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Discussion Starter #1
I see quite a few of you are making it out on some really nice trips (I'm SO jealous!). I think with things warming up (even here, we've got a nice chinook that rolled in) I bet lots of us that hang out here are already planing a nice road trip (I know I am).

I thought I would just share what I've learned from my trips with regards to FATIGUE.

In my opinion, for the solo traveller especially, fatigue can be extremely dangerous. I think a lot of people may not realize how serious fatigue can be, especially how QUICKLY it can set in. If you're far away from rest stops, or on a twisty section of mountainous road, then it could impractical or even dangerous to stop.

So, here are my tips, and I'm sure there is a lot to add so please post comments.

First of all, PREVENTION is key. So, here are ways I prevent the onset of fatigue:

- Drink lots of water. This is especially crucial in the hot climates in July/August. I have a camel back that can fit a large bottle of water (I think it's either 750mL or 1L - I don't remember). I find this is extremely effective in keeping me alert and comfortable.

- Remember to blink. I will address this more below, but eye dryness is really bad. This can happen not only in dry, dusty climates, but also by the simple fact that you're focused on the road. If you ride for extended periods of time and concentrate on what's ahead, you will forget to blink. For us gamers, think about what happens when you play that FPS for 5 hours straight.

- Dress properly. I think this is important for travelling through the mountains, especially up here in Northern Canada (I have experienced a rain forest, a desert and a snow storm all in the same trip in the first week of July). Dressing properly ensures that your body doesn't get fatigued (ie, cramps). The best would be a heated liner with an adjustable remote. However, not all of us can afford this kind of luxury, so the next best thing is LAYERS. Wearing numerous layers (in my humble opinion) help insulating you by having a small air barrier between each layer. As the day warms up (or cools down), or as the elevation changes, you can easilly pull off and shed a quick layer. Now, if it's really cold, your rain gear will really help cut down on the wind penetration and trap another layer of air. This will help keep you warm, but be cautious of sweating and then getting chills.

Most importantly, you must listen to your body. Pushing yourself beyond your limits can be deadly. Nobody wants to do the 100 yard blink on two wheels. I've had this happen to me, and trust me, it's scary!

So, what do you do if you're feeling tired?

- First, PULL OVER at the first safe opportunity. This can be a rest stop, a gas station, a driveway to a farm or even the shoulder if there is lots of visibility.

- Power naps: here's a tidbit of information from my military buddies....The brain's sleep function works in several cycles that are initiated by various chemical releases in the brain. Most people know about "REM" sleep: the phase where we dream. If I recall correctly, there are four phases to the sleep cycle, REM being the third (no time to look this up). However, there is a lot of chemical activity in the adult brain in the first 40 minutes after sleep is initiated. 15 to 20 minutes after falling asleep, the brain releases the chemicals that will initiate a deep sleep. Now, if someone is awoken after those chemicals are released, they wake up groggy, and it takes the brain several minutes to fully function properly. HOWEVER, if you were to wake up BEFORE those chemicals release, your brain will be "fooled" into thinking you just had a nice long sleep. Once your brain has adjusted to this, a 15 minute power nap can refresh you for up to four hours. Now, this is just what I've found from personal experience.

The bottom line though, if you're tired, you need a rest.

- Eye drops: I have found that a lot of the fatigue I have felt was caused by super dry eyes (as mentioned above). Eye drops can do wonders to revitalize the eyes. In my previous ride reports, I mentioned using Visine. Now, I don't want to recommend a specific product, but I can tell you this: Visine is very bad for you. Visine has a lot of preservatives and other chemicals that artificially whitten your eyes. It's actually possible to build up a tolerance to visine and then it doesn't work. (This was discussed in detail with my optometrist). The key for eye drops is that it say on the label "no preservatives."

- Menthol mints: A strong menthol mint (available at any major grocery store) can also do wonders for "shocking" the sinuses and "waking" yourself up.

- I avoid caffeine entirely. I feel that if you need coffee or another energy drink to stay awake and alert, you are asking for trouble, especially for prolonged periods of time.


The bottom line is, listen to your body. If you feel tired, you must pull over. All of the above was learned through my own personal touring experience.


I thought with another riding season around the corner, it would be good to share what I've learned.

What do you think? What works for you?
 

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I did an Iron Butt qualifier last year. This is pretty much the tested advice.
 

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that is very good information. Definitely what I do without thinking about it. The eye drops is something I learned, as you mentioned, from gaming. During really intense sessions, my contacts would dry out because I'd forget to blink!

