Pedro Mota is currently traveling around the world and in this video he vlogs about common mistakes he and other riders have made. Some of his tips include:
- Too much gear. Keep it simple.
- Decide how much you will be riding each day on your trip, and focus your riding on locations that are the most fun.
- Choose your travel partners with care. Be wary of committing to a long trip with a relative stranger.
- Cliche: It is not the destination, it’s the journey
Good day, peoples. I’m Pedro Mota back with another video. Today, we’re going to find out if you make any of the following common mistakes when going on a long motorcycle trip. Seasoned riders might already be familiar with a few of these, but those of you going on your first long distance motorcycle trip should pay attention because avoiding some of these mistakes will save your time, energy, and money, but more important, it will leave you with greater peace of mind, because a big part of the ride happens in here. So, let’s get in it.
Folks, hope you’re doing good. Happy Canada Day to all the Canucks watching. I’ve met more than a few of you on my travels, and I’ve actually got family living in Canada. I’m really looking forward to get there one day.
During the last few years on my long motorcycle travels around the world, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. I would like to help you to avoid them. So, let’s kick off with the most obvious and most common mistake, bringing too much stuff on the ride, simply having too much gear, thus making the motorcycle heavier than it already is, and this will affect its handling, especially off road.
Bring smaller versions of items, like a compact travel towel or smaller, non-bulky tools. You don’t need all these different toiletry items. A bar of soap will do for your whole body. When you do need more clothes, it’s pretty affordable or downright cheap, depending on where you are in the world, if you need to buy some new ones.
Don’t go overboard with the gear that you’re wearing. Keep it simple. Boots, helmet, gloves, and a nice riding jacket with a good back protector. Upgrading that worthless piece of stock foam padding that comes with some of these jackets is definitely worth it. Add a good pair of riding pants and you’re good to go.
Also remember that when you’re traveling from the cold into the heat that you’ll need space to put away your winter liners that you’ll remove from your pants and jacket. Same goes for the rain suit if you’re bringing one. Just look at this bulky mess. By the way, it’s definitely worth it to compartmentalize stuff into containers or plastic bags. I’ve used Tupperware boxes, for example, and it keeps things organized, especially if you’re riding with soft luggage.
What happened to me was that the longer I was traveling, the more stuff I accumulated over time. Looking back, it’s amazing how long I rode around with spare tires, but I always figured, “Hey, this is good,” especially in Australia because it was hard for me to throw away stuff because the country is expensive. Also, I was working and living there at the same time, so stuff remained useful for most of the trip. In New Zealand, I put gifts that I was given along the way and other items in a box and sent them back home. $120. God damn you, New Zealand post. Still salty.
Another mistake, not having a general plan outline of the trip. “But Pedro, my plan is no plan.” You’ve been grabbing travel cliches from the cliché hat, haven’t you? All good, man, until you run out of money barely halfway there or you’re experiencing this strange, stressful feeling that you can’t really put your finger on where you feel like you’re getting everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
See, the thing is most people aren’t that much of a free spirit to cope with that kind of travel. I consider myself pretty loose when it comes to planning, but even I had a plan when I went out there. Still, it definitely could’ve been a bit tighter during some parts of the journey, or I should’ve reevaluated or changed the plan sooner. Without basic planning, you won’t have a realistic idea of how much the trip will cost, how long a trip will take, and where you’re going to be during certain time periods. Enjoy being on the northern hemisphere in November in some parts of the world, and how is south Australia in January, mate? Did you drink your own piss yet?
The worst is when you’ve got too much distance to travel and too little time. Let’s say you’ve got two months of travel, been riding for about one, did about what, 5000 kilometers. You got one month left, you still got to do about 18000 kilometers. That’s divided by 30, oh, about 600 kilometers a day if you’re still going to make it. Have fun.
Trust me, I was that dude at some point. I had to do about 5000 kilometers in Russia riding east in about six days because my visa was running out. It ain’t great, and the stress already started to creep up in the back of my head when I was in east Iran, and slowly it started to ruin my mind and poison the experience. [inaudible 00:04:14] it’s poison and this is too good, too nice, to get [inaudible 00:04:23]. No good.
So, plot your route on one of the many online mapping services and add 20% to that number. Decide on which states or countries you really want to visit, which regions are absolutely must see, and which parts of the world are so unique that you should stick around longer. Personally, I wish I could’ve stayed longer in Tajikistan and Mongolia because the riding experience there is just out of the world. Watch one of the videos to see what I mean.
In my humble opinion, it’s better to focus on spending more time in countries further away than countries nearby because the ones nearby, you can always visit those on a different trip. I, for one, spent too much time riding around in Europe during the beginning of my journey. Decide on how many kilometers or miles you’re going to ride a day and this can always change. The higher that number, the less fun and realistic it becomes for most people.
