Sunday, October 5, 2014

Thoughts on long distance motorcycle riding

I had been worried that my smallish (3 gal) gas tank would cause us to stop all the time.  In reality, the stops were all to stretch and unkink muscles.  And to warm up (it was cold when we left).

Layers of clothing are your friend.

What hurt the most when we got here weee my hands.  I really hadn't expected that.

I got lousy mileage.  The weight of the luggage really cut 10 MPG.  That and my fat ass.  I could see this as a reason to move to a bigger bike.

The wind sorr of around, which was surprisingly tiring.  I couls see that as another reason to move to a bigger bike.

A faring and heated grips would have been nice in the cold.

I have a blister on the pinky of my throttle hand.  I had not expectes that.

People were universally friendly to bikers who were clearly on a serious trip.

Waking up on the beach is the cat's meow.

People tell me I need a tattoo.  Not happening.


Old NFO said...

Yep, distance riding is a WHOLE different world... Glad y'all made it okay!

Graybeard said...

Are you riding in a position where you put weight on your hands? If so, can you raise your handlebars? Look at changing your position on the bike.

As a (former) long distance cyclist, I've got that tee shirt. Literally thousands of times.

Dave H said...

"People tell me I need a tattoo. Not happening."

Pfft. I got a tattoo, and I'm a wimp:
(I'm also a nerd. That's Agatha Heterodyne from the Girl Genius comics.)

Raising the handlebars and moving them back toward me a little bit helped a lot with upper body fatigue, which helped some on the NY State Thruway when a semi went past me at about +15 and tried to blow me off the road. But yes, crosswind is tiring.

Michael Brahier said...

If you decide to get ink while you're there, go to Black Cat. They do good work there.

burt said...

Ok, point by point:

Any long ride shouldn't be "tank to tank" unless you're doing an Iron Butt ride. Ride for an hour or until you feel just the teeniest bit stiff - then get off for 10 minutes.

If your hands hurt at all, it could be one of three things:

1: re. Graybeard, the height and/or placement of the grips. You may want to consider trying out a few different handlebars with different hand placements. Replacing a handlebar is extremely easy: it's a relatively cheap do-it-yourself change that you can do at home in your own driveway, and has HUGE payback in riding comfort.

2: Gloves. Where are your hands sore? Back of the knuckles? Palm? Fingers? Maybe you need a set of gel-lined riding gloves. A good pair of riding gloves are one of the best all-around purchases you can make and should be your next purchase. Buy a good set asap - maybe for the trip back home.

3: You're gripping too hard. If so, you're doing it wrong. Reduce the "death grip" on the handlebars and use a looser grip on them. At speed, the bike will want to ride straight.

Expect a lower mileage when you load down the bike and add additional wind blocks (like a luggage pack). A bigger bike won't do much about that. I get between 37 and 42 mpg on the Heritage based on load, wind, whether I'm riding with my wife or alone, speed on the road, etc. I don't care: any good ride is worth the extra pennies for gas.

Get a pair of heated glove inner liners or heated gloves. Cheaper than installing heated grips, and you can keep them when you trade up to another bike.

The blister on your pinky is probably related to your hand placement when running at mid-throttle. Everyone (including me) will tell you to AVOID using the throttle lock to keep the throttle in position. BUT, there are several products that will allow you to stay at speed while also stretching your fingers. They're called "throttle rockers" or "cramp busters", and they allow you to use the heel of your palm to keep the throttle position. They clip onto the grip, don't damage anything on the bike, and some cost under $10. HIGHLY recommended.

You did good, BP. Welcome to the ranks of the long-distance riders!

NotClauswitz said...

I used to get grip-hand pain from holding my drawing pencil to tight!
Mileage and windage-wise you were loaded up with a pretty tall sail - try to reduce the height and weight of that gear, think small and backpacker-light.
Aerostich has a lot of stuff in the catalog for long-distance riding.
Fairings are also good for neck and shoulder aches after all the wind buffeting.
Beaches are bitchin'! a Graphic-and-UI guy I'm very possessive about artwork and real-estate. I could never decide just what's right or where to put it, so I've put it off.

Dave H said...

"I could never decide just what's right or where to put it, so I've put it off."

That's why I got mine on my back - so I wouldn't have to look at it, and neither would anybody else unless I want them to.

Tony Tsquared said...

You shoulda got the Street Glide. Cruise control is nice running down the super slab. The radio isn't bad either. I get better mileage loaded and with the wife on the back than I do around town with the E-glide.

Ink is a personal choice. Remember that it is for life.

OMMAG said...

What Burt said ! Plus, cold leads to hypothermic metabolism and drains your energy reserves. It does not have to be very cool to suck the heat out of you! Side winds, head winds and gusts use way more energy than you would imagine.

Age takes it's toll. When I was 20 something I could ride 8 to 10 hour days on an unfaired bike with only gas and and quick pit stops for fries and coke. Now I'm 61 and can ride for only 60 to 90 minutes per stretch, regardless of what I am riding. My current bike is an '09 Hayabusa with Helibars to adjust the riding position and I use a throttle assist for anything more than one tank of gas (180 miles)at steady speed.

In my experience the #1 best investment is a good riding suit.

After that you will learn to set up your bike for best ergonomic position.

AND .... there is nothing better than waking up on a warm beach!

OMMAG said...

P/S .... I went for a 40 minute scoot today. 3 degrees above freezing and a gusting northwest wind at 20 to 30 mph.

Felt great and I refueled myself with hot raisin pie and a large coffee with three sugars and whole cream.

I'd have had a Scotch but I'm not allowed :(

Bryn said...

Most of your points have been well covered by others, so I'll just add my 2c worth re. grip & position.

1. Make a conscious effort to relax your hands and shoulders and let the bike take guidance rather than constant steering from you. If conditions are such that you cannot relax, slow down until you can ride relaxed. Fatigue will drain you physically and mentally just as much as the cold.

2. Position : When I re-started riding three years ago(aged 48) I chose the wrong bike for me (Suzuki RF900R)- great bike, but way too much forward lean for me at my age and condition. Bought an elderly BMW K100RT instead, and it's comfortable enough that I can do 500 miles a day if required (average 47miles per Imperial Gallon).

You should have ample choice over there re. alternative parts for positioning handlebars and footrests to suit you. Don't forget the saddle either - I use (lets whisper this quietly....) a widened unit with extra gel padding - referred to as the "double-wide" by certain gentlemen I ride with....

NotClauswitz said...

Mainly...enjoy!! You got there unscathed and intact! :-)

burt said...

re. Bryn's comments about his seat:

I had my 2-up Harley Sundowner seat reupholstered a few years ago.

She wanted (and got) a gel pad inserted in the passenger pad.

I wanted (and got) "memory foam" inserted in the driver seat.

The difference in comfort was and remains *astounding*. I can easily ride hundreds of miles a day (with breaks, of course) without feeling much (if any) butt strain, back strain, or cramping from my sitting position.

And she no longer complains about the seat... probably the biggest benefit I got from the money spent... (ahem)

Goober said...

Best thing ever for a long motorcycle ride is a pickup truck with a flatbed trailer behind it. You can go for days that way. Air conditioning, and a windshield to stop the bugs...

When you get where you want to ride, unload the bike and go like hell.

Arthur said...

"People tell me I need a tattoo. Not happening."

If you ever do decide to get inked you need to get a neck tattoo. Nothing says 'pinnacle of evolution' like a neck tattoo.