Several years ago, back when I was in college and could afford to make rash decisions, some friends and I found out our spring breaks lined up that year. If this had happened several months before, we could have planned a trip together, but it did not. Instead, it happened less than a week before they were scheduled to fly down to West Palm Beach for a week of fun in the sun. I was invited and would have a free place to stay, but I would have to figure out how to get there.
Being a college student, I had very little money, so the prospect of flying was out of the question. It looked like I was destined to spend the week at my parents’ house instead of the beach until one wise friend suggested I ride my motorcycle. To my cash-strapped self, it made perfect sense. I’d get amazing gas mileage, do something cool, and then have my motorcycle at the beach. What could be wrong with that?
As it turned out, being young and dumb while making rash decisions did not lead to me making the best choice because, as I quickly found out, I was woefully unprepared for a solo motorcycle road trip. I got there and back safely, spent some time with good friends, and saw family members I hadn’t seen in a while, but boy, did I have some things to learn. If you own a motorcycle and are considering taking a road trip, here are a few things I learned the hard way.
1. The road is longer than you think
The first day of my trip was a relatively short ride between the cities of Athens and Statesboro. It was about a three-hour ride, and at the end of it, I met a friend for dinner and drinks, then spent the night before my big push to West Palm Beach. While three hours on the road was no big deal, the drive from Statesboro to West Palm Beach was more than twice as long. When I was planning the trip, six or seven hours didn’t sound horrible, but for someone who had never ridden a motorcycle for that long, actually doing it felt like an absolute eternity.
If you aren’t accustomed to riding for more than just a few hours, don’t jump right into a road trip. Try taking some practice rides to get used to being on a bike for longer periods of time. Experienced riders regularly go on much longer trips than I did, but they’re just that – experienced riders. The more prepared you can be for how endless six or seven hours is going to feel, the better.