Tuesday, February 14, 2017

7 Mistakes to avoid when traveling by Motorcycle

For anyone who has ridden a motorcycle there is no doubt that this particular mode of travel is different than planes, trains and automobiles. You're in the scene rather than just watching it.

And when it comes to traveling by motorcycle beyond just day trips, that too becomes an adventure all on it's own. If you're new to life behind bars, or planning your first long weekend ride or even riding across a couple of states, here's the mistakes you are going to want to avoid:

  1. Not Babying Your Baby: It should be obvious that the better you take care of your bike, the better your bike will take care of you. Routine maintenance is highly recommended - and the back of your Harley-Davidson owner's manual will tell you when & what will be done. But, before heading out on a journey, especially if you skip
    So that's what that noise was....
    the routine, schedule your bike to get actual, no-shit service done at the dealer (because we know your bike best). Out on a long road trip, a few hundred miles from home, is not the time to find out your oil pump just pumped it's last and have your motor seize up. Because you wanted to spend large wads of cash now that you're stuck on the side of the road, right?
  2. May the Road Rise to meet you: When you're riding a motorcycle you are using your entire body to control the vehicle - right hand for front brake, right foot for rear brake, left foot to shift the bike through the gears, left hand that works the clutch, and your weight as you lean through the curves. You can see why someone might easily get tired out riding a motorcycle for 100+ miles
    With the right Riding Gear you can
    compared to driving a car. Try to have a goal in mind as to how many miles/hours you want to ride, but don't hold yourself to it. If you don't feel comfortable riding any longer, stop for the night. Pushing yourself beyond your body's limits while riding a motorcycle is never a good idea.
  3. Advance Reservations: With that in mind, don't make hotel reservations ahead of time, no matter what kind of deal you find. You never know when you might have to stop! I got stuck in traffic for hours on a very hot day and that, combined with the heat coming off the bike, led to a royal migraine. Even though I was only 75 miles from my goal and plenty of daylight left, I was DONE. The good news - you can still find great deals thanks to all the apps (Kayak, Priceline, etc.) that have the "room for tonight" feature. If you do make reservations in advance, be sure to check their cancellation policy.
  4. Bigger not always better: There are plenty of sites that will tell you what to pack and how to pack it onto your bike. The main key to remember is you don't want to take it all. At first I used to bring travel size shampoo & conditioners, but now I leave them home since almost every hotel has
    My bike on the Maine Coast
    them already in the room. Be sure to bring any prescription medicine you
    might need. Remember my migraine? Good thing I took my prescription pain meds even though I only use them every once in a while. Don't forget you'll want to leave room on your bike to bring back those souvenirs!
  5. Forgetting "you are what you eat": You've been riding since 7am and logged over 200 miles. You've only had orange juice and a cinnamon roll.... now both you and your bike are running on empty - time to stop and refuel. You might be tempted to devour half the menu but I'm here to suggest to go lightly. Have a wrap versus a triple-patty burger, or a grilled chicken sandwich instead of the fried chicken meal. When you eat a big, heavy meal then your digestive system is going to
    Leave the greasy, heavy foods for dinner.
    be working on getting that through your body, which can overtax you. Eat small meals, stay hydrated with water, tea or juice, and save the big meal for dinner once you've stopped. Another rule when I'm long-distance traveling: I don't eat at any place we have back home. Look for restaurants that aren't local to you - either chain or mom & pop owned. That way the trip is even more memorable.
  6. Didn't do the homework: You might have been out of school for a few years now, but you still have homework to do before taking off on a motorcycle trip! Inform your bank & credit card companies that you'll be traveling to avoid getting your cards shut off. Check with your cell phone provider so you don't rack up overages. Decided to take the
    I took the road less traveled,
    now I don't know where I am!
    back roads & now you're lost with no cell service? Get motorcycle maps for the area you're riding in. Riding to Nova Scotia? Check the requirements to get into Canada AND back. We once had a couple of guys intent on seeing the beautiful Canadian coast - they brought their birth certificates to get into Canada, but to get back into the U.S. they needed a passport or enhanced DL - oops! Also, you might want to get travel insurance in case you get stranded.
  7. Focused on your End Game: When you go, go with an open mind, not one set for certain experiences that have to happen. Because when your expectations don't become your reality, you can get upset and it's just not worth it. Plus you'll be missing out on what actually is happening and that's no fun at all.
The 2017 Riding Season is almost upon us and one of
My bike in Gettysburg, PA
my resolutions is to ride more miles than I did last year. To be sure I'll be doing at least one long distance ride, if not two!

Do you have any travel mistakes to avoid that I missed? Let me know in the comments below.