The Long Rider Challenge

If you were one of those "When are we going to get there?" kids - maybe the Long Rider Challenge is for you?

In response to an email sent to VOG HQ by VO14 Albert Otto in November 2010, the following was compiled and edited by Albert and Dave Davy - where the two seasoned riders pooled their experiences of long distance riding to present the VOG Longrider 1 000K, 1 500K, 2 000K & 2500K Challenges.

Kind of like “build-a-burger”- you get to design your own riding route, register and depart when conditions best suit you.

Your trip will be based on distance and safest pattern to maintain good average ground speeds as you are riding against the clock. Speed is not the secret in achieving your goal but instead "consistency" and not wasting time at stops.

As Cobber Albert Otto once said, all these challenges could be successfully done on a scooter if you were consistent!

You need to register well BEFORE departing, with no need to commit to either the route or the distance you hope to accomplish. Print a copy of these riding rules before you depart and return it with your slips and pics.

Unless you specifically plan to do a 1000km run, you may want to test your limits and ride as far as you can, getting your fuel slips from start to finish and then when you claim you do so for the distance nearest "over" the following. 1000km, 1500km, 2000km and 2500km.

We do it this way so that if you do have a bike out, you can claim whatever distance you have achieved over any of the first three calibrations, without having to do it all again.

So the question you may ask – “How far can one travel by bike in 24 hours?”

Here are some examples of long rides and Iron Butt challenges completed by VOG members:

• Dawie Degenaar (VO343): 1005km in 12 hours • Dennis & Leone Margo (VO296): 1042km in 11 hours • Robin Waltham (VO361): 1192km in 16 hours • Dave Davy (VO01): 1392km in 15 hours • Albert Otto (VO14): 1 777km in 21.75 hours • Dave Davy (VO01): 2070km in 22.50 hours

It is not a solo race but a maturely plotted route where one can maintain good average speeds with minimal stops and keep up a constant intake of fluids but without food, rather chewing on the odd energy bar or similar form of nourishment.

All rules for VOG Challenges apply, no backup cars or trailers are permitted to follow you as this will throw suspicion on your credibility and disqualify you.

VOG Long Riders are a special breed of biker, thrilling at the long blacktop and not as one may think . . . . . . reckless maniacs.

Looking at an actual medal below, note that the basic colour of the finished medal will be brass/ bronze. The yellow fill in the outer band of the medal will either be Gold, Red or White depending on the category of contender, as with all VOG medals.

The moon rising over the road in the image will always be silver/yellow on all medals depicting a part of your ride in the night, as it is after all a 24 hour ride! The blank plate above the "V" signature will be stamped with the distance achieved.

Documenting challenges and guidelines to safe long distance riding.

The thrill of riding a motorcycle on the open road unfortunately comes with a risk and that risk is compounded when riding a long distance ride of 1 000 and more in 24 hours. It is imperative you understand the risk that you are taking but the possibility of an accident can be minimized by practicing safe motorcycle habits and riding.

Not even the most experienced long distance rider can safely fight off fatigue. If you are tired, the only option is to stop and rest. Ignoring the symptoms of fatigue can be fatal. In order to promote and maintain a good safety record for all VOG challenges, we require you to do your part. If you are tired, having a bad day, or facing other obstacles or hurdles that are impacting your riding skills, please stop, rest or even abort the challenge so that you may enjoy motorcycling another day!

There is no shame or failure as it is not a race, nor a competition but rather a challenge for you to take to the open road and enjoy the undertaking of long distance riding while experiencing the thrill of travelling through our country on a motorcycle.

The route

A safe route must be your primary goal. Even though “back roads” may provide the best scenery, it is discouraged in long distance riding. Routes that include potholes and narrow windy mountain passes will slow you down and impact on your average km per hour. A fatigued rider on an unsafe route is a deadly combination. Plan your route and rest stops prior to starting the challenge using a good quality and current map or current GPS software.

Choose a route that offers additional and safe rest stops in between two stations. Especially towards the end of the challenge when fatigue sets in. From a documentation point of view, choosing a route in a straight line is the best option as you will have to obtain proof at every turn or direction change when travelling in a circle. Fatigue impacts on concentration as well as memory and forgetting to obtain the necessary proof may result in disproving a shortcut and the challenge ultimately not being recognised by the VOG executive.

