As someone who’s travelled by motorcycle from Hyderabad to places such as Hampi and Mumbai, I know how tiring a road trip on two wheels can be. Wind and bugs constantly smack you in the chest, you feel sweaty and claustrophobic inside the very helmet that’s meant to save your life, and other vehicles tend to pay you little or no attention. For road trippers travelling by motorbike, the onus of survival is squarely on us. That’s why it’s paramount that we prepare and execute such journeys with a level head. Check out these tips to make your two-wheeled expedition as safe and enjoyable as possible.
Plan the trip around your limits - Knowing what you’re capable of is the first step. Follow this up by sticking to these limits. If you know you can do 500 kilometres a day, don’t plan an itinerary where you have to travel twice that distance. Even the most seasoned riders know that daily mileage drops with every day, so account for this, too.
Maintain a decent pace - The road-carver seeking to make the fastest time across a canyon road is less likely to enjoy the stunning views around him. He’s also going to tire much more quickly than riders who travel at a leisurely pace.
Skip the stimulants - Caffeine and other drugs that stimulate the nervous system can give you an immediate energy boost, but the crash is likely to have you too tired to go any further. Try to avoid cigarettes, too.
Preparation is the key - Get your motorcycle serviced at least a week before you hit the road. Even the best mechanics can make mistakes, and you don’t want to encounter carburettor problems in the middle of nowhere. In addition, don’t experiment with vehicle modifications or new accessories on a long trip.
Warmth is underrated - After riding all day in 38° heat, night temperatures of even 30° can send a shiver down your spine. If you plan on riding at night, invest in an electric vest that will keep you warm once the sun goes down.
Pack for the road - Be sure to pack some aspirin, pain relief spray/balm, anti-nausea medication, antacids, eye and nose lubricant, a first aid kit and small chocolate bars. These and other critical components of a riding pack should ensure that you can overcome most mind- or body-related issues without having to search for help.
Prevent boredom - The moment you get caught up in the drone of the road, you’ve lost the first battle in the war for maintenance of concentration. Music can be a lifesaver, adding flavour and imagination to what could be an otherwise-boring ride.
To go faster, just stop - When you notice yourself struggling to maintain speed, take it as a sign that you need some rest. Don’t be afraid to take breaks whenever your body demands it. Instead of guzzling coffee, try to get some shut-eye. Even better, walk around and get some oxygen back in your brain.
Maintain a strong mentality - Remain positive, and half your job is done. Waiting for something bad to happen or worrying about potential pitfalls is the quickest path to self-defeat. Instead, appreciate the landscapes and vistas you ride past. Live for the ride, not some worst-case scenario.
If you can’t eat right, eat light - The best way to approach the food aspect of a road trip is with oatmeal, toast and eggs for breakfast. Skip lunch in favour of a light snack, such as fruit and maybe a bit of chocolate. Dinner should be high in carbohydrates and sodium to compensate for lost energy. If you can’t find the right foods, at least keep a strict check on portion sizes. Overeating is a quick ticket to feeling drowsy.
Drink plenty of fluids - Staying hydrated is one of the toughest parts of a road trip. CamelBak manufactures some of the best-designed hydration packs that let you sip as you ride. Without adequate water, you’ll tire much more quickly.
Be prepared to stop - You might need to hit the brakes at short notice, whether for a clueless person or a wayward animal. The vehicle ahead of you might have an accident, or there may be a police checkpoint. There are a dozen reasons why you’ll need to stop quickly on the highway, and you should be prepared for them all.
Watch out for trucks - Maintain a safe distance from lorries and trailers. Whatever you do, do NOT travel directly behind them. Because of highway robberies, truck drivers tend to focus so much on tailgaters that they stop paying attention to anything else. Another scenario is a burst tyre, which can cause the truck’s mud flap to come flying toward you at 100 kmph.
Ditch the distractions - Mental and emotional irritants can sap much-needed stamina. Set aside any personal worries or concerns until you finish the trip. If you can’t, perhaps you’re better off staying away from the highway until things are sorted to your liking. You need to be able to focus 100% on the ride at hand.