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News How to Stay Safe on Long Rides

Discussion in 'Motorcycling News' at netrider.net.au started by NetriderBot, Jan 11, 2016.

  1. #1 NetriderBot, Jan 11, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2016
    Sometimes there’s just somewhere you want to go on your bike, even it is a long way away. And with adventure bikes and sports tourers becoming more and more popular there’s never better time to ride in comfort and relative luxury. However, riding long distances isn’t without its risks and in fact, fatigue is one of the leading causes of road fatalities. Let’s take a look at how you can stay safe on long rides.

    Stop, Revive Survive

    The most fundamental piece of advice any rider can be given is to take rest breaks. The generally recommended interval between rest periods is two hours. Your fuel tank might be able to get you twice that distance and maybe your bladder can too, but studies have found that after two hours your mind begins to wander excessively.

    Your rest breaks don’t need to be too long, 10 to 15 minutes is sufficient. Just enough time to stretch your muscles, take in fluid and give your mind a rest from what can sometimes be the monotony of highway travel. So even if you’re travelling 600 kilometres in a single day, taking three rest stops will only add 30 to 45 minutes to your overall journey – a small sacrifice for staying alive.


    Be Well Rested Before Riding

    Traveling all day is tiring, especially so for motorcycle riders who are exposed to the elements. Therefore it’s essential to be well rested the day before. It’s recommended that for the two nights before you start your journey that you get at least seven and a half hours of sleep to help improve your energy reserves.

    Most adults need between seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night to function optimally – and that’s just for normal everyday activities. A lack of enough sleep causes all sorts of issues, and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year. So go to bed early and maybe stay off the booze the night before.


    Take a Break After Lunch

    Do you sometimes feel a bit drowsy after lunch? There’s two reasons for that. Firstly, certain types of food will make you drowsy – processed foods which are often a hallmark of what’s available at roadside stops are a prime culprit. But even unprocessed foods such as turkey and other high-protein foods, along with spinach, soy, eggs, cheese and fish can make you feel lethargic.

    The second reason that you can feel tired after lunch is due to the time of day. Between 1 pm and 3 pm, your body’s temperature drops and you’ll naturally feel a little bit more sleepy than normal. So to stay safe, have lunch and then take an extended break – perhaps you can spend the time reading articles on our wonderful website.


    Keep Your Mind Active

    There is a term called ‘complacency driving’ which refers to how drivers and riders often go on auto-pilot and will travel not inconsequential distances without actually remembering that time period. It’s a huge cause of fatalities on the road and while it mostly occurs when travelling a familiar route (such as to and from work), it can also occur when riding to new destinations if the road itself is monotonous such as a long straight freeway.

    To overcome this, you need to forcibly keep your mind active. Some ways to do this are:

    • Read road signs out aloud in your head or better yet, verbalize them.
    • Regularly check your mirrors, ‘check’ your brakes and always use your indicators when changing lanes.
    • If there’s traffic around, constantly check your distance between the car or bike in front of you and ensure it is at least 3 seconds by counting.
    • Let out your inner superstar and sing like you’re in the shower. Don’t worry, no one is likely to hear you.


    Take the Harder Route

    This might sound counterintuitive and we’d only recommend it for experienced and competent riders, but an option to keep yourself stimulated is to take the road that’s more technical – one with plenty of corners and bends – instead of the boring route that’s effectively straight, flat and repetitive.

    Most motorcyclists tend to do this anyway as it’s a far more rewarding experience but it also keeps your mind far more active as you constantly have to interact with the bike by braking, shifting, accelerating and steering – even moving your body around. On long stretches of highway, you’ll often just be sitting on sixth gear for hours at a time and for even the most focused of individuals it’s hard to prevent the mind from wandering.


    Temperature regulation

    You want to make sure you look after yourself on a long ride. Being too cold will make you feel more drowsy. Being too hot will exhaust you and bring on fatigue much, much earlier. If you’re riding in summer, a mesh jacket and textile pants with plenty of airvents is highly recommended – as is a cool vest. In the colder months, heated gloves and jackets will be of great benefit.

    Time your trip

    Generally speaking, most accidents occur between 3 pm to 7 pm. The reason for this is generally fatigue but also impatience and the fact that this is when the most cars are on the road – both for picking up children from school and commuting home from work.

    From midnight to 4 am is when the most deaths per vehicles on the road occur thanks to an influx of drunk drivers. And both sunrise and sunset are also dangerous – vision is greatly reduced and especially so depending on which direction you’re driving should the sun be on the horizon. For these reasons, plan your trip where possible to avoid being on the road at these times.


    Stay hydrated

    A study conducted at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom found that drivers who only drank 25ml of water an hour made more than double the number of mistakes on the road than those who were hydrated – the same amount as those who have been drink driving.

    Yes, drinking more water or other fluids means more toilet brakes but it’s essential to stay focused. If you’re riding in summer it’s even more important as every pound of sweat that you lose, you’ll need to drink two to three cups of water or other fluids to help your body recover.

