠline comes with the Powerplus engine, the largest displacement engine designed and built by an American OEM motorcycle company.

The signature feature of the new Indian motor is its serrated, billet-aluminum rocker boxes and stout, round cylinders that are impossible to ignore.

Distinctive and unique to Indian, the serrated appearance of the polished rocker boxes and the black, rounded cylinders pay tribute to Indian's past. This combination gives the Powerplus 100 engine a strong, unique profile, while the rounded cylinders increase the area of the cooling fins for improved air circulation and engine cooling.

The engine is fed by a 42mm Mikuni "flat-slide" carburetor that is mounted on the left side of the engine, which is unique to early Indian motorcycles. This carburetion package delivers smooth throttle response throughout the entire RPM range.

Although this engine configuration is carbureted, the Powerplus 100 platform is designed to accept fuel injection with minor modifications. To ensure optimum lubrication and scavenging, the motor features a gerotor oil pump system. The transmission is a proprietary wet-clutch, five-speed configuration with a final belt drive. Although the configuration is standard in design, the wet-clutch itself is strengthened for added durability. A two-into-one exhaust header completes this performance package.

The introduction of the Powerplus٠100 engine completes the return of Indian Motorcycle Corporation as an American motorcycle OEM.

Powerplus٠100 Specifications

Honda Off-Road Motorcycle Racing – Bios, Pictures, Race Results

April 1-2, 2006

Team Hondaӳ John Natalie, the defending series champ, and Joe Byrd came into Budds Creek and round five separated by a mere four points (Natalieӳ 105 to Byrdӳ 101), and when the dust had cleared, they left tied at 126 apiece. Such is the tight battle between these two Honda TRX450R aces this season, and the good news is that it looks far from letting up.

In moto one, Natalie grabbed the holeshot and opened an early five-second (and as much as eight-plus-second) lead over Pat Brown, Joe Byrd, Doug Gust, Jeremiah Jones and Chad Wienen. By mid-moto, however, Natalie's gap would shrink as Byrd, Gust and Jones stepped up their pace. Shortly after the mid-moto point, Byrd, running second, and Gust, in third, tangled in a downhill off-camber section allowing Jones and Wienen by into second and third, respectively.

Meantime, Natalie had started to fade with arm pump, and Jones eventually passed him for the lead נand ultimately the win נat about three-quarters of the way through the moto. Natalie would finish second, with Honda TRX450R-mounted Wienen rounding out the top three. Team Hondaӳ Tim Farr, still suffering from back pain, crashed on lap one and remounted to finish 18th.

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Act Smart Motorcycle Training – What is CBT?

CBT - What is it and what does it entail?

Compulsory Basic Training (CBT for short) was introduced in 1990 in an attempt to reduce the number of accidents learner riders were having. Of course, training existed prior to CBT but it didn't stop people buying bikes and riding off on them without any training - hence the accidents.

Over the intervening years since CBT was introduced, the number of learner riders having accidents has reduced and this is thought to be attributable to CBT.

So, what is CBT?

it is COMPULSORY - every one (well not quite) is required to do it before they are allowed to ride on public roads unaccompanied by a qualified instructor. The only people who escape CBT at the moment are those who want to ride a moped and already hold a full car licence issued before the 1st February 2001 but even they are being encourage to go through a CBT course in the interest of safety.

it is BASIC - to use a ladder as an analogy, gaining a CBT Certificate is being able to put your foot on the first rung of what is a very long training ladder indeed. In fact, one without an end! It is designed to give you the minimum amount of experience and knowledge to be able to ride relatively safely on our busy roads. The amount of practical on-road riding experience given during CBT is very limited so everyone completing CBT is advised and encouraged to go on to take further training as soon as possible, if not straight away.

it is TRAINING - not a test. That comes later.

CBT can usually be completed in one day but if more time is required to complete the course, it will be allocated. Time is not the essence - safety is!

There are five parts to CBT, some theoretical and others practical. You must display an understanding of the theoretical parts and an acceptable degree of competence in the practical riding skills before being able to progress from one part to the next. If all is satisfactory with the theoretical and practical off-road riding elements, the course ends with an on-the-road session accompanied by an instructor who is in radio contact with you.

So long as everything is completed to the instructor's satisfaction (who is following the guidelines set out by the DSA), you will receive a CBT Certificate which validates your licence and allows you to ride a bike of up to 125cc on the road unaccompanied by an instructor. 'L' plates must be displayed however and pillion passengers are not allowed. Motorways are also forbidden at this stage.

A CBT Certificate is valid for 2 years. Failure to pass both the Teory Test and the Practical Test within that period will lead to its cancellation and CBT will have to be retaken to validate your licence once more. But don't wait this long. Further training is absolutely essential.

Next you will need to take your Theory Test.