by Jim Park aka RideMyst
Eric and Charlie were the best of motorcycle riding buddies. They would get together nearly every weekend, ride to breakfast, swap a few tales and visit their local motorcycle shop.
Every summer Eric would take a long motorcycle trip on his bike, while Charlie having obligations to family and work, could only hear about the details upon Eric’s return.
Finally the time came when Charlie could put three weeks together for that long road motorcycle trip. No two ways about it, Eric and Charlie were going to see the country together on two wheels!
Unfortunately, the pre-ride excitement was the best part of the trip.
The guys experienced no mechanical problems, no accidents and no problems back home with family or work. So what happened?
You need to ask yourself how compatible are you and your riding companion?
Prior to any long motorcycle tour you need to be honest with your assessment of several things and follow up with a candid conversation with your riding partner.
Here are a few things to consider.
Riding skills can mean a lot of things. For example, riding skills can mean how fast a motorcyclist navigates a “tricky” section of road. Imagine you reach a really twisty section of mountain highway, just what you have been waiting to enjoy on your trip. However, the other rider is a bit intimidated by those same roads and slows down...a lot!
When you have completed that nice section of roadway you may find yourself quite a few minutes ahead of your friend and spend a half an hour waiting on the side of the road.
First, and most importantly, you can’t ask your friend to pick up the pace. This can take away the enjoyment of their ride not to mention the possibility of creating an accident. Secondly, the slower rider may ask you to slow down and ride down to their comfort level. Again, not good because you are now sacrificing what you may enjoy the most.
Riding skills can also include the rider’s stamina. One rider might consider a long day in the saddle to be 300 miles while the other may want to put in 600 miles per day. If you are faced with cutting your riding days in half or doubling your riding day depending on your perspective, your trip plans will change significantly. You may miss seeing Mount Rushmore or ride by so fast you barely get to see George Washington’s nose!
These are just to examples of riding skills that can come into conflict between two motorcyclists on a long motorcycle trip – so get to know your buddy’s skills beforehand!
Ah, the money issue! A worse case scenario could be that one rider’s idea of roughing it is having a room that doesn’t offer HD television while the other guy’s idea is a campground that doesn’t have showers. This is an extreme example of course but there are more subtle and realistic issues to consider. Do you want to share a room? If your riding buddy snores like a drunken sailor or watches TV until 2 AM this could be a real problem.
Meals can become an issue, too. Do you eat three squares, two or even one? Most importantly perhaps, where do you eat? Again, tastes can vary from Mickey D’s verses a five star restaurant, all items to consider before setting out.Do you have similar motorcycle touring experience?
Those that travel often may take for granted what they have learned over the years. An experienced motorcycle touring rider will know what to pack on their motorcycle and how to pack it. You may find yourself each morning waiting for your traveling partner to pack his bike or routinely stopping along the way to pick up necessity items at Wal-Mart. Either way this cuts into your travel time and can become a point of irritation or embarrassment.
No I don’t mean are they both red! First off consider the range of both (all) motorcycles. It doesn’t help if one rider’s motorcycle has a 300 mile range if the partner’s bike can barely reach 100 miles before needing gas. Yes, you can simply stop more often to fuel but this limitation in certain parts of the country may dictate where you can ride.
Also, if you can’t pack both bikes to carry essential gear this will alter your plans. This is particularly important to those motorcyclists who are camping but will also dictate the number of laundry stops along the way.
In the case of Eric and Charlie, they probably had compatible personalities...well at least when they started out!
It may be as silly as your buddy never gets geared up to ride as quickly as you or you both strongly disagree who should have been elected dog catcher in the last election. Regardless, little things that may bug you on a day ride can become a really big deal over an extended period of time on the road. You need to ask yourself before starting out if you can handle your riding buddy’s little idiosyncrasies on a daily basis and of course can he deal with yours?
Bottom line is to be candid with yourself and your riding companion before starting out on that long motorcycle road trip.
After all riding buddies can be the best of friends and touring buddies can become the worst of enemies.
Don’t let that happen to you!