Archive for July, 2009

Separation Anxiety — Your Ideas?

July 31, 2009

Rider September 2009

In the September issue of Rider magazine, my Riding Well column’s focus is on being prepared for when things go wrong. This was written following a ride my son had taken back to college when the KLR 650 he was riding suddenly gave up the ghost. As the sun set and his cell phone battery did as well, he was stranded in the growing darkness, out of touch with civilization. The gory details are in the column, but following this event he and I drew up this list:

Eight things we can do to simplify an unexpected situation:

1.    Have a working cell phone with a fully-charged battery. Bring a wall charger for use at a restaurant, gas station or motel if necessary. Having a small emergency power source for your phone is a plus. Plus, a SPOT satellite tracker enables contact even where cell phone reception is non-existent and even lets you call for help, pinpointing your exact location.

2.    Even if you choose not to wear bright colored clothing when you ride, take a high-visibility article with you. A bright, retro-reflective vest will show brilliantly both day and night and is easy to pack.

3.    Carry a small flashlight or “head” lamp with you at all times. It can be used for working on the bike and can be helpful in attracting attention at night.

4.    Bring your owner’s manual. Read it prior to taking off to improve your familiarity with the machine beyond basic controls. A workshop manual is even better.

5.    Know where your tool kit is located and how to perform basic functions like side panel and seat removal. The time to learn how to get to the battery or fuse block isn’t in the dark.

6.    If something on the bike is acting up when at a stop, don’t press your luck by pressing on. It’s better to lose some time getting things worked out than to be stranded in the middle of nowhere. Just ask Parker.

7.    Make certain someone knows the route you’ll be taking and when you’ll be traveling. Make a point to check in by phone at various stops. When Parker and I took a cross-country trip last summer, we used text messages on Twitter to keep friends and family posted on our progress. It’s simple and also captures a record of your travels.

8.    Join AMA and get free roadside assistance (www.ama-cycle.org). The $39 annual fee more than pays for itself with a single tow. I could have paid dues for nearly seven years with the KLR’s $267 tow charge.

Since this column was published, the feedback from readers has been extremely high, each with valuable additional suggestions. I’ll post some of those as well but please provide your suggestions here as well. ET