Saturday, November 17, 2012

Long Trips, courtesy of MSF

Long Trips
Taking Care of Your Bike, Taking Care of You
For multi-day trips not only do you need to prep and inspect your motorcycle to ensure it’s up to the task, but you need to assess your own condition. Motorcycling requires more mental focus and is more physically demanding than driving, so fatigue is a valid concern and a real threat to safety. This is especially true if you’re riding alone.

Maintaining a basic exercise routine in the weeks leading up to your ride will help prepare you. Focus on your arms and hands, since they’ll be doing most of the work. Push-ups or weight lifting (with light weights) for your arms and using a traditional V-shaped spring-loaded grip exerciser or rubber ball for your hands will help. And if you’re prone to carpal tunnel syndrome (characterized by painful wrist inflammation), which can be triggered by holding the throttle open and gripping the handlebars for extended periods, remember to bring any required medicines or dietary supplements. Just be sure they don’t affect your ability to operate “heavy machinery.”

While riding, wear comfortable safety gear, maintain good posture and, if your saddle allows, change your seating position occasionally so your spine doesn’t get locked into one position and your “bottom end” doesn’t go numb. Getting plenty of sleep each night during your trip is essential for both physical and mental stamina. When you’re on the road, take a short break every hour or so. Find a safe place to park and stretch. Close your eyes to give them a break. Take a long lunch break. Eating a light, protein-rich meal and avoiding caffeine and sugar-laden desserts will help prevent a mid-afternoon energy lull. Have frequent healthy snacks and drink plenty of water. Wear hearing protection, since constant wind and engine/exhaust noise can hasten your fatigue, in addition to the obvious risk to your hearing.

Finally, don't assume you can ride hundreds of miles a day, day after day. You should start off with a shorter day, and build up the daily duration only if your brain and body say “Hey, we’re fine with this, give us more!”

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