How to Prepare for a Destination Tour
In this article I’m going to talk about Preparing to go on a Motorcycle tour. As you may already know when you’re out on the road, it’s all about the man (or woman), the machine, and the elements. We have a destination in mind, we have the route planned out, we have the stops figured out, and we have even checked the weather, now the prep before Kick Stands Up (KSU). I’m going to talk about Preparing your Motorcycle, what to Wear or Not Wear, and of course Packing for the trip.
Prepare for the Ride
My motto is and always will be Safety First. Safety is going to be achieved by making sure your motorcycle is ready to roll, knowing your route and planning for the unexpected, and finally, getting enough rest.
First of all, I have to admit, Getting Enough Rest, for me, is easier said than done! When I’m getting ready for a ride, I get very excited and anxious and that usually means I have a hard time sleeping. This is one of the most difficult things for me to do because I have got a million and one tasks to take care of before I can even think about going to bed. Most likely I will lay in bed and think about what I may have missed. Here is how I try to handle this issue.
1. Make a check list that consists of:
A) The Route:
Departure Time, Fuel Stops, Lunch Stop, Scenic Stops en route, and the Over-night Stop. Be sure to leave room for variables such as weather, construction, traffic and other possible delays.
B) The Bike:
Comple Scheduled Maintenance along with performing your pre-ride ride inspection or TCLOCK (http://frederickhog.org/tips/tclock.htm), which is checking Tires and Wheels, Control Levers, Lights and Battery, Oil Levels, Chassis, and Kickstand. There are variations of this procedure so use the one that best fits your needs.
C) Gear and Supplies:
From the helmet on your head to the steal toes on your boots, preparedness and protection are key to a safe, successful and fun tour! I personally bring two helmets, a skid lid type (half helmet) and a 3/4 helmet with a tinted visor because rocks and hail on the face hurts and if it’s hot, I can’t stand having my whole head covered. Protective and comfortable clothing that is suitable for various types of weather that you may encounter. Water resistant, slip resistant, and moisture (sweat) wicking are the features I look for. I also bring some snacks, fluids and carry a little cash for unforseen delays or emergencies.
Check out my Shopping, tools and resource page for all your touring needs.
D) The Rest…GET SOME REST!
I try to eat early and eat well because it helps me sleep, then I get to bed early. I will usually eat and drink what will aid in getting a good nights sleep. Too much water and I’m going to the bathroom all night long. Spicy food will keep me up with heartburn. Beans and rice or too many carbs before bed and, well, you get what I mean. Whatever helps you get a good sleep and wake up with energy and clarity is the objective. As a Motorcycle Touring Enthusiast, we know that being on the top of our game, keeping our head on a swivel, and expecting the unexpected is how we manage a long adventure filled life.
What to Wear or Not Wear
I Believe this is totally dependent on where you live, where you’re going and how long you’re going to be gone. I live in Colorado and we basically have two seasons, Winter and Summer, and of the two, Winter is usually longer. Spring and Fall are usually more like either Winter or Summer…usually Winter. Even if the day or week starts out nice, you can almost guarantee there will be a drastic change in temperatures and/or in precipitation. In other words, I have to dress and plan for cold then hot then wet then cold (again). I’m usually “rotating” clothing in and out of luggage based on time of day and current conditions, which since I live in Bi-Polar Colorado, can be almost a continuous action.
No matter where you live or where you’re going, I do have some suggestions for the type of clothing you should wear. Breathable, water resistant, relaxed fit and for those really safety minded, bright and/or reflective gear. I also do not recommend cotton or wool and I do recommend boots, gloves and helmets. Of course, it is a matter of preference and I will never judge somebody for what they wear or don’t wear. For me, it’s been a learning curve, and what works for me, may not necessarily work for you.
I don’t think I have to talk too much about what you need to bring with you for the trip since that will be based on where you live, where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone and what season you are traveling in. Spring and Fall can change rapidly here in Colorado, especially when you’re leaving from one mile high and heading to the Continental Divide! I dress in layers, wear leather chaps with removable insulation over jean, and usually a leather coat with removable insulation as well. I have to leave room in one luggage compartment for adding, subtracting and rotating gear. I also wear an Under Armor type clothing that has moisture wicking characteristics. This brings me to my last point, what do we need and how do we pack everything that we need for the trip?
Packing for the Tour
Are you riding solo or are you riding two up? Are you riding a trike or are you riding a bike? Are you riding a touring class bike, a street machine, a sport bike or a bike that’s made for on and off-road? Well, obviously, depending on what type of bike you’re riding is going to depend on what and how much you can bring and how you’re packing it.
I ride a 2018 Street Glide that is between a street machine and touring class bike. I consiter it a touring class because it has saddle bags, a fering, windshield, touring seat, cruise control and highway food rests…I can ride this thing for hours on end! I have the ability to add a luggage rack and carry extra luggage bags or I could add a tour pack trunk with a luggage rack on top. I have seen sport bike riders wear backpacks for their gear. Other bikes can add soft bags or hard bags for storage. And then there are some bikes that have quick release and removable storage solutions. No matter what you ride, there is usually some way to carry what you need.
Once you have the storage ability, it’s a matter of how you pack what you’re carrying in a comfortable and safe manner so you can ride, ride, ride until the sun goes down. Remember, just because you can fit it in the saddle bags, trunk or rack, it doesn’t mean it’s safe and comfortable. Also remember that you need to leave room for necessary tools and a med kit.
Remember my motto? Safety First! Your motorcycle has a max operating weight and that weight is based specifically on the bike, make and model, and the composition. Over packing, unevenly packing, and packing too high are all recipies for a mishap or malfunction. The tires, wheels, and frame are also factors for what and how you should pack.
Get familiar with the specifications of your motorcycle and figure out how you are going to pack for a comfortable and safe ride.
Whether you are doing an inner state tour, a multiple state tour or a cross-country tour, How You Prepare for the Tour is what is going to make it fun and exciting and the experience of a lifetime or a tour to forget.
If you properly prepare for the ride, plan what gear and clothing to bring and wear, and be mindful of how you pack your motorcycle for the tour, you will have an adventure and memories to share for years and generations to come!
In my opinion, motorcycle touring is the most exhilarating way to see and experience the sites and that is why I am a Motorcycle Touring Enthusiast!