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Country name: USA
Capital: Washington DC
Area: 9.834 million km²
Population: 32.82 crores
Currency: United States dollar
Road Length: ~6.6 million kilometres
Road Details : The United States of America or the US boasts of the world’s largest road network. The road network consists of around 4.3 million km of paved and 2.3 million km of unpaved roads for a total of around 6.6 million km. Out of these, around 76,000 km are expressways and so, the US also possesses some of the longest highways in the world.
Roadtrip name: West Coast Showdown
Distance: 6,500 km
Route: Los Angeles > Carmel > Yosemite > Glacier Point > San Francisco > Stewarts Point > Garberville > Winchester Bay > Seattle > Packwood > Omak > Hamilton > Salt Lake City > West Wendover > Las Vegas > Furnace Creek > Los Angeles
Ride on: Right side
Imperial System: Speed is in m/h and temperature in Degrees Fahrenheit. Fuel or gasoline is measured in gallons.
2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG: 5,461cc | 550 bhp | 700 Nm | 1,930 kg
The car was absolutely wonderful. It was like a great marriage in which you discover all these wonderful things about your partner as time goes by. The more time you spend with it, the more new things you find. So many features and all of them, fantastic.
During the entire roadtrip, we were in awe of this car. There are so many small details that make the driver feel so special. For starters, the turn assist seats ‘grabbed’ you on a tight turn, and then there was the lane assist, in which the steering vibrated if you were going across one of the dotted or yellow lines. But it would not warn you if you have already indicated you want to make a lane change! Sweet.
The CLS 63 as a name was actually misleading. The engine was actually 5,461cc with twin turbochargers (V8 Bi-Turbo). This was a downgrade in the displacement from the earlier 6,208cc. And surprisingly enough, the car was delivering better fuel economy and had more power despite the reduced displacement. This also enabled it to evade the ‘gas guzzler’ tax.
Push the start button and the 8 cylinders come to life with a deep growl. We had learnt that the previous CLS 63 sounded better but considering the roar of the one we drove, we could not imagine how good the old one must have sounded. Floor it and the sound and the acceleration leave surprised (and jealous) bystanders in their wake.
The G forces that you feel once the car starts to surge forward are as addictive a feeling as leaning on a great superbike. It was near impossible to drive it with civility. One just cannot help but floor it to get to hear the roar of the Bi-Turbo V8. Being bikers, our first brush with a high-performance luxury car was impressive and it kind of set the ball rolling for xBhp getting to drive more and more supercars.
2012 Ducati Diavel: 1,198.4cc | 162 bhp | 127.5 Nm | 210 kg (dry)
While we had an idea of what the Ducati Diavel is capable of, no short ride could ever tell you things about a motorcycle that a 6,500 km ride can. The brute strength that it possesses and the malevolent torture it doles out on the rear tyre (probably that is why it is huge!). Ducati was known for performance motorcycles… slick superbikes and brash streetfighters. This… was something else entirely.
Cruisers enjoy a healthy following in the world of motorcycles and Ducati wanted a piece of the pie. And they wanted to do it the Italian way… the Ducati way. And the Diavel is a result of that pursuit. The US is mostly cruiser-territory and yet, the Diavel got countless compliments over its looks. It created a new category entirely… that of Power-Cruisers.
A testament to what a wonderful motorcycle the Diavel is when Tom Tasso, a citizen of Seattle and owner of several older Ducatis, including one actual race Ducati, rode the Diavel for the first time. After a 100 kms ride on it through the Cascade mountains up in Washington, his head was shaking in disbelief. He could only manage to say – “These guys have nailed it!”.
Looking at the sheer bulk of the Diavel, one cannot fathom the kind of ride it provides. You expect a sloth of a bike with those huge dimensions and that 240mm rear, while it actually rides almost like a superbike in corners with the traction control giving you superhuman control and arm wrenching acceleration off the corners.
We had taken the Diavel in all kinds of terrains we could, except a river crossing and the bedroom. The low center of gravity helped the bike retain its composure on gravel roads, while the INSANE power helped it show the Driver his real worth many a times.
Sponsors: Shell Advance Lubricants
In the first episode of Driver vs Rider, we take two of the best tools available for locomotion to man- a 2012 CLS 63 AMG and a 2012 Ducati Diavel. A combination so slick and lethal, that it almost made us cry with ecstasy as we took them through all of 6,500 kms in Western US of A.
