Taking a  motorcycle road trip  is among one of my favorite weekend activities.  It’s nice to simply escape and unwind on the open road.  And there’s no better time to take one  than the beginning of spring when all the trees and shrubbery are in bloom.

Motorcycle roadtrip sights
Credit: VideoVik, flickr

Pack Small

Packing for a long distance motorcycle ride is a delicate balance between bringing enough items to ensure comfort, and not overloading yourself with unnecessary weight and bulk.  When you start planning a motorcycle trip, you have to think small.  Always use travel-size products whenever possible: small trial-size bars of soap and deodorant, for example.  If you’re planning a long motorcycle trip, one of the best steps you can take for yourself is to take test trips.  I am constantly surprised by those who set out on long motorcycle trips, having never tested their gear on a particular bike.

Near Mt. Baldy
Credit: Eve of Discovery, flickr

Easy, Rider

After you've planned your route, you'll want to check the weather forecast and get an idea of what to expect in terms the weather.  Pace your travels realistically.  Don't try to ride so many hours in a day that it might affect your reflexes or decision making ability; after all, most of the fun is in the journey, not simply in reaching a destination.  While riding, be sure to stop whenever necessary-- whether to get a munch, a stretch, or possibly a rest.  The basic act of getting a rest can make the ride a lot more enjoyable.

If you’re going to be riding under the bare hot sun, then, by all means, bring a waterproof, fast-drying sunscreen to protect yourself.  Your cell phone should always be with you, along with a cell phone charger.

Excellent Touring Suit
Credit: Eve of Discovery, flickr

Good Riding Wear

Should you wear anything differently on your motorcycle tour? A good touring suit is an excellent investment, and when choosing your clothes, consider packing several thin layers of clothing, rather than a few thick ones.  Flexibility is the key to staying comfortable; it's far better to have the option to stop and shed or add layers as necessary, than to shiver or sweat your way through what would otherwise be an enjoyable, scenic route.  If you ride a touring bike, there's no excuse not to carry rain gear with you at all times.  You can roll it up into a tight little packet (ours comes with a nifty pouch), and stuff it down in one of your saddlebags.

Have you considered protective jackets? Longtime riders swear by a leather biker jacket, but a textile biker jacket will work in much the same way.  They both have their pros and cons.  Textile can have extra padding where needed, but so can leather.  Textile may be lighter, but may not do as well against asphalt, or a hot muffler. You may also prefer a leather biker jacket with a zip-out liner.  Appropriately placed zippers can be opened for added ventilation on warmer days.

Don't Get Stranded

A bike lock is also a must for any motorcycle trip, whether you plan to stay in a motel or camp out for the night.  Disc locks are a great option since they're small and sturdy, but they wouldn’t really do you a bit of good if somebody just decides to haul off your motorcycle.  That’s why many still prefer the bulky chain or cable locks to attach their bikes to something stable.

Beautiful at Dusk
Credit: J Anton's Pentaprism, flickr

Long or Short?

The Ozark Mountains  is THE motorcycle riding spot between the Rockies and the Smokies - especially northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. Prefer to stay local? Consider what's called a "poker run", in which you cruise to designated places, collect a token to show you were there, and are dealt cards when you return.

Yellowstone Image
Credit: John Aldrich, flickr

Considering Yellowstone?

Not all destinations are equally accessible. As an example, Yellowstone National Park.  Of course, it is possible to ride through it on the main routes in a couple of days, but you won't necessarily have time, especially in high tourist season with slow moving traffic through the park .  To really see it, explore, or enjoy it more than superficially, you'll need to get off the bike and hike around, which takes time but is well worth the effort to get a bit away from the parking lots or roads.