July 27 2010 by Jason Fogelson
I love a nice long ride on my motorcycle. Over the years, I have gotten smarter about how far I go on any given day. I'm also in better touch with my body and my motorcycle, which really helps. If you're interested in taking long rides on your bike, I've got a few tips that may help make your riding more enjoyable, safe and fulfilling.
You're a good rider. I'm going to skip over the obvious stuff, like wearing the right gear, making sure that your motorcycle is in top condition, and getting enough rest before your rides.
The best tip I can offer right off the bat is to stay hydrated. I try to drink at least 8 ounces of water every hour that I'm riding. I drink water before I start my day, and I drink water at every stop. After breakfast time, I avoid coffee, soda and other caffeinated beverages, and I stick with water. The better you keep yourself hydrated, even in cool weather, the more alert you'll be, and the more comfortable you'll be overall. Bad things happen to the human body when it doesn't get enough water.
Next, take frequent rest stops, get off your bike and stretch your limbs. Sitting in the same position for hours at a time will not only make you sore, it may expose you to the risk of clots and embolisms. Your gas tank will be a good gauge for when to stop. I almost always stop to fill up, drink water and stretch when my tank is half-full (or half-empty for you pessimists). It usually works out to about 2 hours of riding, which is about my comfort limit without a break. I take at least 15 minutes off the bike before getting back on, which greatly extends the amount of total distance I can comfortably cover in a given day. It really pays off on the second and third consecutive days of riding, because I'm less stiff and sore as the days go on.
Change riding positions while you are on the road. If your bike has highway pegs, give them a try when it is safe. Try sliding further back on your seat and leaning forward toward your handlebars to stretch your back. If you have floorboards, explore different foot positions. If you have footpegs, try using the balls of your feet for support instead of hooking the pegs with your heels. Just switching back and forth between these positions can give you a lot more comfort over the course of a long ride.
Don't get too goal-oriented. Set reasonable mileage goals for your riding day, and be willing to compromise and cut a riding day short if fatigue or discomfort sets in. There's nothing worse than that last 100 miles when you are saddle sore and glassy-eyed. If your long vacation ride is turning into a trail of tears, you're probably trying to ride too far.
The good news is, you're probably never too far away from a Best Western Hotel, a comfortable, affordable hotel room for the night and another day's riding tomorrow.