I was walking along the eastern shoreline of Lake Maloney last weekend and spotted an adventure/dual sport motorcycle. This is a type of motorcycle you don’t see very often. I’ve been thinking about how to travel and vacation this summer and not burn up the entire budget on gas. I thought maybe the guy with the motorcycle had the same thought.
An adventure/dual sport motorcycle is like the ultimate crossover motorcycle. It can run down the highway or you can go through the ditch and across a pasture. You can point it where you want to go and it will go there. As I got closer to the motorcycle, I noticed it was a Yamaha TW 200. Now 200cc’s is not a motorcycle meant to run the interstate all day, this bike was built for running back roads.
Aaron Lewis of North Platte was sitting in a fold-up camp chair next to his motorcycle and a hammock rigged between a couple of pine trees. I’ve traveled by motorcycle for decades and I love the adventure. I could tell I was going to like this guy.
“I grew up on dirt bikes and then got a street bike back in high school,” Lewis told me. “After high school I got married, had kids and all my toys went away.
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“I started doing moto-camping back in 2015-16. I bought this bike in 2017 and it suits me for what I want to do with it,” Lewis continued.
Lewis and I talked about touring on motorcycles and camping along the way.
“I don’t do long trips on this bike. It is just not built for all day highway driving,” Lewis continued. “If I want to do any long haul riding, I‘ll ride my Harley DynaGlide. I’ve made a 600 mile trip on that bike. I’ve been to Sturgis and that is like my big trip for the year.
“I want to do more back roads with this bike. I took this bike on a trip last year where I started from home, went up (U.S.) Highway 83 to Sandhills Road, then north to (Nebraska) Highway 92, over to Ringgold and then worked my way north through the Sandhills to (Nebraska) Highway 2 and over to Seneca,” Lewis explained. “Then I went back east to the national forest at Halsey to spend the night and rode home the next day. I saw more horses than people on that trip! In total, the trip was a couple hundred miles.
“I work for the railroad and just got on a shift where I have weekends off. This is my first trip this year. I wanted to go to Sutherland Reservoir, but all the good hammock trees were taken,” Lewis smiled. “I came back over to Lake Maloney and these pine trees here were just what I needed for a camp.”
Lewis’ hammock was rigged between a pair of pines and had a tarp rigged over it in case of rain. A ground tarp was staked under the hammock so Lewis could roll out of his hammock when he needed to and not have to step directly on the ground. A couple of water bottles sat on a fold-up camp table along with a cellphone sized battery pack and a video game. It was obvious to me that he had done this kind of camping before.
“I just turned 50 and I guess I didn’t get past video game stage,” Lewis chuckled.
We talked a bit more about exploring the country on two wheels.
“I’d like to go up to the Black Hills and ride some of the trails there. You know, I didn’t know Nebraska had any waterfalls until a few days ago,” Lewis said. “One of the trips I want to do this summer is go see Smith Falls. My ultimate dream trip would be to ride up the Al-Can highway. When I retire I’d like to ride that to Alaska.”
As I looked around I did not see any type of stove. How would Lewis cook his meals? He pulled out a small Sterno stove that he carries with him. Jokingly I asked what was for breakfast. He pulled out a freeze-dried Mountain House meal of biscuits and gravy. Nice! There is a lot of similarities between what you carry for backpacking and moto-camping. You have the same need for small, compact, lightweight gear.
As we were wrapping up our visit I noticed a bracket on the front fender of his motorcycle that I did not recognize. “That’s a bracket for my GoPro camera. I’m not a big YouTuber, but I video my rides and put them to music.”
You can find Lewis’ YouTube channel at doublea69101. Check it out!
What is the cost of having fun these days? Has the price of filling up your tank changed your travel plans? I would guess, yes. At minimum, it will cost you twice as much to drive anywhere this summer than it did last year.
My pickup has been sitting in the garage a lot more. The motor home hasn’t left the yard. I filled up my car this week with $4.69 per gallon gas. My Prius, incidentally what is generally the world’s most heavily armed Prius, gets 45-plus miles per gallon. My Harley does a little better. But gas prices are still taking a big bite out of people’s travel budget.
Maybe the group that is suffering the most from fuel prices are the diesel powered RV owners. Diesel is still well over $5 per gallon. I see a lot of diesel RVs sitting idle. RV Trader is an organization that follows trends in the RV industry. A couple of recent survey show that many diesel RVers are sitting idle this summer.
The surveys indicated that 57% of these RVers have changed their travel plans and also made their trips shorter and closer to home. Another 21% say rising fuel costs caused them to cancel their RV travel plans entirely.
The survey also shed light on where the cutoff point for fuel prices is with many people. Fifty percent said $5 per gallon was the maximum they wanted to pay for traveling. Another 20% said they would stretch to $5.50 per gallon, but no more.
We’re there! Another portion of the survey showed that many RVers were considering trading their current RV for something more fuel-efficient.
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