In the world’s toughest motorcycle riding competition, riders tackle 1,000 miles in 24 hours. That is the equivalent of riding from Miami to Nashville or San Antonio to Denver.
If you are new to long distance motorcycle riding, then there are a few things you need to learn before you get started. Never attempt a long distance ride without doing the prep work, no matter how spontaneous you want to be.
Work through this guide so that you are ready whenever the call of the road gets too strong, and you want to head out on your own epic long distance motorcycle adventure.
Are you physically fit? Think about the last time you rode for a few hours. If you got off the bike and felt sore, or sore the next day, then you probably aren’t ready for a long distance ride.
Riding a motorcycle is physically demanding on your arms, back, and legs. So just like any other physical activity, you need to train your muscles and work your way up to longer and longer rides.
Another good thing to start doing is regular stretching or yoga. Flexible muscles are less likely to get injured from a strain. You don’t want to get stranded because you moved the wrong way and pulled a muscle.
Learn Your Limits
Riding is mentally draining, and long distance riding calls for long hours on the bike. Riding when you are mentally drained is dangerous.
You need to know yourself and know when you need to stop and eat or sleep. That way you stay in peak mental condition and able to react and adjust to traffic.
Most people are chronically dehydrated. The time to hydrate is in the days leading up to your ride.
You won’t notice how dehydrated you become while riding until it is too late. So drink up in the days leading up to your ride and enjoy the health benefits while on the ride.
Unless you’re independently wealthy, you probably have to work and use vacation time for your trip. Keep this in mind while planning.
Make sure you save enough to be able to afford your trip. Your ride will become increasing less enjoyable if you spend your time stressing about running out of money.
If you plan to ride through a foreign country, then you’ll need to exchange your money. Do this before you go so that you don’t waste time when you get there.
Prep Your Gear
There is an art to packing for long trips on a motorcycle. You need base layers, clothes, and your safety gear. Start by evaluating the amount of storage space you have on your motorcycle. Then look at the weather for the area you will be riding through.
Pick out clothes that are going to dry fast and not chafe. Plan to take clothes that you will rotate and wear more than once. This will cut down on the number of items you have to take.
When it comes to riding, you need to wear gear that will protect you. This includes boots, jacket, gloves, helmet, and rain gear.
Select a jacket that is comfortable while riding. One that has a liner that zips in and out making it adjustable for the weather is ideal. Also, look for one with vents that open and close for breath-ability.
You want boots that are broken in and won’t cause blisters. When it comes to gloves, you want the same qualities.
Are you planning on staying in hotels? If not, then you need a sleeping bag and tent. Look for ones that fold up small, so they take up as little room as possible.
Choose some healthy and high protein snack to bring with you on the bike. You should also plan to bring water with you. This will save you if you happen to be somewhere that everything is closed or there simply aren’t any options.
Other items that add a level of creature comfort are Advil, a cell phone, a spare battery, and an auxiliary gas tank. You should also bring some lip balm and sunscreen to protect your skin.
Prep Your Motorcycle
Things will break while you are on the road. The best thing you can do is to plan for it as best as you can.
Take a motorcycle maintenance course to learn how to make basic repairs. Then pack a basic tool kit with the tools you need to make the most common repairs while on the road.
Inspect the Bike
Take the time to give your bike a thorough washing. This will get everything clean so that you can inspect the condition of your bike.
Look at the condition of your tires. If you are close to needing new tires, replace them before you set out on the road.
Inspect your oil. If you haven’t changed it recently, you are better off changing it before your ride.
Look at the other components such as your chain, forks, and wiring. If anything looks worn or in need of repair then make these corrections.
Check your tires and make sure they are properly inflated. Check your suspension and make sure it is properly adjusted once everything is packed on.
Look at your headlamp and make sure it is pointed in the correct direction. While you are at it, make sure that none of the gear you packed is blocking any of the lights.
Take a look at your motorcycle insurance. Make sure you know what is covered and what isn’t. You may want to add coverage for theft.
You should also look into towing and labor coverage so you are covered in the event of a breakdown while on the road. If you don’t want to buy this coverage through your insurance company, you can look for a membership program such as AAA.
Plan Your Route
Start by deciding where and when you want to go. Then you can plan out your route by choosing the roads you wish to take.
It is important to map out even the most basic of routes so you can keep yourself on a loose schedule. This is even more important if you have a specific number of vacation days off from work.
If you don’t want to plan your own route, you can select a pre-mapped one. You could pick one of the best routes for seeing fall foliage.
You could create a bucket list for yourself of the best rides from around the world. If you aren’t comfortable riding internationally, then you could stick with a bucket list of the best roads in America.
You need to bring your important documents with you. This would include your license, insurance, and membership cards such as AAA.
If you plan to cross country borders, then you need to have your passport and any required visas ready to go. Take note that it can take weeks or even months to get certain country’s visas.
If you plan to stay at hotels, then it will be helpful to know what and where your options are. You don’t need to lock yourself into reservations though.
Do a little research in advance and jot down a list of hotels and their numbers before you go. Then when you get tired and are ready to stop, you can call ahead and book a room.
If finances are a concern, booking late in the day will score you discounts. So will booking online on your laptop or smartphone.
If you plan to ride through more remote places, then you need to know where your fill up options are. Gas stations can be few and far between, so you need to know if you should bring a spare gas can.
Bonus Pro Tip
If you know what your route is and where you plan on staying in advance, you can use this to your advantage. Instead of carrying everything for your entire trip with you, ship some of it.
It will take some logistics, but pack a box with supplies and ship it to where you plan to stay along the trip. Then your equipment or gear is waiting for you when you get there.
This works well if you know the climate will change significantly during the ride. You can set out in your warm weather gear and then pick up your cold weather gear halfway through.
Be a Pro at Long Distance Motorcycle Riding
Successful long distance motorcycle riding is all about the prep work. If you can get everything prepped and ready to go, then you can be spontaneous about when and where you ride.
You need to evaluate yourself, your bike, and your plan. Make sure that everything is in peak condition for the challenge you will put them through while on the road.
Before you get out there make sure you know the rules of motorcycle etiquette.