Before The Ride
In this video, Jarrah, Beau and I discuss the day's ride ahead. You will see that the ride I have planned is a long one. When I was just starting out riding I went on rides that were much shorter than this, and built up to these longer rides over time as I gained more experience.
The Ride Plan:
Going for a recreational ride involves some planning, even if just an informal chat over a coffee.
I like to have a plan for a ride as it helps make sure I am prepared for what could happen in the ride ahead.
During a ride the unexpected can happen (e.g. changes in weather conditions). When something happens that causes the ride to go 'off-plan', it rings alarm bells in me and I like to re-think and, along with the other guys on the ride, adjust the plan if necessary.
When going for a recreational ride, especially by myself, I always let someone who is not going on the ride know what my plan is and approximately when I can be expected back home.
Central to any ride plan is making a decision on where I will be riding to and how I am going to get there and back.
When planning the route, I always make sure to plan scheduled rest breaks. When riding in a group, all the guys know that these planned stops are also our meeting points in case any of us get separated during the ride.
I always make a habit of checking the weather forecast in advance so that, I have the right gear with me, and I know that the ride isn't going to be too long for the conditions ahead.
There's good information about riding for conditions if you want to know more.
You will see in the video that I am carrying a small backpack. In it, I have some light wet weather gear in anticipation for the showers forecast for later in the day. I also have some water, because I expect to lose fluid wearing my leathers on such a long ride.
I try to avoid carrying a backpack if I can. However, if I do, I make sure it is light because a heavy backpack can over-balance the bike and cause my shoulders to get tired. I also make sure there is nothing sharp inside that could injure me if I was to come of the bike.
I always give the bike the once over when I go for a recreational ride. Like, Beau in the video, even if your bike is relatively new, it is a good idea to check out its basic mechanical condition before each ride.
Here's a checklist to help you do your own check.
It seems like an obvious one, but I also remember to check that I have enough fuel to get through the ride and plan where I may need to fill up along the way.
From time to time I will be on a new or unfamiliar bike which I have borrowed from a mate. When I have done this in the past, I make sure I know where all the controls are (e.g. indicators) and how they work before I head off, because they can be different from bike to bike. I'll also take the ride easy as the dynamics of the bike are almost always different to what I am used to.
You will see in the video that the guys and I are wearing gear that suit the conditions ahead, and will give us the best possible protection.
There's a comprehensive section on Protective clothing which can help you to choose the gear that's right for you.
I love to ride, so once a ride is planned I really look forward to it. However, there have been times when I have been feeling ill, tired or I have been frustrated or upset about things that may have happened during the week. As disappointing as it is, I have often decided to reschedule the rides on these occasions.
The only thing better than going on a great ride, is sharing it with mates.
But, when I do, I remember that each rider has different levels of riding experience and familiarity with the route.
For this reason I encourage the group to ride to the abilities of the least experienced rider.
At the start of the Coastal riding video, the guys and I decide that Jarrah should take the lead given that he has had the least amount of experience on the road ahead. By doing this he is able to set the pace and ride within his limits.
Many clubs and associations organise larger group rides and generally have their own specific ride procedures and guidelines that you will need to be aware of if you join their rides.
Pre Ride Checklist:
There's a simple pre-ride checklist to help you prepare for your recreational ride. It summarises many of the things discussed here and in the video.