Posted on Aug 26, 2020

how to stay awake and alert on long rides

There are few things that are as liberating as a long-haul motorcycle ride. Whether you are riding cross-country or taking an extended grand tour of your home state, it is best to take all necessary precautions to ensure your safety along the way.

One of the biggest risk factors facing motorcyclists during longer rides is the tiredness and fatigue that naturally comes with riding for long periods. As we have discussed previously, driving drowsy is very unsafe and riding drowsy can be even more dangerous. As a result, we have compiled some best practices for riders to ensure that they can stay alert and focused on their next long ride.

One of the simplest and most obvious things riders can do during a long ride to prevent fatigue is taking a break. Simply stopping off somewhere and giving your body time to rest and reset before you set off again will help keep you more alert as you ride. A quick nap can also serve to significantly restore your energy levels and overall alertness.

However, finding places to stop and rest as a motorcyclist is not always the easiest task. As such, there are several other practices to consider that can prevent your long ride from making you drowsy:

  • Get some air: If you wear a helmet with a face shield, consider opening your visor to let in some air. A nice blast of 60 mph wind can often be enough to snap riders back to focus.
  • Hydrate: Fatigue while riding can often be a symptom of dehydration, especially if you have been riding in full gear for an extended period. Hydration packs will allow you to easily rehydrate while riding. But, if you do not have one pack, we encourage you to stop regularly to hydrate whenever you can. We also recommend that riders drink plenty of water before heading out to give themselves a nice head start on their hydration, as drinking when you are already thirsty often is not enough.
  • Start earlier: Starting your ride earlier in the morning will help align your ride with your body’s internal clock. Human beings are naturally more alert in the mornings than they are later at night due to our circadian rhythm. This means that earlier rides are less likely to result in unwanted drowsiness.
  • Pack some healthy snacks: Professionals advise against consuming high-sugar and carb snacks, as they can cause sugar levels to spike before ultimately crashing down and making you tired. Healthy snacks like fruits, nuts and vegetables will provide your body with more natural energy to keep you from dozing off.
  • Listen to some music: Simply having some noise to listen to while riding can help with your overall alertness. Listening to music at a reasonable volume, so that you can also hear what is happening around you, will keep your mind focused and prevent you from growing tired behind the handlebars. Additionally, if you choose not to listen to music and instead utilize earplugs, it is important that you do not block out all sound and can still hear what is happening in your vicinity.

In addition, simply using your common sense will help keep you safe while riding. If you start to feel drowsy to an extreme (i.e. actively dozing off) it might be time to find some lodging and call it a night. Cutting a ride short because you are feeling tired is always preferable to cutting it short due to a crash.

For more motorcycle related news and articles, check out the Current News for Riders page on hupy.com.

Jason F. Abraham
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Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham