How to Prepare for your First Road Trip or Long Journey - Rookie to Rider 10 by Courtney
Rookie to Rider Series by Courtney
The Rookie to Rider series is written by experienced rider Courtney, who first-hand has faced the many challenges and fantastic experiences that two wheels has to offer. The series aims to help all riders improve their skills and get more out of life on two wheels.
The tenth part of the Rookie to Rider Series can be found below. Enjoy!
Planning your first big bike trip can be exciting… and a little overwhelming. There are so many things to think about that sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. Once you’ve settled on your destination, it’s time to think about how you’re going to get there – safely and comfortably.
Planning the Journey
To start, you’re going to need to plan your route. This is worth spending a little time on by doing some research. Do you want to get there as quickly as possible via motorways and leave the exploring for once you get there? Or, do you want to take the scenic route? Are there any great stops or must-sees along the way?
Once you’ve got an idea of the route you’re taking, you can then start to plan your fuel and accommodation stops. Don’t overexert yourself by trying to pack too many miles into one day or a single stretch of riding. Putting miles on the bike is physically exhausting and you don’t want to be riding tired. Allow plenty of breaks and maybe make a point of staying for a snack or coffee with each petrol stop. If you’re riding with friends then find out the smallest tank capacity of the group to make sure you’ve planned enough fuel stops.
Decide ahead of time how you’re going to navigate. It could be worth investing in a GPS for motorbikes ahead of the trip, or if you’re good with map reading and the route is relatively simple, you could plan it out on a map ahead of time. In the past, I’ve occasionally just stuck some basic instructions on my fuel tank for a new journey – but for a longer trip, a satnav is definitely worth the investment.
Preparing the Bike
Long journeys can be tough on the bike too, and you’ll be sure to regret it if you don’t do a bit of motorcycle maintenance before the trips commences. So:
- Check and inflate your tyres. This should be a must before any ride, but is especially important for a long journey or road trip. Check their condition as well as the pressure, inflate them if needed and also look at the tread depth. If the tyres are starting to look worn, it’ll be worth changing them before the trip to ensure your bike is in safe condition for the long journey ahead.
- Check your chain/drive belt & cables. Check the condition of your drive belt or chain. If your bike has a chain then make sure it is lubricated. Also do a check on your brake and throttle cables.
- Top up fluids and clean filters where needed. Check all your fluids and oils are topped up and check the filters are clean.
A small “service” on the bike ahead of the trip can make a huge difference in keeping you safe on the road and to help avoid getting stranded at the side of it when your bike breaks down unexpectedly!
It’s vital to bring a toolkit, but also consider bringing some spares, extra oil and maybe even your breakdown cover details (just in case!).
If you’ve never done a long journey before, it’s worth getting some practice miles in before the trip to help you get an idea of your daily mileage limit. Many hours and long days of riding will exhaust your body, and give you a true understanding of the term “iron butt”!
It’s important to stay hydrated, and to make sure you keep your energy levels up with good snacks – the kind that won’t give you a sugar crash 30 minutes down the road!
It’s also just as important to be prepared for all weather conditions – wet socks and cold hands make for a miserable road trip. Check the weather ahead of time but even if you’re expecting sun, you won’t regret packing some waterproofs, extra glove liners, neck and face warmers just to be on the safe side.
Below are some of the essentials you will need for a bike trip. In my experience, it’s better to bring the necessities while still “packing light” and to invest in some great saddlebags, a tank bag and a sissy bar to strap things on to. Avoid taking a backpack or anything that will affect your posture and comfort on the trip.
- Your most comfortable helmet, plus a clear and a dark visor
- Protective clothing for hot weather: sunglasses, summer gloves, a light ventilated protective jacket
- Protective clothing for cold and wet weather: waterproofs or rain suit, waterproof winter riding gloves and/or thermal glove liners, thermal layers, neck and face warmer, warm socks, waterproof boots
- Reflective jacket if planning to ride at night
- Smartphone, satnav and chargers/battery pack (plus a roadmap)
- Driving licence, details of insurance and breakdown cover
- Cash/credit card/passport
- Water and snacks such as energy bars
- Chain lubricant and cleaner, visor cleaner, spares
- A torch
- Tie-downs/bungee straps, zip ties and gaffer tape
- Camping equipment (if required)
- Toilet paper (just in case you’re caught short!)
- First aid kit
- Any usual trip essentials such as clothing, toothbrush and toothpaste etc.
Oh, and also bring a great attitude and spirit for adventure! As with all road trips, not everything will go to plan, but that’s all part of the fun! Enjoy it if you get a little lost – sometimes you find the best roads that way. Soak up the freedom and independence of being out in the great outdoors on the open road – this is probably what you dreamed of when learning to pass your motorcycle test and, from my experience, is one of the greatest and most exciting parts of riding a motorbike.
Read more of the Rookie to Rider Series by Courtney: