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Adventure Motorbike Mindfulness

Survival Guide for Adventure Riders During COVID-19 Lockdown

Seems like a cliche title but I am sure that after this period in humanity history you will see things with different eyes, so even though the title seems more like coming from a wannabe yoga teacher pretending to be a rider, bear me with me it’s gonna get interesting I promise you.

This article is all of you out there whether you already are or are soon be in lockdown. Actually I could even dare to say that this could be a good resetting point for any rider of there but since I am an ADV rider I will focus on that topic mainly.

COVID-19 or as most of us know it Coronavirus has taken all of us by surprise. One day it was in China and next thing I know it was spreading around Italy and now it is hitting the Americas as well as Africa.

Depending where you live chances are you are already in lockdown. In my case, I’m currently based in Barcelona and I’ve been in lockdown since the 13th of March and last time I went for a ride with my mates was on the 8th of March. Even though, it doesn’t seem like a lot of days (because I mostly use my motorbike when going outdoors ) the fact that I can’t even go out for a short ride is starting to feel weird and that a part of me is missing or fading away as time passes by.

Hence the last couple of days I’ve been telling to myself what I can do during this time. In my case, I live in a block of flats, no garage, no garden so everything must be done inside, unless of course you want to get something from the grocery shop or throw the rubbish. If you attempt to go or do something else you might get a hefty fine, although this seems to be more of an unlucky situation rather than a fact.

If you don’t feel like reading and instead you prefer to watch me I invite you to watch this video.

So then, you might be wondering, what can I do during this time if I am an adventure rider?

Wash your Bike

Right now, you might not be able to go to a jet wash but you get the point

Right, so the very first thing you want to do is to wash it properly, not just as you normally do removing the flies you catch on the way back home from a long day off-road, or the mud that just got here and there. Must likely, there are parts of your bike you have never even touched. Have you checked under the seat? Oh you’ll be surprised how many people have ever lifted the seat. Are you one of those?

Check you Bike

Check you motorbike
Every little thing counts

Done washing it, great. Next on the list is the old and basic bike check. Let’s be honest when was the last time you put some time to check every part of your bike? Depending on your bike’s age that your bike might need more TLC than you ever imagined.

Perhaps you did it recently but you forgot to check that something else that was not relevant at that time. Once again, depending on your bike age and the riding style and terrain you normally ride this could easily take you from a couple of days to a whole full month. It is up to you how granular you want to get.

Lube It

Once you’re done checking it up and because your bike will be parked for as long as COVID-19 decides to you want to make sure that every part of your bike is properly lube to prevent any rust from attacking the chain, bolts, etc.

By now and depending on how many hours/day effort you put on the points above you are now done with your precious. Now what? Now comes all those things you have always put off in the past so let’s start with the list shall we?

Organise All Your Pictures

This is one of those, that if you’re like me you’ve always said to yourself “I’ll do tomorrow during….. or perhaps when I’m back from ….” in the end the truth is you never do it even though you have all those amazing pictures of your trips waiting for you to get them organised, categorised, why not even edit them on photoshop or lightroom and get them printed and hanged in your bike room or private space.

I am not even going to dare to say how long this will take you because this will definitely take you longer that you’ve ever expected.

Plan Future Trips

I bet you’ve been to many places in all these past years but, have you consider that other place you once saw on a map and you promised yourself and your mates you were going to go in the future and never did. You even talked about this during dinner with your family, you were quite exited about it, however in the end a friend shared another route and that place you always thought about was left in the list of to-be-visited-in-the-future.

There are many ways to do this but I can recommend you one that has worked for me so far. Open excel or google sheets or any spreadsheet or even a notebook, basically any tool you prefer but that one that allows you to write down places and also add relevant information: distance, terrain (gravel, tarmac, mud, mixed, mixed percentage, time of the year, kilometres or miles, the number of items is entirely up to you and you can adapt it to your needs.

Group Trips

Yeah, this kinda trips.
  • Short trips (one day)
  • Medium trips (weekend or three days)
  • Long trips (one of two weeks)
  • Freedom trips (a month or longer)

Sometimes we all like to go riding solo, why? I guess because it let us experience the freedom and fear to the unknown in a different way than if we would do it with a mate. Thus, I’d also copy the same list but categorise them as solo trips.

Solo Trips

  • Short trips (one day)
  • Medium trips (weekend or three days)
  • Long trips (one of two weeks)
  • Freedom trips (a month or longer)

Past Trips Retrospective

Have you ever thought about what happened during the last trip? Perhaps I should have carried less tools? Perhaps I shouldn’t have filled in the tank to the brim? Perhaps this, maybe that.

I am no telling you to write a diary, but since you’ve got so much time now in your hands, why not doing it? Basically I am taking this from my own profession since I am a project manager I normally have do this and it has its advantages.

Not all trips can be perfect, so we must learn why it got to this.

The purpose of this is to make you think of what to do next time so you can avoid a problem, perhaps if you would have shifted your body weight to the right you would not have fell down. If you recorded your trip or if you rode with a friend who recorded you you can analyse the video and learn from it and be more careful next time you go out.

It sounds silly, but I am sure you can learn one or two things about you and your riding style if you do that and now it is a good time.

ADV Riding Skills

This entry deserve a post on its own, but there are plenty of pro adv riders and instructors out there giving the riding tips and advices so I am not going to get deep into this. I am sure you know what you need to improve and if you don’t the former entry is a good start.

We all need to improve our riding skills, even pro riders have to improve constantly if they want to be on top of their game and bet the other riders, and while we’re not competing with our mates or ourselves, we do want to make sure we are skilful enough to overcome ruts, baby heads, big drops, step climbs, mud, gravel, lose sand, etc.

You might be saying, sure I am aware of that, but how I am suppose to learn and improve if I am locked down in my own house or flat? True, but did you know that riding well according to many riders is not just about knowing how to sit or stand on a adv motorbike but it is down to my next to points….

Physical Skills

More often than not when we go for a ride we take the hard path, because let’s be honest we just have more fun riding it than if we’d take the easy one. Adv riding tends to be considered an easy ride through the forest, beautiful landscapes with open spaces where we can turn off the engine, grab our mobile or camera and snap a nice picture than later on we will share on instagram or with our mates at the pub.

What they normally don’t tell you is that in order to get there you must ride through some gnarly places and having a good physical condition will help you more than you think.

I have been trying to say this to my mates and most of them except for a few make fun of me. I am saying this, not because of the current COVID-19 situation but because we most have the right physical skills to overcome any obstacle we find on the way. This is especially important if you like to ride long solo trips on your own, because if you drop your bike (and yep, you will, don’t bs yourself) you need to be able to pick it up and if you are all chubby and with barely any muscle the consequences can be disastrous. Sure, you will be able to pick it up once, perhaps even twice but in doing so yo might hurt yourself trying to pick up a +230kg / 511 lbs bike.

Hence, now it is a great time to start building up some muscle and get fit so you are ready for your next great adventure once we’re free to roam the land again with our bikes.

I would suggest you try a combination of different exercises for example:

  • HIIT (High-intensity interval training) is basically another sophisticated way of saying intensive cardio exercises that happen for short periods of time. A good source for free exercises is a site put together by a group of pros called darebee.
  • Weight Lifting: I guess that’s self explanatory and for sure it is good for body endurance and muscle creation and regeneration after a long riding day.
  • Yoga: yep, yoga is not only for girls guys (btw, have you noticed that in the West yoga is mostly done by women but in India is mainly done by men, weird isn’t it?) Yoga is great to increase your body flexibility which is great for fast reaction, quick turns, sudden bike moves, as well as a great muscle stretcher to relieve some of the stress you put your muscles during riding.
  • Nutrition: I can expect a bunch of riders skipping this one or simply saying “bah, here comes another one trying to brainwash me”. While I wouldn’t deny that first I want to ask you. Have you seen that most of the people dying because of COVID-19 have preexisting health problems? Unfortunately they didn’t have the information we have now. Eating well goes hand in hand with your physical training and trust me once you start eating healthy you won’t go back to crappy food. Why? Because the principle is the same as what you do with your bike. Would you use cheap quality oil in your engine? No, of course not. Would you use a cheap chain lube? Nope, never. Would you use check petrol/gas? Even though this can be challenged, tests have proven that using good quality petrol increases your engine performance because of its additives. So just for the sake of your health, take the word “additives” as healthy food rather than just food. In the long run, you’ll feel lighter, rested, more powerful than if you only eat crappy food.
  • Final Advice: if you’re not a sporty person or if you have ever done any yoga or lift any weight I’d recommend you to take this slowly, step by step, and start always with the easiest routine and build it up from there, in that way you can guarantee a good body foundation and grow up from it nicely and powerful.

