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Riding to 2019 India Bike Week comes well before the event itself, here’s what to do and what not to do during the Great Migration ride to Goa
It’s that time of the year again! A time where all the motorcycle enthusiasts dust off their gear, get their sweet ride ready to rev up and head to Goa with buddies and bikers alike to ride down from every corner of the country to celebrate the world of biking at Asia’s biggest biker festival India Bike Week (IBW). The 6th edition of the IBW is back after a year’s hiatus! Here’s what you can expect from IBW.
Of course, there are a bunch of things to look forward to at the IBW, but the real action starts on the road, even before the event. The Great Migration ride to Goa. So regardless of wherever you are riding from or whatever your ride is, riding along the long and lonesome highways, the tiny emerald lakes, through the quaint villages, and oh, the twisties on those famous mountain roads which makes the ride even more exhilarating with innumerable sharp curves and switchbacks, is not only something that every motorcyclist looks forward to but this is what IBW’s Great Migration ride to Goa is all about.
So this unique experience is not only about the highlights, the Goan gourmet delights and the magnificent riding but also about the path that leads to the pinnacle of the motorcycling experience, the one that makes you a part of the motorcycling tribe – the India Bike Week.
However, keeping almost everything spontaneous or going with the flow or simply put, not planning the ride beforehand may put a full stop to your access to the 2019 IBW, even before reaching there. So here’s a list of what you can do take that full stop off your map.
Any ride that goes beyond 36 hours (pure saddle time) needs a lot of research to be done. Now, attending an unknown event is different ball game altogether, so here, the best part is that you know the kind of event you are attending. So if you are all about bikes, beer and erm…..biking brotherhood? Head to the social platform right away and have a look at their programs, rides and even vendors. Do not hesitate to talk to the organisers or even the riders who’ve attended the event in the past that interest you, get feedback online. Motorcycle forums are another great source to feel what the event is going to be like as well as the kind of people who are likely to attend.
The next step after all the research is to planning the event out. Are you going to camp or stay in a hotel? Are you planning to have some rider training, participate in a treasure hunt on two wheels, or perhaps a slow race? What’s the parking going to be like? Find out the details in advance, and prep accordingly: service your bike before you go, pack your camping gear and bike cover if needed, and book your hotel in advance – most of the time, hotel prices skyrocket before the event, so we hope you’ve booked them already!
Now, though we advise you to ensure your bike is in top notch condition before you head out on the open road, the same becomes far more important when you're heading out on a road trip considering the mileage that will be added to your motorcycle’s odometer during the trip should be taken into account as well. Of course, there is almost nothing we can do about the problems that are unavoidable, but there is nothing worse than being stranded on the side of the road because of an avoidable problem.
There is no doubt that you should be taking professional assistance to check the bike all over. But, like you don’t run a marathon without preparing for it, you shouldn’t try to ride long distances without preparation either. Go ride and do some random dry runs well before the event, so that you get some decent time to run it through your trusted motorcycle mechanic, post the run. If possible, while he's there with his head buried in your single, twin or even V-Twins, apart from offering him a few extra bucks to have a knowledgeable eye give the motorcycle a once-over always helps. And even if you don’t like to get dirt under your nails, make sure you know the basics like oil changes, tyre patches, chain lubrication and adjustment because learn this or getting some ‘what to do when’ from your trusted mechanic will definitely pay off! Also, it is not only better to have a trusted eye point out a change in the motorcycle rather than some random repair shop that just happens to be close to where you broke down, it is better to notice it yourself, so as to work on it from a fresh perspective. This may even save you from paying the inflated repair bill of some random highway-side mechanic, which might cut into the spending fund put aside for the event itself, and trust me there is nothing more annoying than attending a motorcycle festival flat broke.
Also, if you have an option, buy a third party / appropriate roadside assistance because you never know when you might need it.
This is one of the best ways TO BE STUPID! We are pretty sure nobody wants to be. Besides the fact that drinking and operating a motorcycle (or any automobile) is a stupid idea at any time, performing the same in a new or a different town especially on unfamiliar roads with maybe more or different law enforcement puts it in the category of extremely dumb moves. Remember, there is a reason all the good mood to celebrate while hanging out with buddies and bikers alike and newfound friends at the most happening bars with those special shots or bucket of beers could be followed by getting on to the saddle, is called ‘temptation’. Exactly why a motorcycle event is not only about those hours at the bar.
