Surviving a Motorcycle Ride in the Desert
There’s nothing quite like motorcycling down a desert road. The experience evokes the Wild West. You get to feel like a modern cowboy while taking in the beautiful views of dunes, canyons, and endless seas of sand. But make no mistake – the desert is an inhospitable, desolate land. It can kill you if you don’t make the right preparations. So be smart, respect the desert, and keep the following tips in mind before you hit the road.
Beat the Heat
If you have a modern motorcycle, chances are it’ll be able to withstand the heat, as long as you keep the air flowing over the radiator or cooling fins. As for you, avoid wearing thick black jackets and pants, unless you want the blazing hot desert sun to cook you in your own juices. Instead, wear textile clothing and pack some ice in the pockets – the ice will keep you cool, and as it melts, it will wet down the rest of your garments.
No matter how hot it gets, keep yourself covered up. Not only will long sleeves prevent nasty road rash in case of a crash, but they will also help you prevent sunburn and windburn, and even keep you hydrated by slowing your body’s sweating processes.
What If My Motorcycle Breaks Down?
A breakdown in the desert is a serious matter, especially for off-road riders. Hopefully, you’ll be riding with other people who can tow your bike or lend their passenger seat. If you’re going to be riding alone, though, well, let’s just say you’re going to need to be smart and resourceful.
Remember, in any survival situation, your main priorities are water, food, and protection from the elements. If you’re stranded and it’s still daytime, seek shelter beneath the shade of a tree, brush, or rock overhang. If you’re not in close proximity to any organic source of shade, use your tarp, bike cover, space blanket, or any other appropriate item as cover.
As hot as the desert gets during the day, it can get just as cool at night. Fortunately, motorcycles provide everything you’d need to start a fire, including gas, oil, and a battery or plug to make a spark. If there’s no wood or brush around you, you can burn the seat or a tire. While a fire should be sufficient as a signal for help, you always have your bike’s mirrors, horn, and headlight as backups.
How about water and food? Unless you’re Bear Grylls, you’re probably going to have a very, very difficult time finding these in the desert, so pack as much water and filling snacks as you possibly can. We suggest trail mix and energy bars along with the biggest hydration pack you can find.
Lastly, stay with your bike. If you must hike out, wait till evening when it gets cooler. If you don’t have comfortable walking shoes with you, use the inner booties from your motocross boots.
To all the riders out there who are planning to embark a desert road trip soon, Godspeed, please avoid reckless driving, and make it back in one piece!