This Simplest Component of More Effective Motorcycle Riding

Rest Stop

Take a Break

What’s the simplest thing you and I can do, as part of our motorcycle riding, to increase our enjoyment AND safety?

Its simplicity belies its value.

Take a break.

Get off the bike and rest.

Taking a break after riding for a while helps us to become more alert when we get back in the saddle. Particularly after we’ve become hungry, tired, hot, cold, thirsty or cramped. Anything that can distract us from the road can reduce our safety and riding enjoyment.

So, get off the road, get off the bike. Get something to eat. Take a little walk. Take some photos. Hang out and chat. Get warmed up. Cool off a little. Whatever works for you as a break.

Heck, when needed, I’ve taken naps in all kinds of places when I’ve been on the road long enough to wear me out.

Restaurants, gas stations and actual rest stops are the most common places to stop. But if those aren’t available when you need a rest, just pull off the side of the road — obviously in a safe place — to stretch some muscles, grab a drink of water or a snack. You did bring some water and a snack, didn’t you?

Speaking of snacks, those of you who are health conscious already know that sugary snacks, including most so-called protein bars (which use clever packaging to get you to believe they’re healthy) are actually not a good food source at all to maintain your energy, even if they give you a temporary lift. Having said that, they may at least be a step above candy bars.

And just to state the obvious, if you’re going to take a break to grab some grub and something to drink, you already know that alcohol is not going to help your cause of actually getting rejuvenated.

Anyway, the simple message here is to take a break. Get off your bike and rest, so that when you’re back in the saddle a little bit later, you will be more alert.

58 thoughts on “This Simplest Component of More Effective Motorcycle Riding

  • Be prepared with the right clothing. As an example, when you leave for a long trip, be sure to bring the warmest clothing that you will need on your journey. A wind/water repellent outer shell is a must for both upper AND lower body. Bring an electric jacket and gloves even if you have to stow them on the bike somewhere. Weather conditions can get cold in a hurry. If you are caught without the proper clothing, then then you will be miserable AND less safe due to the distraction of the misery.

  • I especially value the ideas that life can be so much better appreciated at a slower pace. While risk makes some activities thrilling, some things, like long distance riding, require one to calculate the risks and plan around those that are avoidable. Since we all imbue our bike’s with a spirit, I’m sure they enjoy a rest as well. Safe motoring.

  • I, my parents as well as my wife made this the number one rule! STOP, REST, REFRESH! Most any liquid EXCEPT alcahol beverages. Ride sober, ride alert, have fun.

  • I agree totally. A few years ago, I stopped riding with my oldest friend and a group of gonzo riders who routinely ride up to 120 miles without a break just to go to a favorite restaurant for lunch. Though fully capable of long trips, I excused myself from these rides because I don’t enjoy the intensity and speeds of such forced marches.

  • I agree with this its very effective and thats the situation mostly happens were we always dont give too much concern. so time to change our road trip attitude, TAKE A BREAK ……

  • Totally agree with GuzziMike. Go easy on the big juicy steak or the pasta, as it will make you sleepy!!

  • Remember… it is the journey… not the destination. Make sure you stop and take some time to smell the roses along the way.

  • Mostly good advise…However CAREFUL about eating and then riding..

    Eating a meal can make one sleepy and reduce our ability to react to road hazards so it may not be a good idea to eat heavily while riding, and that includes fast food.

    Maybe munch on a Health “candy bar” or some trail mix, a fruit such as an apple or banana or a light meal, but personally I would stay away from a heavy meal while riding my bike.

    Just my opinion based on riding motorcycles for 37 years.

    YMMV

  • I am the Road Captain for a MM/MC and when planing rides always plan stops @ around 90 miles. This is for several reason, there is all most always one bike that can only go about 95 miles before you have to push it. Some of the group doesn’t ride that much and cam only stay n the saddle that long plus it is just saferf this way. Yes you can still cover many miles by doing this.

  • Resting is very important, but riding within your ability is also important. Many people ride bikes that push them beyond their abilities to recover from unplanned incidents. If your bike is making you tired quickly, it may be time to reassess the size or type of bike that you are riding. Be smart, sober, and safe when you ride.

  • Great clip. With my chronic back problems, it’s not only a good idea, it’s absolutely necessary. I can’t barely stand an hour of saddle time without a break. The vibrations from my HD “Police” Roadiie (with original seat) makes my butt numb. Ya just can’t enjoy the ride with everything screeming at you. And, the longer the ride, the more often they become necessary to wake up and relax. Thanks for the good info. I’m forwarding on to my biking compadres. Safe Motoring to ya.

