Reprinted from Cyclerides 2/20/2013.
1. Putting on rain gear. If it looks like rain, smells like rain, and there is rain on the pavement, it is probably raining. It is now officially PAST time to put your rain gear on. Put rain gear on PRIOR to all of the obvious signs.
Lesson: Error to putting on rain gear too soon. It only takes a couple of times of getting drenched to learn this one.
2. Learn that “E” on the gas gauge actually does mean empty. It does not stand for “E-ternity of Gas”. I sometimes tend to get those confused. Figuring out how far past the “E” you can ride is useful in the game to see how far you can go on a tank of gas. To win the game you are able to ride into the gas station and actually put more gas in the tank than it holds. Losing the game involves a call to AAA from the side of the road. My record is now 5.3 gallons in a 5 gallon tank.
Lesson: Walk 3 miles for gas in 100 degrees and you won’t make that mistake again.
3. Estimating time to ride to destination. Getting it through my head that 350 miles of riding through mountain passes and twisties is going to take considerably longer than 350 miles on a Montana freeway. One of my more famous quotes on a trip; “It is only 350 miles, we should be there by 3pm.” I am reminded of this quote at 5pm by Mrs. C. when we are still 100 miles away.
Lesson: Learn it. Always OVER estimate how long it will take.
4. Be sure bike is in neutral when starting. After 35 plus years of riding, this one still tends to get me every once in a while. Nothing much worse than going to your bike at a bike night, thinking it is in neutral and pushing the start button to find out that you were wrong. However, it is quite entertaining for all of the people that saw you make this common rookie mistake. Pull in the clutch or make sure it is in neutral before pushing the start button.
Lesson: Don’t be the subject of the jokes for the rest of the day.
5. Confirm that the kickstand is secure before dismounting. I had this happen in Ouray, CO. a few years ago. I put the kickstand down on the severely sloped main St. a little too straight up. The wind was blowing pretty good and when I got about 4 steps away from the bike I heard a big crash. It had blown over. Fortunately no serious damage to levers, etc. and I was able to ride it.
Lesson: Make sure that bike is stable on kickstand.
6. Directions. No matter how much I like my GPS and no matter how many times it has saved me, road signs still trump the GPS. If you know you are supposed to be on I-70 West and the sign clearly says I-70 West, go with the sign.
Lesson: Know what you know.
7. Eating regularly. I am the kind of guy that will eat a big breakfast and be good until we stop for dinner. My thought is that stopping to eat is “Burning Daylight”. Not everyone shares my thoughts on this. Much easier on yourself to stop and get your spouse some food when she is ready for it. Generally the only source of real discussion on our trips.
Lesson: Keep your wife well fed. Makes for a more enjoyable ride.
8. Be aware of under dressing. Realize that standing still in the sun with a short sleeve t-shirt on in 60 degree weather does not feel the same as riding 70 mph in the same temperature and attire. Over dressing will never be a problem for me.
Lesson: Learn how to “Layer” properly. It is easier to deal with too many clothes on than it is to freeze for 100 miles. Error to over dressing.
9. Make sure saddlebag lids are latched before riding. Not only do you lose your personal belongings out of the bags, it can be perceived as an amateur move. It is very embarrassing when the guy in the minivan pulls up next to you and points to your saddlebag lid flapping in the breeze.
Lesson: Can be very expensive if your leather jacket flies out.
10. Stop taking off with kickstand down. Rookie mistake #1. It is embarrassing to have someone point at your kickstand when you are riding to find that it is still down. It also makes left turns much more challenging. Page 12 in the riders manual advises against this activity. Never can figure out how I forget this. Usually stems from being distracted just as you take your bike off of the side stand.
Lesson: Dangerous. Stop doing it.