The best experiences are the ones that aren’t planned. They simply happen.
Like dropping everything to follow a hot air balloon. Or having a front-yard conversation evolve into a backyard campfire with friends.
My favorite family memories involve spur-of-the-moment decisions to get away – to simply pick a spot on the map, plug in the GPS coordinates and hit the highway in search of adventure.
No agenda. No timeline. No constraints. Just some salty snacks and a thirst for adventure.
Through this ad-hoc approach to travel, my family has discovered unfamiliar aspects of familiar locations. We’ve found new attractions by accident (especially after a wrong turn or two). And in almost every case, we’ve unearthed hole-in-the-wall restaurants whose cuisine and character far exceeded their outwardly appearance.
Yup, I love the road trip – and I bet you do, too.
That’s why I’m excited about American Family’s first e-book, Dreaming of the Road, to be released this fall. This digital publication will feature lots of practical tips for planning your next highway or back road adventure, and feature lots of personal road trip tales.
Here’s the best part: American Family wants your stories for possible inclusion in the book!
To share a tale, simply complete our online form. Just for contributing, you’ll be on the list of those to receive the e-book first.
I bet you have lots of great ideas. I look forward to reading them.
See you on the road!
I’m an avid motorcyclist. My primary ride is a Honda CBR1100XX with more than 100,000 miles on it. I’ve toured all over the U.S. and Canada on my bike. I simply love to ride.
Given a choice of how to get from point A to point B, I’ll almost always choose the motorcycle over a “cage”.
Living in Wisconsin, the winters are especially hard for me. Roads covered in ice and salt are not motorcycle friendly, so my bike sits patiently in the garage, waiting for spring. When that first warm day arrives in March or April, I can’t wait to go out for that first ride of the year.
But before I hit the road, I make sure I’m ready – and that my bike is ready, too.
Some simple checks of the bike are a great way to make sure that first ride is a safe one. The methodology I use is the TCLOCK approach.
- T – Tires and Wheels
- C – Controls
- L – Lights
- O – Oil
- C – Chasis and Chain
- K – Kickstand
You can find a great worksheet for this approach here.
Inspect the tires looking for tread depth and wear. Check tire pressures. They have most likely dropped to unsafe levels over the winter months. While you’re down there, inspect the wheels, too. If you have spokes, look for anything broken, bent or missing. Give the rims a once over, and spin them to ensure the bearings are in good shape.
Check the action of all of the levers, including the clutch and brake levers on the handlebars, as well as the rear brake and gear shifter. Spring is a good time to lubricate any cables and inspect for fraying and kinks.
Lights and battery
Make sure the headlights and turn signals work – front and back. Check the electrolyte level in the battery and make sure it’s fully charged.
Check the engine oil level, and if appropriate, check coolant and gear oil for shaft drive bikes. Check brake and clutch fluid levels. (Note that if your brake fluid is low, it’s a good sign that something is wrong – either your brake pads need replacing or you have a leak.)
Chassis and chain
Clean, lubricate and adjust the chain. If your bike is belt drive, adjust the belt tension. Check the steering head bearings. Inspect the forks for leaks and smooth travel. Give the bike a once over for loose bolts and fasteners.
Make sure the side and center stand springs are in good shape. Then check the side and center stands and ensure they’re lubricated and operate smoothly.
Ready to ride
Spring is a good time to inspect your riding gear. Given the amount of riding I typically do, I’m a big fan of the AGATT approach: All Gear, All The Time.
Give your helmet a once over. Look for signs of wear. Make sure the face shield closes securely and the vents work. If you’ve experienced any “dietary expansion” over the winter, it’s a good idea to make sure your jacket and pants still fit. Boots and gloves should be checked over and replaced if they are worn out.
There’s a good chance sand and leftover salt are on the roads, so take it easy on the corners. And remember, cars haven’t had to worry about motorcycles all winter, so they’re probably not looking for you and won’t see you. Give them a little extra space.
What would you add to my list? Leave a comment. Then enjoy the riding season – no matter where you live.
Editor’s note: Find more motorcycle safety information on the American Family Insurance website, including how you can protect your two-wheeled dreams.