Mental Health

Hiking is more about the mind, the journey and your thoughts than the physical endurance.

The body is just not everything you must train because normally overcoming baby-heads or big stones is more of a confidence matter than big muscle.

Confidence in oneself is normally a matter of understand that you are capable of doing something even though you have never done it before. In other words, you must embrace fear with joy knowing that whatever happens it will be fine.

We all have out different ways of doing this, some drink loads of beers, others enjoy one, or many ciggies, vape, but since having too many of those are bad for your health and we want to be healthy riders so we can enjoy more rides in the future there are other ways to achieving that mental health you need, let me give you a couple of examples:

  • Meditation: perhaps the most underrated practise and way to improve your mental health has to be to meditate. Sure, if you’v got kids this might not be an option. Yet, in case you live in a noise place perhaps you can find that private place where you can be with yourself (yes, the toilet, bingo! although you might want to look for another place)
  • Shinrin-yoku: you might need to wait until we’re allowed to go out. This practise means you bath yourself in forest,I know at first it is hard to grasp the meaning of it, but trust me when I say that this is the easiest and the one I practise often. In a nutshell, all you have to do is to walk, hike or trek in the forest but observe everything around you: colours, smells, try to identify animal footprints, listen to the birds, enjoy the sound made by the wind moving the tree branches. I’m sure you get the deal now. It is quite relaxing and normally it helps you to think things through, although the aim of this is to present in the moment and prevent your mind from wandering. In that way when you go riding you will see how you improve your concentration on the route instead of something else.

Motorbike Mechanics

I consider myself an ignorant when it comes to mechanics. I know the bare minimum I just know how to clean, lube and tighten the chain and check the engine oil, that’s it. If I ever get stranded I am done for until the tow truck arrives. That’s why getting you motorbike manual, reading it through, watching tutorials on youtube (although check comments first, just in case people say that what he/she is doing is not right) and learn how to do things, in case you or a friend ever needs help.

Ok, so what if I’ve done all that before what else is there for me to do…

Reading ADV Books

With so much spare time to enjoy a good book, why not indulging yourself in some nice motorbike adventures? Here is a good list of books mentioned over and over in forums, chats and magazines, they are not arranged in any particular order. I reckon they’re all quite good and worth reading.

  1. Into Africa: Africa by Motorcycle – Every Day an Adventure, Sam Manicom, 2012
  2. The Rugged Road, Theresa Wallach, 2001
  3. One Man Caravan,  Robert Edison Fulton, Jr, 1996
  4. Ubuntu: One Woman’s Motorcycle Odyssey Across Africa, Heather Ellis, 2016
  5. Jupiter’s Travels : Four Years Around the World on a Triumph, Ted Simons, 2005
  6. Lois on the Loose, Lois Pryce ,2007
  7. The Road Gets Better from Here, Adrian Scott, 2008
  8. Lone Rider: The First British Woman to Motorcycle Around the World, Elspeth Beard, 2017
  9. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig, 2005
  10. 10 Years on 2 Wheels: 77 Countries, 250,000 Miles, Helge Pedersen, 1998

This is will take you some time to get it right, and trust me this is by no means a definite guide, this is just the beginning of a more thorough list of items. You set the limit.

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