The freedom and enjoyment of riding a motorcycle makes our senses tingle and brings out our child-like curiosities. When we ride, we become more playful and explore the places that really speak to us. No 2 motorcycle trips are the same because unique events unfold each time that aim to put a spanner-in-the-works and make a motorcycle trip a real adventure.
Most often when things start to go ‘tits up’, then the ‘adventure’, or shall we say ‘struggle, really begins. Maybe your bike sustained some damage and will need repairing. Perhaps you ended up getting yourself completely lost in the middle of nowhere. Dramatic events like these always have a habit of making our motorcycle trip more difficult and more memorable.
Some say, ‘the journey is the destination’.
Naturally, as the miles clock up on your motorcycle trip, it can be easy to make simple mistakes. A temporary lapse of concentration, a tiredness spell, most of the time they’re just minor hiccups, so you’ll be able to continue on your way.
Hopefully it never happens, but something like a terminal vehicle breakdown could mean the end of the road for your motorcycle trip altogether. Going home without being able to reach the end of your trip as you would have liked – it’s something we all have nightmares about.
So how many of these flies in the ointment can we put down to bad luck? and how many are actually caused (or at least made worse) by our own decisions?
The truth is, it’s not just those dipping their feet into the world of long distance motorcycling that make these mistakes, even the most experienced of us still make mistakes like these. So let’s take a look at the most common mistakes you want to avoid on your motorcycle trips.
You forget to eat
Riding through mealtimes or not eating any snacks while covering a lot of miles means your body doesn’t have enough energy to perform at its best.
If you sit for too many hours in the saddle and forget to eat all day, you’ll quickly start falling off a cliff – losing energy and essential brain power. If this happens while you are riding, the physical effects can make riding dangerous.
Set a preferred time you want to eat your lunch, or dinner each day and make a point of stopping to eat and rest before that time.
Carrying a good stash of snacks on your bike can give you the energy boost or mood lift that you need to keep yourself feeling 100%. Try to keep the snacks compact and in a place they wont spoil.
Now, even if you don’t manage to get yourself a meal somewhere, you’ll always have an emergency supply of food to keep you going.
You forget to drink
Often our motorcycle trips will take us to hot and cold places and demand our full attention for hours each day. Our bodies need plenty of fluids, even in cooler temperatures to perform the multitude of tasks we are doing while we ride.
By forgetting to hydrate, our decision-making abilities are compromised and it becomes harder to stay focused on the road.
There are lots of hydration systems on the market from backpacks and bladders that fit in your jacket, to bottles that are stored on your motorcycle with a straw, so that you can drink without having to stop.
They really do work, I’ve used my CamelBak on a few motorcycle trips now and it’s been a useful bit of kit to have with me. Being able to drink while you ride is a revelation, and it means there’s no chance you’ll end up with a headache from dehydration again.
You forget to rest
We go on a motorcycle trip to get out there and do something new, right? Spending time doing the things we love with complete control of our schedule is what makes us feel so free.
Sure, our time is precious, but it’s foolish to try and cram as much as you can into the time you have available. You have to remember to enjoy the quiet times too and let your body rest properly.
Travelling to new places and managing life on the road is a full-time job of sorts, it demands all of our attention and it’s easy to lose track of the bigger picture as we spend so much time living in the moments.
Make sure you factor rest days into the plan of your motorcycle trip (if you are following a plan that is!).
You pack too much stuff
Overpacking is by far the most common mistake we can make when setting-off on a motorcycle trip. It’s impossible to know what we’ll encounter on the journey, so the natural tendency is to pack things for almost any eventuality.
Almost all riders that have completed long motorcycle trips will tell you that you really don’t need half the things you think you do.
Packing light keeps your overall weight lower, which makes everything a little bit easier. The motorcycle is easier to ride, it uses less fuel and it’s easier to pick up should you happen to lay it down somewhere.
Only pack what you consider the absolute essentials and you can figure everything else out as you go along.
You pack too little
Just as overpacking is a fool’s game, underpacking can have similarly dire consequences. Nobody wants to run out of clean underwear while on a journey.
Failing to pack some all-weather clothes could leave you soggy and wet, or freezing your ass off – none of them are nice. Prepare for the worst conditions imaginable, and you’ll never get caught out.
Find a balance with your packing and always try to leave some spare carrying space.
You forget the spare key
If you don’t have a spare key for your motorcycle anyway, you can skip this one.
For those that do have a spare key for your motorcycle, you need to remember to take it along with you! It’s no use to you at home. In the event of a brainfart, or you somehow get separated from your luggage, you want to know that you can still ride away and continue.
With all the things we are carrying, it can be easy to misplace your keys. Keep the spare key somewhere that’s in your clothing and make sure you keep track of where both keys are at all times.
You don't have a backup plan
However spontaneous and unpredictable we want our motorcycle trip to be, it’s always wise to know of a safe way out if the going gets tough.
Spare cash, a credit card or another kind of emergency funding is essential for any motorcycle trip. Keep it on your person in an obscure pocket if possible, so it can’t easily fall out or be affected by the weather conditions.
A backup charging unit like a powerbank, or USB charging ports on your motorcycle are a great way of making sure you don’t end up stranded without hope of rescue.
Always make a point of learning the emergency number for the country you are in, whether its 911, 999 or 112, keep it in mind should you need any emergency assistance.
You run out of fuel
We’ve all been there, you’re enjoying the open road, not a worry in the world when all of a sudden your bike coughs, splutters and grounds to a steady halt. Engulfed with worry we start looking to see if anything is broken on the motorcycle, then we ask ourselves the basic question – “do I have any fuel?”
It’s a real bummer when it happens, and it’s bound to happen if you don’t keep your fuel level in check. Keeping track of your fuel level without a fuel gauge is considerably more difficult.
Make a note of roughly how many miles or kilometres you completed, and how many litres you used after an hour of riding. This will give you a rough idea of your fuel consumption and hopefully prevent any surprises.
Be mindful of entering very remote areas where fuel might be scarce, and if need be, carry some spare fuel in a safe container.
Now you’ve got a good understanding of what common mistakes are made, you’re better prepared to keep clear of them. The key to a fun and fulfilling motorcycle trip is not worrying about the things you can’t change, live in the moment and just enjoy yourself.
Comment if you have any other useful tips you’d like to share with everyone that’ll help us have a smoother ride on our next motorcycle trip.
See you on the road.