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Thursday, 16 February 2017 17:47

A Guide for Your Long Ride

motorcycle tripAs I sit dreaming of the warmer months to arrive so I can once again get out on the open road on my bike, I recall the long rides I have completed over the past few years. 

Some of these have been as vacation, others as documented goal setting endeavors, where my article here is themed more towards a time restricted ride such as an Iron Butt ride.  The information still applies to every ride, but can be relaxed a bit in certain ares.

To get things started here I have been riding for 36 years, 28 of which have been on a street bike.  Seasonal total kilometers ridden have been as high as 26,000 km where seasons go as long as 8 months per year, so needless to say I ride more than around town on sunny days.  I guess I have to say the motorcycle is my passion.

I am sure people wonder how this can be a passion..well if you have to ask you won’t understand….but to break it down a bit I will share some information as to what I feel makes it so easy.

I think more important than the obvious; being the motorcycle, having the proper gear/equipment will be what makes the ride either a ride from hell or a ride from paradise.  Without going into details, first off is the proper fitting helmet in the style that matches your riding/bike style, local law requirements and most of all personal comfort. Then follow that with the proper riding gear, boots, pants, chaps, gloves and eye protection if your helmet doesn’t do that for you already.  I rode many years without what I have recently discovered as THE MOST IMPORTANT piece of gear that a rider can have on the body and that is a heated jacket liner.  This one piece can eliminate many layers of clothes that if you don’t need the clothes you may not have a place to store them, also making the rider feel unencumbered with layers..light and free to move.  If you are cold turn it on, if you are warm turn it down…  This item saves time eliminating stops, or shortening stops by not have to worry about packing/unpacking clothes.  In the case of an iron butt ride time is of the essence, and heavy layers create fatigue.  SO as for gear goes…3 words…DON’T CHEAP OUT. While discussing the proper gear, check the weather to ensure you have the right gear for what you may have to deal with in the trip.  In the case of the iron butt rides you have a planned route and timeline so its easy to check ahead through various locations on the route.

The next component would have to be the bike, where I will not say one is better than the other or what you need on that bike, because everyone has a different ride, for their own preference so that isn’t a topic I choose to comment on.  However no matter what kind of bike you are riding there are key items that need to be looked at closely before the long rides, where the most important probably being the tire condition.  If the tires are borderline, have them replaced prior to leaving, tire pressures..check it, make it right.  Oil, change it before a long ride.  Do a thorough go over of everything on the bike to prevent problems.

Now that you have the right gear and your bike is ready, ensure you have planned the ride, ensuring there are adequate gas stops within the range of your bike between gas stops, and this has to be taken to the next level…will the gas stops be open at the time you will be there, do they have premium fuel if your bike needs it???  I have actually called ahead to service stations checking this information.  Once all this is verified you are pretty much ready except for one thing…YOU. 

ARE YOU READY.???  Make sure you are well rested and hydrated…with water, and keep it that way through the ride.  If the ride you are doing is one that time is a factor then keep fluids with you as well as light snacks…snack at gas stops rather than stopping for a meal.  Meals make you tired and cost time, which flows into another item of consideration when doing this style of ride….group size.

My opinion, groups need to be small if time is a concern.  The bigger the group the longer the gas stops are, any stop takes longer and there is more chance of delays due to biological factors as well as mechanical issues.  If you are iron butting it, go with a friend with similar riding style, similar gas requirements, and similar goals.  These aren’t good group rides.

Once you have your wing man determined, ensure that they are aware of route plans, stops and destinations.  This is made easy with some of the means of communications now, otherwise discuss next leg of the trip at each gas stop.  This is also way simpler with small groups rather than large ones.  Also let people know at home the planned ride route and rough timeline.  This is also something that technology today can keep people aware at any second your whereabouts by means of spotwalla or the spot GPS trackers.

I hope any of this can help riders who are setting out on a documented ride, bottom line, have fun and ride safe. 

by Kelly Booth

Last modified on Sunday, 19 February 2017 00:25

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