Fatigue Management is one of the most important aspects when underatking long rides on your motorcyle. More so if there is a timeframe that one has to abide by throughout the ride and has to keep a consistent pace maintaining an average speed. In such cases, more than speed, it is fatigue which will get the better of you. Here a few guidelines on fatigue management for a safe and enjoyable ride.
The human brain performs various functions at any given time but over a period of time its performance weakens and then it becomes necessary to provide it with some level of rest to replenish its functioning ability to ideal level. As the fatigue level increases, it’s slowly and gradually hampers the brain’s performance but the change is extremely subtle and most of the time goes unnoticed until disaster strikes. Especially when riding a motorcycle, the signs of fatigue are easily missed as the brain is already involved in a high-skill operation.
*Fatigue cannot be conquered. Learn to decode signals from your body when it requires rest and take the necessary action!
The human brain interprets fatigue as a signal to sleep. Hence, the more fatigue one encounters, his brain will more strongly induce sleep signals. One of the key factors in fatigue-induced motorcycle accidents is the failure to recognize the need for sleep and the inability to take effective action. In such a scenario, sleep will be triggered with little or no warning and it can result in some horrifying results. Such unintentional or unanticipated sleep bouts are usually known as Microsleeps. It is a bodily mechanism in order to reverse the effects of fatigue by taking adequate rest and restore the body’s balance. But when riding, Microsleeps can be extremely dangerous.
Under the Microsleep mode, the mind will fail to take precautionary actions under emergency situations, a severe loss of concentration, forgetfulness, misjudging the road, etc. Any of these can be extremely hazardous for a motorcyclist and one should never hit the road without adequate rest and the right preparations for a long ride. If you feel sleepy, pull over and take a quick power nap. Even a couple of minutes of rest will be hugely helpful in refreshing the mind and restoring its chemical balance.
*Power naps work best if they are short and sweet. It should last atleast for 5 minutes but not more than 45 minutes.
If you are planning for a long tour astride your bike, it is quite possible that for the period of the entire ride, you may not get adequate sleep and rest on a daily basis. In that case, you can prepare for the ride from days before it’s scheduled to begin. Take adequate rest for at least a week before the ride starts and make sure that you do not get onto the bike with sleep debt. If you had a long week prior to the week, take a day off and unwind. Let the body restore its energy levels with adequate sleep and rest. This will make sure that the fatigue will creep in much later than if you start the ride in a tired state of body.
Energy levels will not be restored or maintained simply by sleep but also with the help of right diet and nutritious food habits. Do no go for heavy meals when riding. Digestion process slow downs a lot of blood and energy from reaching to the brain which can hugely affect concentration levels and the way one rides. Multiple small meals are better to digest and advisable. Go for a protein or carbohydrate-rich diet to ward off mid-afternoon drowsiness. Make sure all the pre-ride preparations are taken care off on the night prior to the commencement of the ride.
Travel light. Lesser the weight on the rider and the bike, the less tiring it will be and enduring the ride will be that much easy. Choose the right bike that suits you and not the other way round. Adapting to a differently setup bike will require more effort and tire you earlier than a bike that suits you. The right set of wheels will instantly make you comfortable and hugely help in doubling your comfort levels, which only means that fatigue will creep in much later than when getting used to a certain motorcycle.
Hydration is Precaution
Motorcycle riding is an extremely tiring and demanding activity. As a result, motorcyclists often get dehydrated especially over a long period of riding. Dehydration symptoms include headache, drying of lips and mouth, nausea and loss of alertness, all of which can severely put the biker at risk. Take regular stops to hydrate the body with lots of water. More than energy drinks go for liquids that help add up to bodily water than just refresh the mind. Nowadays many tourers and adventure riders carry hydro-packs that have a hose through which the rider can drink water even while riding. They are perfect for regular hydration and hugely help in reducing the chances of dehydration and hence fatigue.
*Keep away from stimulant drugs. The only stimulant that prevails in motorcycling is sense, period.
Comfortable riding gear
A properly fitting helmet
Adequate Rain gear
Skin protection and lip hydration
First Aid kit
Comfortable and cushy seat
Comfortable riding position
Convenient foot peg and control locations
Mirrors correctly located
Put things in the same place every time
Put frequently used things on top
Take only what’s necessary
Be able to find everything in the dark
Take the tools you’ll need
Pack a tire repair kit and means of inflation
Know how to use them!
Communication – your link with others
If group riding, exchange mobile numbers before the ride begins
Use mobile phones only when stopped
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