Travelling across states, countries and even continents with a motorcycle is something most riders have dreamt of at least once in their lifetime. What if you could get on a motorcycle and go on a long-distance trip exploring your continent? Sure, it would be an amazing life experience and you would cherish as you grow older. If Alex Chacon rode from Alaska to Argentina and made a solid career out of it, you can do it too with just a little zeal. Of course there are other long distance motorcyclists like Nick Sanders who holds Guinness World Records for traversing 7 continents with a motorcycle. But regular folks just want to tell their children or grandchildren a story of those glory days when they get older. Whether you are doing it for adventure or to break records, there are things you ought to consider before or during the long distance journey.
- Get yourself the proper gear- Going on a long distance tour across a dozen states or countries is nothing compared to your short trip to the mall. You need every gear that should be worn when riding a motorcycle. That means you should get yourself proper pants, leather boots, leather gloves, knee/elbow caps, helmet and a jacket. If your motorcycle gear is not complete, just postpone the trip for another day. Don’t forget to pack yourself a standard first aid kit just in case of a mishap on the road.
- Work out before the trip- Most riders underestimate the importance of working out at least a month before the trip. Remember long distance travels entails riding at least 6 to 7 hours a day and if you’re not in good form, you will tire easily. Even during the trip, stretching out frequently will ease your state. Of course mental preparation is crucial too and you should know how many miles you’re comfortable with covering in a day. Eventually, you will slowly learn that the more you get used to it, the easier it will be for you to just get on the road and ride non-stop for hours.
- Carry what you need- Just because you’re going for a week-long trip across the country doesn’t mean you carry your whole wardrobe. You don’t want a luggage that will be too much for you. A backpack is enough to pack a few clothes you might need to change during the trip. Adequate water and snacks are also essential to avoid getting dehydrated and less energized on the road. Don’t forget a power bank in case your smartphone runs out of charge in the middle of nowhere. A Google Map/Earth app installed on your phone will come in handy to guide your trip. A paper map is just as important since you will most likely pass through very remote areas with little or no internet connectivity.
- Service and Inspect – If your riding chain has hit the 10,000 miles mark, it is time to replace it for a new one before you hit the road. It is also recommended to change your tires before going on a long distance tours. The main reason is because old tires will probably wear out on the road and instead you should opt for something more firm which will save you the trouble. The only exception to this rule is if your motorcycle is brand new off the dealership smelling fresh like lily flowers on a sunny day. Even if your motorcycle is barely a week old, you still have to take it for a test ride and confirm everything is okay. Inspect the brakes, coolant, radiator, air filter, spark plug and carburetor. If any of those is out of shape or indicates signs of wearing out, replace them. Even the rusting nuts, buts and cables should be replaced immediately. Remember, if you ignore even the most minor problem on your motorcycle, you will regret a few days later away from home.
- Carry Spare parts- Just like how inspecting and servicing is crucial, riding with the basic spares can be a lifesaver on the road. The basic spare necessities like engine oil, chain lubricant, air filter, accelerator cable, chain link, spark plug, brake wire and clutch cable will do.
- Ride in the morning and rest at night- The best time to hit the road is early preferably 8 a.m. in the morning. It is not safe to ride at late night through unfamiliar roads especially in a foreign country. Moreover, you should avoid riding too early in the morning due to hazards such as roaming wildlife. Thanks to the internet, there are lot motorcycle friendly motels and hostels you can shower, eat some food and stay for the night. Before you get on the road every morning, check out the weather forecast that you will likely encounter on your journey. If the weather is too hostile for you to ride, you can always wait it out.
It is often said that you can truly know your motorcycle once you ride with it on a long distance trip thousands of miles away. For instance, most people don’t realize the importance of a windshield until they’re riding at least 80 miles per hour for 3 or 4 hours non-stop. The wind blowing against your body gets exhausting at some point and that is when you will start appreciating that windshield you thought wasn’t necessary. Getting yourself a few pairs of earplugs will probably save your hearing on the long run. If you are choosing a helmet, go with the Helmet equipped with Bluetooth. It gets boring on the road but with a Bluetooth Helmet you can listen to some music, talk with your buddies with similar devices, receive calls and map instructions. A long distance ride will also expose the comfort of your seat. But don’t worry, even with the most comfortable seat, your butt and legs will need a break after 100 miles. It happens to everybody.
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