We thought that this would be a perfect way to bring up the first anniversary of the xBhp magazine, and the eighth anniversary of the xBhp website and community! And boy what a birthday bash it turned out to be…
We had finally arrived in the land of superlatives and arrived in style with the Ducati Diavel and the Mercedes AMG CLS 63. This is an attempt to tell you our story and experience in the United States of America across 13,000 kilometres (or 8000 miles!). The 13,000 kms were done in 26 riding days in two back to back road-trips on two very different motorcycles.
The first one is the one you are reading about, the star of the show: The Diavel and the CLS 63 travelling the west coast of the US. The second one was done with just a couple of days’ break in between. This one was across the breadth of the USA on the new BMW K1600 GTL. Two very different bikes really, but both of them undoubtedly fit to be present in any dream garage list you can conjure.
August the 13th. Almost 24 hours after boarding the flight from New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport, one flight change in hot and sultry Dubai, three movies on an 8-inch screen, many iPod minutes and a sunrise and sunset later, our big Boeing finally banked thousands of feet in the sky and gave us a glimpse below of a land which Christopher Columbus had stumbled upon a few hundred years ago on water.
There it was. The first look of a land which has enchanted not just us Indians but many others across the world, feeding us with moving images and stories from Hollywood, CCTV recordings in thrilling real-life crime dramas, rap and roll and legends like MJ. This land and its people had a big task at hand. Pleasing the jaded traveller in us, especially so when so many expectations had been built from childhood.
The plane landed after 16 hours of working hard in the skies. As soon as we landed, we were sucked into a clinical array of procedures that we know US airports for. At one point in the immigration line, we had gone out of the little bit to take a photo of the very long line at the port. Within seconds thundered a voice from the zillion loudspeakers all around us. And it said, “Please refrain from taking photos and videos.” We quickly noticed that the please prefix is almost mechanical rather than meant, and funnily, that situation almost seemed like being in a Hollywood movie myself.
It was already so much fun even without our machines. But henceforth, side observations will be left for an appendix in the end. On our way out of the immigration, we were not explicitly subjected to any kind of high tech bionic vision which would give away our crooked Indian skeletal to the US authorities.
We were searching for someone holding the Mercedes Benz placard at arrivals. And there the gentleman was. In a few moments, we would be handed over the keys of the mighty AMG CLS 63. Sure enough, just outside, we saw a mean looking silver car with even meaner and piercing headlights approach us.
The Driver’s weapon was here… but the rider had to wait. So what do we do in the meantime? We go to a place that any movie fanatic would go to given the choice. The Hollywood sign and then Universal Studios of Hollywood. That day made it clear that Americans were bloody fantastic marketers. Meandering through the 13,000 kms of this land, we would learn a few more things, some obvious and some revealing.
The time had finally come to pick up the Ducati Diavel. This was to be our second brush with it, and what a long one will this be! Warning: The following statements have been exaggeratingly dramatised. Jumping ship from the passenger seat of an ‘almost supercar’ to the saddle of the Ducati Diavel turned the innocent passenger into a manic rider. GPS fixed, fuel checked and with the new Ducati leather jacket (which was astoundingly breathable!) – ready to take on the Driver and foil his plans of world domination.
For the statistically oriented, we had 162 hp and 127.5 Nm torque against the Driver’s 550 horsepower and 800 Nm torque. The real catch though was the power to weight ratio which was clearly with the Rider. That’s good news in the umpteen red light GPs we had in the 6,500 odd kilometres.
Riding behind the CLS was almost intimidating for the driver. It was probably because of the car’s soundtrack and its sporty lines, if not the Driver’s unknown intentions. The Driver for sure had more presence on the road (not that the Diavel went totally unnoticed in its company).
LA is a big city, my friend. When you are on a roadtrip, you don’t want to negotiate a sea of traffic with everyone riding like programmed clones. The red lights make it worse. Waiting for strolling pedestrians is even more frustrating on zebra crossings (with all respect to the bipeds).
The Rider in us used to be a little impatient and sometimes scream silently inside my helmet, wanting to be on the highway double quick, feel the ocean breeze of the Pacific Coast
Highway 1. However the Rider was much better off than the poor Driver as he could weave through traffic, change lanes much more quickly and go from standstill to the speed limit much faster.
In California, the Rider has more advantages than the Driver. He could legally go in between two lanes of traffic, even on yellow lines. This probably had something to do with Arnie being the governor of Cali. Not only this, but Riders can also go onto the ‘Diamond Lane’ which is
secured for Carpooling (which means two people or more in the car). Clearly motorcycles are more environment friendly than four-legged gas-guzzlers, hence the recognition!
