PLANNING YOUR TRIP:
It is only wise and smart to do a good research by taking notes and plan the route of your trip once you know where you want to go and what you intend to do while you travel. The internet is a very powerful tool, so spending some time finding information from biker forums and official sites is not only fun but you will learn a lot and it might also keep you out of trouble. When planning a motorbike trip you should consider the following few aspects;
THE MOTORCYCLING LAW AND REQUIREMENTS of the country or countries that you are about to visit may differ from the country you live in, such as speed limits, alcohol limits, highway code and compulsory accessories on a motorbike just to name a few. (For example, in he U.K. it is not a requirement for a biker to carry an extra spare set of bulbs on a motorbike, but in France if you get pulled over by the authorities you may face a fine if you don’t have a spare set with you). The law is always changing and being updated. Online discussion forums might not be always accurate, so the best place to find information related to this matter is official Government sites. Having undertaken a little research before you leave might save you from a fine or the hassle of having to deal with our “dear friends”, remember that normally if you get pulled over abroad, any fines are to be paid on the spot.
ROUTING AND TAKING NOTES of the distance you are looking to cover on a daily basis is another important factor as this will define and shape your trip. There are several ways of routing your bike trip; you may prefer to pick one or two main destinations and explore the surroundings for a few days before going to the next destination point, or, you may chose to be on the move every day, which would require you a more detailed plan. The latter is slightly more tiring but it suits better a road trip where you don’t have much time. It depends of preference, the distance and the number of days available for a road trip. Personally I tend to plan my time on the road in detail so I spend a lot of time researching roads, forums and watching videos in order to find the best roads and places of interest. (My preference normally goes to those twisty mountain roads full of hairpins, good scenic roads, small towns instead of crowded cities and the use of motorways merely to connect A to B in case I am running out of time or to connect two points).There are a couple good sites where you can find routes and reviews such as surface condition, police presence, difficulty level etc, etc. Once you find a road that interests you, you can then try to find videos on sites such as you tube as it will give you a precise idea about what you will find en route. Then it is just a matter of taking notes about distance and fitting them into your road trip plan. Normally I use Google maps or the via michelin app to route specific roads I want to do and print them. Other than that I just mark on a map the route to follow. GPS systems can be a bit tricky as sometimes you are in areas where there’s no coverage at all, they can confuse you easily too, so nothing better than a handy map to guide you. Keep in mind that, for example, routing 150 miles on a mountain might take you way longer to complete than what the routing site suggests as you are more likely to do frequent stops for that scenic picture or simply to stretch your legs or to ride at a slower pace to enjoy the scenery around you.
Here are a couple internet sites I use on my researches:
Another point that I would like to cover on this topic is how you intend to SPEND THE NIGHT. As I mentioned on a previous post you don’t want to spent a night sleeping next to your bike by the side of some road because you couldn’t be bothered to research accommodation (this happened to me before…). Booking in advance has the advantage of securing you a bed but the disadvantage of it means that you may have to keep in mind the arrival time (some places may require check in before a certain time); as a result you may not be able to divert from your route or stop for too long at a spot you might like. All in all you may end up constantly racing against the clock and not even enjoying the journey you so carefully planned. So what’s the best way to go about it? It is simple, don’t book anything; while you are planning and before you start your road trip, check the existence of accommodation (camping sites, b&b or hotels) in the area. Again google maps is a good tool to give you an indication whether there is the need to book something in advance or not. Normally areas with plenty accommodation are never all fully booked so chances are that you will find a place to stay easily even during the peak season. However don’t be too choosy in the type of accommodation or comfort you normally would expect. I would recommend that by 6pm or maximum 7 pm you start looking for a place to stay even if that means you do not reach the destination you previously planned for that day of your journey. (If that the case, you can try to compensate the following day by leaving earlier for example).
LAST BUT NOT LEAST…. riding alone or accompanied is also a big decision to take into consideration. Riding alone has the distinct advantage that you do not depend from anyone and you are free to roam wherever you wish, at the pace and speed you like. In other words you are the sole and main decision maker of your trip! The disadvantage of it is that it will be more mentally tiring and it might be less entertaining as there is no one to share the experience with as you ride. If you decide to ride with a group or a couple friends, I would highly recommend considering a few points. The riding skills of each biker are important as it could lead to a couple issues; different pace levels leading to frustrations, tensions and stress in between your fellow bikers, which also could put in danger the weaker riders as they would feel “obliged” to keep up. In case you are riding with someone, it is better to ride along with a companion you feel comfortable with rather than someone you have never ridden with before. My preference goes to smaller groups ( 2 or 3 bikes maximum). Of course it all depends on your personality and people involved!
Even if you planned your road trip into detail, consider that you might encounter other difficulties such as bad weather or an event of other nature that can force you to change your route and therefor you will need to be prepared come up with a back up plan and improvise or change your route on the spot.
Happy travels Biker!!