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I bought a tent, now what?

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So last weekend I decided to supplement my reading about other people's motorcycle touring trips and have a go at a short trip of my own.

I've always liked the 'idea' of camping, and managed to buy a tent and self inflating mattress on special on Saturday, took a look at the map and decided it was a relatively straight run to Napier from Auckland.

Wasn't sure I was actually going until Sunday morning when I headed south with a minimum of planning. Here's some observations from the trip.

I got long-distance tunnel vision. I know that the best way to tour is to stop frequently for a stretch and a bite to eat, but every time I spotted a 'rest area' I found a reason not to pull in and told myself I'll get the next one...until I got to the point of saying well, I'm nearly there, I might as well keep going.

My bike will do 300kms on the open road before hitting reserve, so fuel stops weren't a priority. Ended up only stopping twice on the way down, once on the way back, got pretty uncomfortable at times but pushed on through it. I see why it's a good idea to plan stops in advance.

Also found my mind wandering at times - I do this a lot off the bike and was hoping burbling along at 100 kph would help focus my attention, but still caught myself thinking about other things on a fairly regular basis, again I guess shorter stints would help. Also found it hard to maintain a consistent speed, and was constantly having to adjust my grip on the throttle, which was annoying. Need more practice.

As much as there are a few things about my bike that I don't like, it never put a foot wrong. At a recent service they pumped the tyre pressures up to the low 40s psi (I usually keep it mid 30s) so I was unsure about this but no problems, supposed to improve the handling and make the tyres last longer apparently (I couldn't feel any difference).

On camping...I encountered a few logistical wrinkles which I'll hopefully iron out next time. The ground was too hard to get the pegs all the way in even with the (admittedly small) hammer I took, luckily the weather was calm so the tent stayed up overnight. The mattress worked surprisingly well, but it was a restless night.

I seemed to run out of room even though I was only staying one night and left things like my camera and tablet at home, couldn't get the free wifi to work with my phone (which struggles with its cellular connection at the best of times), so I was glad I took a good, old-fashioned paperback and a torch.

Was also a bit paranoid at having to leave my stuff unattended quite often, but it all made it home with me. Is it worth using a cable lock to try and secure things strapped to the bike, I wonder? Or do thieves prefer a challenge, perhaps...

Overall it was an experience, and I hope to do it better next time.

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  1. FJRider's Avatar
    If you are by yourself ... it pays to have at least a two person tent. Or even better a three person tent. That is because the tent interior doesn't get so cramped (and more floor space).
  2. bosslady's Avatar
    what a bloody good effort I'm jealous!! I've started to learn how to pack less, still need to work on that, hah! but I'm getting better... agree you need to stop more, tis meant to be fun eh, not an endurance test lols. I usually stop every 80-150km.
  3. leathel's Avatar
    1st of many for you I hope..... I have friends dotted around the country so most of my long trips (car and bike) are to visit them and do stuff (hunting mostly) but I do tent as well.... also have a bivvy bag that I used last time as it was dark and I couldn't be bothered putting the tent up.... didn't sleep well that night

    Yup I tend to strait line it when doing long trips but last couple done on the bike we set a few stop offs, pub for a light beer, somewhere for a feed (cafe with the view of the sea) interesting lookouts etc, spots to pose with the bike (cell phone pics, didn't take the camera)

    There are a huge amount of DOC campsites dotted around the country so you can stop for the night in some pretty out of the way places, some have short stints on gravel but lots don't, The is a file online you can open in Google earth.. Mostly nothing there but a long drop, some not even that but I prefer keeping it basic (I hunt to so used to it and have the gear) An Exped mat is next on my purchase list and the ground mats I have aren't that great and they have a great reputation and being the best.
  4. Gremlin's Avatar
    For bag security, this may be something worthwhile for you:

    Regular rest will help your mind focus more, as it's wandering because you can't focus for continuous long periods. I find it happens worse on easy straighter roads, but winding roads and the mind snaps back to the job. Enjoy the exploring... I haven't quite convinced myself yet that I should camp. Nice bed and shower are high on my list of priorities