Check your Bike before you leave
Like actually before you leave, not the night before. I mean clean and lube your chain, and give it a good once over. Do you need new tires? How’s your oil doing, air pressure, brake fluid, brake calipers.
A good way to do this check in is to give the bike a bath, if you’re not great at checking all these things you’ll notice them while you’re giving the bike a good wipe down. Knowing your bike isn’t prone to explode at any moment, and being familiar with what is close to needing attention gives you the kind of peace of mind you only get from being familiar with your motorcycle.
Have a good idea of what your Route is going to be
Some detours are ok, but having a good idea of when and where you need or can stop is a good idea. Being prepared if there are going to be long stretches between gas stations etc.
This also means being aware of the hospitals, multiple different places you can stay, and potential places to take your bike in case of any “unplanned events.”
If you do a couple google searches before you leave, you can also find cool places to see, you would have just rode straight on by with no research, then kicked yourself later when you found out there was an epic motorcycle road just 20 miles south of the route you chose to take.
Be Realistic about your Mileage.
Everyone’s range of mileage is going to be different. But the thing that is pretty much universal to all long-distance motorcycle riders, we assume we can go farther than we actually can in one day.
The best way to be more realistic about your mileage is adding a minimum 2-3 hours to however long you think it’s going to take you to get some place. This accounts for breaks, gas and snack stops, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and coffee stops, and photo breaks.
That may seem excessive but really it’s kind of conservative. We’ll talk more about the important of breaks to your ability to long distance in a minute but if you’re going to make the most of a trip, you need to pace yourself. Don’t burn yourself out in one day doing three times as many miles as you’re used to so you can get somewhere, because chances are your body is going to feel destroyed the next day. How are you supposed to enjoy this amazing place you rode all this way to get to if you’re dead tired?
Carry the stuff for Emergencies
This includes, a little extra gas, basic tools for your bike, and first aid kit. If you don’t know anything about your bike, I would also highly encourage you getting the manual and carrying that with you. Of course the manual doesn’t do you any good if you’re too afraid to touch the bike, so if you’ve got the money and you’re not down to get your hands dirty you can always call a tow truck of course. You’d be surprised though how many things you can fix with some zip ties, fuses, wrenches, alan keys, electrical tape and a knife.
Be prepared for the Changing Conditions
This means always carrying waterproofs, and a few extra layers for when the temperature suddenly drops. This will happen everywhere. So just because you’re heading into the desert doesn’t mean it won’t get cold at night suddenly when you’re not prepared.
This also means making sure any luggage you’re bringing is also waterproof, or can be made waterproof with some kind of cover. Or packing all of the things in that luggage in dry bags. Oftentimes, especially on long trips it’s worth the little extra money upfront to just buy luggage that’s just waterproof from the get go. So you’re not having to stop and cover your stuff with a garbage back while the rain pelts you on the side of the road. Another one of those things that I learned the hard way.
This also means remembering to bring sunscreen so you don’t burn your face, bug spray, and chapstick.
Drink lots of Water.
Hydropacks are amazing. Hands down one of the best additions to my gear. You don’t have to stop and get off the bike which can be a chore to drink a little bit of water. You just grab the hose and drink while you’re going down the road. You can also store it in some tank bags if you don’t want it on your back.
Nuun Tablets are also a great way to add some electrolytes to that water when it’s especially hot and you’re sweating them out.
Make sure you have Appropriate Gear.
Long rides can be quite fatiguing. This is compounded if the only gear you have is leather and isn’t breathable, or doesn’t fit you properly.
If you’re sweating to death from the heat trapped under your leathers, you’re pretty much just as distracted as you would be if you were half asleep. Find gear that is well ventilated for hot rides, or is well insulated for cold ones. Textiles dominate the touring genre of motorcycle gear for a reason. It’s versatile, often comes with multiple removable layers, that can make it waterproof or breathable. That touring jacket may be expensive and look funny to you now, but I’ll be the one laughing when I can open my back vents and pit zips, while you’re being cooked alive in that leather jacket. Believe me I know, my first jacket was leather.
Same goes if your gear is too short, or too long, or too tight in some places, your discomfort is a safety hazard, and is going to distract you from having a good time. Have you noticed if you’re soaking wet, too hot, too cold or just straight up uncomfortable that’s the only thing you can think about? It’s also going to keep you from thinking about how awesome the scenery you’re riding up.
You should be charging your phone every night you’re on the trip, sometimes it’s not possible to plug into a wall though. So make sure you have a way to charge off the bike, or a battery pack, so if your phone dies and you suddenly need it, you have a way to charge it up.
You don’t realize how powerful your phone is or how much we rely on it in until it’s dead.
This also counts for any devices like a Spot or Inreach device for emergencies, you can’t use it if the battery is dead.
Remember to take a break and move your body!
Long rides are made up of all the little stops you made before you got to the destination. This includes meeting new people, seeing that epic view you weren’t expecting, and that neat restaurant you took the time to eat at. If you’re too focused on getting there as soon as possible, you’re also going to miss all the little things along the way that make the journey better. This is a marathon not a race. You need to pace yourself.
Sitting on your bike in one position for hours also has the unwanted consequences of shortening how many miles you can do as a whole. Your body needs to move, you need to stretch. These little 5-10 minute breaks every hour or two keeps your muscles loose and means you can ride further for longer.
If you sit there and realize your grinding your teeth, chances are the rest of your muscles are tense too. Remind yourself to relax, loosen your jaw, move your but into a different position on the seat to give your arm and shoulder muscles a little bit of a break.
Taking breaks goes double if you’re route is primarily off-road. You’re using a lot more muscles working the bike through different kinds of terrain, which means you’re more likely to hit the point of no return with fatigue if you don’t take breaks often, stay hydrated, and keep snacks on hand.
Last but not least I want to emphasize how important it is to Eat Well.
Eat REAL food.
Not only that but you need to eat balanced meals now more than ever.
Dehydrated meals are easy to make at camp but keep in mind there’s a whole lot of sodium in those to help preserve the ingredients, and you need to balance it out with food that’s not processed with a bunch of extra sugar and sodium.
It can also be really easy to fall into the pit of just eating junk food from gas stations, and clif bars, because it’s easy.
This means you do need to eat some veggies too, not just steaks and BBQ. Multivitamins and some Immune boosters can’t hurt, but the best way to keep your body feeling good is to make sure the fuel you’re putting into it is good.
Now these are just a few tips that skim the top of things that can make travelling longer distances more comfortable. If you liked this let me know by hitting that like button, and if you’d like to join my Magpie Family over on Patreon for as little as $1 a month you can get early access to videos like these!
My question for YOU is two parts today, 1) What’s the longest mileage you’ve put down in one day and part 2) Do you have a trick you use to make yourself more comfortable for those long mileage days?