Monday 4 April 2016

First Timer ? Joining a long group ride ? No problem.

This is a random-yet-should-come-in-handy kinda post. So following are a few points, which in my humble opinion, a new rider, who is participating in a long ride with a group/friends, should know/understand/learn.

1. Your motorcycle should be serviced for at least 2-3 weeks before taking it on a long ride.

Do not take a bike straight from the service center out onto a long ride. High chance there would be some item on the mech's to-do list been missed out. If it was the engine oil top-up, you would probably get scr#wed on the way while ripping. So use the bike daily, at least for a week after servicing, and sort out any niggles you may find, well before the long ride.

2. Always have the manufacturer-given tool kit in your bike.

I know you have no clue what a 'torque wrench' is! Still leave that tool kit on your bike. Why? Cause when you get your bike broken down after ripping mindlessly on the highway, any mech/gearhead who comes for your rescue would ask you for the toolkit. At such a moment following shouldn't be your reaction.

3. You must wear the best safety/riding gear that you can afford. 

Being safe is cool. Enuf said!!

You thought a helmet was enough ?? Ask him!!

4. In terms of riding both on and off-road, stay within your riding skill level. 

Do not ride faster than you feel you or your bike can handle in a given situation, just because your lead/group is riding that way. Alternatively request your group to slow down for you or better find another group with a matching skill level/experience. During leisurely group rides, other riders would oblige to your request, so do not hesitate to ask.

5. AVOID overtaking vehicles (cars/bikes/trucks) from the left side. 

For starters, it is against the rules of the road. Again most vehicles do not expect a bike (or anything for that matter)  to overtake from the left, so high chance if they need to swerve/turn left, they will do it without a warning. Now imagine where you would be if you happen to be next to it and caught unaware. Scary stuff!! Psst.. there are exceptions to this in India. If you already know about such exceptions, then you must be somewhat experienced at riding/driving, in which case you shouldn't be reading this post in the first place:) If you don't know about the exceptions, then there is a reason for that, it is because you are a newbie. Stay there for a while and be safe until you figure it out yourself.

6. Learn to ride in a staggered formation.

While following another bike, always stay either to the left or to the right (depending on the space available in the lane) of the motorcycle in the front. This will give you some head space while emergency/panic braking, if the situation arises, without hitting the front motorcycle. Also, you can feel safe while breaking hard, that your buddy riding behind won't mow you down by mistake.

7.  Drink more water than you think you need.

In India, this one trick alone has helped me do more miles in a day than any other tips (above) combined together. Only the people who have been into any kind of endurance sport (starting from marathon runs to Dakar rallies) can tell you the importance of hydration. So don't be a smart a$$ and tell me how you have gone for months together without water. Either has a bottle with you, always filled, and keeps sipping every hour at least. Or do yourself a favor and get yourself a hydration pack. Any make/model is way better than a bottle, cause it is easier to drink on the go. If you happen to be a bit cranky like me and do end up riding in peak summer months, then add ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) or Gatorade kinda stuff to the water, as it replenishes the lost minerals and after a long day of riding, keeps the headache and fatigue at bay. :)

8. Be predictable while on the road.

Easier said than done. What I mean by this is, the vehicle at the back, as well as the front (who can see you), should be able to predict your move from your actions. This roughly means you use indications (headlight flashing before overtaking, switching on blinkers before changing lanes, activating brake lights as you slow down, etc). Though it sounds obvious, you will be surprised how many accidents occur on the road every single day just because the rider didn't follow these basic protocols.

9. Check ahead before accelerating and glance back before hitting the brakes.

This also means checking your left/right rear-view mirror before switching on the turn signal and well before changing the lane (to overtake or to pull over to the curb). DO NOT stare (fixation) in any of the directions for longer than 2 seconds, other than the front. 

10. Keep distance on all sides at all times.

I mean it. The population density in India takes away some of this luxury, but in any given situation, it is always possible to maintain some space in the front and possibly at the back of our motorcycle. Depending on the speed you are traveling, the distance between your front tire and the back of the vehicle you are following should be maintained. Learn the two-second rule and then make it 3 or 4 seconds depending on your speed. Also do not entertain passing bikes/cars to get too close to your motorcycle, no matter what is the reason. Either way, your life/bike will be at risk, so stay safe and keep your distance.

Thats all!! Now get your goofy butt off that couch and go ride that bike you bought to show off anyway. Jeeeez. Ride safe out there. And if any of these tips helped you be a good rider, do drop by with a note of thanks. Not that I care if you don't! lol



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