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First Time going a
Motorcycle Road Trip?
Getting mentally prepared
Your first road trip to Sturgis, or anywhere, may find you with a mild case of the
jitters.  I have had conversations with seriously experienced bikers who have had the
jitters prior to their first cross country trip.

I remember the summer prior to our first trip.  I was so pumped I didn’t think about
being nervous.  Until one day while watching the weather, the US map was on
display and I actually looked at the distance from my state to South Dakota.  That is
when I thought, shit; that
is a long way to go on a motorcycle.  

Not wanting any dread for this trip I had been so excited for; I instantly began
thinking of ways to minimize the distance.  First, my Dad was our Road Captain and
his goal was to enjoy the journey as much as the rally.  We only traveled 500 miles a
day and didn’t travel at night.  We allowed enough time off for travel & the rally so
we weren’t in a rush.  So I thought 500 miles, no problem, we burn 250+ mile days
without realizing it

The second technique I used to minimize the distance was gas stops.  We can all
easily ride out a tank of gas.  If you can ride a tank of gas without hesitation, then
think of the trip as ONE gas stop at a time.  Mentally divide your day into gas stops.  
Allow enough travel time per day to use your gas stops to rest from any fatigue and
fuel up with fluids and food, if necessary.  The adrenaline also helps.  While you are
on the road, embarking on this journey, it all feels different than a routine trip or
familiar weekend ride.  

If the distance doesn’t make you nervous, the stories are killer.  Everybody has a
story.  Wind, Rain, ROCKS, you name it – a biker has experienced it.  And we all
love to tell our stories.  Shit happens on the road, no doubt.
 And if you are not an
experienced, confident rider you should not make a cross country journey.
you are a passenger you have to endure the travel and all the elements just the
same, but you don’t need the skills required to maneuver the motorcycle through the
things you might experience.  But you do need to be a skilled passenger, read the
article on
passengers on a motorcycle if you are new to riding.  

An experienced rider shouldn’t have problems with ‘situations’ that you may, I
repeat, MAY, encounter on your journey.  It is not necessary to ride through hail
storms, or lightening strikes.  You always have the option of pulling over.  Pop up
storms happen and you may get caught in something temporarily.  

Maybe you have a Road Captain that doesn’t see ANYTHING as a challenge.  I
would suggest getting together days prior to leaving to discuss what you feel would
make you uncomfortable enough to diminish your ability to travel safely.  Keep in
mind, however, that every time you ride outside of your comfort zone you are
gaining skills as a rider and each situation becomes less of a big deal.

A perfect example of this:  When I first started riding my own Harley, I hated passing
semi’s on the interstate.  Especially since our speed of travel was already at my
highest end of comfort, (the sweet spot between smooth and the infamous Sporty
death wobble) and passing a semi meant not only bracing for the wind, but also
increasing my speed to minimize the time spent along side of the semi.  

One spring, after a long, snowy, crappy winter, my husband and I got on our bikes,
desperate to ride.  I don’t know what the wind speed was that day, but the white caps
in the pond should have clued us in.  The wind was blowing so hard that every
gravel driveway we passed sand blasted our bikes, not to mention our faces.  
Debris, such as limbs & garbage cans, were flying across the road.  Needless to
say, keeping the bike on the road was a challenge.  That trip lasted 15 miles, that’s
it.  But now. . .semi’s?  Ha! They are NOTHING!!  I learned that day that I could
handle my bike in sustained winds at least 2-3 times stronger than those coming
from a semi for a brief moment.

am not recommending going out in dangerous situations to improve your riding
skills!  But embrace the learning opportunity if it does happen.  Somehow that
makes it easier to deal with.

The most important thing you can do before heading off on a long journey is to have
confidence in your abilities.  Your state of mind plays a big role in your riding abilities.
If you feel you are lacking a little in experience but still plan to go, take as many road
trips that you can before the big one, to gain more experience and exposure to
‘situations’ that occur while riding.

Everyone I have talked with that had experienced a little nervousness, agree, that it
was all for nothing.  The trips were awesome and the ‘situations’ just add to the
whole experience for the better.  
Have fun, ride smart, and be safe!

  • Keep the amount of miles traveled in a day manageable and reasonable.  
  • Do not travel at night.
  • Look at the day of travel as one gas tank at a time, in other words, gas stop to
    gas stop.
  • Have a meeting with your traveling group and Road Captain about limitations.  
    Don’t push yourself beyond what you know you are capable of handling.
  • Be confident.

What do I need to do to get my bike ready?!  

    By:  Pam
    June 2011
First time going to Sturgis?  Feeling Overwhelmed?  
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Everything you need to know to go to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
The anatomy of a packed motorcycle for your road trip
The anatomy of a
packed motorcycle
for your road trip.
Click Photo To Enlarge
Preparing For
A Road Trip

Get Your
Ready For A
Road Trip

Gear You Need
For Your Motorcycle
Road Trip

Want to get a feel of
the Road Trip To
Sturgis?  Read the

"Road To Sturgis"

a story of our 3 day
journey to the
2006 Sturgis
Motorcycle Rally  


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