  • Very good point for us to remember!! 3 years ago while riding from Dallas, Tx to home, East Ky, I was on the interestate traveling at 75 MPH when I dozed off ever so briefly. I felt the bike deviate from it’s straight course and suddenly I was WIDE awake. I was heading for the guard rail. This happened so quickly. I stopped at the next exit and had coffee and a sandwich. I knew the dangers of riding while tired but I foolishly thought “this can’t happen to me”. Well I was lucky. Now if I find myself even a bit complacent, I chew gum, get some coffee or like the video says, just walk around and exercise a bit. Get the blood flowing. Do it BEFORE you feel the need. Great site! Super good advice.

  • Great advice. I ride without a windshield, so on long hauls the wind really starts to wear me down after an hour easy. Those ten to fifteen minute breaks let me loosen up again and adds a lot more pleasure to the ride.

  • Great recommendations. Absolutely right too. we need to take breaks specially on long rides. I know as I do take breaks on my long rides and I always feel refresh and ready to move on.
    Tk U!

  • Very good idea.We try to stop the bikes from 100 to 125.We ride from Orlando to Sturgis South Dakota in that way and we ride 400 to 500 a day.All depend how every body feel.Thank you for the advice.

  • Good advice that bodes well if you are driving a motorcycle OR any other vehcle. This practice not only makes a trip more enjoyable but lowers your risk as well as, the risk to others.

  • Great advice, Thank you. Somtimes its easy to forget. Maybe if we all take more breaks we can all meet more fellow riders.

  • good and fruitful tips for safety riding.rider must follow the safety tips other wise their destnaion might be horrible.

  • good and fruitful tips for safety riding.safety is necessary for motor cycle rider other wise rider destination might be horrible.

  • Breaks are good. Fortunately for me my BMW R850C only goes around 130 miles before I start looking for a gas pump. That little break alone (pull up, get off, take off helmet and gloves, gulp some water, take a leak, fill up and pay up, put gear aback on) is just what I need to get the blood flowing again in my back side (and more importantly, my brain side). Always, when I mount up again after a break, I feel more alert and aware. Hum? Alert? Aware? Sounds like a winning combination and a much better way to spend my day on the road. Anyway, hauling my ass as fast as I can gets me there in a normal day, what maybe 30 minutes before the relaxed, aware and alert me gets there?. That relaxed “I love riding” me doesn’t feel the need to take a nap in the hotel before he goes out for dinner and drinks! Rest often, ride long and well.

  • I agree with you. I’m old (68) and after an hour or so my butt hurts and I need to get off and take a break. I always get where I’m going. Time of arrival is not important to me but safety and enjoying the ride is.

  • Like I always say, I’m never in a hurry to die!
    On long trips I stop at very least every 100 miles, gas up, get something to drink, stretch my legs and then hit the road.

    Heat is something that is not taken into concideration sometimes and I’m hear to tell ya as I was on a trip through Pendleton Oregon heading to the coast I had slowly started to get hot, it was over 100 degrees that day and I started getting light headed and knew I was in trouble.
    So I stopped at the first truck stop I could find walked right into the trucker shower and with all my clothes on, leathers and all, I turned on the shower and stood in it for about 5 minutes. Mind you I didn’t have a towel and I got a lot of looks as I paid for a bottle of water and walked back out to my bike.
    That stop probably saved my bacon!

  • Good advise! I had never really given it much thought until seeing your video. Now that I think about it I realize why I enjoy solo riding much more than group rides. While solo I can “Take a break” whenever I want/need. Riding with others, not so much unless I am leading.

    I do a fair amount of riding including multi-state, mostly non-interstate, trips from Maine to Florida . 49K in 46 months. I have at times become annoyed at my small (583cc) bike’s small fuel tank but now this makes me appreciate it more. The tank is only 2 gallons with 9/10 reserve. I usually stop for gas and a quick break just before the reserve is needed. That’s at 100 to 130 miles, Interstate / state roads respectively. I am sure if I had a larger tank I would have been tempted to go farther becoming more fatigued. Those breaks must work becuase I have no problem with riding this way for 10 to 12 hours. Those breaks must have paid off more than I realized.

    Ride safe, ride often!

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3097/3770063022_182308bfc9_b.jpg

  • About 5 years ago I ran the Ironbutt 1000 in 1 – – – on a Buell Thunderbolt with a Corban saddle that was has hard as a brick.
    I made the run in 20 some odd hours. The ONLY thing that allowed me to get it done was a quick break every half hours or so. I found that ‘safe’ place and stretched out on my back and did some deep breathing enjoyed the stillness for those few moments.
    Have also put some serious miles in on a KLR 650. Breaks are a requirement that should come posted in the owners manual for that bike – much as I loved it.
    It’s the cushy bikes I think that can cause fatigue to sneak up on you. Both my Road King and especially my BMW R1200GS could go from tank full to tank full. I often found myself more fatigued at the end of a day on those two bikes than on the others. Sure, I covered more miles but I was dead beat at the end of the day and had only seed the country as a big blur. Breaks are part of what can make a ride one worth remembering.
    Ron

  • Great advice. Best trip I have ever taken, 1500 miles to Glacier and back, was on a KLR 650 which has such an uncomfortable seat I was forced to stop about every hour to hour and fifteen minutes just to save my !!!. Got to see a lot more of the country instead of just riding. Wasn’t near as whipped at night when I stopped either. Even on my GW I stop every hour or so now.

