Some riders like to travel alone, and if you can cope with the solitude, this has many advantages. You decide the route, the duration of the tour and you get out of bed when you please, be it early or late. If you’re heading down the motorway in France, see the sign for Spain and think ‘I’ll have some of that’, there’s no problem, you just do it. This once happened to me by the way; I ended up in Spain without really meaning to, and had a great time.
On the other side of the coin, it can be a problem when things go wrong. A breakdown is always a headache, but if you’re alone it can prove very troublesome, especially if you have to leave your bike unattended. Another issue is illness; no one plans to be sick, but it can happen. Being sick is bad; being sick and alone in a foreign country is worse. Which brings us on to insurance; whether you are traveling alone or in a group, do the sensible thing, and make sure both you and your bike are covered.
Most people will be riding with a group, so there are a few things to consider at the planning stage. It is imperative that the route is decided before the start of the tour. Talk to each other and agree exactly where you are going, how many hours a day you will ride and how often you will stop. Do you have both fast and slow riders in your group? If you intend to stick together, you will need to reach a compromise, but don’t try and make slow riders go faster; that’s a sure fire recipe for trouble.
Do your homework and know exactly where you are going to end each day, and where you will be sleeping, whether it be in a city hotel or a campsite. If you are staying in a city hotel, it could be a wise move to select one that has private, secure parking. Even if nothing happens to your bike parked on the street, you could spend a sleepless night worrying about it. A well organized, group tour can be a memorable occasion, but skimp on the planning and it may all end in tears.
When riding in a group, it’s your job to keep an eye on the bike in front of you, whilst occasionally checking the one behind. If you can, it’s a good idea to have communication between the lead and last bike, that way, if anything happens, the trail bike can contact the lead rider immediately. However, it’s important to keep a reasonable distance between bikes. Assuming that you’re going to travel within the specified speed limits, there are going to be other road users who will want to overtake. If you’re bunched up, an overtaking vehicle can cause serious problems if you have effectively created one elongated vehicle.
If you want to go on a motorcycle tour, can’t find anyone to go with and don’t fancy going it alone, an organised motorcycle tour with a reputable motorcycle tour company could be the answer. Gone are the worries of sourcing and booking accommodation, planning routes and finding places of interest. A good company will generally have a back up vehicle available to carry your luggage, along with other essentials such as water and first aid kit. They will meet you at a designated point; from there on, you hand over your luggage and enjoy the ride.
All the hotels will have been pre-booked and places of interest checked out. Of course, it costs a little extra to do it this way, but it’s well worth it. You can so easily sail past an amazing place that lies a few short miles from the well worn path. A prime example of this is the Spanish Motorcycle Museum, which sits at the edge of the village of Hervas, a place no one would ever pass through to go anywhere. Many of the gems to be found on tour are off the beaten track, but hopefully, your tour operator will have researched the area and discovered them for you. The friendships forged on this type of tours can last a lifetime.
Whether you are going alone, with a group or on an organized tour, ride safely and sensibly and enjoy yourself. Look after your fellow riders, and they will in turn, take care of you. Once bitten by the touring bug, it’s very difficult to leave it alone, so here’s to many years of happy touring.
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