Looking for ways to cut back on gas? Why not ride a motorcycle on that next vacation? Not only does it take less fuel than most other vehicles but the ride itself is a mini-vacation! Consider these tips before keeping that rubber side down.
1. Ride Comfortably – Whatever bike you choose, it’s imperative that you’re comfortable on it. This sounds easy enough, but a lot of women ignore this advice and think that they will be OK even though they may feel a little awkward on the bike they’ve chosen. Having the right fitting bike will give you the confidence that you need to go anywhere. If you’re at all out of sorts and not feeling comfortable on your ride, you’re far more likely to make bad judgment calls. If it’s too tall, consider getting a lowering kit or boots with a slight heel so that you can sit flat footed. Ask yourself honestly which bike will be most comfortable for you: touring, sport, off-road, enduro, etc.
2. Dress Comfortably — Whether you shop at a bike shop or online, make sure that the item(s) feel great both on and off the bike. Remember that they will feel quite differently once you sit down in a riding position. An ill-fitting outfit can make a big difference as to how you maneuver the bike.
3. Hone Your Skills — Take a riding course prior to your journey. Many states in the U.S. offer riding classes for beginners as well as for advanced riders. You may also be able to take an off-road course that can teach you skills in case you decide to take your bike off road or you get caught in an unexpected situation that takes you onto rough roads.
4. Pack Light — Saddle bags, tank bags and a trunk case are all good accessories but don’t overdo it by packing too much. One change of clothes, toiletries, maps, snacks, camera and perhaps camping gear are all you really need when you get on the road. As with all travel, the less you carry, the more agile you’ll be. You’ll have less to pack up on your bike and fewer items to carry in and out of a hotel or into your campground.
5. Know Where You’re Going — You may not have your full trip mapped out in advance but each night, take a look at your route and get to know a little bit about the terrain and region you’ll be traveling through the next day. Knowing the weather forecast will also help you prepare in having the right gear ready for the day. Having said this, be open to serendipity and flexibility. You might meet other riders on the road and want to travel with a group for awhile. Perhaps you’ll get a tip on some hot springs that you want to check out or you might get pointed towards a twisty road that you hadn’t planned on. Go with it if it feels right and enjoy the ride!
6. Give it a Break — Know your riding limit. Some women may only feel comfortable riding for a few hours while others may want or need to travel long distances. In either case, take a break when you need it. For me, I like to stop every hour to hour and a half. While this might seem excessive, it gives me time to rest up, grab a coffee or some water, understand where I am on the map and move forward. By the time I stop for gas every few hours, this works out just right.
7. Have a Routine — Personally, I like to start early in the morning, especially in warm climates. This allows me to get through the cooler part of the day with all my gear on, stop for lunch and then proceed for just a short while in the heat when I start looking for a place to overnight. I can then unpack my gear in a hotel room or campground and then spend the afternoon walking, hiking, window shopping or writing. Lots of time for dinner, getting settled in for the night and getting ready for the next day. You might not be a morning person and therefore will start later. If that’s the case, ride for a few hours and just be sure to stop before dark.
8. The Route — Decide in advance whether you want to spend the majority of time on side roads or perhaps toll highways where you can cover more distance in a shorter period of time. Keep in mind that a highway probably won’t be as interesting but you’ll get to your destination far faster.
9. Know the Basics — It wouldn’t be an adventure if something didn’t go wrong. However, you can be prepared by carrying spare parts and a manual. If you’re riding in a foreign country, you may be able to find a manual in that country’s language and also a list of dealerships throughout the country in which you’re traveling. If you can problem solve a gas issue, dead battery or light outage, you’ll be ahead of the game and won’t panic. If something does go wrong, in all likelihood you’ll easily find someone who can help you out. Not because you’re a hot chick on a bike but because people WANT to help needy travelers, no matter the circumstance. People the world over are genuinely interested in making sure that you are taken care of in their part of the world (whether it’s NYC or Tuscany). Trust me.
10. Just Say Yes — Don’t let anyone scare or intimidate you into thinking that you can’t travel on your motorcycle, whether you’re planning a solo trip or are going on a group tour. We’ve been riding too long to listen to that bulls*^#. You are woman, and I hear ya roar. Go travel!
Woman in helmet: OregonDot
All others: Beth Whitman