Solo travel epitomizes the heart and soul of motorcycle riding. Yet even seasoned riders shy away from it, until they’ve tried it. While it seems daunting to the uninitiated, a carefully thought-out initiation will make you wonder why you’ve waited.
Travelling alone gives you the freedom to go wherever you want, when you want, and stop as many times you want. No one’s going to leave you behind or rush you to get moving. On the other hand, you have to make all decisions yourself, including where and when to stop, what route to take, and how far to travel. Overall, it’s liberating and can become habit-forming.
Even beyond that, the richness you experience from people and places along the way is characteristically more meaningful than when you’re riding with even one other person.
As with anything, the secret to success lies in the planning.
Preparing for success:
Be patient with yourself. You’re learning something new and you’re bound to experience fear, frustration, and self-doubt, but that dissipates after you’ve completed your first solo adventure.
Keep an open mind. Unplanned adventures pop up every time you go for a ride. You just can’t predict their nature. Don’t be surprised when the unexpected disrupts your route or accommodations. This is when the fun begins!
Minimize your stress. Select a doable route, choose a destination you know you’ll enjoy, and leave plenty of time for relaxing off the bike.
Start small. If you’ve never moto-travelled by yourself, start with a one- or two-night getaway to a destination within a manageable distance. This will give you a chance to deal with glitches you hadn’t thought about and prepare for the big one!
Sharpen your skills. Make sure they match what your trip will require. From a technical skills perspective, there’s no difference between riding solo or with a group, other than solo riding being safer.
Assess your equipment. Make sure all your gear—clothing, camping—is functional, in good repair, and suitable for variable weather. Miserable experiences can turn you off solo travel—or you can learn from your mistakes and make the next time even more awesome!
Prepping your motorcycle:
Minimize the chance of a breakdown by starting out with a well-maintained bike. Know how to measure your tire pressure, check the oil level, and adjust your drive chain (if you have one.)
Routinely check tire pressure, condition of tires, and chain tension while you’re on the road.
Carry your owner’s manual and a few tools you may need for routine adjustments. The tools that come in your kit are likely adequate for what you’ll need.
Be realistic with your skills and don’t put yourself in a situation you’re not prepared for. It’s one thing to challenge your riding prowess when help is readily available but not a wise choice when you’re alone in the middle of nowhere.
Enjoying the road:
Avoid fatigue. Take breaks. Know and respect your limits–both yours and the bike’s.
Plan your fuel stops so you don’t run out of gas. Understand how to read your bike’s fuel gauge and how much gas—and distance you’ve got on the tank. Bring a paper map as a backup if you use GPS.
Carry roadside assistance. CAA Plus covers you for motorcycle services. If you need to call, make sure to specify you’re on a motorcycle so they bring the right equipment—like a flatbed tow truck.
Leave your plans with friends or family and check in periodically. Letting them know approximately where you are and when you expect to be at specific stops reassures them and sets your mind at ease.
Expect serendipity. Good things come your way when you travel solo. People engage with you at rest stops, gas stations, and campsites. You’ll find you are never truly alone, unless you want to be.
Ask for help. People may be shy about walking up to a broken-down biker because they don’t know what to do. But if you approach them and ask them for help, you’re almost guaranteed assistance, and more kindness than you can imagine.
Keep your cell phone charged and accessible. Some solo travellers like to carry a GPS tracker so loved ones know where you are.
Minimize your risk. A downside of solo travel is that you don’t have someone readily available to help out should your motorcycle break down or tip over. Traveling in remote areas, especially off-road, is best done with company. Even so, it’s surprising how help materializes when you least expect it, where ever you are.
Now it’s up to you. Set a date, go, and have fun!
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