    Hydration packs are a great way to regularly take in water while riding. The simple backpack and straw system allows you to continually take in regular sips of water without the need to stop. Just about anyone who participates in off-road riding will have one and there’s no shame in utilizing one for the road, either.


    Ensure Your Bike is Road Worthy

    It should go without saying that if you’re planning on a long road trip, make sure that both you and your bike are up to the task. Basic things like tire tread depths and tire pressures should be checked before heading out, but so should brake pad wear. In fact, before going on a massive trip you really should give your bike a full service. There’s nothing worse than being stranded halfway to your destination thanks to unreliability.

    Continue reading...
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  2. Agree with all the above. Stopping every two hours even just to get on and off the bike, or in and out of the car, really extends your ability to concentrate.

    I can't sing to myself without a camel back in the heat though, breahing heavily through my mouth makes me thirsty!
  3. I did a 4 hour each way on the weekend, did none of this and felt all the worse for it. lesson learnt!!!
  4. Grabbing a photo and a sip of water is a great 10 min break.
  5. I generally try to stop after each hour of riding, even if only for a 5 minute stretch and drink.
  6. Agree to all of that, although didn't quite make the sleep in the previous nights, but the rest of the suggestions paid off. Big time.

    Also some proper motorcycle earplugs, makes a huge reduction in fatique caused by wind noise. Some low level music can also break monotony too - my basic aldi Bluetooth thingy can be heard enough at legal limits - even with my pinlock earplugs in.
  7. I'll chip in, do quite abit of long distance touring and am up and down the east coast for work.

    : Help reduce fatigue and hearing damage
    Speed: While tempting to sit on 180km/h all day it only increases your fatigue, dramatically increases fuel consumption and you end up wearing yourself out with paranoia of getting booked. 120-130km/h is where I like to sit.
    Accommodation: Have a place prebooked to sleep, booking one at luchtime on your iphone is a good idea if offpeak and your unsure of your progress and takes the pressure off arriving before 7pm or finding theirs no accommodation available.
    Food: Have 3 solid meals and nibble inbetween...I found grabbing a sausage role or salad from the servo even time I filled up made a huge difference. You burn allot of energy riding and if you don't replace it you will get tired and sore.
    Drink: Biggest thing, keep hydrated. I lug around a 3L bottle of orange juice and will sip away at. Don't be tempted to rely on energy drinks or coffee..while providing temporary relief you crash after the 2-3rd and you honestly will just fall asleep on the bike...this is bloody scary and dangerous when it hits.
    Route: If you need to cover allot of time very quickly then go inland, you'll be dealing with bigger vehicles though and you want to have a moderately size bike (comfort) and fuel tank.
    Wildlife: The natural enemy of traffic, avoid riding at twilight outback due to kangaroo's and wilflife crossing the road to get to places. Don't ride at night unless you have proper lights...my seat still has clench marks after narrowly missing a black cow sitting on the road one evening well over the speed limit.
    Rest: You need to rest and powernap...Have a 30 minute sleep in a passing park or crash in the corner of a roadhouse (They don't honestly mind)
    Clothing: Layer up, all skin should be covered, have armour, good boots or padding on your legs to protect against not just crashes but also stones or things flicked up. A neck sock scarf and riding balaclava is worth the $5 investment for warmth.
    After Dark: Sometimes you may need to travel afterdark, sometimes by choice others because you've misjudged the time. My advice is to find a truck and get nice and cosy behind it, he has the 1 million watt spot lights and huge bullbar...just be ready to swerve for kangaroo guts. If your on your own then slow down to 80km/h, throw on full beams and use the road reflectors to look ahead and get an idea of the road.
    Dealing with cold/wet: Not a nice time to ride, plastic bags are good to line your boots and socks to stop water getting in which sucks your energy out of you. Jam some heatpacks in your helmet, gloves and shoes.
    Time: Don't chase lost time, its just not going to happen. Just call ahead to make arrangements and try your best. Aim to leave very early in the morning when everythings cool and quiet and have breakfast over the twilight.
    Accessories: If your making a habit of long rides out of the city then you should have good effective windscreen, heated handle bars, spot lights, guards, plastic headlight protector (if headlight is glass)
    Things to carry: Torch, ducttape, electrical tape, screw drivers, small socket set, tyre repair kit, 1L water, zipties, hex keys.
    • Informative Informative x 6
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  8. Sitting behind a truck in the dark on a quiet or unfamiliar road is a lifesaver, and makes so much sense.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. I agree with most of what Bot and Chev have offered, but if you do pre-book accommodation you need to be flexible. Inflexible was me riding through two hours of rain and increasing darkness in SA earlier this year to complete an 800-kilometre day at a pre-booked hotel. Not the smartest thing I have ever done.
    As for regular feeding, I disagree, or at least I know I don't need it. Did 450 kms by 1pm yesterday on a cafe latte, a bottle of water and a black tea. (I did however, include a one hour break for refuelling, nursing that coffee and reading the paper after the first 220 km.) I find eating can make you drowsy. On a longer day, sure I'd eat if hungry, but it's an individual thing.
    The thing to look out for is that corner where you come out of it thinking you played it slightly wrong or you feel you have not been on the bike for the last few minutes - they're the signals that you need a rest, a sip of water, a stretch and time to take a photo.
    And let the wildlife be your guide. When the first wallabies, wombats or whatever appear roadside, back off and think about stopping sooner rather than later.
    Best of all, plan well ahead, but of course when you're riding unknown mountain roads the distance-time calculation tends to be a little off.
    Finally, like they say in the ski-fields, dress in layers so you can peel off or add a layer as conditions change.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Bloody cows don't pay rego so shouldn't be on the road, let alone speeding on it
    • Funny Funny x 1
  11. My two cents worth:

