WELCOME TO TIPS AND OTHER STUFF FOR MOTORCYCLING AND LIFE
|This page will grow over time. I hope something that is given here will be an encouragement to those who visit. My desire, wherever I go, is to leave the place and persons a little better than I found them.|
LONG DISTANCE MOTORCYCLE RIDING
This is a topic that is much bandied about and defined in different ways. There are the 'ultra' LD riders who participate in the Iron Butt Rally, the folks like me, who a thousand mile day is not unusual in the saddle, and all those in between. My longest ride at one sitting to date was a run from Albuquerque, NM to Nashville, TN - about 1200 miles. Previous to that, I ran the entire Natchez Trace top to bottom and over to Alexandria, LA to certify for my Iron Butt Bun Burner 1000. This ride requires the rider to do 1,000 miles in 24 hours. I knew it would be a challenge, since the speed limit on the Natchez Trace is 50 MPH. It took 20+ hours to ride 1,137 miles and was quite a challenge. But why? someone might ask. That's a real good question that has the same answer as why some people climb mountains - the challenge. I do long distance (other than the qualifying ride) when I need to get somewhere and my time is limited. I have had the pleasure of being in 49 states on my Redbird, I have finished 49 states on the SweetTreat and 49 states on Frost. I just finished 48 states on BlueBelle my newest ST1100 (the Canadian border was closed so I could not get to Alaska). This is a beautiful country and I want to see as much of it as I can in the time that I have. Modern motorcycle technology has improved dramatically since I started riding in the 60s. If you desire to get out and about, here are some suggestions from my experience -
1. Get in the best physical shape that you can be, given your physical limitations. Motorcycling is a physical sport and this will make riding (and life in general) much more enjoyable. I've had so many orthopedic procedures that my surgeon is gonna name a surgical suite after me so I understand there are limitations. But I want to encourage you to do what you can - a little something is a lot better than a whole lot of nothing.
2. Make your motorcycle as comfortable and suited to you as you can. If you are planning on keeping the bike, the best money you can invest is in a custom built seat. I highly recommend the Russell Daylong Saddle. It is an incredible seat and the folks there are great to work with. Look into raising the handlebars to a comfortable position - custom risers are available for most models. I also recommend driver backrests if you bike can handle one. I've used them since my Triumph days in 1973. And highway pegs also give you another place to put your feet. They come in all sizes and shapes and there are lots of options. And if you really want a help, install an electric cruise control. I have the ones from MCCruise which are top quality. At least get a throttle lock if you can't afford the cruise control. It does help hand fatigue on a long trip. Many folks use the Caterpillar O-ring (part number 8M4991) as an inexpensive throttle lock also for this purpose.
3. The three greatest factors in fatigue while riding are noise, wind, and vibration. If you want to do distances and not feel like you've been beat with a stick, consider these areas of your motorcycle. It may look cool with bug stains in your teeth, your hair blowing in the wind, and making lots of noise, but it ain't over long distances!
4. Be aware that fatigue can accumulate! If you are on a multi-day trip, it will be physically demanding because it is a 'different' routine than what your body is used to. You will use different muscle groups and put stresses on body parts that are not used to it. And because you tend not to sleep as well as you would if you are at home in your own bed, you probably will not get as much rest as you need. The accumulated effects of this can ratchet up your fatigue level exponentially over a longer trip, so plan on a day out of the saddle on trips longer than 5 days just so you can recharge your batteries.
5. Know when to stop. That one more mile you think you need to ride might be your last one. Be sensitive to your current state of mental awareness and physical condition. If you are on a ride and it doesn't feel right - it ain't. Your loved ones and friends had much rather see you late than see you dead.
6. If you nod once, pull over and take a break. Early in my riding career, I woke up once on a motorcycle traveling down the road at 70 mph. That is not a very good feeling and not conducive to a long riding career. When you are tired, your mind will convince you that shutting your eyes for just a moment will be okay - and it might be for the last time.
7. Ride frequently before you plan on taking a long trip. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing when it works. Miles are not as important as the amount of 'saddle time' - the time you actually spend riding.
8. Invest in good protective riding gear - You get off the bike with what you get on with. Sliding down the asphalt in a pair of blue jeans is somewhat less than pleasant - BTDTGTS! And since you only have one head, I highly recommend that you wear a helmet. Good heads are hard replace and easy to break when you crash. If you don't believe me, sit on your kitchen table and fall off on your head. If you survive that, then imagine doing the same thing at 60 MPH!
9. Carry emergency identification in multiple places. This will make it much easier for an EMT to help you, especially if you happen to be unconscious. It also can provide what medications you are taking, what allergies you have, and give the rescuers an emergency name and number to call. I personally like the ICEDevice, a simple, inexpensive solution for this. I used to carry the SPOT Satellite Messenger with me which sends my current location via satellite to a web page but their pricing 'plan' kept creeping up and I got tired of their business practices.
10. There is a wire that runs from the ego to the throttle hand. If you will cut it before you get in the saddle, there is a good chance you will not end up on the ground.
11. Never ride beyond what you can see. The open road is not a racetrack and there just could be a big pile of cow manure in the bend. Do you know how slick that stuff is? Farmers Bob and Billy Joe might just be parked around the curve on their tractors on that deserted back road having a daily conversation. Can you imagine how painful being impaled on hay rake would be?
12. Remember that you and your bike are invisible. Making yourself more 'visible' with colors, lights, etc. is good but the answer will always be the same - 'I didn't see him/her, officer'. If you ride as if the folks in cars, (fondly called 'cagers') don't see you and anticipate their behavior accordingly, you will probably ride a long time. They have 'right of weight' and you will never win in a dust up with vehicle.
13. Don't ride in the cold unless you are prepared. With the availability of heated gear (I'm checking out the Gordon's Heated Gear now which has a lifetime warranty) and the higher outputs on today's motorcycle alternators, there is no reason to be cold while riding. Did you realize that 32 degrees F at 70 MPH equates to 12 degrees F wind chill factor? Hypothermia can set in before you know it and you may find yourself unable to function. More than one rider has run off the road when they were too numb to make the curve.