One of my favorite motorcycle nomads is called Tim Collins, and he is an example for many of us. I regularly do long trips and am now planning a longer, international trip. While watching Tim’s videos I make mental notes, and today I decided to share one of his videos with you.
So what do you do to be comfortable on long-haul rides? I once did 12 hours in one go and I regretted it so much. My back and my wrists were destroyed and I hardly enjoyed the ride, I was only racing to reach my destination before dark. My next trip will be way more relaxed and I make sure to apply the following rules:
Always make sure your handlebars are adjusted correctly, footpegs have at the right height, and perhaps use high pegs so your feet can rest on those long stretches. Crash bars serve more than one purpose as they can often be used to rest your legs on. Make sure your bike is not too tall as you want to avoid being the idiot that cannot hold that fully loaded motorcycle at the gas station. Therefore make sure you can have flat feet in order not to embarrass yourself.
Always make sure you use gear that fits snuggly. Gloves and jacket, as well as helmet, have to fit. If too wide, you will have shavings and it protects less. Also, make sure your gear is broken in. Breaking in a helmet on a long trip will literally cause headaches. Do move around. Sit at the front of your seat, move to the back, stand up, lean forward, backward, stretch your legs while seated as well. Get off the bike every once and a while. Take a walk and make the blood flow. Also, meet people other than gas station employees. People are nice, I would go as far as to say that the people I meet make my trips worthwhile. Mexican people are probably the friendliest people in the world, I love chatting with the lady that prepares my quesadillas. I love hearing how many children and grandchildren she has.
A black leather seat can get hot and sweaty, a plastic one even more so. Tim uses a sheepskin seat cover, I considered it but don’t like the look of it. It does help to keep your butt fresh. Also, get airflow by opening your jacket and sleeves. Good motorcycle pants have an opening on the knees for that delicious breeze.
Take lots of breaks. Enjoy the scenery, historical places, beautiful landmarks. I cannot emphasize this enough; take your breaks and avoid highway brain. Your trip just gets so much better. I speak from my own experience, when you stop underway, talk to the people, eat local food, and perhaps stop somewhere to spend the night, your whole experience gets so much better. I live in Mexico and people are just so incredibly friendly.
My personal tip is to travel alone, this will make you very approachable. Tim refers to this as make emotion change your thought. Also, enjoy being alone. You will embrace the peace. This will help you stop worrying. Push your personal limits. Do something you thought you couldn’t do. Something you will be proud of. This will help you with your personal growth.
Start to pay attention to what your needs are, to what you are enjoying more than other things, you will be amazed at things that you notice about yourself that you perhaps never noticed before. Check out Tim’s video here.
“Make sure your bike is not too tall as you want to avoid being the idiot that cannot hold that fully loaded motorcycle at the gas station. Therefore make sure you can have flat feet in order not to embarrass yourself.”
There’s no hope for me being 5′ 4″ or anyone much under six feet tall. I can just about reach the ground on both sides with my tippy toes on my KTM 890 Duke R. And as seat heights creep up, I’m just relieved to get one foot flat on the ground 🙂
This is a good article for traveling. My girlfriend and I just finished an 8000 mile trip on our Can Am Spyder. We traveled an average of 178 miles per day. Obviously, some days we did far less and some we did more. Our longest though was our last day. We traveled from Chattanooga to St Augustine, (about 500 miles). We traveled to a number of National Parks that are huge like Big Bend in SE Texas, In a day there we’d drove 80 to 100 miles. Same with Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, the Escalante Staircase, and Santa Fe to Taos. Our biggest challenge in the heat of June and July (Why’d we go then? We both teach and Sherry did not get off until June 11.). We began with what I thought was a great idea—Cycle Chiller. It’s a good idea but it wouldn’t keep us cook more than 30 minutes with the best set up. Then it broke and I had no way to fix it. A fitting blew off. So we decided to pour water over ourselves. That worked far better. Especially, out west where humidity is low. We also got up early and tried to get to our motels by 1:30 or 2 PM.
Another significant challenge was services. The National Parks were challenged for help as everywhere seemed to be. Often fast food places didn’t have indoor dining due to lack of help. At Yosemite finding something other than hamburgers and pizza was meant a drive to another part of the park. I know the old saw that nobody wants to work. I think it is people woke up and decided worming for 8.50 or 9.00 per hour wasn’t worth it. Many have chosen to protect themselves and/or their children by not working in high risk environments for such low wages.
As Jasper said, breaks are important. In heat especially, finding shade or AC for a bit helps revitalize and cool down your body. Drink plenty of water, but it’s important to drink water with electrolytes regularly.