Street Savvy

Tips for en­joy­ing long-dis­tance rid­ing

Motorcyclist - - Contents - —Ken Con­don

• HOURS OF HIGH­WAY RID­ING can make me pretty cranky from bore­dom, dis­com­fort, and fa­tigue. To bet­ter en­dure long hours in the sad­dle, I asked “Long­haul Paul” Pel­land (Me & My Bike, Sep/ Oct 2017, MC) for his ex­pert ad­vice.

Pel­land is a marathon mo­tor­cy­clist, rack­ing up more than 80,000 miles in 2017 alone on his way to­ward rid­ing 1 mil­lion miles for mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis aware­ness and fundrais­ing. There are many rea­sons for rid­ing long dis­tances, in­clud­ing sim­ply get­ting some­where. For Pel­land, long-dis­tance rid­ing can also be a type of “moto medicine” that helps re­pair some of life’s prob­lems.

“When I ride long dis­tances, my mind is of­ten com­pletely con­sumed with ab­so­lutely noth­ing at all,” Pel­land tells us. “I am only in the present, in the ride, ob­serv­ing and re­act­ing to sights, sounds, and sen­sa­tions as they hap­pen in real time.”

Big-mile en­deav­ors start with a strategy that in­cludes re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions and a flex­i­ble itin­er­ary. De­ter­mine the to­tal amount of miles then di­vide the trip into man­age­able chunks sep­a­rated by fre­quent breaks and overnight stays.

“Be will­ing to al­ter your plan on the fly,” Pel­land adds. Flex­i­bil­ity is key for han­dling me­chan­i­cal is­sues, un­ex­pected traf­fic, or bad weather that can de­rail even your best-laid plans. Get off the road for a break, or end your day early if you ex­pe­ri­ence sig­nif­i­cant signs of ex­haus­tion.

Pel­land’s Yamaha Su­per Ténéré is set up to al­low “tankto-tank” com­fort. His se­lec­tion of ac­ces­sories in­cludes ad­justable wind pro­tec­tion and a Bill Mayer seat. The right gear is also crit­i­cal. “I have a garage full of the wrong gear,” Pel­land de­clares. His pro­tec­tive gear of choice is an Aeros­tich suit com­bined with light­weight wick­ing and ther­mal un­der­lay­ers, a fleece liner, and a neck warmer. Elec­tri­cally heated gear and a pair of Lee Parks gloves help man­age a wide range of con­di­tions.

While Pel­land’s Ténéré has been near bul­let­proof, he stresses the im­por­tance of know­ing your bike and how to re­pair it. At home he uses only the tools in his on­board tool kit to en­sure that he trav­els with what he needs—in­clud­ing spe­cialty tools and hard-to­get parts that would stop him from rid­ing if he can’t make a re­pair. Pel­land also sug­gests taking apart your bike be­fore em­bark­ing on a big ride. “You don’t want to have to per­form a re­pair for the first time with trucks blow­ing by at night and in the rain.”

Pel­land rec­om­mends that you don’t leave home with­out a spare key. You might also con­sider a GPS track­ing de­vice if your ad­ven­tures take you to re­mote lo­cales, where sketchy cel­lu­lar ser­vice will pre­vent ac­cess to road­side assistance and emer­gency ser­vices.

Whether you ride long dis­tances to get some­where, es­cape for a while, or meet a personal chal­lenge, Pel­land stresses the im­por­tance of en­joy­ment. “If you’re not hav­ing fun, you’re do­ing it wrong,” he says. On a long ride or a short one, that’s some­thing we can all agree on.

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