It’s fun to see more and more people on their own or with friends opting to ride bikes and going on road trips. They can know very little about how to start riding safely on slightly longer road trips, aside from only riding in the area, mainly when people start riding. When they continue to ride, they build more and more like-minded riders and learn a lot about them and their style of riding. This little overview is done to support those who are just starting out and can be useful from a relatively new long-distance rider’s personal learning & perspective.
- Choose a convenient bike
You must always be happy with it, whichever kind of bike you select. If you focus on a bike that needs some changes to ensure that you can ride it safely, get it finished instantly. A different handlebar, a more supportive saddle, guards, improved headlights are some typical improvements that riders make if they are going to do loads of evening riding, a new exhaust, etc. Remember, it’s not only about the bike looking cool but riding it really well.
- Clothes to Drive
Often try & wear riding trousers for long-distance riding, ankle boots (safety shoes can be an alternative), riding jacket & a full-face helmet, of course. Or the alternative of knee & elbow guards or body armor is available. It is convenient for motorcycle gear to be purchased online or in motorcycle shops. Aim to get as close to size as possible, it would just be a disturbance & cause pain to lose & baggy gear or clothes. You can feel heavy & uncomfortable at first when fully gearing up, but once you get on the bike, understanding that you’re riding safer will make your riding more enjoyable and give you greater faith. Plus, on a lighter note, you get more of the biker feel.
Instead of riding boots, don a riding top, canvas trousers & knee guards
- Do not over-pack, carry light.
From metal to soft textile luggage, there is a brilliant range of motorcycle luggage available on the Indian market to choose from. On the back seat of your bike, there are saddlebags that you can harness, tank bags that magnetically hug the tank that can hold lighter items, tail bags that can be bunged to the back seat, etc. These, too, are available online or in bike shops and come in various sizes and designs to fit your type of vehicle. Be sure you bring as many disposable things as you can while carrying, which can be used & discarded. This is going to help you reduce a lot of weight when you fly. Eg-hold sachets instead of shampoo bottles; carry little soap bars, plastic toothbrushes so you can do away with them on the return trip. Don’t make a ton of wardrobe changes unnecessarily, try & wash & reuse your garments instead. If you have one that can be inserted in your pocket instead of packing it up in the suitcase and pulling it out any time you want to take some pictures, give the DSLR a miss & bring a digicam. Don’t fold your clothes—roll them, that way they take up less space. Crucial medications are a must.
- Simply stay hydrated
On a bike road trip, a lot of individuals do not pay attention to the water aspect. Invest in a hydration pack that is simply a water bottle in a bag with a hose that you can throw around your back and drink water without having to detach or even avoid the helmet. Keeping yourself well hydrated would save all the effort caused by exhaustion on your trip. If you like, you can also add some glucon-d or Gatorade to the drink. For a day’s ride, a litre pack is enough and can be refilled if necessary. Making it a point each time you pause (even though you don’t feel thirsty) to drink something.
- Know Your planned route
Not all of us are good with directions & remembering routes, but it helps to stop wasting time by getting a reasonable idea of which direction you are going in & which path you are following. If you like to, try & bring a screenshot of the map on your smartphone or a printout of the same. Don’t feel afraid of asking locals for guidance on the way & in case that you see other riders on the way, you can even consult them, and you might just get to hear of a more interesting route for all you know. Enjoy the trip and before you start, try & see the itineraries of other motorcyclists.
- Take breaks in the ride
It’s not a marathon until you qualify for the bum burner or saddle sore! Know when, depending on the terrain, your bike & body want a break. Stop & rest for a couple of minutes every few kilometres or every few hours. Try not to take too many breaks, just necessary, otherwise, the riding rhythm is only broken. Check if you have enough water for drinking and ample fuel in the tank while on a break, so you can schedule the next break accordingly.
- Be ready for any sort of temperature
A lesson I have learned on long bike trips is that at any point in time, you should be prepared for rain. It’s a must to bring raincoats & trousers that fit over your riding gear & raincoats for luggage. On a rainy day at home, try & test your gear
- Bring essential equipment & spares
Go to a mechanic and remind him what you need to carry on your bike ride with all the necessary spares. Each bike has different needs. Spare tubing, spark plugs, split & accelerator cables, fuel oil, etc. may be a general list.
- Always stay motivated
The beauty of riding a motorbike is that it doesn’t stop until you start loving it. Keep inspired & excited at all times, even though you slip, skid or have a flat. It’s not very good to get panicky & scared, from what I’ve realized on my rides. Everyone on a bike makes mistakes & learns from these flaws.