My only thing I can think to add is:

-Move around before you start to ache: We've all been there. 1, 2, maybe 3 hours in(for you crazy veteran riders) and your rear starts to throb, you leg starts to cramp, maybe your hands or knees start screaming for you to take a break. Once we start feeling those twinges, that's when you start shifting position in your seat, maybe let your legs hang down for a minute or two, stretch your arms or shake your hands. It will relieve the ache for a few minutes, but it will start creeping back in pretty quickly, and faster each time you try and shake it away. This is because once you can feel the pain, it's already too late, and the only real solution is to stop and get off the bike for 10 minutes+ so give your body a break. It's important to break occasionally to "rest up" or stretch, but if you want to help extend the time between these breaks or maybe just ache les sin general, start moving around and stretching your legs and such before you start to ache. It will help keep your body limber and move the pressure points on the seat around so you aren't carrying your weight on the same spots for an hour or more at a time. This explains why riding down the highway for a couple of horus can be more fatiguing and/or painful than doing "harder" riding in the twisties. When taking to the corners, you shift your body weight around more and are never in the same position for too long, allowing you to spread the 'stress" of riding over a greater portion of your body.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
hsilman, I agree 100%.

I had a buddy ask me which muscle groups to try and work out for riding, and the best I could come up with was the back, especially lower back.

For those of us with more aggressive seating positions, the key is to keep the weight on your...uhh...a$$ and not on your wrists. I accomplish this by occassionally squeezing the tank with my thighs. This reminds me to put the weight on my legs.

Another thing you can do is adjust your levers so that when you are seated, your wrists are not bent. This is very hard for me to describe without a photo handy, but I'll try:

If your levers are angle horizontally, you have a downward angle of your arm, but your hand must be horizontal. This creates an angle in your wrist creating a brutal pressure point. Instead, you should angle your levers downwards so that there is no "kink" in the wrists.
 

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Another thing you can do is adjust your levers so that when you are seated, your wrists are not bent. This is very hard for me to describe without a photo handy, but I'll try:

If your levers are angle horizontally, you have a downward angle of your arm, but your hand must be horizontal. This creates an angle in your wrist creating a brutal pressure point. Instead, you should angle your levers downwards so that there is no "kink" in the wrists.
+1 billion.

When I change my handlebars (which I do often for some reason) I make sure the levers are perfect everytime. Sit on the bike, stand it up verticle, and put your hands on the grips with your fingers extended, sitting in the same position you will be when riding. Your levers should be loosened to do this. Then put them up/down enough so they just touch your fingers on the bottom, when your fingers are out straight. Then tighten. Much more comfortable.
 

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+1 to hydration, i think you should try to drink a little every time you stop.

snacking rather than large meals is also a big one for me. a handful of trailmix, granola bar, ect. when you stop seems to keep your energy high without drowsiness like a heavy meal does.

and defiantly stay away from caffeine, esp on cold days, as it restricts blood flow to your extremities.
 

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I had a buddy ask me which muscle groups to try and work out for riding, and the best I could come up with was the back, especially lower back.
Agreed. I've had back problems for years, starting with a major back injury in the USAF. Motorcycling has been a challenge. My Corbin seat helped tremendously by correcting my riding posture & lightening the strain on my back.

...I accomplish this by occassionally squeezing the tank with my thighs.
Another great tip. Get Tech Spec grip pads (or similar) & use your legs to support the body. The most sore body part I had after last weekend & 200+ miles of riding? My upper legs. :) Proof positive to me that the grip pads work.
 

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one thing I have used to gage my own fatigue is my own indicision to stop for gas. If I find myself saying to myself, "one more exit before gas" I know its time to stop & rest, at least, a 15 minute power nap stretched out on a picnic table
 

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... if you were to wake up BEFORE those chemicals release, your brain will be "fooled" into thinking you just had a nice long sleep.
prime example (and I know nearly all of you must have experienced this somewhere sometime...) is when I was in school. Boring class... 1-2pm afternoon class for 1-2hours long... eyes start to drift... then all of the sudden your pencil drops and your eye's pop wide open :eek: , and you don't feel the drowsiness/sleepiness anymore! :rolleyes:

Great tips! Thanks folks. I especially like the tips/learning on the brain activity/chemical thing. Great info! :hug:
Dry weather is around the corner for all of us, so Ride safe out there everyone!
 