Don’t spend, let’s say, more than two thirds of your days on riding. You don’t have to go crazy and plot out every day on the Excel sheet. “Tomorrow, I want to ride 827 kilometers and arrive at the camping spot between 6:23 and 6:35.” There’s always a chance to add or deviate from the plan because your journey is always evolving. Just remember to adapt on time.
Third mistake, time is flying a bit, isn’t it? Traveling with another ride or in a group without having ever done that before. Oh boy. So, it’s one thing to ride with other people for a few days or maybe a week, but it’s a completely different experience when you’re traveling with someone for extended periods of time, especially when you don’t really know them, because pleasant formalities or the honeymoon period only last for so long. After a while, the real you comes out and the same goes for the others. Why does he talk so much? Why is he so reserved? Bloody inconsiderate. Why does he take so long to turn off his goddamn turn signal? I can’t believe he drinks Heineken. Everyone has their own unique personality, travel preferences, and financial situation, and oh yeah, riding style. These variables can mismatch on quite a few levels and this is only naming a few.
Remember, you’re riding on a motorcycle, so you can go anywhere at any time on a whim. There’s an insane amount of freedom at your disposal at the twist of your wrist. Now, imagine not being able to enjoy all that freedom the way that you want to experience it. Maybe the other likes to go fast but you like to ride at a leisurely pace. Maybe you want to ride the most obscure back roads, but the others wanted to ride the highway. Maybe the other likes to get riding before the crack of dawn, but you, you like to enjoy breakfast after sunrise.
How you deal with this depends on your personality and experience. Therefore, undertake a few short riding trips alone and with others so you can distill your own riding preferences so you’ll better understand where you’re willing to compromise, but more important, where you draw the line. Resentment is a real bitch and it poisons the mind. Slowly, things can get real dark and your mind isn’t where it’s supposed to be. That is, being in the moment and enjoying the road ahead. I used to worry a bit about how my own brain ticked in that regard, but over the years, I’ve heard similar experiences from other riders.
Ed March from C90 Adventures actually briefly mentions this darkness in one of his episodes. Go watch it. It’s absolutely brilliant. There’s crap on TV that somehow wins Emmy’s that doesn’t even come close. By the way, let us know in the comments what your preferences are. Can you ride with someone else or in a group, or do you only ride alone? Let us know if you’ve got any strange or funny experiences.
Anyway, at the end of the day, it’s good to remember that we’re bloody monkeys sitting on a combustion engine on wheels. You click better with some people than others, or maybe you just like to ride alone, so don’t be afraid about what you find out about yourself. Take it into account and plan accordingly. Better to find out sooner than later before people have invested time, money, and emotion into a big trip.
The fourth and final mistake. Sounds so dramatic, eh? Focusing too much on destination and where you’re going. Let me grab the cliché hat there for a second. It’s a big one. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. This cliché is actually pretty solid because in most cases, it’s true. The funny thing is that we tend to forget.
What I found is that I would create these arbitrary goals that I had to achieve within X amount of time, get to that country, go to this place, go this route, and better be there before Sunday. For sure, there are times when these are legit goals and pressures that you have to adhere to, but a lot of times when you’re honest with yourself, you’ll find out that it doesn’t really matter. In most cases, you’re literally free to do whatever.
Also, there’s a bigger chance of making mistakes when your mind isn’t really there and you’re thinking about other things, or you’re stressing out and you’re too much in a hurry. A calamity is the sum of smaller mistakes that meet each other in a perfect circumstantial shit storm. When your mind is not there or you’re in a hurry, that could be the final piece in a horrible puzzle. So, we create these nonexistent pressures that feel real to us. Like I said, monkey on wheels.
But I know where this goes. Slowly moving to that state of mind of haste, and if there’s something I’ve learned along the way, that’s not where you want to be, and especially not in these conditions.
All these little missions can take you out of the moment because you’re too preoccupied with what’s ahead. We keep thinking about where we ought to be and completely miss out on where we are. Sometimes we’re in some amazing place but our mind is too preoccupied with some external circumstances. For me, it helps when I become aware of those silly situations and have a chuckle about it. This can bring you back into the moment.
All right folks, I’ll be a happy man if some of my suggestions have been useful to some of you. I had a couple more mistakes to talk about, but time went by pretty fast, actually. Maybe I’ll make another video. Let us know in the comments if you would like that and if you have any suggestions yourself. No joke, by the way, about time, because as you can see, it slowly got dark outside.
Also, let us know if you agree or disagree with any of these mistakes, and which mistakes have you made while on the road? Let us know. So, please subscribe if you got anything from this video if you haven’t already. Click that little bell icon so you get notifications of new videos. YouTube is really bad at doing that nowadays. It would be super helpful if you could share this video with other riders out there. Go ride. Stay upright. I’ll see you all soon enough. Ciao.