The key to successful long distance riding, whether going on a tour and riding 300 miles a day, or a single road journey for a few hundreds miles…or even on an endurance ride…is to pace yourself and be comfortable on the bike.
Comfort comes in many forms but suffice to say wearing the right kind of clothing is key. You want to be warm but not hot. You want to have multiple layers but not too bulky that you struggle to move. You want to wear waterproofs in inclement weather but they need to be versatile enough to be packed away on the bike when not needed.
Your riding position is also another key comfort factor too. Having your handlebars and footpegs set to your body dimensions will allow your body to remain in a rested position. Your seat type and height will also be another consideration, but keep in mind…over long distances there is little that can fend off being saddle sore.
Many people will think that the best way to ride the longer distances is to get it done and dusted as soon as possible. Fight their way through traffic, ride the white knuckle ride until they reach their destination, however this couldn’t be further from what is actually required. You have to think like the tortoise, rather than the hare!
If you’re tense on a motorcycle then you will tire quickly and will be lesser agile to manipulate the controls too. Riding at speeds higher than normal for long distances will also have the same effect too.
Fatigue is a real concern for long distance riding so using wind and noise blockers will assist too. Suitable clothing, helmet and ear plugs will be the best solution, however it doesn’t necessarily follow that all rides and all riders will be affected in the same way or will have the same benefits from these barriers either…it is rather subjective in that case.
Many riders also embark on a long distance ride without any preparation either…when to their bodies or with their bikes. Practice rides are a key preparation tool that will get you used to riding longer distances and will enable you to test your motorcycle and the riding ergonomics too. You can test how you pack the bike and also which equipment works and which doesn’t. Just like packing for a holiday, you need to whittle down what you actually need and which is most useful.
Whenever you’re riding on these mammoth trips you also must factor for rest stops and usually these can coincide with fuel stops too. These are also perfect times for taking leaks, taking onboard fluids and small amounts of food…as well as stretching out the body too. I say small amounts of food because you want to remain alert whilst riding and a heavy meal will tend to draw the blood away from your brain to your digestive system…hence why you may feel sleepy after a heavy meal…so little and often is the order of the day.
After you have paced yourself, prepared for the ride and have done everything you can to remain comfortable, the only other aspect is the will power to continue on in adversity or make the correct decisions whether to continue on the ride for the day or find somewhere to rest.
Long distance riding can throw up many challenges but one of the greatest will be the internal struggle you may have with yourself when you are fighting riding pains, fatigue and discomfort. There isn’t a right or wrong answer whether you pull over or continue…however erring on the side of caution especially when you are beginning to question your decision making is probably a good sign that you need to take a rest.