The first day saw us do the Pacific Coast Highway up to Carmel by the Sea. From a sunny LA, we were travelling mostly in cold and depressing weather along the coast. This is one of the most famous roads in the world and no coastal drive should be done on an overcast day as it just sucks all the colours out of the water and makes everything look so dull and dry.
We travelled most of the first day hoping to find something to shoot but were mostly disappointed. Couple this with the cold ocean breeze and it was destined to be a so-so day. Nothing is worse than wasting miles without stopping and capturing something worthwhile.
Under the helmet, we were actually feeling a little jealous of the Driver as he was snug, probably with the heater on and the car in cruise control. And here it was terribly cold, courtesy zero wind protection on the stock Diavel. But one thing was for sure, it really made one feel like a warrior, being one with the elements. That’s the only clichéd consolation in these times. The equation changed a little bit once we decided to swap roles for a while.
Carmel by the Sea: Our stop for the first day
A beautiful place and Clint Eastwood’s hometown with some unusual laws. Women need to get a permit to wear high heels in the town lest they fall and sue the government due to the irregular pavement. A hint of the legendary US government paranoia and perhaps, implacable citizens?
More such examples can be found strewn across the US, with signboards for almost every conceivable thing which could go wrong on the roads. We were lucky to witness a vintage car rally during our short stay there.
We continued up the PCH, only to be met with more cold, mist and really a very grey pallet of colours. The road wasn’t too great either, which is what we surprisingly discovered. At a lot of places, we could not take a turn on the Diavel with as much confidence just because of the gravel and uneven surface on the roads. We certainly did not expect this in the US, and that too on the PCH! At these places the impeccable stability of the CLS scored over the disadvantage of having just two wheels.
The real beauty of the PCH did come through in the few times that the sun won over the rain gods and at those times it was indeed beautiful! We also saw one of the most beautiful sunsets on water. It was truly magical riding the curves with clouds hugging the waters on th left cliffs while the sky was all golden with setting sun.
The third day we decided that we’d had enough of the cold dull and grey coast. A restaurant cum Ducati owner along the way advised us to go inland if we wanted the sun, and the famous Yosemite National Park would be a good idea at that. So we took his advice.
We soon discovered that the two vehicles that we were road-tripping on were no ordinary ones. The number of gazes, wows and friendly chats that these two brought about in the trip was actually surprising. It vaguely refreshed the memories of riding the Ducati Monsters in India earlier this year when we used to be inundated with curious onlookers and their questions.
Oakhurst is a town 23 kms south of the Yosemite National Park. This is where we stayed. The town itself has nothing remarkable about it except that it has the nickname ‘Birthplace of Computer Gaming’ because this is where many gaming industry firsts’ were achieved
including the development of the first 3D adventure game (King’s Quest, 1984) and one of the first online gaming networks (The Sierra Network).
Yosemite was a disappointment. A big one. It was crowded and lots of places that we wanted to go to had a lot of cars. The park is very big and we did a good 75 kms inside it trying to find a good place to get some photos. Ultimately for the sake of it, we did take a couple of them. Call it bad timing (with summer and families) plus the general characteristics of the park that did not allow us to stop at many places due to narrow (but good) roads. Other national parks in summer may be better if you are looking for beauty with personal space.
After the disappointment at Yosemite, we decided to approach every hyped attraction in the US with care and caution. We also decided to give the major cities only a transitory status in our road-trip, which meant no extra day’s stoppage to go around them in all that crowd and clicking touristy photos. That would be such an utter waste of all that power beneath us!
Fed up with Yosemite, it is here when the first swap between the rider and the driver took place. The Rider finally decided to expand his portfolio and tame a four-legged high-performance car. And we had chosen one of the most difficult places to do this. The road from Glacier Point in Yosemite to the gate of the park was ultra narrow and sinuous and it was sunset.
However, it took only a few turns to get the hang of it and a few kilometers later we were really going through the corners. This sort of stuff is not possible on a superbike at those speeds and tight corners. It is just too risky even with the traction control working on the rear tyre. It was a great experience indeed, and the respect for the four-legged ones had started to grow. The Driver, however, in his new role was left in the distance due to his relative lack of experience with big bikes on corners.
