You may have often heard stories of people embarking on long motorcycle journeys and wondered - "Do oriental looking children wave out to them when they pass by them in the mountains ? " The answer is "Yes they sometimes do" and that my friend should be reason enough to quit your job, divorce your spouse, sell your house and embark on that motorcycle trip. Children anywhere smiling or waving at you have a way of making you feel on top of the world but there is something inherently a lot more pleasant when a oriental looking kid does that
Here are a list of questions that a lot of people have asked me over time on preparing for a motorcycle trip. I have tried to collate all of them into this one blog entry and I hope this might be of some help to people looking to go on a solo long distance motorcycle trip.
Is it better to travel alone or is it better to travel in a group ?
There is no definitive answer to that. I guess if you have a tendency to murder people it is better to travel alone as killing a stranger involves lesser guilt than say killing someone you know and in case you have suicidal tendencies you better travel in a group. Research suggests that most people attempt suicide when they are alone. Although in recent times you do see some people fancy the idea of blowing themselves up in crowded places.
To travel is good. Traveling alone or traveling in a group serves different purposes. Both have its pros and cons. Traveling alone gives you a lot more time for self reflection whereas traveling in a group helps you bond better with the people you are traveling with. Traveling alone allows you to do things at the pace you are comfortable with while traveling in a group can give you more confidence to do bat shit crazy stuff.
In case there is someone you fancy, traveling with them can also increase your chance of getting in their good books but then there is also a possibility that you could ruin it forever. So take a call accordingly.
But isn't it safer when you are in a group ?
If by safety you are thinking armed men and robbers, I really don't think being in a group will help in any way. Firstly the possibility of encountering them is very remote as mostly you are riding in the daytime. However, if you happen to be at the wrong place at the right time and you are alone you are definitely screwed. If you are in a group, your whole group is definitely screwed. Unless of course one member of your group is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then you can just fuck around with anyone and everyone.
No. I mean what happens if you have a flat tyre or your motorcycle breaks down in some remote location?
In that case I guess it helps to be in a group. The group traveling along with you will be deep down very irritated with you but since most people don't like to act like assholes they will figure out a way to get your bike fixed.
Even if you are alone, a flat tyre or your motorcycle breaking down shouldn't worry you that much. You are on the road and you should find someone or the other passing by at some point in time. Stop them and ask for help. A tourist on a motorcycle does intrigue a lot of people and someone or the other will eventually help you out.
My motorcycle broke down twice during the journey and people around always stepped up and helped me out. You can read about all that in this blog link given below
But do you think it would be better if I learn to fix a flat tyre before I start the trip ?
Of course it is better Einstein. Otherwise you can always pray that you don't encounter a flat tyre. There is a lot of power in prayer. I never encountered a flat tyre in my whole 7 months of travel.
By the way, tubeless tyres could be a good option. The puncture kit is easy to operate as it does not involve taking out the tyre. Just carry an air pump along. If you feel lazy to even use the puncture kit, you could just fill in air and ride for another 40 to 50 Kms in the hope of finding a puncture repair shop.
Ok. But is there a way to ensure that my motorcycle never breaks down during the journey ?
Yes there is and it involves performing an ancient meditation technique. Only 14 people in the whole world are privy to that knowledge and sadly, I am not one of them. Those people are assholes and they do not want the world to know about this wonderful technique that could help motorcycle riders across the world. I think it is because they were bullied in school.
However there are a few things you can do which may decrease the chances of a motorcycle break down. Before you start the trip make sure you get your motorcycle serviced by a trusted mechanic. Replace old parts and fit in new parts if possible. I have a Royal Enfield Thunderbird (2006 model) and my mechanic advised me to make sure that I serviced my bike at approximately every 3000 Km with an oil change. I more or less did that. Still my motorcycle broke down twice during the journey and I had to truck it to the next available workshop. Once was because my clutch plate got burnt.
Carry spares like clutch cables, accelerator cables, spark plugs, fuses and other stuff after consulting your mechanic. From my experience I would say carry an extra clutch plate and a chain spocket and chain in case you are traveling more than 12000 Kms. It is better to replace your clutch plate and chains after riding for about 12000 to 15000 Kms.
