Your first long-distance motorcycle tour can be both exhilarating and nerve-racking. Good preparation is key to ensuring that your touring experience is as enjoyable as possible. These tips can help you manage the stress of a motorcycle trip, so that you can focus on enjoying the ride.
1. Make a touring plan
Your plan should outline how many miles you will travel each day and where you will stop each night. You should set reasonable travel goals each day so you can reach your destinations before dark. Night riding is more dangerous, and you should avoid it as much as possible on a long tour. It can cut into valuable sleep time, and sleep deprivation will make your tour less enjoyable and more dangerous.
Make sure your touring plan is flexible. You will likely need to modify your schedule for weather conditions, traffic, or other unexpected obstacles. Including some room in your schedule will give you a chance to slow down and enjoy nature or local attractions. If you plan too many miles into your trip, your ride will feel rushed.
2. Establish check-in times with loved ones
Let your family or friends know what your touring plan is. Set up specific times in which you will call and check in with them. Since you will be riding most of the time, they will not be able to get a hold of you easily. If you have check-in times set up ahead of time, you can keep your loved ones in the loop, so they will not worry about your safety. If you have a problem and miss a check-in, your family will have a better idea of when and where you ran into trouble.
3. Consider investing in a hydration pack
Hydration may not be a big concern for day-to-day motorcycle trips, but touring is a different story. No matter the weather conditions, a full day on a motorcycle can lead to dehydration. Even if you do not feel thirsty, you need to drink water frequently throughout the day. Hydration packs are the most convenient way to hydrate on the road, since you do not even need to stop. You are more likely to stay hydrated when your water is always available. Hydration packs are a very healthy option.
If you do not like hydration packs or you do not want to spend the money, you should still be sure to bring plenty of water. Dehydration leads to faintness and other health problems, which will make your trip unpleasant and unsafe.
4. Buy earplugs
Sustained exposure to wind noise can damage your ears and lead to fatigue. Earplugs are a cheap, effective way to protect your hearing and help you stay alert longer. And even though the sounds will be muffled, you will still be able to hear what is happening on the road around you.
Some riders may be tempted to wear ear-bud headphones and listen to music while they tour, but this is not a good option. In order to drown out wind noise, riders tend to turn the music up very loudly, which can cause hearing loss, fatigue, and can distract you from the road.
5. Equip yourself for all conditions
The weather is unlikely to remain the same, or even pleasant, for your entire tour, so it is important to bring a variety of clothing. Dress in layers so that you can add or remove clothing as conditions change. If there is even a slight chance of rain, bring a rain suit. Getting caught in the rain can ruin a day or your whole trip if you are unprepared. If you expect cooler temperatures, make sure that you have gloves that are up to the task. Your hands will be very exposed on the handle bars and if the weather takes a turn for the worse, you may need a heavier pair of gloves.
Set aside time to take long rides to give yourself an idea of what touring will be like. You will learn to gauge your limits and find your pace, which will help you plan your trip. Practice will help you evaluate your gear and motorcycle before you are stuck hundreds of miles from home. For instance, if your bike seat turns out to be incredibly uncomfortable after the sixth hour of riding, you will be able to make adjustments before your big tour. Practice will help you build up your physical and mental endurance, which is key to helping you enjoy your tour.
7. Pack light
Motorcycles have limited space for cargo, but that is not the only reason you should avoid over-packing. Packing more means carrying more weight. If the weight is all on the back, it can decrease stability and contribute to speed wobbles. Avoid over-packing, especially in saddle bags over the rear wheel. Also, the more you bring, the more you will end up unpacking every night and repacking every morning. After doing that a few times, you will regret bringing anything that you do not use.
Make sure you get all of this done before embarking on your adventure. If you are well prepared, your tour should be an unforgettable ride!
Photos by Graham Styles under Atomic Taco under Creative Commons Licences