Ever since the publication of Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in 1974, there have been legions of riders that have been inspired to go on a motorcycle road trip as a journey of self-discovery: to explore the conflict between traditional and romantic values.
Fast forward to 2017, and the reality of a road trip is a far cry from the freewheeling trip of the 70s. Whereas Pirsig wrote that the only zen on the top of a mountain is the zen you take with you, we are now in the grips of digital living, and have a whole host of advanced motorcycle technologies to help us find zen where ever we are. We also have vast swathes of health and safety laws that shape our ability to run free like Pirsig’s antagonist.
So, what can we do to try and make sure that our motorbike trips are as all-encompassing as Pirsig’s? Here are some tips to help you on your journey, so that stresses are reduced, allowing you can gain the maximum benefit from your trip.
Plan your route
It is more than likely that you have only limited time to undertake your trip. Planning your route is essential; however, this is a trip of a lifetime and should be treated as such. If you have a desire to go off route to check something out, do it. You should plan your day of riding to allow for excursions off the beaten track. Do not overestimate the mileage that you will cover on a daily basis – you do not want to feel pressured to stick to a too tight schedule. Plan, relax, and explore.
In 19 states across America, it is illegal to ride your motorbike without wearing protective motorcycle helmets. Only Illinois and Iowa have no such legislation. Some states also insist that you have medical insurance to ride out – it is worth researching your route against the local laws that apply to riders. You do not want your trip cut short by being unaware of local laws.
You only have limited luggage space on your motorbike, so you need to think about what is essential, and what is a luxury. The chances are high that you can only carry your essentials. What you consider as essential should include a road map, for when you have no signal for your GPS; a small selection of tools, in case you have an emergency mechanical situation; and climate appropriate clothing. You also need to pack a small first-aid kit, a motorbike cover, and microfiber cloths. You must carry a couple of bottles of water with you too. It is also mandatory that you pack a baseball cap – your helmet hair will make you look like a wild thing!
It may feel that with all the planning, the use of technologies, and stricter laws for riding out that the motorbike utopia of the 1970s has been lost, but with it is still there, it is just different. Motorbiking has evolved, but its heart is still the same.