Behind every big event, like a Grand Prix, there are tens of thousands of bikers that travel many miles to attend and share the race ambience with other fans. Three days where we leave our everyday problems behind to concentrate on our great love: bikes. And to make sure that our trip to the track becomes a pleasant memory, worth keeping forever, we must bear in mind some things that will help make our route to the GP successful. This is our advice:
Being well equipped is basic
Bear in mind that even though the sun might be scorching us during the trip, a little black cloud might come along at any time on any mountain port and ruin the trip in just five minutes. Having a rain suit in your luggage will ensure that you don’t have to travel wet and uncomfortable for the rest of the trip.
Whatever helmet we use, it is important to feel comfortable. Many bikers use smoked visors on long trips to protect from the sun. If you are one of these, you must take into account that these visors are not homologated for night time use. You can imagine how much fun it is to have to travel with the visor completely open and your mouth completely closed to keep the bugs out...If you can take a clear visor in your luggage, then fine; if your helmet comes with a solar visor, better.
Suit or Cordura?
One of the classic questions we ask ourselves. On long trips we recommend Cordura garments or technical material rather than leather suits, as these are more comfortable on the go, give us more mobility once off the bike, as well as having very useful pockets and the material is ventilated, breathable and just as resistant to knocks and abrasions; therefore if you have the choice, don’t think twice about it. As far as the boots go, it’s advisable to have comfortable footwear, which make tourism or touring boots the most suitable. Leather gloves are best for the summer, as long as the rain doesn’t make an appearance.
Your bike, always ready
You don’t need to be reminded to service the bike before setting out. But you must foresee some details, like tyre wear, the last service the bike had or the state of the transmission.
For a sports tyre, a 1000 kilometre trip could represent between a quarter and a third of its life, so always calculate the wear your tyres will suffer before you set off. Also bear in mind that many sports or high range bikes should have an oil and filter change every 5000 kilometres. On the other hand, you must also check the state of the chain and sprocket, better known as the transmission kit. Make sure that the chain’s tension is correct and that it is greased.
Check the state of the front and rear brake pads and review the clutch and fuel cable, if it has them. With the engine cold, and on a flat surface, check the oil level of the bike. Also review the lights and always have replacements to hand, especially of the short range lights. Check the basic nuts and bolts of your bike, how to get to the lights, to the battery in case you have to replace them and carefully chose the tools that you need for these operations. To these tools add some flanges and a plastic tube for borrowing petrol from another friendly biker if you run out of fuel. Finally, get a puncture repair kit and read the instructions thoroughly. Remember that all this can help you save time and money. Before setting off, load up the bike and check the tyre pressure.
For any doubts that you may have about this section, and if you’re not a professional mechanic, we recommend that you go to your mechanic so that they can give your travelling companion a check up.
How to optimise the load of the bike
To be able to travel correctly, our luggage must be well distributed and fixed to the bike. Depending on the type of bike and the amount of luggage, we can use nets or spider straps, the most basic systems that adapt to everywhere, even the tank bags, side cases, saddlebags and specific top cases.
The heavier objects must be placed in the bottom of the cases and these must be properly closed. If possible, the heavy bags should be placed on the tank and if we use side cases or saddlebags, we must make sure that there is an equal distribution of the weight between them. Be very careful not to leave any buckles or straps hanging off so that they cannot get caught in the chain or the wheels.
Also remember that the size of the load cannot exceed the width of the handlebar of our bike and that for any manoeuvre we perform with a loaded bike we must take into account that we’ve put some weight on and therefore the breaking distance or the turning circle can vary. If you have side cases and you circulate between cars, watch out for your new width: the rear view mirrors of the cars are in play.
The bike is not a vehicle for transporting loads, therefore we must be cautious when choosing what to take with us. Our girlfriend’s 4000 watt hairdryer for example, would be one of the things that we should try to leave behind. Always check the user’s manual for the maximum authorised load for your bike and remember that the weight of the rider and the passenger have to be added as additional load to the bike.
The luggage should also have a first aid kit: it’s best to have a complete kit that has everything you need.
On the go!
The bike is loaded to the hilt and we’re excited with the adventure ahead of us. And so that this excitement doesn’t dwindle as we start clocking up the miles, here are a few tips for maximum comfort on the go.
To start off with, place all valuable objects and those we might use during the trip, like wallet, mobile, map or camera, in an easy to reach place, which is in view at all times and that we can easily take with us when we stop, to this end the tank bag is ideal. Apart from the credit cards, it’s recommendable to carry cash: there are places that won’t accept credit cards.
The rain gear must be in easily accessible, as well as the bike’s papers, mobile and wallet in waterproof pockets. If you use GPS, remember to disconnect it on the stops so that it doesn’t use up the battery. There are bikers that like to improvise on route, others leave home knowing where to fill up, where to rest, eat and sleep. In the case of a Grand Prix, bear in mind that the hotels and restaurants in the area are usually packed out with people, so look ahead and prepare the trip...it’s not that difficult and you’ll be glad you did!!!