A couple of months ago, I shared some tips that several of my Motor Maid sisters feel are important for safe riding. Along with safety, we can learn a lot about touring from this group of ladies. In July, the Motor Maids met for our annual convention in the sunny southern town of Temecula, California. Traveling from Canada, the east coast and all states in between, approximately 246 Motor Maids tallied-up some 400,000 plus miles as a group just riding to our convention.
Comfort when touring is often overlooked as being an important contribution to safe riding. There are so many factors that can make your ride pleasant and enjoyable. Or, exhausting and drudgery. Here are just a few to consider:
- improper riding gear
- gear that doesn’t fit well
- wind noise
- sun angle
- poor motorcycle fit
- lack of preparation
Be prepared for any type of weather. Dry and warm is always better than wet and cold. Buy rain gear made specifically for motorcycle riding. Motorcycle rain gear should be big enough to fit over your normal riding gear and it should be reflective. Your rain jacket can also be used in windy conditions. Carry a base layer for additional warmth. On my recent trip to the west coast, temperatures varied from 38 degrees to 105 degrees. As temperatures increased, my cooling vest quickly became a valuable asset to keeping me comfortable.
Hearing protection should be a part of your safety gear. Wind noise can be exhausting after a period of time. It can also damage your hearing permanently. Sound is measured in a unit known as a decibel and the higher the decibel level, the louder the noise. If you are riding at 40 mph, wind noise reaching your ears can be 90 decibels. So, as your speed increases so does the decibel level as wind noise increases. Research suggests that our safe exposure limit is about 85 decibels for a 6 to 8-hour period. Wind noise at higher speeds can reach approximately 110 decibels and this exposure can lead to permanent hearing damage in only an hour. The MSF tells us that wearing hearing protection, like foam earplugs, can reduce noise by 33 decibels. These inexpensive foam earplugs can make your ride quieter and more enjoyable. Or, you can invest in earplugs specifically made for reducing wind noise. Give earplugs a try. You may find they become a favorite in your gear collection.
Riders have several options like shields, glasses and googles for keeping our eyes protected. Again, be prepared for all types of weather and conditions. This includes cloudy and foggy days along with sunny and windy days. Sun reflection from various objects paired with wind can make your eyes dry and tire quickly. Staring into the blinding sun when riding into a sunrise or sunset can be uncomfortable and add risk to your ride. Your eye protection should also safeguard against bugs, dirt, rocks and other hazards. Shatter proof, polarized lenses along with glasses/googles that have gaskets can add to your eye’s comfort and safety during your ride. Keep a bottle of eye moisturizing drops to replenish the moisture to your eyes. Just adding a few drops to each eye when you stop for gas can make a big difference!
Remember the importance of hydration. You can become dehydrated in cold and hot temperatures. Often, you don’t notice the symptoms of dehydration. Making safe decisions is one of your abilities that can change quickly as dehydration sets in. Keep a bottle of water handy and get in the habit of drinking it before, during and after your ride.
Another good practice worth noting, look your bike over before you leave each morning and look back at your parking space when you pull out. Checking simple things like your air pressure can keep you from experiencing bigger problems down the road. And, you might be surprised at items left on the pavement when packing your bike. Enjoy your rides, have great adventures and remember safe riding starts with you!