This is addressed to you if you're new to long-distance riding. If you already ride big miles and are now interested in obtaining certification, please read through Path to Verification. If you still have questions, please pick a contact or join our forum.
How to do big miles
Riding 1,000 miles in a day is not a challenge to be taken lightly but, if you're already a competent rider, it's certainly achievable. It is however not a mere extension of the 50/150/500 mile rides you already do.
There are several areas of concern which must be addressed:-
- riding skills
- You must become an expert rider. You will be riding continually for upwards of 17 hours and must be able to operate your machine efficiently while taking into consideration all traffic and weather conditions. Consider getting advanced rider training from RoSPA or IAM RoadSmart.
- your body
- You need to understand your own body and how it functions. In particular you need a good understanding of sleep & sleep patterns, the signs & symptoms of tiredness and dehydration - drink water regularly throughout long rides. You also need to learn how to avoid cramps and other irritations. There is no substitute for sleep and if you need to sleep out on your ride there is no alternative, you must get off the road and sleep. Stimulants won't help and may actually make you less likely to succeed.
- your bike
- Of course you can ride 1,000 miles on your bike, whatever it is, but firstly it must be in tip-top condition, properly serviced. Secondly you must eliminate any niggles in its setup. Are your mirrors set perfectly? bars at the right height? Are your legs cramped, maybe lower pegs would suit better?
- You need the right protective clothing at all times. Protection for the crash as well as for the weather. Master the art of layering. Not everything labelled waterproof in the shop is actually up to the job of keeping you warm and dry for many hours of bad weather. Heated vests, socks, gloves can often make the difference between comfortable and miserable.
- minimise stoppages
- Riding 1,000 miles is all about maintaining the pace. Every time you stop you reduce the pace and every minute you're stopped reduces it further; practise getting fuel stops done in 6-10 minutes rather than 15-20. Get up to the speed limit quickly and stay there unless safety considerations take precedence.
Plan the ride, ride the plan
Some experienced Iron Butt riders get up in the morning and just decide to ride 1,000 miles but for everyone else, and you in particular, planning the ride is critical to success. Plan the route, including all stops, complete with timings and a collection of Plan B's catering for bad weather, roadworks and other "what if's". On the day, riding the plan should be entirely relaxed, the hard work has already been done.
A good next step is to read First UK Iron Butt ride and some of our ride reports then consider attending one of our Rides To Eat, held throughout the year, all over the UK and across the continent or enter one of our scatter rallies. Pick one from the Calendar of events.