Scout’s Honor Cross-Country Motorcycle Ride Part 8: Tips & Advice

Final Flashback – What Worked, What Didn’t and What We’d Do Differently

Long-distance touring on a motorcycle, what works and what doesn't work
Pre-trip planning proved that the windscreen on the Indian did in fact cut down on fatigue, especially after a few hours on the Interstate.©Motorcyclist

You should prepare for a cross-country motorcycle trip the same way a boxer prepares for his next fight; cautiously optimistic. You should be proud, eager and confident in your prior accomplishments. You should also be ready to get your ass kicked. Because like a boxing match, a long-distance motorcycle ride can break the best of us; even Ali saw the canvas up close. You have to prepare yourself for the inevitable, the uncontrollable, and the uncalled for, but at the same time be willing and able to endure it all; the long days, the cross winds, the close encounters with locals pulled straight out of a movie scene, and, perhaps most importantly, the unplanned. Because the same way a fighter shadowboxes in front of a mirror, you too must be willing to fight your worst enemy…yourself.

Indian Scout cross-country ride, wearing layers
Layers were essential. The Tellason denim shirt and Filson moleskin vest proved a most appropriate combo when it got cold.©Motorcyclist
Indian Scout cross-country ride, Sena bluetooth
Our Sena 10S Bluetooth headsets not only allowed us to chit chat along the way, but also kept us considerably safer when we entered big urban environments.©Motorcyclist

Initially, the Scout's Honor trip was supposed to take us roughly 20 days in total. We were supposed to bring the Indian motorcycles from California to Arizona, outfit them with the essentials (click here see Scout's Honor, Part 2) and then hit the road headed east. Delays, however, forced us to cut the trip a little short, down to 3,000 miles and 15 nights. That's what the receipt read. And while we may have been a bit presumptuous in our abilities early on, the end result of this adventure was something of an eye opener. Or in the case of our fighting analogy, a ringing of the bell.

Indian Scout cross-country ride, using Butler ride maps
Backroads on the outskirts of Austin came courtesy of our Butler motorcycle maps.©Motorcyclist

What Worked
The bikes. To be perfectly honest and knowing full well that some people think we're working as undercover Polaris employees (which we're not, just to clarify), we've fallen in love with both the Indian Scout and Scout Sixty. The kind of love that leaves a taste in your mouth, a song stuck in your head, a scene from that movie you shouldn't have seen (Tusk, anyone?). We're all love drunk and wanting to talk about the bikes. To tell people just how comfortable they were when asked if our asses hurt after all those miles. To go on about the power and the torque. And to smile when we think about the endless compliments we received everywhere we went, or the fact that while we rode nearly 400 miles each day on average, at the end of it all we're asking to ride just a few (thousand) more. They really were brilliant. A beautiful bike that starts with the tap of your thumb, makes this wonderfully throaty sound when you twist your wrist and then roars its way out of a gas station and back onto the highway, climbing effortlessly to 80 mph. So yeah, we wouldn't change that.

Indian Scout cross-country ride, using the Rever ride app
Kyra used the Rever app to track and plan our rides each day. She also likes to post things on Instagram. What’s she doing here? Your guess is as good as mine.©Motorcyclist

Our choice of riding apparel was also excellent, especially considering we didn't encounter any weather except for a 30-minute rainstorm in Miami. Our leather Icon 1000 jackets and Airframe Pro helmets, as well as our dense Tellason jeans and Danner boots proved a perfect match for the ever changing, albeit somewhat similar weather patterns we encountered across the country. Oh, and on that note, the Sena 10S Bluetooth headsets, which were installed shortly before we escaped Arizona, were literally a lifesaver. I can't even begin to tell you the number of times we reacted and interacted over the intercom, bobbing and weaving our way through traffic, changing lanes on the Interstate and avoiding the wild, cell-phone faced 20-somethings that float their way down the freeways. Lastly, I think it's important to point out how much we appreciated the availability of Butler Maps. In Arizona we found quiet highways that swept through tall, craggy rock mountaintops, leading us higher and higher until the desert heat dissipated, and we were left with nothing but lukewarm wind and epic scenery. In New Mexico and Texas, their G1-rated roads brought us to the best BBQ, through twisty mountain roads and sweeping wide-open scenery. Then into Hill Country where the roads feel more like rollercoasters and the sage brush and rocky mountain tops turn into a snapshot from an African safari. They were great, and we wouldn't go anywhere without them if we could avoid it.

