By: KGD Law
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Long-Distance Riding 102
You’ve got the right bike, and it is fully outfitted for your long-distance trip. Are you ready to go? Not quite! There is some preparation you as a rider must do to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. Tempting as it may to just hit the road and ride, a little bit of extra planning will go a long way in making your experience easier and more enjoyable. Continue reading below to learn about the preparations you can take for your body and your trip ahead of a long journey on your motorcycle.
In the last post, we talked about the different kinds of bikes for long-distance rides and modifications you can add to your bike to make the ride more comfortable. However, it is important to remember that there is a delicate balance between comfort and control. During your long-distance ride, you need to make sure you have enough support so you can ride for a long time without discomfort that will affect your safety, but you also need to make sure you have to ability to quickly react to things that happen while riding.
If you have a more reclined riding posture, you may not be able to react quickly to obstacles, but if you are too hunched forward, you will likely not be very comfortable for multiple hours of riding. The best option is to sit in a neutral position and keep your muscles loose and relaxed, while ready to react. Your handlebars should allow you to rest your hands midway between your stomach and your shoulders, with relaxed arms. Anything much higher or lower than this will place stress on your muscles and joints and cause you to tire faster.
Planning Your Route
Knowing where you want to go is only half the battle. While a long road trip should be fun and leave room for detours and spontaneous scenic routes, it is important to plan ahead and make sure you know enough about the general area where you’ll be riding so you can make good and safe decisions and bring the right gear.
- GPS and Maps: To reiterate, you do not have to plan your route out perfectly and ride on a tight schedule, but you should have a solid knowledge of the area and the general route you will need to travel along. You can use a regular paper map, or with technology these days, you can easily affix a phone or GPS to your bike with a holder. Figure out the minimum amount of time it will take to get to your final destination and compare that to how many hours or days you have available to travel. Figure out which stretches you would ideally like to take the scenic route and where you might need some extra time, and which parts you can ride on the interstate. If you are riding in more remote areas, make sure you take note of where gas stations are and how many miles are between them when they are sparse. You may consider carrying some extra gas with you for emergencies.
- Climate and Weather: Be aware of the climate in the areas where you will be riding, especially if you will be covering a lot of ground and travelling through microclimates. Even here in Florida, it is easy to be surprised with a sudden downpour, so make sure you pack accordingly. Even if it is summer and warm, you may want to bring warmer layers if you will be riding at night. Be particularly aware of weather and temperature changes if you are riding through mountainous areas or other topography changes, where climate can shift in a matter of minutes. It is always better to be prepared with the proper gear and clothing and never use it than to be caught without it when you need it most.
- Obstacles: As a motorcyclist, you need to be extra aware of obstacles that may come up on your route. If you are riding in warmer weather, remember that this is also prime season for construction and road work. You should check you route for possible construction zones on your maps app or by looking at the state’s website for conditions and traffic delays. This way, you can plan for a detour or alternate route, if necessary.
- Lodging: If you are travelling for multiple days, make sure you plan ahead and know where you will be sleeping. Whether it is a campsite or a hotel, it is a good idea to book your stay before you leave, especially if there is a big event in your destination, so that you don’t end up stranded with no place to rest. This also gives you a target goals for miles for the day. If this is not possible, make sure you have backup options, and look for alternative accommodations along your route, in case you overestimate the mileage you can endure in a day.
- Distance: On the same note, be realistic about how much riding you can handle per day. Give yourself buffer room at the end of the day, so you don’t feel pressured to keep riding after you become fatigued. Riding while drowsy is dangerous and should be avoided always.
Training for the Ride
Much like you would not start an intense exercise program without working up to it progressively, you should not try to ride long distances without a bit of practice first. You want your body and mind to be prepared for whatever comes your way, and although you might think you are just sitting there, long rides actually require a lot of muscle movement and quick mental reactions.
- Start an exercise routine for muscle endurance, by using lower weight, high repetition movements.
- In your spare time, try to get in as much riding as possible before the trip to build your endurance. Learn to listen to your body and notice when you start to feel achy or fatigued. You might even try a short tour to prepare for a longer one later.
- Consider changing up your diet. Fast food may be satisfying in the moment on the road, but it won’t provide you with the nutrients and energy you need to ride all day. Eat like an endurance athlete. Up your protein intake and eat enough fiber to make sure your body has energy stores throughout the day that don’t weigh you down or make you feel sluggish. Carbs can give you a quicker burst of energy when you’re starting to fade, but don’t go too crazy and avoid a sugar crash.
- You should also practice riding with the gear you plan to bring. Your luggage can change the weight and balance of your bike, so it is important to get used to this feeling. You may find you’ve overpacked too. Prep your bike with extra air in the tires and by adjusting your suspension to handle the extra load.
Look out for the final post in this series: Long-Distance Riding 103! We will discuss what pack and how to stay safe on your trip.
Sometimes, all of the preparation in the world can’t help prevent an accident. It is easy to be thrown off-kilter when in new and unfamiliar surroundings. Contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz if you were involved in a motorcycle accident. You may be entitled to compensation, and we will put you in touch directly with an actual attorney to discuss the merits and details of your case. All initial consultations have no obligation to continue with our services.