Sunday, February 1, 2009

Long-Distance Learning

“No time is ever wasted, listening to people who know their work.”
Harry Paget Flashman

I first heard about long-distance riding about a dozen years ago. Someone said something about an event called the Iron Butt Rally. I asked what it was, and frankly didn’t believe the answer. Eleven thousand miles in 11 days? No way. Can’t be done.

And yet it had been done, several times. It still is, every other year. (The next one is this year, in August.) And not by a bunch of wild-eyed crazy people, but by regular crazy people, which is to say motorcycle riders like me.

Well, not exactly like me, obviously. Because they knew something I didn’t. They knew how to rack up the big miles, day in and day out, and by all accounts safely. I really wanted to know how they did that, so I started looking into long-distance riding and its competitive offshoot, rallying.

And even though I had no intention or desire to ride the Iron Butt Rally, what I learned still made me a better, smarter, safer rider.

Today many of the things I learned from LD riders are second nature. I keep water in my saddlebag, and a first-aid kit, and a tire plugger and an air pump. If I’m riding and I get tired, I pull off the road and take a quick nap on a picnic table or leaned up against a wall. On hot days I wear a hydration pack and drink water constantly, and on cold days I wear a heated vest and gloves. I know the early signs of both heat stroke and hypothermia.

There’s a lot more, but most of it is here. It's all good information, compiled by people who know their work, and you don't have to be riding in the Iron Butt Rally to benefit from it.

Read it, print it out, learn it, put a copy in your tank bag. Who knows, it might just save your next ride if things get ugly. It might even save your life.

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Selena's Mom said...

Would you say more about napping standing up? That seems pretty impossible!

Jerry Smith said...

Not if you're tired enough. Actually, I meant sitting leaned against a wall. Probably needed a nap myself when I wrote that.