Indian Scout cross-country ride, Indian of New Orleans
We stopped at Indian of New Orleans on our way across Louisiana. Johnny and his team were exceptionally friendly and excited to hear all about our adventures.©Motorcyclist

What Didn't Work:
Positives and negatives are a funny thing because they're both easy to offer up. Everyone likes an opinion, and it seems like everyone certainly wants to share theirs. So with that said, the things that didn't work are as follows: Our wrists. The need for a throttle lock or some kind of cruise control is essential. Riding 400 miles in a straight line leaves your right wrist in an awkward position, and eventually sore and uncomfortable. The windscreens on our Indians were also a point of contention. I wanted to do away with mine as the wind rolled off the top and right into my forehead, leaving me looking like some kind of baseball bobble-head doll blasting its way down the highway. Kyra, however, had no issues at all, perhaps because she's 5-feet 1-inch tall (5-1 and ¾ if you ask her). However, I kept the screen attached to my Indian so as to avoid any unforeseen road going rocks, nails, tire irons or otherwise. It also kept my jacket clean (you should see how many insects I killed on this adventure!).

Indian Scout cross-country ride, Miami mural
Expect the unexpected, like this massive mural that we saw on the outskirts of Miami.©Motorcyclist

Booking ahead didn’t work as well as expected. Reserving hotel rooms more than two days in advance was a bad idea for us. Deviations in course, time and attention left us riding extra miles on more than one morning, trying desperately to arrive at an accommodation we had hastily booked a few days prior. Airbnb is not the best idea if you have a loose itinerary. Their cancelation process is cumbersome and many people don’t want to waste time reserving, canceling and relisting their place, which is totally understandable. Roadside hotels, however, were the ticket. As I’ve learned on countless road trips, if you stay just outside of the city and are willing to sleep in something where the name ends in a “6” or an “8,” you will almost certainly be able to secure a room. Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t book ahead if you have to, or in our case want to. Some places you just must see and stay at. The Shady Dell in Bisbee, AZ or the Columns Hotel in New Orleans, LA; the Ocean Key Resort in Key West and the Coombs House Inn in Apalachicola, FL were all worth the extra effort, and the extra miles. My suggestion? Pick a few that you absolutely will not miss, or perhaps have to have, and then roll the dice on the rest. It’ll work out, I promise.

Indian Scout cross-country ride, Wolfman motorcycle luggage
The Wolfman Luggage tank bag was a perfect fit on our Indians, and allowed us to have easy access to our most important items such as cell phones, wallets, cameras and Oreos.©Motorcyclist

What We'd Do Differently:
I suppose a lot of what I said above applies to this part. Less planning and more miles, ultimately that's what it'll come down to. We were happy to have the shabby hotels in the tiny towns as much as we were excited to stay at ocean-side resorts on a couple of occasions. After eight or ten hours in the saddle, anything that's flat and doesn't smell funny will do. Even then you usually find that you can deal with a lot for one night of solid rest. That said, the going rates for a good to great hotel starts at $100 with tax in today's market. If you find a hotel for under that, just make sure to be a sceptic. Maybe read some reviews, but ultimately, it's up to you to take the risk after a long day's ride. We'd also suggest you look into MotoStays, an app that allows motorcycle travelers to find accommodations across the country and around the world. While we were unable to take advantage of its services during this adventure (the offerings were a little too far off our projected path), we were able to engage with a number of fellow motorcyclists and MotoStays users in different areas who were more than happy to suggest places to eat and things to do in their neighborhoods. And had things gone differently, and most certainly for our next adventure, we plan to take full advantage of MotoStays and make a few (more) motorcycle friends along the way.

Indian Scout cross-country ride, touring Prescott, Arizona
There were countless places we came across that we wished we could have spent just a little more time exploring. The elevated outskirts of Prescott, AZ was one of them.©Motorcyclist

Conclusion:
This is a tough one. How do I surmise an epic 5,000-mile motorcycle trip from Redlands, CA to Key West, FL? A trip that took us to places we never would have visited otherwise, that put breathtaking views and awe-inspiring roads in front of our bikes? I'm not sure. When I was a kid, though, my father subjected me to the movie Easy Rider more times than I can count. It had a profound impact on me, but perhaps not in the way most people might imagine. Never have I wanted to paint flames on anything or smoke a joint and wear an old football helmet and ride on the back of a bike. I have, however, always wanted to ride a motorcycle across America, and to stop in New Orleans along the way; probably because of Peter Fonda. And so this trip, which brought Kyra and me ever closer, which left my father envious and made my mom nervous, has left a mark on me. I want a red Indian Scout. I want to ride it around the world. I want to see everything from its seat and soak up the miles like a sponge and not stop until my arms ache and my butt tingles and I can't see because my eyes are too red from all the wind in my face. That's the life for me. Like a pirate. Except instead of plundering, I want to explore. And then tell people about it.

Indian Scout cross-country ride tips and advice
The idea of all this is to feel small and be encouraged to do it again. Those feelings were in full effect at the end of our adventure.©Motorcyclist