Take Your Motorcycle on a (Really) Long Distance Road Trip

Tip #214 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

touring motorcycles on the road

Every two years, the aptly named “Ironbutt” race takes place in the U.S over eleven days and 11,000 miles (17,700 km). Riders must hit a series of checkpoints in a very tight timeframe. Why does this matter to you, if you never plan to subject yourself to this kind of fun? Well, these folks know about surviving a really long ride. Here are some of their key hints.

KNOW YOUR LIMITS If the longest you've ever ridden is 250 miles (400 km), don't plan on a string of 1000-mile (1600-km) days. Eliminate all irritants. Something that's a minor annoyance can finish you off after that great a distance.

BE PREPARED Prepare your bike before the trip. We're all short of time, but if you can't get your bike right before you start, on the road is no place to try and make repairs. Don't make any big repairs or changes (accessories) just before the trip. Upgrade your tool kit... and join a towing service, just in case.

BE SAFE Forget about high speeds. Slow and steady wins this race. And really, really, really forget about drugs. Not even coffee. If you're tired, stop. Get into your rain suit before it starts raining. Get gas before you need it. Never ride faster than you can stop. Stay away from long-haul trucks.

GEAR UP Pack wisely. Less truly is more in this race. Keep the things that you will need easy access to (flashlight, eyeglasses) in a tank bag where you can reach them with a minimum of trouble. Do make room for an electric vest, though. Carry a flat-repair kit and know how to use it.

REST RIGHT Know when to stop. Tired? Pull over now! And remember, it's often the case that a rest stop can make you go faster.

BE HEALTHY If you can't eat right, at least eat light. Be sure to stay hydrated, and when outside of well-populated areas, carry at least a half gallon (2 liters) of water. Carry vitamins and aspirin, too.

BE AWARE Be careful crossing county lines. Road maintenance can change quickly when one county runs out of money. That nice two-laner can become a potholed mess within a few short moments.