Probably on of the biggest concerns about this 12,000 mile ride on the back of a motorcycle is the ability to endure the discomfort and physical demands of 12-16 hr days in the saddle. Although I have completed a ride of over 1,000 miles in a little over 16 hours (see the Iron Butt Post), it is the repetition of these long days in the saddle that tend to take their toll. On the initial part of the ride, I am hoping to do 700, 800 and 750 mile days consecutively, maybe more.
In light of this concern, I have spent a fair amount of time reading and reviewing the various print and internet resources on the subject of training for long distance, endurance riding. Surprisingly, most of the references that I found relate to getting the bike in shape, not the body. After seeing the photos of the participants and winners in various endurance riding competitions (rallies), it sure doesn’t seem like peak physical conditioning is a necessity. However, I guess looks can be deceiving, probably abs of steel under all of those layers… In all fairness though, it seems like the winners of these competitions are in pretty good shape.
In any case, aside from building mental stamina, it seems like the best training is to get on the road and complete frequent long fides (300-600 mile rides). This not only serves to get the body conditioned to the riding, but also shakes out any weaknesses in the bike, accessories and comfort. To this end, I will be doing a relatively long distance ride at least twice/month up to the ride.
In addition to simply logging the miles, I have dusted off the running shoes and am now logging about 2-3 miles a day on the trail. This mixed with some cross training on the bicycle and relatively light, weight workouts round out the program for me. With the ride only about 80 days away, I will be pretty diligent with this program.
As for the bike – it is all set. I am still not to happy with the seat – not as comfortable as I would like. I have tried a number of different custom seats but all seem to be made for larger, heavier riders. I am going to stick with my seat made by Rick Mayer, although after about 2-3 hours in it my back is screaming. Just need to let the body conform to the bike rather than the other way around…
I did try a seat made by Russell Day-Long seats, and found that it is definitely made for a larger, heavier rider. For me the Russell seat caused my hips to rotate backward, causing a lot of lower back pain within about 30 minutes of riding. Another big disadvantage to the Russell seat is the extra 2″ that the seat adds to the height of the already high position on the bike. Not too bad when cruising down the highway, but a little precarious when trying to navigate dirt/gravel roads. In my opinion, none of these companies is too customer service oriented and are located on the west coast – once you bought it, you bought it… I am wide open to suggestions if any readers out there have some.