Planning a Solo Motorcycle Road Trip – 9 Things to Keep in Mind
A solo motorcycle road trip will test you and reward you like nothing else on Earth. It's an opportunity to really dig into the good stuff in life. But as cool as it would feel to just get up one morning, rev up and ride off, you'll want to do some planning ahead of time to minimize the headaches and maximize the fun.
If you're itching to embark on the great adventure of a solo motorcycle trip, get some perspective first. Keep these nine key tips in mind when you're planning your trip. They'll help you take care of the details and make the preparations that will make your trip the ride of your life.
- Be aware of your limits as a rider.
How long can you ride for without getting tired? Do you have areas of your body (such as your knees or back) that give you trouble and will need extra care? What kinds of roads do you feel comfortable tackling?
It's important to be keenly aware of all of these questions before setting out on a solo motorcycle trip. Each factor will impact many decisions about how far you can ride, what roads you can ride on and more. Taking on a road trip through the twisting roads of the Rockies will require a lot of cornering skill, while riding on a busy interstate like I-95 will require great lane position management.
- Take a few practice trips first.
A solo motorcycle trip is a big commitment that you might need to work up to. Taking a few shorter and/or group trips will help you gain confidence as a long-distance solo rider. Try taking your bike to visit another city for the weekend or gather some friends to take their bikes to the beach for a few days.
When you're on these trips, notice the decisions you make and remember which ones help or hinder you. Notice the areas that you struggle in, whether as a rider or as a planner. Keep those notes in your mind for your big solo road trip so you can avoid making rookie mistakes.
- Pack smart.
You want to make sure you've got the right gear in your kit. A solo motorcycle road trip means you're carrying everything you need with you in your saddlebags, so prioritize lightweight essentials and multi-purpose items.
A typical kit for a solo trip (excluding riding gear essentials like your helmet) might include:
- Water bottle
- Healthy snacks
- First aid kit
- Tire patching kit
- Wireless phone charger
- GPS or phone mount
- Lock and security system
- Rain covers for bike and saddlebags
- Spare bulbs and fuses
Of course, everyone's kit will be a little different, so spend some time refining your list from previous road trips.
- Stay in touch.
Part of the fun of a solo road trip is the opportunity to get some breathing room and live independently, but sometimes, connection is what you need. That's why it's a good idea to bring a Bluetooth motorcycle headset system that allows you to connect your phone hands-free and make calls.
Staying in touch also means letting someone know where you're going. Leave your itinerary with a friend or family member whom you can check in with periodically to ensure that you're doing OK.
- Plan for your entertainment.
You'll probably want something to entertain you and help keep you alert if you encounter a long dull stretch of your ride. Bring a set of helmet speakers to jam out to your favorite music inside your helmet, or choose a podcast or audiobook to get some stimulation for your mind. (However, be sure to keep your mind focused on the road even when the tunes are hitting just right.)
- Take time for breaks.
Riders who ride for long distances have to be good at pacing themselves. Taking breaks is critical for motorcyclists because it allows you to stretch your legs, drink some water and have a snack. Bring some nutritious snack foods that you can munch on during a break.
Exactly how often you'll want to take a break will vary. Some riders will want one every hour, while others will be able to go for two or even three at a time. When in doubt, take the break–even if it's just a short one.
- Take care of your body.
A solo motorcycle trip can be demanding for your body since you're being buffeted by the wind for hours at a time and sitting in a position that's not always back-friendly. The following will help:
- Eat nutritiously and avoid heavy carbs that will put you into a drowsy “food coma.”
- Drink plenty of water (even if it means stopping to pee more often).
- Sit with good riding posture (which will vary depending on which type of bike you ride).
- Get plenty of sleep (see tip #9 below).
- Book your accommodations in advance.
Unlike someone driving a passenger vehicle, you don't have the last-ditch option of sleeping in your vehicle, so make sure you've got your lodging locked down well in advance. Once you include options like Airbnb, there are more lodging options available than ever, so cast a wide net and consider staying with friends if possible.
- Don't ride drowsy.
We can't say it enough: If you're tired, don't ride. Riding a motorcycle requires sustained concentration and attention to your surroundings, and riding drowsy is a quick way to get yourself and others seriously hurt.
If you notice signs of falling asleep while riding such as missing turns, drifting in your lane, yawning or mental fogginess, get off the road right away. Often, a quick stop at a gas station to stretch your legs will do the trick and get you feeling alert again.
One great thing about motorcycle road trips is that in many cases, even the bad times will make great stories someday. That's no reason to neglect your planning, though, because planning helps ensure that the good outweighs the bad.