Keep a friend, family member or any other contact you trust knows what your plans are for the road trip and keep checking in with them regularly. It’s comforting to know that someone knows your whereabouts when you check in. There are also GPS tracking applications for your cell phone for your peeps to locate you, as long as your phone is turned on. Don’t hesitate to use them as much as you can, not because if anything goes terribly wrong, being able to call the cavalry in can make a real difference, but even when you call them, you will be able to fall off the map and meet with the landscape a lot closer than you had planned for, making it easier for emergency services to trace you. This can also be a great tool for other riders in your group to check-in on your whereabouts in case someone falls behind.
Even with all of the major stops planned, we aren’t done yet. Fortunately or unfortunately, every humble steed needs a refuel and depending on the tank capacity as some motorcycles have fairly short ranges (some much more than others), stops are required at a regular interval which varies right from 100km to 500km and maybe above. Hence, you’ll want to plan your fuel stops ahead of time if you’re going to be away from highly populated areas. Look for fuel stations ahead of time on Google Maps and call ahead to make sure that fuel stations still exist if you have not been on that route. Once you have a destination in mind, it is better to break the mileage down by the number of days you have. Check the total distance, trace all the working fuel pumps on the way on maps, mark them out. Feed your GPS with it and stir it up with your stays along the way because there is nothing worse than pushing a piece of metal down or up the road because of not refueling it some km ago. In fact, carrying a little extra fuel can take the scare out of an unpleasant situation.
When it comes to your stay, refer to a map to decide on some fun places to stop for the night along the way to your destination, whether it is to or from Goa. Consider your state of mind for that time of the road trip. For instance, on the way out, you’ll probably have the energy to camp somewhere awesome, even if it’s 20km out of the way and at the end of a rutted dirt road. On the tail end of a two-day trip in Goa, nothing will sound better than a run-down hotel’s pool with buddies or even better, just yourself. But just make sure that it is within the limits of your riding abilities considering how far you’ve ridden previously. Remember, it is supposed to be fun, it is not an Iron Butt ride or a death march.
This is one of the most fun and frustrating parts of the process. Resist the temptation to do everything. Hence, keep it real and more importantly, be honest with yourself about the kind of mileage you’d like to do in a day. Ask yourself if you or the motorcycle can handle it. There might be a 200km stretch your motorcycle can make up but your body might beg to differ even halfway through the journey. Knowingly or unknowingly that will eventually force you to rush to get to the destination of the day which might kill the best part of the trip - the ride.
When you are planning your route, especially the hotels on the way, make sure that you find and book a hotel that is not only willing to accommodate your motorcycles, but it has a camera covered parking that is inside the hotel premises. And after reaching there, look for well-lit areas or in direct view of a security camera and certainly close to other motorcycles. If possible, park it well within your hotel room’s field of vision to obviously monitor as much as you can. Take advantage of the natural obstacles (like a tree in a compound) or man-made barriers (like a wall or a pillar) by parking behind them to deter casual thieves.
Tip: Never ever store the motorcycle registration / papers on / in the bike itself.
Note: Use your map’s legend. Squiggly lines equal fun, green areas equal plant life, blue equals water. See if any roads are nearby or are on your way worth taking (hint: it’s worth it).
Fret not! The final step here is to plot all of the above onto a map of some sort, digital or a physical paper map. If it is a paper one then draw it all out there and shove it in one of your jacket pockets or in your tank bag, like old school because there is a thin chance of you remembering it all, that is if you want to enjoy the ride. If you are using an electronic map, a sequential list of all the destinations and addresses should be enough. If you map it out on your phone, then email yourself the Google map location files, and save them on your phone, so as to access them even when you are smack in the middle of nowhere. In case if you are riding in the group, it is a good practice to send the same to everyone, it’s a good precaution to take should something come up, in case the group splits up.
It’s simple yet crucial. Get plenty of rest / sleep. Don’t rely on caffeine to keep you going through the day. Rest up and listen to your body. Know when to stop. Tired? Pull over now! And remember, it's often the case that a rest stop can make you go faster.
