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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Long Distance Riding Tips: A Series of Three Articles... #1

Long Distance Riding Tips:

I've written this in 3 sections...the following is section 1. More to follow later.

People who ride long distances are often asked, “What tips do you have for riding long distance?”  Wow, those answers are a mouthful; I’d like to write a few hints each month/week to help you along the way.  Here are the topics for discussion:
·         The Motorcycle
·         Riding Style
·         Seats, foot placements and other considerations for the long haul.
·         Scenic  roads, or Interstate
·         Route planning
·         Rest stops: refueling both you and your motorcycle.
·         Clothing choices for the long rider.

v  The Motorcycle: What type of motorcycle you choose for the job is important.  How you set it up is also an important and decisive factor in your abilities to ride the distance you are hoping for each day.  Most folks who are riding long distance do so with the “TOURING” motorcycle. As such, they have a motorcycle that is heavy in nature, has a rather large engine displacement, and is outfitted with a fairing, saddle bags as well as several foot placement choices.  There are very good reasons for this choice.

a)      A heavy bike with a large displacement engine is easier to maneuver down an interstate and is more forgiving as well as stronger in a wind situation.  Don’t forget, in interstate riding, you have the crosswinds of the empty spaces the road travels through; you have the wind currents from passing traffic, be they large semi trucks, or a long line of cars.  A large displacement engine can move you away from hazardous traffic situations, or power you through a strong head wind.

b)      If you are choosing a lighter motorcycle, you should keep in mind that a smaller engine works harder to travel on Interstate roads. The higher speed limits, the truck traffic, the vibration of the engine and road are all elements that cause a rider to fatigue faster.  Of course, you do have options such fairings, and foot peg placements.  Being able to move your legs reposition the feet forward and back allow the rider to change how he/she sits in the saddle, stretch the back and legs and generally get some blood moving in extremities that need it. 
v  Riding Style
a)      There sure are a lot of preferences out here for the style of riding. Sport bike, adventure bike, duel sport bike, touring bikes. Each one of these bikes comes with a specific life style and adventure.   Plan your routes with your bike choice in mind.  For bikers, the beauty of riding is NOT so much getting to point B from point A. It’s the encounters, the scenic beauty, the hum of our motorcycles under us and the adventure that comes in between A and B! Arriving alive at point B is the whip cream and cherry on top!

b)      Let’s face it; most of us aren’t riding an Iron Butt adventure.  We are riding because we love the motorcycle.  We want the adventure of daily riding coupled with seeing and experiencing new places and things. So a long distance ride could mean going 500 miles away from home to visit the Smoky Mountains and ride The Dragon. Or it could mean putting in 1200 miles to see the new grand-baby. I’d use this to plan my 2 week vacation and ride the Grand Tetons.  Whatever your style of riding, be sure to plan accordingly. Touring bikes usually allow a rider to take high mileage tours each day, while the smaller motorcycle is better suited for the rider with a leisurely and flexible schedule.  No matter how you plan to tour, do yourself a favor and train for it. Ride your motorcycle on your days off as far as you can each day. Building yourself up to riding 10 hours a day with the most mileage possible. Train like an athlete, that’s how you will make the best of your trip!