At this point we were actually off our initial planned route of sticking to the PCH. From here we went back to the coast to our second big city of the trip – San Francisco. Here we met up with Tom, who is also present on the xBhp online forums under the name of Motobueno. He had also visited us at the Delhi xBhp HQ so it was actually different and exciting that we were able to meet him again so far. The photogenic highlight so far for us on the trip was the San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, which loomed high and was shrouded in clouds at sunset. It was one of the most beautiful cityscapes so far.
This being the first trip with a car and bike meant discovering the pros and cons of having both. The obvious advantage that the Driver could brag about was the comfort, space and safety of the car. Having a car (it being one with 500+ Hp was icing on the cake) meant not having to worry about limiting photography or other equipment.
Everything that we could possibly need to record stuff on the trip was lying on the back seats. Just had to open the door and get what we wanted. This was a far cry from the intelligent frugality that one had to exhibit on weight and numbers while choosing stuff when traveling solo on a motorcycle.
From San Francisco, we were given a top tip by Tom. To follow the road parallel to the coast for a hundred kilometers and then take a left to hit the PCH again. This road was supposed to be a back road with excellent tarmac and almost zero traffic and without worrying about the government-people-who-should-not-be-named. This was one of the roads that made you say, “Did they make this road just for us!”
It is where the real Driver and Rider came out. For around 50 kilometers we almost had a no holds barred kind of run through this road. The Rider had no chance against the surreal traction of the car in the corners at high speeds. While the Rider had to worry about many more things than just steer (or actually counter steer) the bike in the direction he wanted to go. It was real fun, we were almost on the verge of scraping knees on the Diavel, a couple of times scraped the foot-peg. But when you are on such a big road-trip with vehicles fit to be showcase pieces, you’d better not fall.
The Driver finally gave up pushing the Rider and teasing him in the corners as the roads became narrower through a forest. But the rider was too busy to see the Driver had let off the gas and shot through until he hit the main highway again. The Rider may not have been able to outpace the car but he sure had a lot of fun!
It is here when one more reality about the US dawned upon us – do not take phone networks for granted. There was absolutely no reason why AT&T networks should not be present on a major highway like the PCH, especially a populated one. But that’s exactly what happened and the Driver and Rider lost contact with each other for a while before they reunited at a petrol pump. This was the case throughout the road-trip. The Internet availability left too much to be desired as well at many places.
During most of the trip, we used to call it a day around 7 PM. A lot of places there was a very real danger of deer running on to the road and fatally injuring the Rider. It was during one these days that we decided to stay at a place called Winchester Bay, which was one of the most beautiful places we had spent the night in this trip.
By the seventh day, we reached the third mega city in our roadtrip – Seattle, the city of Boeing aircraft, Jimi Hendrix and Starbucks. But not before halting at a small village town of Packwood where we spent the night in one of the most beautiful lodge buildings. This was the historic Packwood Hotel which comes across as being built entirely from wood, including the super interesting decorations inside the building.
At Winchester Bay, small towns like this one are a much better place to spend a night in after a hard day’s ride. The historic hotel at Packwood was a brilliant gem that we uncovered in our trip. Try looking for places like these to stay. They add to the whole experience.
Seattle always reminds us of the movie Sleepless in Seattle. This is another testimony to how powerful the Hollywood impact is on the rest of the world and how well they market things. We hoped that Seattle would give us a welcome break because we were invited by Tom to stay at his fantastic place on Bainbridge Island just off Seattle mainland.
We enjoyed a homely atmosphere, with great food and wonderful hosts. Not to forget that we went kayaking under a blue sky with the Seattle skyline visible in the far distance. It was later that we learnt of Bainbridge Island being named as the second best place to live in the US by Money Magazine in 2005!
Seattle marked the halfway point in our trip. Now we had to take a right inland for a few hundred miles and then start our journey down south. From Seattle, we were accompanied by Tom and his partner, Terry until a place called Omak over the Cascade Mountains.
It was here where we first saw snow on the roadside (and the only place in the entire trip). Tom was on a Ducati Elephant and Terry was on her matte black Ducati Monster 800. It was here that the Rider was grinning all the way inside his helmet. After all you don’t get to ride a Diavel on empty four lane mountain roads with snow around you everyday!
From Omak it was now down south, and from what we heard, things were supposed to get way too flat and boring. However we had a very pleasant surprise as the landscape changed to that
resembling the rugged mountain in Ladakh region of India. So naturally we started shooting away with the Canons! But beyond this till Salt Lake City in Utah, we were swapping the car and the bike and just aiming at getting over with a lot of nothingness.
