Beantown Baggers

Tired? A Distracted Rider is a Safer Rider…?

Tired riding brings out the animal instinct in all of us. We all have our own tricks to stay awake but before this summer’s trip from Nevada through Utah I had never taken inventory of my idiosyncratic behavior.

The sun had faded behind the majestic mountains of Bryce Canyon and we would finally make our way out of the national park for the final 175 mile chunk of the day ending at our resting place of Salt Lake City, Utah. We hadn’t planned on staying at Bryce for so long but the magnificence of this natural wonder deserved a little extra attention.

The day had started in Las Vegas and took us through searing heat to the soft sunbaked asphalt of Zion National park. Fatigue set in hours ago and we had no misconceptions on the challenge ahead in our last leg of a 500 mile day.

Quickly day turned to night and our clear goggles would replace the polarized lenses that had aided visibility since pulling onto the Las Vegas strip 12 hours ago. A quick pit stop for fuel and to pick up a selection of snacks, drinks and anything else that could keep the time moving.  {More Below}

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As soon as we departed the convenience store parking lot we would see the first of many deer along our ride. We were in states of perpetual readiness – expecting the unexpected. Such a state of vigilance brings drowsiness. Drowsiness graduated to exhaustion and our communal stares became much longer.  Vision blurs.  {More Below}

We have many tools at our disposal to stay awake during a ride. Most tools are better called distractions and they come in all shapes and sizes. More accurately they come in all wrappers and cans.

The Drinks:
It’s hard to drink while you’re riding, even with a Road Glide equipped with cruise control. One tends to make exceptions out of necessity. Red Bull and Starbucks to-go bottles are my drug of choice despite the inconvenience of consuming fluid from a can charging into 80 MPH wind. If I was able to work the pull-tab cleanly (and this is far from a certainty) it was almost a sure bet that the contents would follow the path of the wind. It didn’t matter – a quarter Red Bull was better than none at all! {More below}

Red Bull at Bryce Canyon

Red Bull at Bryce Canyon

The Snacks:
I really only started eating while riding over the past few years but now this ill-advised though welcomed distraction has become a sport unto itself. Sadly, I find myself taking pride that not only can I successfully tear open beef jerky but do so without loosing so much as a shred of the dehydrated bovine delicacy. At times during various rides I’ve even fantasized of creating more complex cuisine while in the saddle – such as PB&J. Maybe some day I’ll even write a grilling while riding cookbook. It seems that the food doesn’t keep me going; rather the act of eating averts my attention from the monotony of a dark highway trek.

Easy Eating:
We all know that the most challenging aspect of eating while riding is in the unwrapping phase. I have found that the perfect food to deal with this obstacle is a roll of Mentos. They don’t stick together, there is no unwrapping and you can simply bite off the next in the roll without swerving dangerously off the road. Best yet, they have started making Mentos in different flavors adding to the mystery while you make quiet wagers with yourself around “what flavor is next in line”?

Don’t laugh – you’ve all tried it. When I am absolutely, ridiculously beyond recovering tired, I have been known to jack my radio to the highest decibel level and sing along. This is bad and would be embarrassing if it weren’t for the darkness covering my expressions and the pipes concealing my horrendous voice. Songs of choice are Persistence of Time by Anthrax, The Gambler by Kenny Rogers, Thunderstruck by AD/DC or anything by Guns n Roses, Creedence Clearwater Revival or the Dropkick Murphys.

It’s great to think that all rides are enjoyable and distractions are not necessary as long as you find the right roads. We disagree. There’s a point after a few days of riding in incredibly hot weather and pitch-black darkness that you will fade. When that happens, what do you do?  Do you have any wake-up tips for long rides? A few of us are thinking of doing the Hoka Hey this year and could use any tips that will make a few of the longer miles move quicker.

Vegas Roads before zion

Vegas Roads before zion

The heat after leaving Vegas to Zion Canyon

The heat after leaving Vegas to Zion Canyon

This is about as clear as I could see when Ray pulled up along side me

This is about as clear as I could see when Ray pulled up along side me

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