So you have decided to embark on your first motorcycle road trip. Here are team HNP’s 7 best practices to help you make your maiden motorcycle trip a successful and enjoyable outing.
Tip #1 Prepare yourself and your ride
A good starting point is a pre-ride checklist we talked about in our of our previous edition. Avoid making any new changes or modifications to your motorcycle just before a ride. Bring along a tool kit and be prepared to carry out minor maintenance tasks yourself. Familiarize yourself with common spares for the motorcycle such as spares fuses, tubes if any, bulbs and LEDs, brake & clutch levers, clutch cables and try to carry some spares. Now would be a good time to either subscribe or to save the Road Side Assistance company’s number in your phone. Make sure that all the documents of the motorcycle are in place such as the registration papers, pollution certificate, insurance and o course your driving license.Do some basic check up and make your ride a safe ride.
As for preparing yourself, if you are not into a daily fitness regime, try to develop a daily exercise regime 4-6 weeks before the trip. Swimming, cycling, jogging are all good stamina building activities. Prepare a medicine kit and get vaccinated if you are going into a region with chances of catching a bug. Last but not the least, eat healthy for at least 48 hours before the trip. That means no pre -trip alcohol party the night before!
Tip #2 Learn to travel & pack light
Travelling light is an art but is a critical part of a successful & enjoyable road trip. Learn to travel light. Do not carry any unnecessary items with you. Prepare a packing list. Remember that the most important stuff is your riding gear and your tool kit. Everything else should be added strictly on a need basis. Remember, it’s no fun riding an overloaded motorcycle.
Pay special attention to items you did not use or need, after your trip is over. This will be invaluable in preparing for your next trip!
Tip #3 Plan your day
Once you hit the road, it’s very important to plan your day in advance. Make usre all plans for a day are firm before you hit that sack the night before. Consider the holy trinity of riding when you plan:
- The Terrain: Estimate the time taken to reach your destination for the day. Take into account weather, traffic and route conditions. Avoid riding at dusk or dawn.
- The Rider: That is you, and your group members. Never ride beyond your limits and capability. This applies not just to the riding speed but also to the total distance covered in a day or the total time spent on the saddle in a day. Pace yourself. Take short frequent breaks and keep yourself hydrated at all times. Marathon techniques always work better than racing techniques on a road trip.
- The Ride: Just like pushing yourself beyond the limits can be counter-productive, the same rule applies to your motorcycle too. Take appropriate rest breaks to let the tyres cool down after spirited rides on expressways, to fuel up and to check coolants and other fluid levels. Slow down on rough patches and when you encounter pot holes or speed bumps.
Tip #4 Stay safe and keep other’s safe
A road trip is the time when you need to put all your safety skills to good use. Never ride beyond your limits. Use high visibility gear and keep your headlights on at all times. Yes, even during the day. In a subsequent edition, we will talk about the issues in being an invisible biker. If you are feeling tired or sleepy, take a break immediately. Do not get into road rage situations and control your anger, even if you know you were in the right and a grave injustice was done to you by that passing truck in cutting you off!
Tip #5 Stay healthy
Avoid that tempting lassi, cut fruits or that green salad by the roadside dhaba. Stick with hot food and beverages. Alcohol and any other substances during the ride are a strict NO-NO, regardless of how big a stud you were during your college days. Save it for your after trip parties.
Tip #6 Stay at your most heightened sense of awareness while you ride
This is where all your defensive riding skills will come into full use. Remember that this is not your daily drive or ride in your hometown. Road designs could be different as would be the road hazards and even the traffic habits of the people you meet on the roads. A good rule of thumb is to treat each day of your road trip as your very first road trip. A sense of complacency can prove to be fatal!
Tip #7 Don’t forget to R&R
At the end of each day, pick your favourite method to unwind and rest well for the next day. Fatigue on multi-day trips can have a cumulative effect which can become difficult t manage as the trip progresses. Enjoy your time & don’t forget to stop & smell the roses – remember that this is what the trip is about after all!