Be Healthy: If you can't eat right, at least eat light. Be sure to stay hydrated, and when outside of well-populated areas, carry at least 2 litres of water. Carry vitamins, protein bars and aspirin, too, of course after consulting with the doctor.
Not all helmets are designed for cold rides. Dual-sport and off-road helmets offer unequivocal ventilation, which is great when you're climbing hills or romping through a sunny meadow. But when it's cold, well, ventilation means ice cream headache. So what to do then? It’s simple. So a standard full-face helmet will do the trick, right? Sort of. The quieter the helmet, the more insulation it likely has. The tighter the fit, the less likely it will let air in unless requested through venting. Besides that, a cold head is not only distracting, but it's also dangerous. Headaches come quickly and your ability to make crucial decisions can be adversely affected.
As anyone who has ridden a motorcycle when it's cold will tell you, the loss of warmth is accelerated parallel to the speed of your travel. And when that happens, small tasks become mountains to climb. You might be cozy warm in a windcheater or a sweater when just walking around outside the hotel, but not so much when faced with a 80kmph breeze, one of the biggest challenges you face when riding in the cold, the wind chill. Help yourself with accessories to your bike, like a windshield or maybe a pair of hand guards. On your person, make sure your clothes are zipped up properly and there are no obvious places for wind to creep in.
Cold fingers on a motorcycle ride mean less dexterity and that can end up being dangerous. Not all the motorcycle have heated grips or even seat for that matter. However, don’t be afraid of cheapskate options like thermal vests, jackets, pair of gloves, pants, underwear, socks, and so on to help you trap heat. For instance, consider grabbing a couple of those plastic or rubber gloves and use them as glove liners in conjunction with some good riding gloves which will not only keep the cold off, but will keep away moisture. Speaking of which, do not use cotton as it is a breathable fabric that holds moisture. It is great in the summer but terrible when the temperature drops. So leave your favorite sweatshirt at home. Choose wool or any other fabric that wicks away moisture, this is especially true for your base layer.
And of course, one of the oldest tricks in the book is wrapping your chest and belly in newspaper before putting on your riding jacket. Speaking of which, tearing holes for your head and arms in a trash bag and wearing it as a vest underneath your jacket could work as a good backup. It might seem a little silly, but trust me, you won’t care.
Wear clothes that fit because we think that bigger is better when it comes to cold-weather clothing. Well, it isn’t. Bigger clothes may allow too much air to circulate and you do not want to be wearing a puffed up jacket at certain speeds. However, on the flipside, don’t wear clothing that is too tight and restricts blood flow; don’t make it a challenge for your body to circulate warm blood to extremities.
It isn’t about you only either, do give your motorcycle a thought as much as for yourself. Think about how the cold affects your bike. The engine and tyres will take longer to warm up before riding out in the cold so please slow things down a little and make sure you pack some extra patience.
There is no doubt that almost everyone accepts cards and online payment nowadays. But not everyone or every bar for the matter. Carry cash. While it is easy to be angry with the owner of a casual bar or stands selling everything right from helmet stickers to chaps for not accepting cards or online payments, realising that the bar or the store owner receives a portion from the online transaction may leave a bitter taste in any biker’s mouth.
Tip: Keep enough cash close until the last day of the event because most of the stalls are anxious to get rid of their stuff before they go, so if you buy on the last day of the event, you’re more likely to get a better deal. You’re welcome!
This one is really two tips in one and the larger the event the closer the advice should ideally be followed. Finding a group of friends or riding buddies to enjoy the event with is easily done and usually inevitable. It results in a pack of motorcycles roaming from place to place in typical biker camaraderie during or to the event. While not going into the kind of detail or lengths required for an organized ride, having everyone in the group knowing the route, direction and distance to the next destination can not only make for a smoother trip but certainly a safer one by eliminating unforeseen lane changes or the need for erratic riding.
Being careful about where you park your motorcycle at the event is as important as anything else. Why? Well, not only for the love for your own motorcycle but IT IS YOUR RIDE BACK HOME!
