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5 Tips For Motorcyclists Embarking On Cross-country Road Trips

The annual motorcycle rally held in Sturgis is almost upon us and this year marks its 75th anniversary. If past attendance levels hold, this year's festival could easily see more than half a million motorcycle-riding visitors descend upon the sleepy South Dakota city. With more than 80 scheduled events, motorcycle aficionados of all stripes should be able find something to please them. Included in the week-long daily deluge of concerts, competitions and races, attendees will be able to check out all manner of motorcycles.

The overwhelming majority of people coming to the festival will be traveling on their motorcycles to the otherwise quaint - and somewhat remote - city of Sturgis, which boasts a population of 6,627 people. Many of these people will be life-long motorcyclists who are familiar with their bikes and how to drive them. However, the hoopla surrounding the rally of this size also attracts many first-time and novice bikers who don't have experience embarking on cross-country bike trips.

As hundreds of thousands of bikers from the four corners of the continent begin gearing up in anticipation of hitting the road, here are five tips to make the long-haul an easy ride:

1. Log an itinerary with friends or family

While some bikers might have already scoped out maps and GPS to see where their road trip will take them, it's important to share this information with others before leaving - especially for those individuals taking solo trips. This way, friends and family stay in the loop of when and where travelers stop for the night, which can help out in case something unfortunate or unexpected happens en route to the rally.

2. Get a luggage rack

Trying to stuff all the clothing and essentials into a backpack will not suffice. While it might seem like a good idea initially, wearing a backpack for a long time on a motorcycle can lead to significant back pain, pinched shoulders and a general feeling of discomfort - the last things a motorcyclist needs on a cross-country road trip. Instead, Open Road Journey suggested installing a luggage rack on the motorcycle.

3. Dress appropriately

For bikers, this might seem like a no-brainer. However, while denim and leather make great protective clothing - and help first-time riders look the part - they can be quite cumbersome and heavy once it starts to rain. Since motorcyclists are exposed to the elements, there's a chance of riding through a storm and getting drenched. Bikers should be sure to pack a good, waterproof riding suit that they can slip on once the weather gets rainy.

4. Don't forget earplugs and sunglasses

Riding at high speeds for a considerable distance can create a problem for eyes and ears if they're not properly protected. Not only do earplugs protect ears, they cut down on mental fatigue as well. According to The Lost Adventure, as one rides, his or her brain tries to process all the wind-generated noise flooding into the ears in an attempt to discern any useful information. By using earplugs, it gives the mind a rest, allowing bikers to focus on the beautiful scenery of the open road instead. Sunglasses not only protect your eyes from the sun, but they also protect them from wind and bugs. Even for motorcycles that have a windshield, having a pair of sunglasses also works wonders. And, while riding at night is not always the safest way to drive, if a biker must do it, having a pair of goggles or other protective gear for the eyes is a must for night riding.

5. Regularly inspect the bike

Being on a motorcycle for such a long time can cause some wear and tear on the engine. Before leaving for the journey, it's crucial that motorcyclists get a check up. Additionally, while on the trip, travelers should be sure to check their bikes every morning before hitting the road, every time they stop for gas and every evening after finishing for the day. Look at the tires to see how the tread appears, including if any cords are showing and to see if the wheel has any punctures. The chain and sprocket should also be regularly checked to see if there are any kinks, broken teeth or metal shavings.

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