Top 10 Adventure Motorcycling Do's

Lois Pryce lists the ten things that need to be done to ensure that you do actually go through with a motorcycle adventure


01. Set a departure date

There’s nothing quite like inking it in the diary, telling all your friends and family and organising a mammoth send-off to actually make you go. Just the potential humiliation of bottling it at the last minute should be enough to get you to Dover, and after that… well, you might as well keep going.

02. Set a goal

Although there’s a certain vague, hippie appeal to aimlessly roaming the globe with no set purpose, in reality this kind of travel can quickly become dispiriting. Maybe it’s an Anglo Saxon thang, but being able to say ‘I’m riding to… Cape Town/Mongolia/Timbuktu, etc’ helps to focus your journey and gets you going on those rainy mornings when you wake up in a tent with dodgy guts in the middle of nowhere and wonder what the hell you’re doing. If you are a master of Eastern philosophy or just seeking some existential angst then ignore this advice.

03. Read the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook

Chris Scott’s excellent book tells you all you need to know about this motorcycle travel lark. It’s packed with real-life advice and tales from the road, tons of detailed information and best of all it’s sprinkled with a dry humour that makes it an entertaining read even if you have no intention whatever of venturing outside of dear old Blighty. But be warned – approach with extreme caution: will induce severe case of itchy feet.

04. Travel light

Everyone knows this of course, but it’s rare that the first-time traveller actually acts upon this advice. It is perfectly natural to take the ‘just in case’ approach and cram your luggage full of seemingly useful clobber that ‘might come in handy sometime’. Please believe me when I tell you that you will be shedding it within a matter of weeks. An overloaded bike is the biggest encumbrance to enjoying your journey, especially once you venture off-road, so be strong, and leave the gadgets at home! but you may need a tent for the job

05. Learn some basic mechanics

Knowledge is power, goes the old saying, and never is this truer than when it comes to motorcycle travel. If you feel confident enough to take things apart, investigate faults and at least have a crack at fixing your bike, you will be more inclined to venture into the wilderness, investigate that tantalising mountain trail and generally take the risks that will turn your trip into a true adventure.

06. Relish the dirt

Getting some off-road experience before you leave is another surefire way to transform your trip. As with learning mechanical skills, if you feel confident  tackling the dirt roads, sandy tracks, mud, rocks and gravel that will surely come your way, you’ll be more inclined to explore, and your entire experience will be a hundred times more exciting. Don’t forget to practice picking up your loaded bike, because you will drop it!

07. Learn some local lingo

There is a name for people who speak only one language. It’s called being English. While you can pretty much rest assured that you’ll find someone that speaks our lingo anywhere in the world, it is still worth mastering the basics of the lingua franca. Just a few pleasantries can make all the difference in dealing with the locals and can ease potentially tricky situations such as dealing with officials at border crossings.

03. Leave with new consumables

Before you leave fit brand new, top quality cables, brake pads, wheel bearings, chain, sprocket and tyres. Also, replace your inner tubes with Michelin super-duper heavy-duty tubes, not the regular heavy-duty ones, but the kind that are 4mm thick and come in a giant box. You will be very unlucky indeed if you get a puncture with those muthas!

02. Be flexible

Sometimes the petrol station has no petrol, the border is closed, the road is washed out, a riot breaks out, you can’t get a visa for the next country, the hotel has a power cut, or there’s no running water. This is all part of life on the road. Don’t let it get you down – relish the madness! After all, you’ve got the rest of your life to live in a state of boring predictability. Remember the words of the legendary Ted Simon, ‘the interruptions are the journey’.

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