Summer’s almost here and you’re itching to saddle up and leave your troubles behind. At least for the weekend. Now is the perfect time to plan your perfect summer motorcycle trip.
But before you pick a spot on the map and hope for the best, take a moment or two to actually plan a ride. Sure, the curves and the scenery is important, but there’s more than that to the perfect summer weekend getaway.
Get a current county road map
GPS is fine for finding a destination, but a county road map will help you find some good-looking roads. It’s not perfect, and you may want to find someone who knows the area, but looking at a county road atlas can help you find curves, scenic drives near forests or lakes and even some great straightaways to really open-her-up and cruise.
Remember, it’s the ride, not necessarily the destination. Use that county road map to find some great options that you may not have found just pointing your bike in one direction and going.
Summer is construction season. Nothing is worse than coming upon a back-up due to construction in the middle of a great ride. This can be especially problematic for air-cooled bikes, of course. But it’s also bad as a surprise when you’re in the zone.
Researching road construction near you isn’t terribly difficult. Here are a couple of national resources to get you started.
- Federal Highway Administration
- DOT How to Avoid Road Construction
- Your state has resources – use Google
Look for unique stops
Maybe your state has some old ghost towns you didn’t know existed. Perhaps you have a shipwreck museum near you – within a day’s driving time. Have you seen all of the natural wonders in your state from the saddle? Did you know that restaurant in the next town over was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives?
Finding unique places on your summer motorcycle road trip can make it a memorable and interesting experience. And that’s what it’s really all about.
Whether you ask friends or start looking up local travel boards or a Chamber of Commerce, seeking out unique places to see can be a lot of fun. Take a camera … you never know what (or who) you might see!
Research historic weather data
No, you can’t predict the weather. Even the TV meteorologists aren’t perfect. However, depending on how far out you’re planing, you can use tools like an almanac or long-range weather forecasts to at least get an idea of how things are shaping up.
If a little rain doesn’t scare you, you can at least plan to pack the right gear for your trip. Preparation is key.
Look for a reason to ride
Maybe the weekend you’re planning to ride includes a charity motorcycle ride for veterans or a poker run for cancer research. You could find some great reasons to ride and structure your perfect summer getaway to help a cause. Below are a few resources to get you started.
Get your gear ready
From rain gear to chaps, from riding boots to long distance motorcycle gloves, and the right jacket to your helmet, your gear is important. You know this already. But are you prepared to take the different gear needed for morning, night, rain, or shine? Don’t forget your clear glasses for night and sunglasses for day. Maybe you want ear plugs to protect you from wind since you might be out on some long stretches of back roads. Ready your gear and make a list so you don’t forget anything.
Have a back up plan
What happens if it rains? Are you ready for storms? What will you do if your bike quits? Do you know where you’re staying or gassing up?
These are all great questions to ask yourself (and your travel partners) before you flip those kickstands up. Having a back-up plan for your bike trip is just good rider’s sense. Make sure you’re ready for just about anything, and nothing will likely go wrong!
Share your “flight plan” with someone
Safety is important. Let someone know when you’re headed out, your general travel plans (at least) and your contact information – we all have mobile phones by now, right? If you’re able, it’s a good idea to even check in with this person from time to time.
Enjoy the ride!
Above all else, enjoy yourself. These 2 wheels we’re riding (or 3 if you’re on a trike) give us some amazing freedom and perspective. Enjoy yourself on your perfect summer motorcycle trip. I know I will.