I am the pillion rider and navigation expert who guided Ajay through the 1700 km we spent on our bike during five days of December 2014. You have probably read what the rider/driver Ajay had to say about the ride and the time spent on the bike.
I am here to bust a few myths and give out some handy information to those who are planning to ride pillion at some point or the other.
You should know how to ride too.
When we started/ Ajay suggested I kept on reminding him that this would mean him riding all 800 km to Pondicherry and then back. He was Ok with it and we did manage quite well. But I believe if I knew how to ride he could have rested a bit and be at ease on the road.
Nagging is not the way to go
If you do not like the way someone drives get off that bike and don’t ride pillion unless it is a life and death situation, well at least don’t go riding long distances. The rider is right up front and knows the traffic situation better than you (hard to believe right!). If you want to help keep an eye on things coming in from behind or blockages that he/she might miss because they are dodging the traffic.
You are no guest, help navigating
If you believe that driver is going to take the right turn that is not going to happen his hands are busy driving and mind is busy making sure you don’t end up face first on the road, it is the pillion rider’s job to help navigate. Use a GPS enabled device (highly recommended) or a map and make sure you are on the right road and take the right exit.
Find a way to get the luggage off your back
Your legs are going to get uncomfortable real soon there is no reason your shoulders should be taking any load at least for 16+ hours. Buy a pannieror luggage tie down and get that load off your back and shoulders.
Never say no to a toilet
Stop when you have to use the toilet whenever you can find it they will be hard to come by 10 Km after your pit stop. Ladies if it is periods time make sure you are not just well stocked but also change whenever you find a private enough toilet. If you get cramps do something about it back seat of a motorbike is not the place to practice drug free restraint, make that pain go because this ride is not ending anytime soon.
Odometer and roads talk differently
Did your odometer show you driving at 80 Kmph for last 40 minutes, but the road signs show you have barely traveled 30 Km don’t scratch your head, trust those road signs because it is the road that matters. As a thumb rule you will average around 50-60 Km every hour including breaks so don’t fret you will reach when you do.
Protect your self
There are elaborate protection options available for almost all parts of your body but full body armor is more often than not required. Get yourself a good helmet something you would be comfortable in wearing and can easily breathe in with the visor closed. Add to that rain protection and in case you are riding in cold weather get yourself a pair of gloves. There is another piece of gear which I love so much that I wrote and entire post about it, even if you don’t get anything else get this. (The post is coming Soon)
Right glasses are a blessing
Like I said earlier you need to be navigating and also have your eyes on the road, getting blinded by sand or lights is not going to help. Get anti glare sunglasses which you can wear even in the night time basically they should not be CAT 4 or 5. If you have two glasses one for the sun and another anti glare driving glass that would be ideal.
Seat Covers matter
People will tell you a lot of functional reason why your bike seat should be protected and they are all right on point. What most miss is to tell you how a wrong seat cover can wreak havoc on your behind if you are going to be riding for long. We started with a old seat cover which was almost off the rear part of the seat and had folded. I could feel it poking me all through our first eight hours of ride and then we decided to get rid of it and the ride was much more smooth. Our plan was to get a padded cover but couldn’t find one, still I was way better without any seat cover than a bad one.
Basic tools are a must
With all the vibrations and speed our number plate screws got loose and as we reached Nandyal we found out we were missing a screw. Our swiss knife came in really handy as we cut a piece of cord from our now removed seat cover and tied the number plate with it. When another one was lost next day at Ranipet same, since then we have driven over 1200 Km and our number plate is still secure. We had been thinking if we should take the knife or not. In short, Best Decision ever.
Soda works better than Chai
We had tea almost every hour either to stretch our toes or to keep me awake and though it served the first part well I would never really feel the stimulant effects of tea. Then at Kadappa on our way back we decided to drink some soda, and that did the trick. Not only was it refreshing I was up and awake for the remaining 8 hours. My research says there is same amounts of caffeine in a serving but usually the servings on road are quite small.
Huge meals are good for you
Usually we eat every few hours but if you are riding and do not want to waste time it is better to have huge meals instead of stopping to eat every few hours. We had some biscuit and chai early in the morning and then a huge breakfast around 9 am which would keep us full till 2-3 pm around which we would be in another city and sit down for lunch.
Take care of how you dress
This one is more for female riders or pillion drivers. Those movies which show shorts wearing ladies rocking a bike are not realistic especially if you are riding through Indian highways and rural areas. Be sensitive and more importantly sensible. Wear a loose jacket and tie in your hair. Less you look like a female lesser problems you will have. We rode through a lot of different roads villages and areas but had no problem except for a minor incident near Hyderabad. But it was enough to remind me that I had forgotten my self prescribed medicine of not drawing attention to us. The drive was safe even at 8-9 in the night and through villages just take precautions as you would take anywhere. It is irritating to even write this but it is still rare for women to be on highways riding a bike, and not all curiosity is good.
These are not all the things you need to know but they will take you through 16 hours on a bike any day, other’s you will learn soon after you are on the bike. Do remember to take rest and start early whenever your destination is more than 400 km.
Let us know if these were of help and when you are planning to take your first road trip. In case you are a road trip veteran share with us your tips and tricks