After hours on the bike, a rider dismounts immediately, dumps his riding gear on a table, and throws his wasted body on the hotel lobby's sofa. Still gasping for breath, he pulls out a hand towel to wipe away sweat, and bitches about muscle fatigue, body ache and other riding discomforts.
He then begins to curse motorcycling, but as his eyes' gaze reach his riding buddies, he sees a fresh-looking and energetic group. They're about the same age, so the exhausted rider wonders how his mates endure long hours of riding.
I remember being this dog-tired rider during my days as a novice, but the more kilometers I log in, the more I learn how to manage riding stress and fatigue. I pick up some techniques from riding clinics, while I get other methods by merely observing my fellow riders' style.
End your riding days feeling wasted and grumpy by trying some of these tips:
1) Don’t forget to breathe.
Some riders, especially beginners, unconsciously hold their breath while in motion. This commonly happens when they are attacking corners at high speed or going on full throttle on straights. Holding your breath restricts the flow of oxygen to the brain, and it affects your vision and judgment. Do deep breathing exercises before mounting on the bike. This can help you relax yourself.
2) Enjoy the scenery.
Do not forget to savor the picturesque surroundings on your route. Glance at the rustic nipa huts, grazing cows, or the majestic mountain range. But do this only when the road up ahead is clear and when riding at a safe speed. Seasoned riders are good at this using their peripheral vision.
3) Relax your hands and arms.
It’s easy to detect tensed riders. The raised shoulders in a tight and stiff position give it away. They also seldom move during the ride. Avoid this by rotating your shoulders, but not letting go of the handle bars. If you’re not tailing any vehicle along expressways, free the bike’s brake and clutch levers, and do the 'close-open' hand exercise, but only one hand at a time.
4) Save your butt.
Many riders tend to forget that the motorbike has more room. Most motorbikes are designed for two passengers, and when riding solo, this would allow the rider to move his sexy behind either to the front or to the rear section of the seat. This works like a little stretching exercise, and it can relieve your ass from muscle pain.
5) Sing a song.
Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone. When wearing a helmet, laughing and crying are well compartmentalized to the rider. The same goes with singing because it’s only you who can hear your lousy voice, but this will make you fight boredom during long hours of travel.
6) Keep a pair of happy feet.
The position of your feet on the brake and clutch pegs affects your riding comfort. Avoid leaving the ball of your feet on the pegs for long hours as this can result in leg cramps. Make it a habit to move the arch or ‘in-step’ part of the feet on the pegs every now and then.
7) Enjoy pit stops.
When you feel it’s time for a toilet break, pull over. When you feel hungry, pull over. When you’re sleepy, pull over and take a quick nap. Give yourself a break.
8) Try the chicken dance.
This is one effective riding technique I learned from the California Superbike School. By extending your elbows wide and open yet not letting go of the grips, flap your elbows just like how the feathered species do it. This loosens up your shoulder muscle and some parts of the upper body.
9) Go easy on the fuel tank.
While some riders enjoy riding with their knees slightly open, others want the tank always squeezed between their legs. But squeezing the tank for a prolonged period can also stress your leg muscles. Try to loosen your legs from the tank on long, clear stretches.
10) Open your helmet visor.
Do this when the riding pace is safe and you’re sure that there are no flying insects or debris along the way. Use your judgment when it’s safe to open the visor for you to breathe in fresh, rural air—or not. And besides, for urban dwellers, fresh air is an expensive commodity.