Ready to Ride
Assuming you have been with us this far, you are now ready to get on the road. Your have a bike, you've been maintaining it according to the technical schedule and it fits you, and you've done the pre-ride check..
Next, you get yourself ready to ride by putting on your riding gear, and push the bike onto the road. We cover riding gear in a later section.
Here's an article on trip preparation from BMW MOA Foundation. Any luggage needs to be securely attached, as close to the center of gravity of the bike as possible, and in such a way as not to interfere with the rider's movements, lighting visibility or hot or moving bike parts. If planning to ride with a lot of gear, consider getting appropriate saddlebags, top boxes, sissy bags and bungee cords as needed. It's a good idea to weigh your bags before a trip to ensure that the balance is even within ten percent or so, and load heavier items in the bottom. Once you figure out a good weight distribution before a trip, pack the same way until you get home. Incorrect weight distribution can contribute to wobble or weave.
Personal Ride Readiness
A personal riding checklist includes:
- Am I sober enough to ride. Everyone knows that one drink increases your chance of crashing eleven fold. It's not a good idea.
- Have I taken (or missed) any prescription medication that might affect my riding?
- Have I any health issue today that might affect my riding?
- Have I got any spectacles, and are faceplate/goggles/windshield/light lenses clean and transparent, especially at night? Eye care is an important issue for bikers, especially older riders and people with known vision problems and health issues like diabetes. It is essential for bikers in these risk categories to have regular, annual eye checkups to ensure that any changes in vision are taken care of. This falls in the category of general fitness.
- Have I the right equipment to be comfortable in current and future weather conditions?
Getting In the Zone
The process of getting the bike checked and getting yourself ready to ride, once it becomes a habit, will help get you 'in the zone' and ready to make the mental transition into your riding state of mind. 'In the zone' is Lee Parks term for the ideal mental state for riding. It is a state of relaxed concentration and watchfulness, which supports the multitasking needed for riding.
Some bikers have a little ritual that marks this transition. That's important as a large subset of crashes occur in the first few minutes of starting out. We don't have time to transition into our riding state after getting on the bike.
On the Road Self Monitoring
Once on the road, bear in mind that these conditions may change during the ride, so we may need to repeat our mental checklist periodically when riding.We need to have situational awareness of the road situation while we are riding. Other items that we need to self-check on an occasional basis include:
- Fatigue is a killer on long trips, especially on motorcycles. Include enough stops to loosen up and more towards the end of the riding day. .
- dehydration is a killer, you will need to increase hydration stops in very hot weather, or use a hydration backpack.
- sunburn and heat exposure are more critical on bikes, as the airflow makes you feel cooler but doesn't do anything about ultraviolet exposure. Sun block and covering up are essential. Plan more stops in hot weather, you may need to hydrate every 30 minutes or more.
- exposure is a factor in cold-weather riding. Our gear section has more. This problem is insidious as it affects your mental processing first. Again, you may need to plan more stops in extremely cold weather to check this.
- Bike technical issues. We need to be attuned to any change in the sound or feel of the bike, especially any mushiness in the handling or major change in engine noise, or warning lights and/or metering change. It might be as simple as the need to change the fuel cock to reserve, or it might be our first clue to some catastrophic problem.