So often it happens that you wanna go on a motorbike ride but you don’t have a group or a friend willing to accompany you. Your friends are too bogged down with professional or personal commitments to get their ass on the saddle and leave you muttering, “Losers!!!” under your breath. And that is the right time to take it to the next level by riding solo. Solo motorcycle tours can be a lot of fun and will make it easier for your to get off the beaten path. However, since you’re the lone ranger, I also advise you to take a bit of extra caution. From the numerous longs miles I’ve tread alone, here are few tips for a solo motorbike ride to keep you safe and have lots of fun at the same time
Keep your family and friends informed!
Once your ride begins, keep your family informed daily. Give them a call before you start the ride for the day and tell them where you’re headed to. Call them ( or text) again to let them know you’re ok after you stop ends for the day.If you know that over the next few days, you are going to be somewhere remote and telephone/internet connectivity might be a problem, let them know. Nothing makes your family worry more than their child (or a spouse) from whom they have heard nothing for a day or two. Especially, when that person is travelling alone.
Along with your parents, let a friend know as well – preferably one of your regular riding buddies. A simple text updating your ride status 2-3 times a day should do. In case, of an untoward incident or a mishap, a family is bound to get panicky. But a rider friend will keep a cool head and will use his rider/ traveller instincts help you get out of the mess you land up in. Let your family also know who that person is.
Inspect your bike every morning
Checking your bike to make sure there are no mechanical issues is a must on motorbiking tours. It becomes all the more so when you’re on your own. Becuase if something goes wrong in the middle of a ride with friends, you have them to ride to the next town and find a mechanic or a spare part to fix it. But while riding alone you have to sort everything out yourself. Check the tires, the tire pressure, if the brake and clutch levers and pads are all ok. Check the ground where you parked for any oil stains from leaks. Before you head out for the day do a test run for a kilometre or two and pay attention to anything unusual in the bike’s performance.
When I used to go on group rides, my buddies and I were over cautious and ended up overpacking. And I carried this tendency even on my solo rides. Thinking now that I’m travelling alone I have to be even more cautious. However a few rides down the years I realized, I didn’t use half the stuff I carried. You’ll realize something similar as well. Ditch those books you think you’ll need because you won’t have anyone to talk to. Carry a kindle instead. 1 pair of riding clothes and 2 pairs to wear when not riding should be enough. Travelling light makes it easy to unpack and repack and also you tend to lose less stuff due to oversight.
Clock lesser miles
Group dynamics in a ride often help all the riders in achieving greater distance than they planned. Cracking jokes, sharing ride experiences, fooling around at every break will keep the weariness away for a long time. Also sometimes there are two riders (pillion and the rider) to a bike and that helps in sharing the ride distance. But when you riding alone it’s a different ballgame. Tiredness will set in easily. And trust me, after riding a long patch of pathetically bumpy roads when you get off your saddle, if you do not have a fellow rider to share your sorrows, your butt hurts more.
Therefore do not try to attempt the same things that you did on a group ride. If you covered 1000kms over 2 days in a group ride, while riding solo make it 3 days if not 4. If you feel sleepy, take a power nap! If it still does not work, call it off for the day. Relax and start afresh the next day.
Eat and drink right
Eating alone while travelling can be boring affair. I get it. At the same time, when you’re crusing along the roads and enjoying everybit of it. pulling over for lunch or snack just breaks the momentum. You might feel like skipping meals at such times. I’ve been there too. But set regular times to eat and stick to it. Just like you’d do at home. Avoid fast foods or heavy meals or anything that makes you feel drowsy or sleepy. Eat fresh fruits or salads for lunch to avoid that feeling during the afternoon. Instead load up on breakfast for that all-day lasting energy. My usual formula is a loaded breakfast in moderation, a light lunch and a decent dinner and a banana or an apple somehwere in between. And most importantly, drink lots of water throughout your ride.
