Solo motorcycling touring tips
Do you ever feel like just popping on your lid and escaping normality for a bit? If you dream about solo motorcycle touring then you're not alone, because if you have time to spare and the weather's good, just 'going for a ride' is one of life's true little luxuries enjoyed by many.
For those looking for a maximum sense of freedom, a solo motorcycle trip can certainly be fun, challenging and, ultimately, liberating. And for many, motorcycle touring alone is the best way of fully enjoying the independence of owning a bike.
But the out-and-out thrill of getting away from it all must be tempered with a sense of responsibility. Or, put another way, if you encounter some unexpected problem, you might need to have a few backup plans up your sleeve.
Share your motorcycle touring route
If you think that telling at least one friend or family member of the route you're planning is wimping out on the whole 'independent rider' thing, then just imagine how you'd feel if you hit some kind of trouble that left you stranded in the middle of nowhere without anyone knowing that you were even away. Like it or not, our loved ones will sleep easier if they have some idea of where you are from day to day, and sharing your route with your nearest and dearest is thoughtful, sensible, and just might come in very handy sometime.
Solo motorcycling: travel light
The more solo motorcycle touring you do, the lighter you're able to travel. Why? Because 'experience' is one of the ways you gradually realise that you don't need as much stuff as you think you do. When you're packing, think; 'essential' and be ruthless about it. If you've previously been on a solo road trip, have a think to recall if there was any clothing you took last time that you ended up not wearing, for example.
Have an emergency contact if you’re motorcycling solo
Again, this is a common sense no-brainer when you're planning a solo road trip. Having an emergency contact handy is something that you hope you won't need, you probably won't need, but if you do need it then you're certainly glad you had it. Carry an emergency contact list – you have space for a piece of paper – and include 'phone a friend' details as well as breakdown and insurance details. One other thing; if you have any significant medical information, like if you're asthmatic or allergic to penicillin for example, then jot these details down and carry them with you. Again, just in case.
There are several apps that can really provide a valuable service in this regard. For example, Real Rider uses your smartphone’s GPS to securely track your ride (without recording your speed if that’s an issue) and then for a small subscription fee detects when you’ve had some sudden stop followed by no further progress, and then automatically sends your last known location (together with any specific medical details you already added into your app) on to an ambulance emergency control room.
Inspect your motorcycle before your motorcycle tour
It's absolutely essential that you embark on any solo motorcycle touring experience on a bike that itself is fit for the journey. Put it in for an interim service if you have the budget, but if not then you don't have to be a qualified mechanic to spot an oil leak or a kinked cable. So at the very least inspect your motorcycle carefully in good light, checking cables, testing the tightness of the chain, and looking (or feeling) for signs of oil and fluid leaks in general.
Eat well and stay hydrated
Again this is common sense. There aren't many things worse than riding when you're hungry or thirsty, so consider not only regular breaks but also a slipping a couple of emergency rations into your panniers. It's more important than you might think; hunger and dehydration have a direct effect on tiredness and responsiveness. You're touring on your own, so you have to stay sharp and it's up to you to stay sharp.
We completely understand that a huge part of the allure of motorcycle touring alone is about independent freedom. But there's 'independence' and then there's 'foolhardiness', and there's no need to take any risks when you're riding by yourself.
Take all the common sense precautions you need to take...
...and then get out on your own and enjoy every single solitary second.