Taking a long trip on a motorcycle can be a wonderfully transformative experience. If you approach it right there is nothing more exhilarating than spending days at a time on the open road. Here are a few simple ideas that can keep your trip fun.
- Check your bike– before taking off on a long trip it is important to make sure your ride is up to the task. Change the oil and filters, check the tires, and if in doubt have a mechanic look it over. There is nothing more aggravating than breaking down fifty miles from nowhere.
- Pack Light– a good rule of thumb for clothing is to keep it to threes. Three shirts, three pant, three sets of socks and underwear. Bring clothing that can be washed out in a sink at night. Of course you’ll want to bring other things. A small tool kit is helpful. A first aid kit and toiletries also come in handy. Most importantly, don’t forget the rain gear. I promise you, it is going to rain at some point during your trip.
- Pack low– the forces at play on a motorcycle that keep it and you upright depend on a low center of gravity. Keep this in mind when packing your bike. Use saddlebags instead of a backpack. Saddlebags hang down low. A Tee-bag, sissy-bar bag, or backpack positions the weight to high and that affects the balance of your bike. And yes, I did learn this the hard way.
- Pace yourself– I plan on stopping at least every one hundred miles. That is about two hours of riding. I find I need to get off the bike and stretch a bit after that amount of time. Stopping often, even for short periods, helps to prevent fatigue. I’ve also found that four hundred miles (about eight to nine hours) is a good place to stop for the day. In addition to giving you time to rest it also gives you the time you need to take care of your bike.
- Bike, gear, and self– this is the order in which to settle in at night. This is a mantra that you should apply all the time, not just on long trips. Wipe down your bike, giving it a quick check; put away your gear; and then take care of yourself. Remember, if something goes wrong with your bike or your gear it could be catastrophic. That beer you want after a day’s ride can wait.
- Don’t neglect yourself- Eat light and drink water when you stop. Refresh your sun block as needed. In general remember to keep your energy and health in mind. The last thing you want to happen is to get dehydrated at sixty miles-per-hour.
- Be aware of the weather– Take the time to look ahead at the weather along your route. Even so, sudden rains will pop up. If you can do so safely, pull over to put on your rain gear. As long as you can get far enough away from traffic, waiting out a storm may be your best option. I’ve sat out some big storms under overpasses. If you cannot pull over safely than just remember to drive defensively. You become invisible to cars in a heavy rain.
With all of this said, remember to have fun. Ridding for days in a row, crossing a variety of landscapes, and seeing the countryside fly by is it’s own reward. Getting from A to B is never so fun as when done in the saddle.