There are very few things that stir the anger in bikers as much as motorcycle thieves and yet they swarm to the same rallies and events as riding enthusiasts for obvious reasons. Thieves targeting motorcycle events is not an uncommon concern anymore. Apart from the local authorities who have become proactive in combating them, we should own the responsibility to ensure that we come away from the event with the same motorcycle we rode in on. It goes unsaid that the event goes on for the whole day and almost until late at night. So park your ride in a well-lit area (at both night and day) because there is always a lot of activity going on there, besides there is usually an entrance or exit that fits only one motorcycle at a time. But, avoid parking near busy roads. Understand the difference.
Also, if you are one of those who think using a fork or a disc lock is less manly, STOP! Do not hesitate to use one of those or any other locking mechanism you prefer, especially since hitching a ride home sans a motorcycle certainly doesn’t fall under the definition of ‘cool’. But it does not end here, no matter how much fun the event is, come back after regular intervals to check on your ride. And if you’ve got too much time to spare, look out for warning signs while walking or riding around, like anyone loitering around a motorcycle or tampering or simply taking too much interest in a motorcycle to help fellow motorcyclists.
Tip: Never ever store the motorcycle registration / papers on / in the bike itself for obvious reasons.
Believe it or not, things do get lost on a long trip, including your motorcycle keys. Be mindful of where you store the spare, as thieves can go rustling through your belongings.
What to pack, how to pack it, what luggage can you use? First of all, pack light, be a minimalist. But, make sure that you use a tad bigger saddle bag or backpack because you are almost guaranteed to fill it from whatever shopping you’re going to do at the event. Pack your luggage as if you were riding on a hot summer day. That way, you’ll be 100 per cent full but when you actually start riding, the luggage will get smaller and lighter because you’ll be wearing all your gear. In case you are a heavy traveller, a pair of panniers and a duffel bag should work to carry your bedroom (camping gear), your kitchen and pantry (cooking stove, a pot, a pan, some dishes, spices, and some food) and the duffel bag which acts as your office which accommodates your laptop, notebook, pens and SD cards, etc. Pretty much all you need for a motorcycle road trip, whether it’s a 400km two way round road trip or a 1000km one: if you’ve got your bedroom, kitchen, and office ready, you’re good to go!
ATGATT – All The Gear All The Time. Period!
Personal Identification – Keep your wallet and cell phone in a place where it’s quickly accessible, including your license, registration, proof of insurance, and medical information documents as well which needs to be close by in case you are pulled over or in the event of an accident.
Protective Eyewear – There is no need to tell contact lens users to carry a spare set of contacts or glasses if you need corrective eyewear for vision. However, consider packing a separate visor to adjust to changes in different ambient lighting, possibly a dark, tinted one for daytime and a clear visor for nighttime riding.
Earplugs – Wear earplugs every day of the ride to reduce fatigue from wind noise. Wind noise can cause headaches from the constant static noise heard from inside the helmet. You can simply pick up a pack of disposable ones so you can wear a fresh set every day on the ride.
Extra Toiletries – Carry anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, pain or regular medications, bug repellent, soaps, shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, female sanitary items (if applicable), toothbrush, toothpaste and floss, grooming supplies and a spare washcloth.
Your toolkit, however basic, can save you from being stranded on the road. Consult your trusted mechanic who has been working on your motorcycle pre and post dry runs to get the right tools for your motorcycle. Apart from your mechanic’s suggestion, carry a small flashlight, tyre repair kit (depending on the tyre type) with inflator and gauge, bungee cords, and a set of jumper cables which can be useful on a long ride.
And of course, there’s no need to stress the importance of a good first aid kit that can be bought after doing a little research online which will help to get you an entire first aid kit.
Last but not the least, perform a thorough T-CLOCS inspection each morning and at EOD: What is T-CLOCS, it is checking your Tires and Wheels, Controls, Lights and Electrics, Oil and Other Fluids, Chassis and both the Stands. Remember this term.
Whether attending for the first time or if you’re a veteran of these events, we hope these tips help you enjoy the IBW using the above tips. Also, this isn’t the definitive guide by any means. If you have any suggestions or insights to add to our article helping your fellow riders get more out of their next motorcycle event, feel free to give us a shout out or comment below.