The main motivation of going to Salt Lake City was to get on to the Bonneville Flats, the mecca for land speed records. However the actual flats were quite a distance away from Salt Lake City. We took an arrow straight Interstate 80 from the city to West Wendover where we got on to the
salts. But before we could think of trying out anything, we were told that a pass was required months in advance since a race was being held that day on the flats.
“Not on my salt, Sir!” was the mechanical tone of the security guard manning the end of the road, where the asphalt disappears into a white nothingness all across you. We were sad. However we did take the vehicles a little into the salts just off the road for some photos. We could only imagine how it would feel to speed away without the fear of anything coming in between you and the never-ending horizon. By now we both had had enough experience with the CLS and the Diavel and we loved it. Both had its advantages and quirks.
Soon we reached Las Vegas. The gambling capital of the world, the brightest spot on Earth from space, symbolic of all things hedonistic. It was actually surreal to see a long asphalt highway in the desert in the state of Nevada take us slowly into an oasis of trees and multi storey flyovers.
We entered Las Vegas on ‘the Strip’. The Strip is the nickname of the main road in LV which houses all the casinos, hotels and other self indulgences that would put the biggest kings in history to shame.
At night Las Vegas is a spectacle of glittering lights, neons, shiny buildings reflecting each other to infinity, all kinds of cars and bikes. Be it the Hard Rock café with a giant Harley Davidson coming out of it, or be it the Statue of Liberty replica, this place will make you believe that the USA is in no kind of financial crisis whatsoever. Maybe they need to tone things down a bit and save on the resources! You can get a cheap deal with a good hotel in Las Vegas since they want to attract people in the hope that they will gamble in one of their casinos!
We had now come a long way since we started from LA, but we were closer to it than ever before. The circle was almost complete. Our last main destination would be the Death Valley National Park. If the sound of it doesn’t intrigue you, visiting it sure will. We came into Death Valley by 11 AM from Las Vegas to avoid the infamous day heat. We could see the geography change from plain flats to wonderful natural formations all around us. It was a geologist’s delight seeing it all bare – how the forces of nature work.
Death Valley has a lot of extremes. The lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet below sea level, which is just 130 odd kms away from the contiguous US’ highest point, Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet! We stayed over in Death Valley at the Furnace Creek that had recorded a temperature of 56.7 degrees Celsius in 1913, just short of the world record of 57.8 in Al’Aziziyah, Libya!
The car was the preferred mode of traveling in this harsh weather, but the Rider did well to keep his head cool in this serious heat! In fact the Ducati leather mesh jacket protected against the harsh hot winds. For us this was the highlight of the trip. It was as if riding through an alien world. And yes it was super hot.
During our stay at Furnace Creek overnight, we went out in the Death Valley at close to midnight to experience the most beautiful night skies ever witnessed. Laying down on the hot tarmac in the middle of the road, gazed up at the skies. Within minutes thousands of stars came into view, with many shooting stars, man-made satellites making their way across the sky. It was a spiritual experience being in an alien landscape with two of the best machines on the planet.
Soon it was time to start from Death Valley and ride to Los Angeles. The last day of a fantastic trip. We felt sad yet proud to have completed yet one more trip without any accident. This one was special for xBhp in many ways. Just after this road trip ended in LA, we hopped on to another world class motorcycle, a BMW GTL K1600 and made our way from LA to NY, all of 6700 kms in 12 days.
So who won, Driver or the Rider?
This is a never-ending debate. However with this first road-trip in the series, we transformed it into an exciting one in which both the sides would appreciate each other’s strengths and help overcome each other’s weaknesses.
Both the machines were world-class, ultra powerful and demanded respect. The CLS had clear advantages in inhospitable weather, going really fast around corners without worrying about falling down and slipping on gravel, luggage space and sheer range it went on a single tank.
The Rider on the other hand had to contend with two wheels and outshone the CLS in pure fun department, especially those short drags off the red lights and on deserted highways. It also demonstrated why exactly the CLS had a sunroof after all…
Hence, it cannot be denied that the Rider will always be considered as the braver one, unless the Driver decided to do a stunt out of a Fast and Furious movie, which we reckon is not going to happen anytime soon! The score in the end is a tie, for now. Keep looking out for more adventures of the Driver and Rider at www.driverVSrider.com
Road tripping in the USA
• Do check with the locals if possible on hotel locations in big cities. Make sure they are not located in known problem areas or ghettos.
