COMFORT AND THE ART OF TRAVEL

I don’t know about everyone else, but my golden rule is “Relax”.

Half of the trip is already made when you are standing in the driveway putting on your gloves and looking to the sky for weather. Many times its just hard to get started, but once you’ve cleared the traffic and city limits it’s all about the ride. Lean back, set your throttle at a comfortable speed, and enjoy.

I live in the desert, there’s really not much going on in the way of changing scenery, but I always see something new and beautiful every time I’m out riding in it. That’s a good thing because the only way to get out of the desert in one day is to head straight north or to the coast. I’m always happy to get out of it and see trees and greenery once again; but by the same token I often look forward to going back so I can feel that hot air again… it’s a dilemma.

Nothing wrong with traveling in a car, it’s great when you’re trying to make time. You’re protected from the elements, got a comfy chair to sit in, and all you have to do is look out the big picture window and not run into anything. But you miss a lot and you spend most of your time saying “what was that?”.

On a bike you spend a lot of time saying “look at that!”. You are part of the scenery and aware of what’s going on around you at all times … daydreaming can get you killed. There’s a certain amount of exercise involved too, whether you realize it or not your muscles are always at the ready. You may not build muscle, but you can bet that riding 12 hours a day for 3 days is going to have you as toned as you can get.

“12 hours a day? That’s impossible!” you say. No, it’s actually pretty easy once you get into it.

The first thing you have to do is take a good look at your seat. You’re not getting anywhere if you’re not comfortable. Most stock seats will give you “butt-burn” inside of 2 hours. Not good. Take a good long ride-around without stops sometime and see how yours stacks up. If you have to stop regularly just because your butt hurts, then cough up that $300-$400 and get a new seat! If you do nothing else to ensure the success of your trip, you must do that one thing.

When you have pain you can’t focus, you are constantly trying to get comfortable or looking forward to the next place to pull off. And every time you make an unnecessary stop you are wasting time. It’s the difference between a 300-mile day and a 600-mile day. Even if you intend to only do 300-miles, do you really want a sore butt to be the reason?

I met a young lady last year (2011) who went to Washington State to buy a Ducati and was riding it home to New Mexico. Where I met her she could have been home that night (or maybe not, there was a storm up ahead), but the seat on that Ducati was getting the better of her. I don’t know what the after-market seats are for that kind of bike, but they do make pads that will fit onto any bike which will make a trip a lot more tolerable… I felt bad for her. Nevertheless, I was quite impressed with her for pulling off that trip, it was her first.

Yes, comfort is important. There are many “little things” you can do to customize your bike to make it “yours” without spending a great deal of money. It’s actually something you need to think about when you buy a bike, but getting a new bike can be exciting and we don’t always think that far ahead – or are willing to make sacrifices to get what is otherwise the perfect ride.

But keep in mind, if you’re going to take any kind of road trips a good seat is a necessity.

I’m sure there will be links popping up here & there – probably mostly in the Forum – and there are many already out there on the internet; so look around and then ask around what other people think about their seats.

Good questions to ask yourself: Will you need a backrest?  Lower lumbar support (like myself)?  Or just something simple that’s not going to make you wish you could go home?  Spend an extra dollar and get it right the first time.

– Capt. Walker

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