Tips to Stay Rested on Long-Distance Motorcycle Trips
Some people use their motorcycles for basic commuting, hardly ever riding longer than an hour or two at most. Long-distance travel on a bike, however, is a different beast altogether.
Sleep is your most essential safety asset when embarking on a long road trip on your bike. Road fatigue is not just about sleep, however. Your brain can easily become distracted, and you gradually become less and less alert as the hours pass. Follow these tips to make sure you're always riding rested.
Play Some Mind Games
In order for your mind to stay alert, you need to consciously provide it with some stimulation. The hum of the bike and the endless miles of pavement are not enough to keep your mind active. So invent mind games to keep yourself engaged. You might:
- Memorize and then recite out loud. You might memorize poems, lyrics from songs, or famous speeches. Actively memorizing and then reciting helps you keep your eyes on the road and your mind awake. Skip words or say things backwards if it gets to be too easy.
- Play tag. Obviously, you won't literally chase down cars on the road. You might play tag with a car for a few miles, passing them and then allowing them to pass you back. When a new car enters the on-ramp, pretend they are the 'it' car in your game of tag.
- Do word scrambles. Look at license plates and try to think of as many words as possible that use the letters in that plate.
You'll find games that keep your mind occupied for hours. Try different things that will really stretch you. You might do mental math, have a scavenger hunt where you actively look for certain features along the road, or even amuse yourself by naming different landmarks with silly names.
Practice Your Karaoke Skills
The great thing about riding a motorcycle is that even when you travel as a group, you get to enjoy solitary time. Nobody will hear you and nobody can talk to you above the roar of the engine. This means that you can play your personal radio and sing at the top of your lungs and nobody will be the wiser.
Singing keeps you awake because you're moving your mouth, focusing on the lyrics, and changing your breathing pattern. For times when you're in a slump, pick something that has rousing lyrics or a steady beat and really belt it out.
If you don't have a radio or stereo or if your sound system is not working, get it fixed or replaced before your trip. It's not just for entertainment — it's for safety too.
Plan Your Rest Ahead of Time
The secret to a great long-distance ride is planning. You can take a spontaneous trip, but make sure to spend 10 or 15 minutes looking at a map to gauge your distance and how far you have between towns, especially in rural areas that are divided with natural landforms.
It might take you three hours to get through the mountains in Montana, for instance, and you'll have little access to services during those stretches. Make sure you tackle long stretches of road at a time of day when you know you'll be the most alert.
For some people, traveling at peak alertness means resting during the afternoon and riding again in the evening. For others, it means waking up early and getting the tough stretch over with before you have a chance to feel tired. Afternoon tiredness is common, so you might plan a rest stop to get a power nap each afternoon just to be safe.
You might have a tent or makeshift shelter packed with you for the trip, but if you are going a very long way, plan to splurge a few nights on a decent bed so you can get much-needed rest. Stay at a basic motel in a small town or book a room through online rental websites for good nightly rates.
Caffeine can be both your friend and your enemy when you're fighting fatigue. Try not to rely too much on energy drinks and coffee to make it through the day. These can affect the quality of your rest, and as you become accustomed to it over time, it won’t work as well as it used to.
Instead, use caffeine for when you really need an energy boost, and get your daily energy from healthy food choices and snacks. Start the day with a healthy portion of protein and complex carbs to make sure you don't have trouble with low blood sugar during the ride. Low blood sugar can make you feel light-headed, and you'll have a harder time focusing your thoughts.
Use readily available storage on your body or within hand's reach on your bike to store energy foods that you can chew as you drive. Sunflower seeds, small candies, gum, and even beef jerky keep your mouth working and help you stay alert. Always have access to water, as dehydration can also cause fatigue.
Your long-distance trip can be rewarding, especially if you know how to stay awake. Contact us at Bob's Cycle Supply for more information on outfitting yourself for your long ride.