Bring the stuff you think you'll need, but remember stores exist!
If you’re anything like us here at RideApart, you’ll take any opportunity to ride a motorcycle somewhere instead of using pretty much any other form of transportation. But how far have you ridden, and are you used to riding by yourself? If you’re staring your first long solo trip in the face, you will probably want to do a little pre-trip preparation.
Map Your Trip
The first thing I always do is hop on my favorite mapping software and see what kind of challenges and opportunities the journey might present. How far away is the destination, and where are some good stopping points along the way? Are there any major cities to be strategically avoided, or any interesting destinations along the route that shouldn’t be missed? This is true especially if your adventure is a fly-and-ride. If you’re not familiar with the area, sometimes winging it will get you caught up in a commuter traffic nightmare.
Get some suggestions from other riders you know about what to see, and what to avoid. Folks regularly pop up in the online groups I’m in, to ask about routes, sights and not-to-be-missed roads. Locals are generally more than happy to share their “secret roads” with you and help you avoid any snarls.
Paper maps, while some folks find them horribly antiquated, just can’t be beat when you’re looking to cover long distances. You may find yourself needing a good level of detail paired with a good sense of context about where you are and where you’ll be going. Even if you run a GPS and have created routes for it for your whole trip, you will never regret having paper maps along for reference.
How's Your Timing?
Make sure you’re setting reasonable expectations for the miles you’ll cover every day. Extrapolate from the shorter trips you’ve done, to predict where you’ll want to stop for the night. If you’ll need to ride after dark, take that into consideration when you’re prepping your helmet, and make sure you have a clear visor packed.
Speaking of which, packing is key. Check the weather forecast to make sure you’re bringing appropriate clothing and gear. Always bring rain gear, no matter what the forecast says. You might not get wet but a rain suit helps to block cold wind, too! Outfitting your bike with appropriate luggage will make packing much easier. Remember to keep all the “stuff” on your bike as low and forward as possible. A towering pile of crap behind and above your rear axle will make your bike handle very poorly!
Even if you’re the kind of rider who doesn’t want to plan, and just wants to hop on the bike and ride, you will probably want to bring some stuff along with you, like a set of tools that will handle any problems that crop up. A tire plug kit or a spare tube, depending on your motorcycle, will never be out of place. Used creatively, zip-ties, duct tape, a rag, and some cotter pins will get you out of a whole lot of scrapes. If you might have larger problems, printing out a list of dealers or independent motorcycle mechanics along your route will be time well spent, especially if yours is an older bike.
Finally, think about the folks you’re leaving behind when you embark. If you’d rather your loved ones do not worry about you, a personal tracker isn’t a bad idea. You may think that you’ll check in by cell, but lots of this country has no cell coverage. A tracker is satellite-based and never “out of range.” There are several on the market that will note your location on a web-based map accessible by the folks to whom you’ve granted the password. Several will also send a warning beacon to your emergency contact if it looks like you’ve stayed in one place far too long, since that might mean you’ve had some kind of mishap.
How else do you prepare for a long trip by yourself, friends? What have been your must-haves, and what have you found to be a priceless addition to your trip?