We love to ride our motorcycles. We often ride for many hours or a whole day, only stopping for gas or when the weather turns. We get into a groove following the rhythm of long sweeping turns, rolling into a series of tight twisties, or simply cruising the long, lonesome highway.
After a long day in the saddle, ask yourself what you saw. How often did you stop and get off your bike? Riding is just one part of a day on the road. Taking the time to stop is the other. It’s important to stop and take in the fresh air, smell the roses, and look around. After a short break, get back on your bike and ride.
When should you make time to stop and take in a place? After riding all over the world for almost 200,000 miles, I’ve learned to recognize the important signs telling me it’s time to stop and get off my bike. Here are seven signs you should look for:
1. You’ve passed more than five scenic viewpoints.
Too often we get in a groove and just whip by those pullover points with stunning vistas of the countryside. If you’ve passed by five or more, it’s time to stop. There’s a good reason those stops are there. Take a break and take a look.
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2. A roadside oddity catches your eye and your curiosity.
If something strange, weird, or odd catches your eye, don’t just ride by. It’s a sign to stop, turn around, and check it out. Take a photo. Meet someone. Ask questions. After missing many opportunities in my travels, I now know how rewarding it is to stop and check out something new.
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3. Your butt is getting sore.
When you find yourself constantly shifting your seating position or if your rear is starting to ache or fall asleep, get off your bike. Don’t try to “ride it off.” It never works. Take a break and stop. You and your butt will appreciate it, and you’ll likely see something new or meet someone interesting.
4. You’ve bobbed or nodded your head.
This is the most important sign that it’s time to get off your bike. If you’re getting tired, if fatigue is setting in, or if you’ve fallen into a hypnotic zone and lost your concentration, stop. This is a good sign that you need different stimuli. Hydrate, grab a coffee, or take a roadside nap. Don’t tempt fate, and don’t doze off.
5. You’ve ridden more than 100 miles straight.
Whenever you haven’t been off your bike for more than 100 miles, take a moment and get off. I have a friend who makes a game out of using his odometer to stop exactly at every 100 miles. His theory is that it forces him to get off his bike and look around at someplace he would normally just zoom by. Periodic breaks make the ride more enjoyable.
6. You’re getting hungry or thirsty.
If your stomach is growling, your blood sugar is dropping, or it’s a hot day and you’re getting parched, don’t try to keep going for another hour. Stop, get off your bike, and have a snack or a drink of water. I’ve fallen victim to the desire to keep riding instead of stopping and snacking. Now I always keep a small bag of trail mix with me, and I stop to eat a handful while taking in the sights and sounds around me.
7. Sunset is long gone and it’s dark.
Some people like to ride motorcycles at night, but I prefer riding in daylight. If you’re like me, the ultimate sign telling you to get off your bike is that it’s nighttime. Set up camp, get a motel room, or go back home. After a long day of riding, I like to get out of my motorcycle gear and enjoy a good meal with a cold beer. I’ll share stories, reflect on the day, and get a good night’s sleep so I’m alert and fresh for the next day.
We own motorcycles because we like to ride. However, the best thing about riding is the freedom we experience on the open road. In most cases, this freedom also gives us the opportunity to stop where we want and at the most random times and places. So ride on, but look for signs indicating that it’s a good time to stop and take advantage of that freedom.