I love solo riding, I genuinely think that’s the way it was always meant to be. If you really want to go with other people, get a fucking car, or a bus, or train, flight, basically anything apart from a motorcycle. Still, I enjoy group rides from time to time, it can also be a very rewarding experience if done with the right kind of people. However, that’s not what we’ll be discussing today.
Today I want to talk about something that I’m quite surprised I haven’t already written a novel about. It’s kinda weird I haven’t written a single article about riding alone, but it’s alright, not too late! Let’s discuss some solo riding tips, ideas that can help you squeeze the maximum fun out of the whole 2-wheeled experience.
1. Solo riding tips – Have fun:
Easier said than done! It’s pretty unbelievable how many people consider solo riding to be kind of a responsibility, something that you just need to get done and over with. Most people are just scared, for reasons that I don’t exactly understand. Unless there are armed thugs waiting for you in the middle of the road and your riding buddies are Kung Fu and Kick Boxing masters, there’s no situation where riding alone is more dangerous than riding with a group.
For me there’s nothing like the FREEDOM that comes with solo riding. You don’t need to have a set plan, don’t need to ask anyone anything, you can do whatever the hell your mind desires. Solo riding is not as much about covering distances as it’s about finding yourself. So whenever you go out there alone on your bike, try to do every possible thing that you really wish to do. Go wild, follow your heart, have as much fun as possible, that’s what the spirit of adventure is all about.
2. Don’t ride at night:
I’ve repeatedly said it before, but it’s even more important when you are alone. I recently saw a photo on Facebook where there was a bullet mark on the door of a Xylo. A family was traveling at midnight with their driver and they heard this loud bang. They were intelligent enough to not stop, and found that hole the next morning. Turns out robbers nowadays have gone total Bollywood shit, shooting your tires on the road before looting your ass naked.
India is still a hairy country to ride a 2 wheeler in, the chaos is more or less uncontrollable, and I don’t really see things improving for the next decade or so. As much fun as it may be, riding is inherently dangerous. Riding alone at night in India is just suicidal, you are probably better off drinking a bottle full of Harpic, it’ll be a much more humane ending to your life, much less gory than grating your face off on the asphalt and then getting robbed, followed by possible anal penetration.
3. Carry tools and spares:
This is one area where group riding helps, although it’s nothing you can’t handle on your own. If you own a reasonably reliable bike with tubeless tires, the list of tools and spares you need to carry is pretty slim. Here’s what I carry on all of my rides:
- Tubeless tire puncture repair kit
- Extra engine oil
- Spanners and Allen keys necessary to tighten the chain or remove both wheels if required
- 1 liter of extra fuel
- Chain lube
And that’s it! All of these items take not a lot of space in my saddlebags, and this is all you’ll need for 99% of all roadside emergencies. Even though many companies have started providing roadside assistance programs now, my experience with them has been quite shitty. It’s better to be prepared on your own rather than depending on some random dude on a phone. There’s no rocket science here, all you have to do is know your bike and take a look at it once or twice a day, and do some good old Indian jugaad if all else fails. Not too hard, is it?
4. Be friendly:
This I guess is the biggest mistake most newbie solo riders make, which leads to them having a bad overall feel, and the subsequent bashing of the riding alone experience. Don’t be scared! The world isn’t what you see on the news or Facebook. People are always nice and cool, unless you deliberately stick a finger up their ass.
I’ve been through some of the worst possible areas in India, and I can tell you there’s nothing to be scared of. Even if there are terrorists and policeman firing at each other from across a road, as soon as they see tourists passing, they stop, let them cross and then continue on with their killing business.
Always remember that you are nothing more than an insignificant little spec on the map of a giant world, a world where everywhere has their own set of problems that has nothing to do with your little bike or you.
Indians are curious, inquisitive. They see somebody on a motorcycle having a good time they want to stop and talk to them. So talk! Don’t try to ignore them or run away or something else stupid, they are just fucking humans! Be nice to people, help someone if you can, stop at random places and talk to random people. That’s what life’s all about, chance encounters that restore your faith in mankind.
5. Wear dog tags:
OK, now we are entering the dark zone, the things nobody wants to talk about. Accidents can happen anytime, all you can do is be prepared for them as much as possible. An easy first step is to have some form of identification on your body, an area where dog tags rock. You can carry your documents in your wallet, but unfortunately there’s a big chance it would be stolen while you lie in a pool of blood.
You have to be realistic.
Dog tags have embossed information about you, your emergency contact people, your blood group, and any other information that’s vital for your survival. I bought mine from iTags, check them out. Nowadays helmets come with features where they can beam your GPS coordinates and shit, but I’m not entirely sold on their usability. In any case, do whatever you feel is right in making you feel safe, because it’s very important to be psychologically certain that you’ve got every emergency covered. You can’t ride with fear.
6. Carry pepper spray:
Last, but not the least! Always a good idea to carry a bottle of pepper spray in your left jacket pocket. Why left? Because you can whip it out with your left hand without losing control of the throttle. You can buy from a wide variety available in India, in all different shapes and sizes, priced from around 300 to 1000 bucks. I have carried one for some years now and have never needed to use it, but this is again more psychological than physical.
Although I haven’t tried it yet, a bottle of pepper spray can fire till about 7 feet away, and contains enough jizz to neutralize 10 odd people. You never know what might come your way, especially in the insanity of our country, so it’s always good to be prepared. It’s harmless, easy to use, easy to conceal, and you can carry it on flights as well without much trouble. Buy a bottle each for your entire family, NOW.
These are my ideas to a fun solo experience, something that I consider to be really important for overall growth of a rider. The most important thing is to keep an open mind, to let the things happen the way they are, unless you are being kidnapped and your bike burnt, in which case you have my permission to go bat shit insane.
Check out this article where I list in detail all the things you can do to be prepared for a crash before it happens.