He’s in for the long haul
Warren Milner is so devoted to motorcycles, he can ride them for days, and thousands of miles, at a time
For the majority of motorcycle enthusiasts, a day’s cruise through the countryside would be sufficient.
When Warren Milner pulls away from his Aurora home, however, his wanderlust won’t be sated until he’s thousands of kilometres away in such remote locations as Alaska or Mexico.
The 58-year-old Milner’s love for the bike resulted in a 26-year career with Honda’s motorcycle division. When he retired in 2010 as senior marketing manager and acting division head, he rode into a reputation as an aficionado of adventure touring.
The man has the mileage under his belt to warrant the title of expert in adventure touring; an aspect of motorcycling where bikers are happy to ride long distances and negotiate terrain that’s not limited to the highway.
Milner’s recent treks included a 14,500-km round trip that saw him pass through an Alaskan community with the somewhat less than auspicious name of Deadhorse.
What’s remarkable is that the entire trip was compacted into two weeks. That meant spending up to 20 hours in the saddle in one shot.
“I only had a two-week vacation,” recalls Milner, “so I had to get there. The first day, I went as far as Winnipeg. It was over 2,000 kilometres and took me around 20 hours.
“The next day, I spent another 20 hours going around 2,000 kilometres to Lesser Slave Lake., (Alberta).”
He followed that outing with a trip over similar distances to Mexico and through the southwestern U.S. Anybody who’s traveled couple of hundred km. on a bike can tell you that the experience can leave you trudging bow-legged and struggling to get the feeling back in your limbs.
Therefore, a 20-hour odyssey over thousands of kilometres should appeal to none but the most hard-core masochist.
Milner offers up some long-distance motorcycling tips that could make such a journey more enjoyable.
For one thing, he says there’s a misconception that cruiser bikes are the most comfortable.
“Actually, they’re not comfortable at all. Your spine is always vertical and all the weight is on your butt.”
By combining a good seat with a forward leaning motion, a lot of the pressure will be alleviated.
When Milner would call it a day during a long-distance tour on his Honda 1,000 Varadero V-twin, he said it was due to getting sleepy and not because he was cramped or in pain.
Since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one should not give much credence to reviews that describe the Varadero as a homely vehicle.
The same reviews applaud the smooth power of the twin motor, its improving torque and fuel consumption, six gear transmission and an ABS that contributes to safety.
The suspension consists of a 43-km. telescopic fork on the front. The rear has a Pro-Liink single shock with spring preload and rebound damping adjustability; allowing for a more comfortable ride.
As one reviewer put it: “Initially it felt soulless and antiseptic, but its easy going nature soon reared its head and suckered me in.”
It’s also a very heavy bike and that’s one of the reasons Milner prefers to do some long-distance trips on his BMW 650 GX, which is 200 pounds lighter than the Honda.
Should he be experiencing loss hospitable roads, or riding on trails, he will take the BMW for reasons that include the fact he would be able to pick it up in case of a wipeout.
Milner also points to much simpler tricks for more comfortable. Take underwear, for example.
To avoid painful chafing, opt for the breathable, non-seamed cycling stuff…or go commando and forego them altogether.
The tricks of the long-distance trek come from a man whose life has been a long fascination with motorcycles, despite discouragement from his parents.
His father finally relented and conceded: “Go ahead. You’re big enough, old enough and ugly enough to buy a bike.”
His mother’s words have , perhaps, influenced Milner’s attention to preparation and detail:
“Mind how ya go.”
Written by Dan Pelton