Ride safe: Planning for your motorcycle vacation

May is motorcycle safety awareness month. Throughout the month, the Office of Safety and Environmental Health will provide motorcycle safety related information in an effort to increase awareness and lower mishap rates among Coast Guard riders.

A group of Coast Guard members stationed in Hawaii come together for a photo during a mentorship ride. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A group of Coast Guard members stationed in Hawaii come together for a photo during a mentorship ride. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Written by Dale Wisnieski

Each year, Coast Guard riders plan for long motorcycle trips. Sturgis, South Dakota, Daytona Beach, Florida, and the coast of California are popular destinations. Wherever your adventure takes you, proper planning and preparation will go along way in making it safe and memorable.­­­

Weather, road conditions, maintenance, packing the right warm and cold weather clothing and lodging are some of the items to consider when planning a trip. This list is not all encompassing. Your departure location and final destination will determine the extent of your planning and preparation.

The first step is to begin to map out your route. Determine how many miles you’re going to ride in one day, when to take breaks and when to stop for the night. The Coast Guard’s Travel Risk Planning System (TRiPS) is an online tool that will assist you in this type of planning.

What type of lodging will you be utilizing? Will you be staying in hotels or camping? If your plans are to camp, your camping supplies will factor how you’re going to pack your motorcycle. With limited space, this could mean leaving essential items behind.

Knowing the condition of your motorcycle is critical as it will be your mode of transportation during your trip. Consider having it serviced before you leave. Pack jumper cables, a first aid kit, extra light bulbs and a tire repair kit. Cleaning spray and rags are a must as you will be cleaning bugs off your helmet or windshield after each leg of the trip.

Look over your motorcycle, also known as t-clocs (tires, controls, lights, oil, chassis and stands) each morning to help identify problems early. You could pick up a nail along your route and if you don’t find it early, you could be left stranded on the side of the road. A t-clocs check sheet can be found on the internet. Simply search t-clocs. Print a copy out and take it with you.

Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Weather conditions will factor into the type of clothing and personal protective equipment to wear.

Finally, leave a copy of your travel plans with a relative, friend or someone in your chain of command. This will give them a starting point should something happen along the way.

While the month of May has been designated motorcycle safety awareness month, each rider should continue to focus on their safety and the safety of other riders regardless of the time of year.

We are entering the prime-riding season. Now is the time to get involved by mentoring other riders, seek basic or advanced training, and ensure you wear all the gear all the time.

Ride Safe Coast Guard Riders!

If you would like to get involved or need additional information on improving you unit’s motorcycle safety program, please contact Dale A. Wisnieski via email or at 202-475-5206.