Don’t be that guy or gal who ruins the ride.
How do you correctly prepare for a motorcycle event or group ride? For new riders or those looking to make sure they are best prepared for a group moto-activity, we will go over the basics of choosing your perfect group ride or event, and the best ways to prepare to ensure a fun and safe experience on the road.
Preparation Before the Motorcycle Event
Here are the 5 things to think about before looking for a group ride or event to attend:
1. Event Scheduling
The first thing is to consider is how much time the motorcycle event is going to require. You want to make sure that you have enough available time to safely enjoy the moto activity. And it’s always better to overestimate because, when riding with a group, things that are normally fast when alone take longer in a group. Think breaks, gas stops, lunch, etc.
Then you want to take the above and add in the amount of time you need to ride to meet the group and the amount of time to get home after the ride. In the interest of safety, you want to avoid rushing to or from the event.
The last consideration regarding time is that if the event lasts longer than expected and it starts to get dark, are you comfortable riding at night? If not, you need to budget in a possible overnight stay in a local hotel.
Remember, don’t rush. Makes sure you have enough time to be comfortable.
When picking a ride, you should pick one where you are comfortable with the amount of distance that the ride plans on covering. It’s important to pick a ride with a ride distance and duration that is within your endurance level. For example, if you are only used to 25 mile lunch rides signing up for a two-day 500 mile sightseeing tour is probably not good idea. You will quickly get tired and will be out of your comfort zone as miles start to pile up.
Riding a motorcycle is mentally taxing activity and doing more of it in a single go needs to be practiced. If you want to do a big ride, it’s a good idea to build up your endurance and work up to that distance first.
3. Your Skill level
When choosing an motorcycle ride, you should find events that match your abilities. Riding is a learned skill and it takes experience and practice to get better. For example, if you just got your license, you probably aren’t yet skilled enough to sign up for a advanced level track-day. So, make sure that you are aware of your personal skill level and only participate in events that you can comfortably complete. And if you are not sure about the event or ride difficulty, ask the organizer for their opinion. They would be happy to steer you in the right direction to make sure you stay safe and to make sure that the other event participants can have a good time.
It’s healthy to challenge yourself, but know and stay close to your limits.
So, you found a great event. You got a riding buddy or two ready to go with and you have a route all planned out. What did you forget? Ah, the weather.
The weather is hard to predict these days, but you have to make sure you and your bike are ready to face unexpected weather. Riding up the mountains? It might get cold. Bring an extra layer. Think it might rain? Better check those tires and get your rain gear.
And if you think the weather might be big issue? Plan for an additional stop to wait it out or play it safe and go for a different event.
5. Route and Location
If you are going to ride in an unfamiliar area, you should get on your favorite map application and get a sense of the area you will be riding in. Note the direction from home, major landmarks, rest stops, highways, etc., so in case your are without mobile phone service you won’t be totally lost (Pro-tip: In the Google Maps app you can download a map area that you can use offline) Know before you go!
Preparing for the Ride
There’s nothing worse than showing up to a group ride for the first time underprepared. At best it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable, and at worst, it’s dangerous. So its best to make sure that you are fully prepared for the ride. Your preparation routine needs to cover three areas: your motorcyle, your gear, and you.
Make sure your motorcycle is in good working order prior to the event! Tires, fluids, brakes, chain, battery, etc. You don’t want to be that person who ruins the day for everyone because your bike broke down. And dealing with breakdowns mid-ride are generally expensive. Think towing, an unfamiliar repair shop, getting home and retrieving your bike once it is repaired. So, save yourself the hassle and make sure your bike is up for the ride.
And if you are going to do big distance, tools for minor roadside repairs are mandatory. Get familiar with your bike and be prepared to minor fix things that could go wrong such as flat tire or broken shifter/lever caused by a parking lot tip-over.
If you are just meeting buddies on a nice Sunday afternoon for lunch or a tried and true day ride on a familiar route, then your usual gear of choice is fine. But, if you are doing anything bigger than that then you need to plan for changing weather conditions. This can include extra layers to keep warm, rain gear to stay dry, earplugs for long highway stints, visor cleaner to remove bugs from your visor or anything else that will keep you comfortable and alert.
You, the Motorcycle Rider
If you’ve gone on any form of long distance ride, you know that it can be both physically and mentally draining. So it's crucial that you are mentally ready to do the ride or event. Make sure to get plenty of rest and food prior to leaving. Get up a little earlier so you can take your time. And if you are going on a multi-day trip, load up your bike the day before, so you are not rushing on the day of the event (Pro-tip: do a meaningful test ride with your bike all loaded up a few days before the ride. It will test your packing setup and it will get you familiar with how your bike feels loaded with gear).
More Event Preparation Tips
Other pro-tips to make your group motorcycle event easier for you and everyone you are riding with.
- Bring cash. There are still are lots of establishments that only take cash.
- Carry a spare key. Losing a key is the absolutely most infuriating way to ruin a ride.
- Bring a battery pack. It's a cheap way to keep your phone charged in-case you get lost.
- Bring a collapsible backpack or cargo net. These fold down to the size of a wallet but can be a lifesaver if someone runs out of gas and you need to carry a gas can.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to check in.
- If you’re carrying gear on your motorcycle, pack up your bike and go for a test ride well before before the event. If you need something to better secure your stuff, then you now have plenty of time to get it and try it out.
You’re Ready… Get Out And Ride!
Your first or any motorcycle event, whether it be a big rally or a relaxed charity ride, is destined to be an unforgettable experience. You will always learn something new or come back with a good story.
Be prepared and be safe. Good luck!