In all the years since I started riding a motorcycle when I was 18, I’ve been on a lot of road trips on my bike. There’s nothing quite like planning a trip, meeting up with some friends and taking a ride to a fun destination.
When you’re planning a motorcycle road trip, there are some things you need to think about that you wouldn’t necessarily consider if you were loading the family into the minivan. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way for making sure your next motorcycle road trip is a good one:
Your riding companions should be like-minded people who are as enthusiastic about motorcycle road-tripping as you are. This can make your trip even more fun and memorable, since you’re all doing what you love.
Another thing to keep in mind is your co-riders’ experience level. It’s a good idea to take road trips with riders who have a similar level of experience to yours, so that no one feels left behind or held back by their riding companions.
Very rarely do I ride just for the sake of riding these days. Most of my best rides have happened when I had a destination in mind and planned to head there on my bike.
Last year, for instance, some fellow riders and I traveled to a restaurant on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in central New Hampshire. It was a great day — we got to eat lunch by the lake, and then we took some rural routes back home to Derry, N.H.
Like a lot of riders, I like the back roads — the ones without a lot of stoplights or stop signs, the rural routes with a lot of bends and a lot of scenery. So, for the Lake Winnipesaukee trip, we traveled one route to get to the lake and then took a different route back, so we could enjoy as much scenery as we could. As they say, it’s not just about the destination — it’s about the journey.
There are a lot of fair-weather bikers out there — and I’m one of them. I don’t want to get caught in the rain, and winter in New Hampshire is not a good time for a leisurely tour of the back roads. So, pick a good season to enjoy the great outdoors in whatever area you’ll be riding through. And, make sure to check the forecast before you head out, so you don’t get caught in any storms.
Riding with a couple of other people and riding with hundreds of others are two very different undertakings. A large group often requires a “leader,” a motorcycle rider who has ridden with a group before and can keep an eye on the rest of the bikers to make sure no one is left behind and that everyone is riding safely. Approaching stop lights and left-hand turns in front of oncoming traffic can make it a challenge for the group to stay together. Smaller groups don’t have these concerns to contend with.
In an extreme example, a few years ago, I did a Toys for Tots ride in New Hampshire, where about 1,000 riders carried a toy to donate at the end of the route. There were so many bikes that organizers enlisted police officers to block intersections and shepherd us through.
You probably aren’t planning a road trip with 1,000 of your friends (unless you’re very popular), but if you’re riding with more than a few other riders, you will need to plan out your route in more detail, taking into account the number of stop lights, their location and what turns may take some more coordination. If you are interested in joining with hundreds of other riders for an event, check out websites like MotorcycleEvents.com for listings.
Before you head out on your motorcycle adventure, it’s a good idea to make sure your bike is in good working order. And, one more tip: Make sure to check your motorcycle insurance policy before you head out, to make sure you have the coverage you need for your bike. Ride safely!
Joe Suozzo is an Allstate agent in Derry, N.H.