Start early and finish early
I might not always follow this when riding with friends but while alone. I follow this religiously. I start around 7 am and by 3 pm I already start keeping an eye out for a nice hotel or a place to camp. By starting early you get some fantastic weather, great views because of the ambient light, and relatively lesser traffic. And finishing a couple of hours before sun down gives enough time to find a hotel , have a little walk around or swim.
Exercise or do some physical activity
I’m not asking you to go full steam in the gym or a fitness center while travelling. But long hours of sitting on the saddle can make you feel sore, if you’re not flexible enough. Stretch for 3-4 minutes everytime you take a break on a ride day. Once you’re done for the day, go for walks around the town. If there is an oppurtunity for a swim in your hotel, or a nearby river, lake or a beach, go for it. Nothing refreshes you at the end of a day on your steed like a nice swim
Keep an eye on milestones and signposts
Always keep an eye on milestones or signposts enroute. Of course, it helps you know if you’re on track and updates you about the distance and directions for the destination of the day (excuse the alliteration. Totally unintended) But more importantly, many a times the signpost has some imformation that might not be mentioned in your maps or navigation decice. A detour towards a beautiful waterfall or numbers for nearest garage or who to call in case of a break-down. Jot them down somewhere and share it with fellow rider after the ride or just update the online information on Google Maps or your navigation device
ID and In Case of Emergency(ICE) details
Always keep an ID with you and a list of ICE numbers. Your driving license should serve you well for the ID purpose. Keep another form of ID if you can as a precautionary measure. Have a list of In Case of Emergency details with you. This can be in form of a card or a piece of paper that is easily accesible or even custom dog tags. Mention your address, phone numbers, blood group, contact numbers of at least 3 individuals who should be contacted in case of an emergency. Keep this on you all the time.
Because of mobile phones, we no longer store phone numbers in a non-digital format. And we have lost the skill of remembering the numbers by heart. Imagine if your phone runs out of battery or worst, losing your phone! Be clever and keep a small piece of paper in your wallet with details of your close contacts and take care not to lose it.
Avoid riding after dark
Riding at night can be fun. I’ve done it and I’ve enjoyed those rides a lot. However, I also know when to avoid it. If I’m riding solo, I never ride after the sun goes down. Imagine a situation. It’s 2 in the morning and you’re on some dark and lonely highway. And unfortunately, you have a flat tyre. What do you do?. I’m not saying, it’s impossible to get the situation sorted. But it definitely makes the situation a lot more complicated than you expect. An unfortunate incident like this subsequently impacts your ride schedule for the next few days adversely. So avoid riding after sun down
Entertain yourself while riding
All said and done, there will be moments or hours or even days when riding alone can get really boring. Therefore you have to get creative and entertain yourself while riding. There are people who listen to music on their phones but I don’t receommend it for reasons of safety. What I do is sing myself instead. Or count the number of two wheelers from my city or state when I’m on the highway. Or count the number of cars with dogs in them. Or something else. Whatever silly thing that catches your fancy.
Get friendly with the locals
A solo motorbike ride can also get pretty boring at times. However, if you are riding solo, breaking the ice becomes easier. People themselves will approach you to talk to you about your travels. Generally, when in the group, people let the group enjoy on their own. But I have observed that the locals are more welcoming when you are alone. That old man on the petrol pump will tell you a history about the highway and the resultant development. He will also give you pointers on road conditions ahead. Or he’ll tell you a detour that no one knows about. Get friendly, click a few pictures with them and share the same with them. People will recognize you the next time you pass by the same road.
Entertain yourself and have fun
Along with the tips for a solo motorbike ride, it is important to pack right. Do that and you will have an enjoyable motorbiking journey to remember for a lifetime. The most important aspect of travels (with, without or in spite of a motorbike) is that it offers us a chance to get to know different people, their habits, values, and traditions. While travelling with a group we often forget that while enjoying within our group. Solo riding (travelling) helps us in getting closer. At the same time, it lets us also discover a lot of our strengths, weakness. Shatters some of our age-old beliefs about ourselves and teaches us some skills that we never had before.
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