May 17 Motorcycle Awareness Month

May 17 Motorcycle Awareness Month

It is riding season in many parts of the Unites States and many of us are gearing up for various long rides.

There are some things to think about when planning this.

Planning the trip

  1. Check the laws for the states you will be going through before you leave. In some states it is against the law to ride in the Left Lane all the time.  Most require you to slow down and if possible, move over a lane when coming up on an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. 
  2. Check the weather for the trip.  Not only for your destination but for the entire route.
  3. Check your planned route for road closers and/or construction projects. You can check most states Department of Transportation, Department of Hi-ways, or State Police websites to find that information.
  4. When traveling by bike it can be hard to read your printout of directions.   If you put them in a Ziploc bag, and that one in another one (Plastic page protectors can be used as well). Then zip-tie them to your handlebars so you can see them.  They are waterproof and you can see them without having to stop.  (Another idea is buying magnet strips and putting them in the Ziploc bag then it will stay on your tank. 
  5. If you are using your smart phone as a GPS, make sure it is securely mounted someplace that does not obstruct your view.   Also be aware if you have waterproof phone and run into rain when riding, it is possible for the rain drops to activate your touch screen and you may lose your map and/or some of your phone settings might get changed.
  6. Put I.C.E. (in case of emergency numbers) in your phone so if something happens, First Responders or hospital have someone to call for you.
  7. Make sure everyone in your group knows the route or has a copy of it in case you are separated.
  8. Have a plan for if you get separated from the group you are riding with.  (Maybe stop when you see you are separated and if they don't catch up then start calling, if you are behind and lose the ones in front and are not sure if they took an exit stop and call.)  One good rule of thumb is: if separated, always go to the first gas station on the right on the route where you are supposed to meet. **just a suggestion you can work out your own plans***
  9. Make sure everyone in your group knows each other's cell phone numbers and has them programmed into their phones.  Make sure that everyone has their cell phone on them, and it is charged and ready to go!!  Also have a charger handy in case the phone does go dead you can get to someplace you can plug in the charger and make a call that way.
  10. Every group should have a First Aid Kit with them.
  11. Pack a tool kit.  At the very least have the stock tool kit your bike came with along with Duct Tape and Zip Ties.   I also have a knife, flashlight, multitool, Metric and standard Allen wrenches.  Another good thing to have along the same lines is Roadside Assistance of some kind.  I have it with my insurance and with my Discover Card.
  12. A pen or pencil and paper are also a good idea. 
  13. The following is a check list you should follow before you leave on the trip.
    • You should call your credit card company and let them know you will be traveling.  If not, they may put a fraud hold on your account.
    • If you take daily meds, make sure you have enough for the whole trip and that you take them as close to your normal time as possible.
    • If you have any emergency meds (Epie Pens for allergies, inhalers for asthma, Glycogen for diabetics, and/or Nitro for cardiac), bring the and let someone know where they are and how to help you take them.
    • Don’t forget: sunscreen, rain gear, Drivers License, insurance cards, money, credit Card, medical cards, camera, phone, charger, glasses, and/or contacts and any air supplies (if needed).  Over the counter pain relievers are also a good thing.
    • Have clothes for all weather climates you may encounter.
    • Make sure your tires are good and the bike is in good running order, all lights work, and the brakes are good.
  1. Packing the bike for a long trip is very important. You have limited storage space on a bike and even less of you have a passenger riding with you.  You don’t want to overload your bike or cause the bike to be out of balance.  The best way to pack a bike is evenly space the load on each side and across the back.  If you have a trunk or luggage rack, that is great. If you are tying everything on your backseat or fender, be careful.  Your stuff should be Securely attached.  Bungee nets or cords are good for that.  You should try to pack stuff low on the bike.  It is not good to have a pile of stuff on the back that is taller than the rider.  Everything you put on a bike adds weight and changes the balance and handling of the bike.  This is especially true if you end up in the rain or on curvy roads.  There are trailers you pull behind your bike, just remember you have the same issues of weight and balance.  They also changes the handling of your bike even when empty.

The Day of the trip

15. Try to get a good night’s sleep before heading out.  (Even in a car or truck this is good advice).

16. Do stretches to loosen up your muscles and make sure you are feeling good before taking off.  It is important that you are not sick or under the weather when you are starting out.  It just makes for a horrible ride or even a dangerous one.

17. Stop if you need to not push yourself beyond your limits!!!  (Better to be there late than not at all).

18. "Drink lots of water!!”    A frozen water bottle on a strap is great but it still works if you have a cup holder or can get to ride in the windshield.  Just so it is easily and safely accessible while going down the road.

19. Make sure your Cell Phone is fully charged and that you have a charger with you so when you stop for the night you can charge it (or if you can plug it in and charge on the go if you are able).

20. Make sure you have not only credit cards but also some cash on you not just on the bike or in the car/truck.  In case something happens to the bike/car/truck at a stop (God forbid) you still have access to money.

The Trip

21. Eat good meals when you stop to eat!!  Less sugar, more protein!!!

22. Watch for Deer and other critters!!!  They are running even in the middle of the day!!!!

23. At gas stops it is usually a good idea to pull away from the pumps when you are done filling and stretch and walk a bit before climbing back on.

24. When riding in a group you should know how far everyone can go on a tank of fuel and have prearranged signals for when someone needs fuel.

25. Be aware of your surroundings!!!  Avoid riding in blind spots and watch for hazards!!!

26. Pay attention to Road signs.   Not only to know how far you are from where you want to be but also so you can pinpoint your location if something happens.  Also, they may give info on Traffic conditions or changes or construction.  **NOTE*** The little green numbered marker signs on the side of the interstates are mile markers and tell how many miles into a state you are.  They start at 0 at the Southern and Western most point and increase going North and East. (In most states) The also usually coincide with Exit numbers.

27. Most States have special fines for speeding in Construction Zones

28. More and more places are using Camera's at intersections beware and follow all traffic laws.

29. Hot weather tip:  If you wear a long sleeve T-shirt you can soak it in water at each stop and put it back on.  It will keep you cool with the air hitting the wet shirt as you go down the road.  You can do the same with a dew-rag or head scarf.

  1. How to deal with toll roads. Most toll roads today have an EZ-Pass, I-Pass, Sun Pass, etc., or automatic tolls where they take pictures of your license plates and send you a bill in the mail. 

31. Some states use decibel meters and if your bike is too loud and you are unable to fix it on on the spot, they are confiscating your bike.  My advice is to not rev your bike unnecessarily, especially in residential areas!

  1. If for some reason you are pulled over by the police. If you don’t feel you are in a safe area to pullover, you have the right to turn on your flashers, slow down, and continue to a safe and populated area to pullover. If you are still not sure or uneasy as to if the car pulling you over is really a police officer, you can call 911 to make sure it is an officer behind you.  You are also within your rights to ask the officer for a photo id, just be nice about it so you don’t make the police officer mad before they can tell you why they stopped you.
    1. Information you will need when talking to 911.
      1. Name
      2. Your car/bike make and model.
  • Your current location (city, state, street name, direction of travel, mile marker if on the interstate).
  1. Description of the police car attempting to pull you over.
  1. Additional information that may help.
    1. Your license plate number.
    2. The license plate number of the police car attempting to pull you over.

Here are some more articles and videos to help with preparing for a long motorcycle trip.  How to pack your bike, and other information you may find helpful.