It may sound like a soap-opera line but... there’s a time in every rider’s life when he or she has to go for a long distance trip (and by ‘long distance’ we mean several hundreds of kilometers/miles). Though many of you might think that there’s not much of a difference between daily commuting to work or back home and long distance riding, the truth is that the latter involves hours of preparation and plenty of rules to follow. Aside of arriving live and well at your destination, the basic goal of a long distance riding trip is also to test time, distance and physical endurance while riding a motorcycle. Know yourself, your limits, and the bike’s.
If the destination is already known, then you can move on with the route planning and make list of useful stuff that you should take with you. Taking it one step at a time is for the best. Once you know the route you’ll be following, check the weather and document on the gas stations and food stops.
Now it’s time to pack. First things first... The budget. Make sure it will cover all of your expenses and then some. Then, upgrade your tool kit, though hopefully you won’t need any. Ask for a mechanic on the basic tools you should carry with you. Then get a map, a first aid kit, a visor cleaning gear, a tire pressure gauge, a bike cover and earplugs. These are a must have. The rest depends on each rider. Also, make sure you get plenty of sleep before the ride, have a decent meal and hydrate yourself.
Well, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure this out: it has to be reliable and most importantly, your own and not a borrowed one. For a somehow safe trip it is recommended to go with your own bike, or if not, get to know the bike first. You have to be able to handle the bike, to know how it’s braking, the tires adherence to the road, that expendables’ status, etc. In fact, it’s for the best to have the bike serviced. Once you’ve got this done, you should also consider taking a second look at the tires, brakes, lights, chain, oil and, of course, the fuel level. We are sure you don’t want to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere...
Your life depends on whether the tires stick to the road or not, so they should be in a good condition; so make sure that you have enough tread on them and check the pressure once again.
A second opinion from an experienced fellow biker wouldn’t hurt... Just as we said, the brakes and the lights have to be in perfect working order and checked for faults. The chain has to be correctly adjusted and lubricated and you might want to get the lubricant with you... just in case. And finally, check for any oil leaks around the filter.
Well, since the bike is ready to hit the road, let’s get you ready as well. The most important thing is to make sure that you have all the necessary stuff to keep yourself warm, safe and dry. Leather needs to be clean and protected with wax or dubbin and textile gear should be cleaned and waterproofed. Some argue on whether you should have leather or textile gear, but honestly, is all about your personal comfort and protection.
Also recommended are a number of thin layers that can be added or removed to help maintain a comfortable temperature. Depending on the weather, you should have some polypropylene shirt and pants, a thermal shirt, a polar fleece top or a polar fleece neck warmer. Ear protection is also something you should have with you for when riding a bike at open road speeds. It helps reduce the wind noise, as well as fatigue. As for the gloves, cold, wet or overheated fingers can be a cause of losing control of your ride, so you should have a pair that keeps away from all that. Helmet visors need to be clean and scratch free. You should also apply a rain repellant product to the outside of the visor and have an anti-fog insert on the inside. Moving on to the boots, waterproof, comfort and protection is all you need to have in mind.
On the Road
You planned the route, the budget, you packed, the bike is ready and as well are you. Therefore, there is no reason for you not to get moving. Since you are mentally and physically prepared, you should only be stopping for food and refreshment, refueling or to stretch regularly. Don’t push your limits, stay away from junk food and drink plenty of fluids.