I have been thinking long and hard about this post. In a way it has been a long time coming. I know I have to write it, but also know that some people will take this post too seriously or take it personally. It is not meant to be that way, but I have come to realize I cannot control what people think or how they feel. So be it…… On with the post.
I will admit it. I almost lost the faith this year. After events over the last two years, I found myself in the spring of this past riding season wondering why I even ride a motorcycle when I did not enjoy it anymore. Or to be more specific – what it was about riding I did not enjoy anymore. I took some time and did some soul searching. I hauled out my ride journals and inched through them to see where things had changed. I lost sleep over some people commenting that I was “….. full of shit….” because they did not think I rode. It was a long, hard confusing time because, to be honest, since getting my license I could never see myself as NOT riding. I love it.
So, I started thinking back on the rides I took and began making notes as to each time I felt disheartened or discouraged about riding. I finally had an “Aha!” moment. I started combing the Internet for articles on how to solve my problem. Nothing. I asked around and got mumbled feedback given with hang-dog expressions. What I was feeling was not absurd. It just was not talked about in case it hurt someone or caused problems.
So here I go, people. I am going to attempt to write a piece on motorcycle touring. The difference? From the slant of
HOW TO TOUR WITH A COMPANION ON A MOTORCYCLE TRIP
I think that anyone who has been riding for a while and done any type of trip, remembers that one particular trip where you wake up and realize that this just is not working. It truly is hard to admit that we have made a mistake and now we have to tough it out to the end.
After a few weeks of mulling it over, here are some of my suggestions on how to approach a ride with a companion.
1. Have an open and honest conversation with your ride companions as to what your expectations are for the trip. Do you have a list of something you want to see? Tell them! It is your trip as well. Nothing leaves a more sour taste in a persons mouth than embarking on a trip with companions after agreeing upon sightseeing items, then you arriving home realizing you’ve wasted time and money and haven’t even seen one thing on your wish list.
2. Ride with the person/people on a short trip first. This is the litmus test. A 3-4 day trip is a great way to see how compatible you are together. If after 3 days you cannot stand each other – for your own sanity do not plan anything longer. Cut your losses now.
3. One bike – one kit. On two separate miserable trips I found myself and other riders being the supply bike for other ill prepared companions. They obviously did not prepare. And really, why should they when there are people nice enough to pack everything needed for a trip? Be prepared to have the conversation. My bike. My kit/stuff. I am not your personal supply /pack mule. Unless, of course one person has agreed to carry the tools and another has agreed to carry the tent. But still have the conversation.
4. Ride route. Each person has their favourite route. If you are jumping in on a ride someone else has planned, be prepared to follow their lead. Their ride. Their route. It is considered bad manners and causes friction if you start suggesting alternative routes every time the group stops, just because you feel the whim to do so. Most people who take the time to plan the route do so based on the gas stops and accommodation availability. Changing a route mid ride could possibly leave someone stressing about gas shortages or causing people to forfeit money on prepaid accommodations.
5. Ride planning. If it is a group ride, then all riders should be in on the planning of the ride. If someone is already planning the ride, and you express interest in coming along, then do not expect them to change their plans for you. It is great if they include you, but don’t expect them to change based on your participation. Their ride. Their route.
6. Your invitee – your problem. Many a time I have gone on a trip and someone joins at the last minute because they were invited along by one of the group. During the trip said invitee starts having issues with departure times. Or finances. Or food. Or bike issues. Sometimes all of the above. Rule of thumb: it is irresponsible and disrespectful to ruin the trip for the entire group because you have invited an idiot. If said invitee cannot get his ass out of bed before 11am and the rest of the group is ready and waiting at 7 – you invited them……it’s your problem to sort out. Expect for the rest of the group to leave on schedule and for you to make sure that you and invitee to meet up at the desired location. (Usually the hotel/campsite for the night).
7. Money. Money. Money. It is rude and disrespectful to expect the other person to bear the financial burden of the entire trip unless agreed upon when the ride is being planned. Coming on the ride expecting to “bum” food/accommodations will cause bad feelings. And guarantee you will not be invited to the next trip. I actually had this happen to me. Or being asked on the morning of the trip as we are in line on the ferry docks if I minded bank rolling the whole trip because it would cause financial stress for one of the participants if I didn’t. Needless to say, if the trip goes sideways – do not expect to be reimbursed. Chalk it up to a learning experience and move on.
8. Ride styles. This is probably by far the main thing that will make or break your trip. People do not change their ride styles over night. If your ride companion is constantly late, ill prepared, unsafe or just an out and out idiot – don’t expect them to change overnight. This will be their behaviours on the trip. Be prepared. There are some people that you might get along great with off the bike, but on the bike you want to punch them in the throat. This is a tricky one. No one takes it well when being told “Hey, you’re a great person but you are too much of an asshole for me to invite you along on my on once-in-a-lifetime trip”. You’ll have to figure this one out yourselves on how to break it to them. Or just bite the bullet- spit it out and deal with the fall out.
9. Alone time. Just because you are traveling together does not mean you have to spend every second together. Plan separate accommodations or activities at the end of each day to give your ride companions personal space. Unless you live with this person on a constant basis personal space will help guarantee you finishing your trip as friends.
In the meantime, I have regained my faith and know how short life is when it comes to activities I love doing. I just have to take my own advice and listen to my “gut” more. I need to do the things I love with the people I enjoy. The rest – not so much.
~ Travel safe, my friends. Ride Well ~
Song of the Day: Bob Seger – Roll Away