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Dry weather is around the corner for all of us, so Ride safe out there everyone
+1

I also agree on the fatigue handling measures mentioned in this thread. A lot of good info so far. Another "silly" trick if conditions permit, is to stretch your legs out behind you for short periods, or wiggle your toes in your boots. Any change of position seems to stimulate blood flow and helps a bit.

I rarely, if ever, have found fatigue issues while riding, even though many of my riding days exceed 10-12 hours seat time. I've always thought it was the necessity to pay attention that kept me alert. Maybe it's just that riding is so much more fun than a cage! I can't hardly keep my eyes open in a car, LOL.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I rarely, if ever, have found fatigue issues while riding, even though many of my riding days exceed 10-12 hours seat time. I've always thought it was the necessity to pay attention that kept me alert. Maybe it's just that riding is so much more fun than a cage! I can't hardly keep my eyes open in a car, LOL.
I have had fatigue on a few occasions. A couple times on the second week of my British Columbia tour, and going across the Canadian prairies. I must have forgotten to blink for like 200kms haha.
 

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No word about mental fatigue?

I find listening to the radio / music / audio books with ear buds help pass up the time slabbing on the freeway.
 

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I just ride until I wake up on the side of the road usually many feet away from the bike. Some times I need to call a tow truck to get the bike because I tend to loose rearsets this way.

lol, jk



good advise. I teach my wife all kinds of stuff in her car for example never sleep in the car that way you train your mind to think it is not a comfort area. On long trips I have pulled off into a park or rest stop and lean against my front wheel and take a 20 minute nap then stretch and ride again.
 

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, and going across the Canadian prairies. I must have forgotten to blink for like 200kms haha.
I think my biggest challenge when riding in the prairies is restraint with regards to speed. I can't say how many times, on lonely, straight, and neverending sections of road, that I have looked down to realize I was cruising at 110mph!

I guess this is more of a problem to due to the fact that I live in one of the flattest areas of the Canadian prairies! Thank goodness I am within a few hours of some great riding!
 

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I have had fatigue on a few occasions. A couple times on the second week of my British Columbia tour, and going across the Canadian prairies. I must have forgotten to blink for like 200kms haha.
I remember once on I-95 in Georgia, having a spasm that woke me up, when I was zippin along 75-80mph, I still wonder how many miles I was asleep, the last I remember was getting gas in South Carolina and it was raining
 

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I have people say to me you cant go to sleep on a bike. Did it once riding home after a rally after partying all Saturday night. I woke up about 10 feet off the blacktop luckily missing all the white posts.

It WILL give you a pucker factor of 10, believe me :eek:

+1 on the Gripster tank pads. Helps take the weight off the wrists by squeezing the knees slightly onto the non-slip pads and using your torso muscles. Very helpful with clipons.

Dont get fixated onto inanimate objects like a sign or a tree. You can find yourself just driving straight at it through a corner, etc.

Constantly scan both edges of the road for signs of animal movement like deer and other critters especially around sunset to sunrise. That stops fixation also.
 

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I might get flamed for this, but I wear a camelback filled with coffee. haha. it works great though- just get a large coffee along with a large cup of ice and dump both at the same time into the pack- ice coffee for hours- obviously dont want to chug it, but one pack lasted me for a solid 4 hours up HW1 last thanksgiving. ice is good because it dilutes a little bit, plus the airstream keeps it cool for a while.
of course i was jittery for a while when i got to my destination, but it wore off with a beer or two...or six.
also, if you do this make sure you have a seperate pack for water- once you fill a cameback with coffee, the taste is never completely cleaned out.
 

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I remember once on I-95 in Georgia, having a spasm that woke me up, when I was zippin along 75-80mph, I still wonder how many miles I was asleep, the last I remember was getting gas in South Carolina and it was raining

!!!!!!! not cool


This reminds me of one semester my second year of college. I lived a half hour away from school and I would work until midnight, then have to leave for class at 6am. I remember a couple of times when I would wake up behind the wheel of the car on the freeway. Needless to say, next semester I pushed my classes back from 7 to 8 and only worked until 11. Very scary to wake up in control of a vehicle doing 80.
 

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Not exactly a fatigue breaker, but I use the chemical warmers in cold weather (Super Hot Hands in the sporting goods at Walmart). I use the bigger pack under my waistline inside my clothes and the toe warmers. They work great and last 6+ hours. There are other sizes that may work better for tucking into your cold spots.

Highly recommend ear plugs. I use the soft orange shooting plugs also found in Walmart sporting goods.
 
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