  • Recently, I rode from Savannah, GA to Tampa, FL. On the way down, I had the insane notion of putting as many miles on the bike as I could before HAVING to stop. On the way back, I was forced to change this silly thought process.

    I was hit by the same storm cell 5 different times between Tampa and Lake Land, and had to stop and get off the bike while I waited for the weather to lighten up enough to continue my trip home.

    When I finally got back home, I wasn’t nearly as ‘wiped out’ as I had been after the trip to Tampa.

    This whole concept of ‘stopping and getting off the bike now and again’, was so simple; I don’t know why I didnt realize it sooner!

  • Sometimes the simplest advice is the best advice. My motorcycling experiences have been a lot safer and more enjoyable since I learned to stop and get off the bike for a break at regular intervals. I have met some of the most wonderful people while taking a break, makes the ride so much more enjoyable and rewarding. Thanks for reminding us, as sometimes we forget.

  • This will sound a little whacky but 30 years ago I was invited to a spiritualists meeting. I don’t go for this sort of thing, never did BUT! at that meeting a person I’d never met, stood in a trance saying that she’d a message for me but she couldn’t get through. The message was “someone is asking me to tell Kevin to slow down”!! My wife at that time said “that’ll be your driving” but nothing more was said on the matter but here’s the thing;
    There isn’t a single bad moment in my life that couldn’t have been avoided all together or been greatly reduced if I’d only learned to SLOW DOWN. One great way of slowing things down is to TAKE A BREAK as often as I need to. The better the quality of the break the better the quality of the work or play inbetween. To me it makes all the sense in the world. Nice one!

  • Ditto,
    Taking a break is a great way to recenter and energize especially on long trips. Also a great way to meet new and interesting people who are drawn to you at gas stations and rest stops.

  • I totally agree! Take a break! Also, I believe “ATTITUDE is EVERYTHING” when riding a bike or driving a car. Many (“NOT ALL” )motorcycle riders give the general public a negative impression of the motorcycle rider driver image.
    So, let’s take the upper hand and be courteous and friendly to the automobile driver and leave our ego’s at home. It is dangerous enough just riding on the streets; yet alone thinking that many automobile drivers dislike us out there riding our bikes. I think our driving attitude and behavior speaks volumes about who is riding on the motorcycle. So, take heed and humble yourself and let’s show all our fellow riders and other drivers of automobiles that we too can be respectful and kind to others on the road. Enjoy your ride! BE SAFE!

  • So simple yet very effective, I do always enjoy taking pit-stop during my rides to the mountain sides, to breath the fresh air and see the view. Didn’t realize thats what kept me from getting to fatigued during the trip. its also especially good after passing heavy traffic in a country like Indonesia

  • i recently read your sport touring compararo. bmw vs yamaha vs kaw. i feel you ignored two great spt tourers. the tiumpph sprint and honda 800svt. iwould also coment on r1200rt ive avged over 50mpg in mntns of wv. as for handling skip the adjustable shocks and go for full tilt hyperpo setup. i did this lowered bike 11/2″. remarkable ghange having owned fjr previously ican say handling is very close. lastly you would have difficulty if its possible to duplicate its featuers and electronics

  • Hey Guy’s a long time ago I was given a book about touring and said every hour of riding take a 10 minute break, only thing I remember about it after 30 years after reading and loosing the book.

    Aerostich.com has a small book for five dollars but is free if you purchase a certon amount and I have lots of there gear and bought a paire of there boots and all my waterproof boots leaked and these non waterproof boots did not?

    the book is called the Unsupported motorcycle travel for terminal cases, small book but has good info in it and I highly reccomenned this book to read, best book I have read that had lots of good info and got it for free, but you can buy it for five dollars.

  • That’s good but let’s not forget why we are riding. One of the reasons we ride is to see the country. What better way than getting off of our bike and smell the roses, relax the body and brain.

  • I have a bad back and knee. Taking a break to stretch is the only thing that keeps me putting on the miles. I stop and add gas to the bike even though it doesn`t need it. It gives me a chance to stretch the back and walk a bit.

  • Amazing thought. The simplest thing like taking a break can do wonders for a more enjoyable ride. I try not to ride any longer than one hour at a time, even if I feel I can go longer. Even a five minute break can put your mind back in perspective of what your out doing–enjoying your ride and feeling free.

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