They say that experience is the best teacher, and if that is truly so then I have should be very well taught when it comes to motorcycle touring. But for those of you who are relatively new to the sport, or just haven't had the opportunities to participate as much as you might have liked, I offer a few suggestions that I give to my tour company clients, all learned the hard way by yours truly.
1) New Isn’t Always Good
While it’s tempting to purchase a brand new helmet, boots, jackets, gloves, or even sunglasses for your trip, they may not be as comfortable as your old tried-and-true equipment.
Wait until you’ve had time to break it in for that next trip. Trust me, you’ll be happier in the long run.
2) Don’t Overplan
The planning of a trip can often be such an enjoyable pastime, and staying on schedule can assure that you see what you really want.
But don’t let the plan to take priority over the purpose of the trip, be flexible when something unexpected presents itself.
3) Distance Doesn’t Equal Happiness
Don’t get obsessed with mileage. Just because you’re capable of riding 400 miles per day doesn’t mean you should.
You are better off ignoring mileage completely and trying to plan your trip by “hours in the saddle.” Factor about 30 mph for back roads, 40 for state highways, and 50 for interstates (which should be avoided whenever possible).
4) Loosen Up
Don’t worry about being locked into hotel or campground reservations. In most cases they can be canceled up until about 4:00 p.m. the day of your arrival without penalty. If weather, road conditions, or any number of other factors delay you, just call and cancel.
Occasionally this means spending a night in less-than-desirable lodgings, but you also might find a really neat little out-of-the-way spot.
5) Put Someone in Charge
If your trip involves three or more riders, decide who’s in charge. That doesn’t mean you need to elect a dictator, but one person should be the tour leader and decision maker, especially when it comes to routing and scheduling.
6) Be Flexible
Have alternate routes in mind. Planning is a good thing, but you also need to be ready and willing to make adjustments as you go.
If you see something interesting that’s not too far off your route, go for it. It’s almost always worth it.
7) Don’t Overpack
Overpacking is one of the most common mistakes I see new riders make. Take only what you need and remember what you’ve packed for reference on your next trips.
8) Don’t Overeat
One of the great joys of motorcycle touring is finding those really interesting out-of-the-way places to eat at along the way.
But gastric distress is never a good thing at any time and it takes on a whole new meaning when it strikes you on a bike, far from home.
9) Check Your Treads
It’s just plain stupid to take off on a tour with old worn tires on your bike. Motorcycle tires are primarily made from organic compounds, meaning they rot as they get older.
Even though they may have plenty of tread, they may be too dry and brittle to make the trip. Check their age and condition before making any other plans.
10) Attitude Is Everything
After 35 years of touring all over the planet, I firmly believe that a bad attitude can ruin the best trips, and a good attitude can make a ride fraught with adversity an adventure to be remembered and treasured. Trust me—don’t leave home without it.
Allstate Insurance Company is not affiliated with Fred Rau. Allstate makes no warranties or representations and is not liable for any goods or services provided by this individual or organization. The views presented here do not necessarily represent the views of Allstate.