Carry only those tools that you know how to use but carry spares for sure. If your motorcycle breaks down, you will somehow manage to reach a mechanic who would have an idea (or pretend to have an idea) as to how to fix your motorcycle but they might not always have the spares.
Ok. Anything else that you feel is a must before embarking on a motorcycle trip ?
Yes there is but I will only tell you if you like my
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I have done that. Now tell me.
I hope you have done that because God is watching you and he will punish you with bad sex life for 10 years if you haven't.
So here is the list
1) Proper Riding Gear
However good a rider you think you are accidents can happen. We all know it is always someone else's fault and never ours but still our bodies can take the hit. Do not compromise on your riding gears. Be safe. I had a bad accident once in my trip (of course not at all my fault) and the riding gear was very instrumental in ensuring I escaped with minor bruises. Riding gear have a lot of padding which cushions your fall but more importantly the padding makes you look a lot more muscular than you actually are. So keep them on even when you stop for your food breaks. You may want to take off the riding gloves while eating food though. Its a lot easier to eat with your gloves off.
2) Proper Riding Gear
3) Proper Riding Gear
4) Water proofing your bags
5) Bungee cords
To tie your bags to the motorcycle. Keep a few cords extra in case a cord breaks on the way.
You must have noticed that I kept 'Proper Riding Gear' as points 1, 2 and 3 in the list. I am not trying to emphasize the importance of a riding gear here. I just wanted to make sure that my list has at least five points.
That's it. Nothing else ?
Of course there are other things too like clothes, shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, camera, memory cards, motorcycle registration papers etc etc. Take care of your health and please do apply sunscreen. You are in direct contact with the sunlight for a prolonged period of time every day. A little bit of common sense takes care of a lot of things and as for the remaining things, learn it the hard way. It will be a wonderful story to talk about later on. If not for you then maybe for someone who absolutely loathes you.
How do I plan my routes ?
There is this very cool website called 'google'. Check it out sometime.
How much money would be required ?
Oh, that is very kind of you. I write this for free but you can always message me. I'll send you my my bank details and you can transfer money to my account.
No I meant how much money would be required for the trip ?
Oh, that. See, I don't know you and I don't know your spending habits. There are three major expenditures when you are on the motorcycle - your fuel expenses for the day, your food expenses for the day and your lodging expenses for the day. On my motorcycle if I traveled say 300 Kms in a day my fuel expenses would be approximately Rs 600. I am not a heavy eater and my food expenses for the day would be somewhere in the range Rs 700 to 800. A decent room costs around Rs 600 to Rs 800 a night. Although if you search you can get cheaper rooms. When you calculate keep in mind that on those days of the trip where you are not riding your fuel expenses are zero. Also on days you are staying with a friend your lodging expenses are zero.
The best way to find out is to go on a short 3 to 5 day motorcycle trip and note the amount spent on these things to get an approximate idea of these expenses. Then extrapolate these numbers to the number of days you plan the trip to get an idea of the expenses you may incur. Add some more money as a buffer amount to the amount you calculated. In case you are traveling for more than a month, then make sure to factor in motorcycle maintenance expenses also in your estimates.
A short 3 to 5 day trip may give you a lot more idea in other aspects too.
Still doesn't it get boring when you are alone ?
No. To be honest I was never alone. I have a multiple personality disorder and each one of us has a dirty mind. I quite like them all. Although I do feel Ben is a little harsh on Sid. Also Joey could wear less flashy clothes. It sometimes gets very embarrassing especially when Tina is around.
Any final tips ?
A motorcycle trip is not that intimidating as it may seem. Take it one day at a time. It is just about riding 250 to 350 Kms in a day and then doing it again and again. Take rest whenever you feel like it. There is no hurry.
Do not worry to much about the preparation. Just start somehow. Even if you forget something essential, you can buy stuff on the way.
Also try this out if you can
A 7 month motorcycle ride that took me to every state in India, parts of Nepal and Bhutan and one town in Burma. These blog entries are inspired by this trip. Stories about people I met, stories about places I saw. Things that intrigued me, things that amused me. They say traveling changes you, they say traveling inspires you and they say a lot of other stuff. I don't know. I think a gun on the head is a better way to change people. I just hope that my travel stories entertain you
Right now I am in the process of writing a book based on this trip and figuring out the difference between a writer's block and procrastination.