(Inspired by an AMA Magazine Article)
- TRIP PLANNING: Set realistic goals for your daily mileage. Fatigue from over-riding your distance makes the trip less pleasurable. And after all, isn't the enjoyment of the ride the reason you ride? In really scenic areas, a shorter distance may make a very full day's ride. Remember that a nap can do wonders on a long day.
Plan your trip using the Internet. Several programs available from your browser will allow you to map your route and print out directions. Try Mapquest or Expedia for planning your route. Don't forget to research points of interest along your route, too.
- PACKING: When packing for a trip, take your oldest, worn-out underwear. When it's dirty, throw it away. No laundry, no shipping dirty clothes home. Many riders save up their oldest stuff for their summer trips, and throw it out as it's dirtied. Likewise, pack those ugly old shirts you got from Aunt Martha and Uncle Harry on your birthday. When they get "ripe" you can chuck them too. Don't worry about what they look like; nobody you know is going to see them, since you'll have your jacket on over them most of the time. Instead of wash-n-wear, it's wear-n-toss!
Click HERE for a list of things to pack!
- LODGING: When traveling long distances, you'll find most inexpensive motels on the outskirts of town. Pick one that's on the FAR side of town so you don't get caught in the city's rush-hour traffic the next morning.
- KEYS: Always carry an extra key. Carry a second key ring, or give an extra key to your co-rider or to a riding companion. Having a motorcycle key made is considerably more difficult than getting a car key or house key made, since the "blanks" aren't usually carried by hardware stores. Get a couple of extra keys made when you DON'T need them, rather than try and get one when you DO need one. If there is a GOOD hiding spot on your bike, consider taping or tie-wrapping an extra key where you and you alone are likely to find it when you need it. Think like a thief... where would a thief look? Then DON'T put your key there! Also, don't rely on those cheap little magnetic key-boxes either. They're the first thing a thief looks for. And the magnet may hold the bottom of the key container to a metal part on your bike, but the lid and key may well be missing when you need your emergency key the most!
- DIET: Eat at times when nobody else eats - to save time. Avoid greasy and carbohydrate-laden fast-foods. Woofing down a few double-cheeseburgers at the local McBurger's franchise may keep you going, but don't overeat or you'll find yourself drifting off to sleep as all your blood flows to your stomach to try and digest the load you just ate. Eat light when on the road. If you’re traveling east or west, schedule your breakfast or dinner times near sunrise or sunset so you don’t have to stare into the sun when it’s low on the horizon.
- HYDRATE! If you have the space (or can make the space) take one or two bottles of water with you. The wind passing over your skin dehydrates your body very quickly, especially in hot weather or in dry climates. Even when it's cold outside... you will lose body fluids through perspiration when you're "in the wind." Dehydration can affect your judgment! NOT a good thing! Use moisturizing eye-drops on long trips. Use them when you stop for gas. Your eyes dry out from the wind, too.
- KEEP COOL: Desert area riders learn to soak their T-shirts with fresh water and wear their jackets over them, leaving sleeves unzipped to catch wind. The evaporative cooling of air flowing up the sleeves and over damp clothing acts like air conditioning. Keep the empty water bottles, especially those with "sport" caps. They can be refilled over and over again, and serve well for a quick squirt down your shirt or for a quick drink. We usually freeze a couple bottles of water the night before a ride and keep them in a small soft cooler in the trunk of our GoldWing. Then as they thaw, we have cold water to drink. It doesn't take long to thaw on the handlebar-drink holder, either!
A WORD OF WARNING: Leaving a bottle of water in your handlebar-mounted drink holder can provide you with quite a surprise when you give yourself a squirt down the back. The water in the bottle will get VERY hot, with the sun's light passing through the bottle acting like a magnifying glass. I've learned that it doesn't take long for the water to get SCALDING HOT and it can really get your attention quickly. Not the kind of thing you want to do at 70 MPH on the interstate!
Wear an insulating jacket when it's over 100 degrees F outside. It may be warmer outside than inside the jacket, and the jacket will actually insulate you from the heat, as well as minimize your water loss through perspiration.
- SECURITY: A short metal cable with looped ends or piece of chain and a small padlock will secure a jacket or helmet to your bike. Look for vinyl-coated cable to protect your bike's finish. Use swaged ferrules rather than cable clamps if you are making your own locking cable. If in doubt as to where to find cable and ferrules, go to a marine store that carries materials and makes sailboat rigging. You can have a stainless steel cable expertly made, usually while you wait, (in the length and weight of your choice) for only a few dollars.
Carry a large padlock and chain or cable or a disk-lock if parking in an unfamiliar area. Don't be a mark or an easy target for a thief.
A motorcycle cover not only keeps your bike clean and dry overnight, it also discourages theft. People don't get tempted by what they can't see. Out of sight, out of mind.
A trick for theft-prone Harley-Davidson owners: cover your cycle with a HONDA motorcycle cover! Harley thieves will pass it by!
- IN CASE OF EMERGENCY: An emergency information card should be in or on the bike. It should contain your name, address, blood type, any allergies to medications or drugs, and the name & phone number of someone to be contacted in an emergency. You can write it on plain paper, seal it in a Zip-Lock bag, and wrap it around the handlebars. Secure with zip-ties or rubber bands. Just be sure to make the "EMERGENCY INFO" writing on it easily identifiable when it's mounted.
A cell phone can be a lifesaver in an emergency. You can dial 911 for help anywhere you find cell service, but you’ll need to tell a dispatcher where you are. Keep track of route numbers, interstate exits, towns you’ve passed, mileposts—anything that can save emergency officials time in getting to you.
Stash some cash (NOT a credit card) somewhere -- hidden on the bike or on you -- so you can make something happen if all else fails.
- SAVE YOUR HEARING: Earplugs can help reduce wind noise and minimize "tinnitus" or "ringing in the ears." Tinnitus can actually keep you awake at night, and can be brought on from the steady noise of a cycle's exhaust or wind noise. The cheap-o "sponge" earplugs will last for a long time if cared for. You can get them from someone who works in an industrial facility; they are usually available by the handful for free.
- ON THE ROAD BIKE CARE: Carry an old towel for wiping dew or rain off the bike, your windshield and rear-view mirrors. An old terry towel that's no longer fit for use in the bath works just fine for stuffing into the bottom of a saddlebag, for a quick bike dry-off or cleanup. Synthetic chamois cloths also work well. Just remember to dry them out soon or you'll have mildew in your saddlebags. YUCK!
Before leaving the hotel, motel or campsite in the morning, check and re-check every strap, bungee cord, and latch on luggage.
It's possible to use a repair kit to make an emergency repair on tubeless or tube-type tire alongside the road. But if you've never done it before, practice using your kit on an old tire in your garage.
- CARRYING TOO MUCH STUFF: Take advantage of the US Postal Service and UPS when buying remembrances that won't fit in your luggage. Most "Mailboxes, Etc." stores can ship almost anything you need to send home.