    • On longer day trips wearing Skins or tights underneath any kevlar pants help you tush and knees, helps chafing and fatigue (especially if you have Skins designed for circulation).
    • Kidney belt of back protector help heaps with fatigue,
    • Toilet paper & GastroStop tablets - just in case yesterday's pub meal didn't mix well with the stubbies....
    • zip ties & Zip lock bags of differing sizes
    • Invest in a multiple USB hole charger, and an extension lead/power board. Many accommodation like pubs only have 1 inappropriately placed power socket & with today's power hungry devices, it's a life saver.
    • 1-2 sachets of protein meal replacement & trail mix - This is useful if you have dietary requirements since not all places inland will have the same selection of food in cities. It's also good to save a bit of $ on eating out too much and serves well as a quick snack.

    For chicks:
    • Fold-able hairbrush and spare hair ties - anyone with long hair will relate to this!
    • Always carry female sanitary products in the first aid kit - they can also be used for absorbing blood in case of any crash/emergency, not just for chicks. (Sorry guys!)
    • Informative Informative x 3
  12. Lol if your bike does over 200km on a tank, speed up till it doesn't.
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    • Funny Funny x 1
  13. realistically, the speed thing is an important issue. Without turning this into a "speed limits are crap" thread. If you're happy accepting the risk of doing 125 in a 100 zone on a back road. you will reduce your travel time by 20%. That might not be a big deal if you're only doing 200km.... but on a 1000km ride it will save you 2 hours. That's very significant when it comes to fatigue.

    it's a balance though. lol if you go too fast you'll end up losing more time to fuel stops than the time you make up, and the time you save is kind of inversely proportional to the size of the ticket you'll get. eg. doing 150 will only save you 30% of your time, despite being twice as many k's over the limit.

    forget 110km roads if possible for anything over medium distance. They're straight, the speed limits are chronically inappropriate, and they're full of tax collectors. The net result is your mind gets numb from lack of stimulation, your body gets numb and stiff from lack of movement, and your wallet gets numb if you try to do anything about it. Longer trips generally give you the option of an alternate route on a 100kph back road without going too far out of your way... adding 100km on to a 200km trip is a lot, adding it onto a 1000km trip is negligible.
    • Like Like x 3
  14. With touring speed the biggest influencer for me is what the bike wants to cruise at in top gear. On a 250 it might be 90km/h, a 1000 130km/h etc.
    Some larger bikes actually require higher speed for the aerodynamics to fully kick in and engine come onto power in top gear to maximise fuel economy and comfort.

    If you do decide to break the limit make sure you have some form of plan to avoid oncoming radar. For me I only crack open the throttle where their were no cars for several km ahead or where I had a big truck ahead to mask the radar signature of the bike. Highway patrol cars certainly are a common site and can really ruin your day if an oncoming one clocks you at 150 from 500m away.

    One golden rule would be to always drop the speed when approaching towns and be at the 60/80kmh limit before entering it as you can bet your bottom dollar that the local cop will be waiting their with a speed gun.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. I forgot. Earplugs.

    It's amazing the effect noise has on fatigue.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  16. +1 to slightly faster than the limit if the road conditions are good. I usually cruise that little bit faster than traffic flow, not enough to get a massive fine or lose a lot of points, just enough to be moving around on the road and changing lanes to regularly pass other vehicles. Adds that little bit more interest and engagement to reduce the boredom on long freeway runs. Also tends to keep you out of those clusters of traffic that form where everyone is too close together for comfort anyway. Keeping an eye out for plod also makes sure that you're scanning ahead a long, long way as most of the time he's using laser at a range of up to 600m and radar detectors are totally useless for that.

    +1 to power naps. Get off the road, get your head down, 10 to 15 minutes or so can make a big difference to your alertness. Longer than that and you tend to wake up groggy. It makes a big difference but if you need to do that more than once, it would be smart to find a place to stop for a decent sleep.