Conversations can be very informative, entertaining and at times it can completely throw you off your seat. I heard something the other night that literally did the latter. I have always enjoyed learning and reading about bike riders who go for these exhilarating road trips. A road trip on a motorbike is also on my bucket list. However, the maximum distance I could think of bikers covering is about 200-300 kms. But when I heard a friend talk about a group of passionate riders riding from Assam till China border left me dumbfounded. Of course since I was literally thrown off my seat by this piece of appalling information, on the floor dumb-founded.
Since the discussion and immense analysis on how riders survived the trip, I have been leafing through tips for long distance travel. I have come to a realization that anything is possible as long as you are ‘extensively’ prepared. Someday, I will be interviewing this group of fanatically passionate riders who made it to and fro of such a long journey and furnish a brilliantly nerve-racking story just for you. However, for now, if you are planning a long distance trip even a percent close this one – you need to be well prepared for it. That day isn’t far away when I would be interviewing you post your ‘I am speechless’ road trip.
Checklist for a long distance road trip is completely different from that of a normal 3-6 hours or even a 2 days road trip. The preparation for long distance trip, minimum 3-4 days, is way more exhaustive. There are a number of tips to follow however these few are the most significant ones that will make your ride safe, enjoyable and a lot of fun.
START OFF WITH A PLAN AND INITIAL PREPARATION:
Long distance trips don’t get planned overnight. You need to spend a decent amount of time trying to decide on the number of days, work out a proper day-to-day route, research on homestays or hotels where you will be spending the halt or twilight hours. You need to pre-book the hotels in advance. Get your documentation work done – medicines, medical certificates, inspection documents for bikes, hotel confirmation papers etc.
INSPECTION AND SERVICING OF BIKES
Inspect the bikes days before travel and ensure to give it for servicing if required. The bike should be in a 100 percent working order. Getting it serviced before the trip can be a smart decision. Servicing will ensure that these crucial things are done – fluids changed, valves calibrated, fuel system cleaned, electrical system checked, bulbs changed and tires checked. This will help in avoiding any mishaps on the way. Since it’s a long trip it is best to be 200% prepared.
Make sure the tank is completely filled before you start the journey.
THE RIGHT GEAR FOR A LONGER TRIP
Gear such as helmet and jacket is important whenever you ride a bike. However, for longer trips you need to be more precautious and dress yourself with a full motorcycle safety gear. Apart from a full-face helmet you need proper bike clothing with armor inserts. Riding on highways can be very noisy hence earplugs are a must. Carrying a few pairs can be very helpful. Opting for bright and visible jacket during longer bike trips will offer a better protection. Ensure that it’s a cozier fit to avoid any distress when it’s windy or raining. All of this may feel uncomfortable in the beginning but you will get used to it. Plus, this gear is going to keep you safe.
There are other gear options that you can carry with you – extra gloves, cooling neck wrap, heated riding suit, protective eyewear, waterproof luggage, few tools like air pumps, flashlights, cable ties, duct tape, Swiss army knife et al.
PACK WHAT YOU NEED BUT BE SMART ABOUT IT
Yes, there are quite a few things to carry however you need to be smart when choosing what to pack. No matter how many days you are going to be on the road, you will be wearing the motorcycle gear so packing clothes that you won’t need is quite unnecessary. Only carrying what is required shall ensure your bag is light and doesn’t make the bike heavy. The heavier the bike, the more difficult it will be to ride it and will tire you out more easily.
BE PREPARED FOR CHANGING SEASONS
Global warming is catching up on us and it is impacting weather conditions in the most dramatic ways. For bike riders it can get extremely uncomfortable and more so when they travel long distance. They have to mount the changing weather conditions from cold, hot to rainy. Preparing for these experiences becomes even more essential. Wear or carry vented and waterproof jacket, gloves, ankle length bike boots – these will keep you protected.
TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS
After riding for hours one can feel drained out and lose the required focus needed to continue with a safe and fun bike ride. A lot of concentration is needed to stay aware, focused and vigilant during the ride. A good rest in the night and regular breaks will keep you physically and mentally active to not just ride mechanically but to also enjoy every moment.
CAREFUL WITH YOUR EATING HABITS
Eating light no matter which meal during the bike ride is essential. Overeating can cause fatigue and digestive distress. Heavy meals take a longer time to digest directly affecting your energy levels. To get even more realistic, you might have to go without washroom for hours. One of the biggest challenges with Indian roads is that toilets are not available at every stop. To ensure that light meals don’t make you weak, carrying snack items like energy bars that you can eat as and when you feel hungry.
HYDRATION IS VITAL
Staying hydrated is even more crucial for bike riders. Dehydration can be tremendously dangerous as it can make one lose concentration; give stomach issues and can even make you faintish. It is a very hazardous situation for any rider to deal with especially when traveling alone. They need to keep themselves hydrated throughout – so take out that couple of minutes to drink (only water please) and drive.
TIME AND SPEED RULES
Riding in the night can be unsafe and quite risky. The dim lights on roads can make it hard for you to maneuver through and make it even harder for you to be spotted. In India, at night, you will be riding amidst the huge trucks. It gets very difficult to spot the obstacles and low visibility won’t make the ride enjoyable at all. The rider should start off early mornings max by 8 am and end the day by evening, before it gets dark. After all they need a good night’s sleep to ride the next day.
You are not running a marathon. You don’t get a trophy if you reach your destination a few hours early or before others. So go slow. The two things that is most important during the road trip – safety and the whole experience of enjoying everything around you. Riding without a speed limit will get you tired more quickly.
ALWAYS KEEP BUFFER DAYS
Road trip is all about exploration, adventure and thrills. Keeping a planned everyday route is required but you might have emergencies or a day in between when you might want to take complete rest. Having buffer days will not interfere with your mind and you will be able to customize the trip as per your requirement.
LASTLY, BE PREPARED FOR EMERGENCIES
There is a sense of mystery when you go on long road trips. You don’t know what you might end up discovering. It is not possible to be prepared for everything that might happen. However, some basics need to be taken care of. Be sure to carry things like first aid kit, medicines, basic tool kit incase your bike needs repair and other emergency items you may need.
No matter what you encounter make sure to remain calm. Getting frenzied or paranoid about a situation won’t help in resolving it. Stay calm and work your way out.
As long as you are prepared with the above, you should be able to handle anything. There is a reason you want to taste the thrill of an adventure. Keep that passion alive.
Ontrack, a monthly bike rental company, is transforming the travel culture by offering two-wheelers for rent on a monthly basis. They offer a wide range of bikes and you can choose one that is comfortable and fits your persona. Connect with our executives to know more about our bike hire services.