4. Use Your Ears
Thank heaven for Bluetooth. Listening to music or audio books is a fine way to pass the time and keep awake and alert. Best of all, you can do more than just listen to the same forty classic rock tunes on FM radio. Audiobooks are great fun on the open road; so are podcasts and any of the many talk/sports stations on satellite radio.
A caveat on audiobooks: the droning intonation of a soothing voice reading a slow-paced book might have the opposite of the intended effect. You’re better off sticking to crime stories, spy novels or anything else fast-paced and entertaining. A long night ride through the desert is probably not the ideal opportunity to catch up on your Dostoevsky.
5. Get Physical
As RideApart staffer Wes Siler stated in his comfort story, keeping your body awake and alert is as important as keeping your mind sharp. Stand up on your pegs, change your position on the seat, shake out your wrists and hands, shake your head from side to side — do whatever it takes to keep the blood flowing through your body and brain.
A cheap, but effective way to do this is simply to expose yourself to the elements. Zip down your jacket or flip up your visor for a little bit. Not only will the fresh air clear out your mind, but the physical sensation of the wind on your person will likely make a huge difference, even if only for a few minutes.
6. Avoid Road Food
Look, I know you guys love your food. I’ve witnessed the gluttony at the food court at a rally. And, the debate over the best road food is endless and pervasive; at any biker meetup, it’s impossible not to overhear a debate on the best ribs or burgers in an area.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some barbecue. Burgers and hot wings in particular. But, not while riding. I’ve learned the hard way that big lunches, especially those involving fried foods, are just a bad idea on a ride. Big meals require energy for digestion, removing focus from riding and unhealthy food can lead to…impromptu bathroom breaks. And bathrooms can be hard to find in the middle of nowhere.
Instead, keep food light and keep it lean. Opt for a sandwich instead of a burger or, even better, those big salads that can be topped with grilled chicken.
These are some of my tried and true methods for staying awake on a long ride. What are yours?