• Double check your accommodation worthiness by using websites like tripAdvisor.com and hrs.de.
• Phone and Internet: If you plan to do a big trip, across multiple states, make sure you have some kind of internet connectivity on the road. You never know when you might need it to find your current location and services near it. It is also a good way to check lodges near you if you have to make a sudden unplanned stop.
Our experience was not good with connectivity in the US. AT&T was a letdown, so was TMobile. These were the two services that we used and then finally decided to stick with AT&T simply because we thought they were ‘larger’.
Many tourist places didn’t have any AT&T network at all, like many parts of the Pacific Coast Highway. Lot of places the connection was very weak, especially inside motel rooms. The Internet was almost always an issue for us. The TMobile wi-fi hotspot device was a fantastic idea, but it rarely gave us speeds outside of major towns.
AT&T’s internet was much better but they did not have a wi-fi hotspot device like TMobile. So we bought a USB dongle which again had a lot of problems getting a good signal in most places.
You can get an AT&T GoPhone SIM card with any ID. This is a prepaid SIM card which can be topped up on the go.
• Using Credit Cards from India: Remember to call up your issuing bank and let them know that you are traveling abroad, otherwise a lot of times bigger transactions will not go through, especially if you are paying at motels.
• Paying for Fuel: USA was the first country after India that we had traveled to and that did not work on the honor system of letting you pay for the fuel after you gas up. Maybe it is because of the higher drive-offs.
Most of the pumps will have a credit card slot, but often they don’t accept an international CC because of mismatch in the 5 digit US zip code they ask for. You then simply go to the cashier inside and prepay the amount of fuel or hand over your CC to him.
Fueling Up: Don’t fuel up in isolated areas of big towns at night. Try and find bigger petrol pumps. Many pumps will have 91 and 93 octane.
Also make sure you are not picking up the Diesel nozzle! Some nozzles may require you to pull up the rubber around the end pipe using one hand before the fuel will start coming in. These nozzles are just more safety optimized against spills on cars.
• Overtaking: You can overtake on dotted yellow (on your side) or white lines with caution. Overtaking on single or double yellow lines is not allowed.
• Dotted yellow lines mean you are going on the opposite lane while overtaking.
• Many car drivers will develop an ego problem if you overtake them on a straight road, even if it’s perfectly legal to do so. They might try and tail gate you, often coming dangerously close.
• The traffic situation is very bad in Manhattan. Try not to take your motorcycle there. The driving sense is a lot worse and dangerous as you go towards the east of the US, especially in the whole of NY area.
• Most traffic will be at least 10% over the designated speed limit. Don’t be surprised if you see cars changing lanes without indicators.
• Roads in big cities are quite bad in crowded areas. They are dangerous especially with a big bike. Potholes resurfaced tarmac etc.
• Always keep an eye in front and in the mirror for errant drivers which may cause domino crashes. These are terribly bad in which the motorcyclist can get squished in between. This is because of the take it for granted attitude that everyone will follow rules.
• Do not be surprised if a car cuts you and gives you a finger. This might happen with you on semi-urban highways. This might be a result of you overtaking them in an expensive vehicle.
• Generally people are very nice in the US, especially in hotels etc. But a lot of times you may come across with hostile hosts and cashiers. Just ignore them and get on with your business.
• Keep cash in separate places and keep out of small alleys in big cities.
• If you are going across the US then beware, as time zones change abruptly as you cross over state lines. From West to East you will lose an hour in a jiffy and from East to West to East you will gain an hour to your lifespan. This may have an effect as restaurant timings could catch you hungry amongst other things.
• Get a good GPS; TomTom Rider 2 is a favorite. Do not count on paper maps to guide you around big cities. No way!
• Crosswinds can be a really big issue because a lot of the US is just flat. This coupled with the turbulence created by huge trucks, especially when you overtake them on highways can be a real test of nerves.
• A lot of times you won’t be able to avoid highways and interstates. Even though the preferred method of exploring a country is always by scenic roads, sometimes it can be hard to find one, or even the designated scenic ways can be plain too boring.
• Like Europe you have to ride on the right side. However unlike Europe, Americans have almost a zero concept of inside lane being the fastest and hence giving way to faster vehicles. This was surprising and irritating to us.
• Beware of unmarked police cars on the highways. Though unless you are really off your head or riding insanely fast, you should not be worried about getting pulled over.