Riding long distances safely and comfortably is not something to be taken lightly, it’s a true test of mental and physical endurance. It’s one of the biggest challenges an adventure touring rider can face, yet one that many overlook.
The high miles club
No matter how well a route or itinerary is planned, you can never rule out having to ride a big mileage day. Maybe a border or road is closed, or there’s a ferry to catch and you’ve been held up en-route. Perhaps there’s been an incident and you have to go the extra miles to get help. Maybe you’ve just underestimated how long it takes to get to your end destination in the country and conditions your riding in. Generally, you can go a lot further and faster in Europe, than you can in Africa or Asia.
Always take breaks
Even if it’s just five mins, you should get off and stretch and have a drink of water. A five-minute break is worth its weight in gold. Never ride until the point of exhaustion.
Being properly hydrated helps keep your concentration level up. We always have water within easy reach. If you drink little and often, as you are riding, we find it keeps you more alert.
Eat little and often
Don’t stop and have a big meal, as the blood goes to your digestion system and this can speed up tiredness. Caffeine has been proven to help, so like the old public information film said: “Pull over, drink a cup of coffee.”
Full throttle and full brake is not good. You should try and maintain a consistent speed, not too fast though, as your concentration level goes up. Your fuel consumption goes up too! Smooth and steady wins the race.
Learn to listen to your body. You should recognise the signs of tiredness, fatigue, hunger, body temperature etc. and learn not to ignore them. If you can sense a problem, deal with it right away.
Whatever the reason, being capable and confident riding for longer periods is a skill that not many train to do, but sometimes there may be no option. Be prepared, so that if a 500-mile day presents itself you are up to the job.
Kevin and Julia