Avoid border posts as delays at these points will impact on your km per average required. Ensure that fuel stations on the route have 24 hour fuel and that the distance between fuel stations does not exceed the range on your fuel tank. Rather use your worst recorded fuel consumption as a yard stick of your range as a head wind can seriously impact on fuel consumption.

Rather safely carry a couple of litres of fuel to ensure your range than run dry short of the next refuelling stop if your tank capacity is marginal. Remember, higher speeds, headwinds, gradients, pillion riders and even some road surfaces can deplete your forecasted range unexpectedly.

Weather conditions

Avoid adverse weather conditions such as extreme cold or heat as these add to fatigue and may even lead to frost bite, heat stroke and dehydration. Should your planned challenge include riding at night, rather do the sections in the dark in the beginning stages of the ride when you are still fresh and alert as fatigue and subsequent loss of concentration towards the end of your ride may cause you to miss the animal running across the road.

Ensure that your bike is fully equipped with the necessary lighting for you to see at night. Ensure that you are visible to other vehicles by wearing a high viz vest. Study long term weather predictions and patterns as well as the moon cycles for optimum visibility at night.

Make use of night riding glasses as these improve vision at night and also decrease the glare from other vehicles.

Riding gear

Always subscribe to the ATTGATT (All the Gear All the Time) principle. Avoid the temptation of feeling the wind on your skin as you may suffer uncomfortable sunburn or worse . . . . inadequate protection, if involved in an accident. Choose protective, comfortable and high visibility all weather riding gear as changing gear frequently will impact on your progress and add unnecessary weight to your motorcycle. Interchangeable shaded and clear visors add comfort from the glare of the sun as well as potential sunburn. However, swap to the clear or yellow visor at night. Never ride with shaded visors at night.

Avoid heavy backpacks and eliminate any little irritations as these tend to become much worse at the later stages in your ride. Avoid the “bling” such as tassels on your handle bars as the flapping will drive you insane.

Pillion

Whether you decide to take along a passenger may prove to be a mistake as an inexperienced nagging pillion may sink your attempt at a long ride and substantially add to the risk of riding a motorcycle. A mistake by a pillion may have disastrous consequences for you both. The golden rule here is that if in doubt, rather abort and forget about the idea.

However, should you be one of those fortunate riders that have an experienced and supportive pillion that enjoys the thrills of motorcycles as much as you do, they can substantially add value to the adventure of long distance riding.

Whether as a backup to monitor your progress, an extra set of eyes to look out for hazards, keeping check of your condition, calling for rest stops when stubborn riders refuse to accept fatigue or a trusting companion to share a word or two through helmet to helmet communication and someone to share an exhilarating stretch of road in between the stations visited.

Your bike and accessories

Ensure that your bike is roadworthy and that the set of tyres and brakes can do the distance required. Avoid services and any additions to your bike shortly before a long trip as reliability of the parts have not been tested and may fail. Ensure that you carry the necessary emergency tools such as a set of hex keys, spanners, puncture kit, CO2 gas bottles, pliers, screw drivers, side cutters, cables ties, rubber tape, spare bulbs, fuses and insulation tape.

Avoid strapping items to your bike as they may fall off during the ride. Side saddles bags are better and hard luggage is best as they provide excellent aerodynamic stability and prevent water from getting into your clothes when passing through that unexpected rain shower.

Travel as light as possible, avoid carting along unnecessary extras but never forget the essential items.

Sustenance during your ride

Maintain a balanced blood sugar level to avoid biological system highs with too much blood sugar which causes hyper activity and system “crashes” when the blood sugar level is too low which causes dizziness and decreased concentration ability. Avoid heavy and greasy meals before or during your ride. They require valuable calories to and are difficult to digest.

Rather opt for light carbohydrate pasta type meals or health sandwiches that provide a slow but constant release of energy. A heavy meal will also make you lethargic and lazy which may be potentially lethal. Avoid pharmaceutical stimulants to keep you awake as the side effects my cause jitters and once the medication wears off, you will experience a sudden system “crash”.

Avoid excess coffee and energy drinks that contain high levels of caffeine which is a stimulant and diuretic. It may lead to additional stops to relieve yourself or your pillion. Rather opt for bottled water and diluted fruit juice. Do not indulge in any form of alcoholic beverages or any form of drugs! Should it be revealed that you were participating in these challenges under the influence of alcohol or any form of drugs, however minute, your challenge will not be recognised or even revoked afterwards.

Always carry a litre of bottled water with you. Chances are that you will make use of it.

Scheduled and unscheduled rest and fuel stops.

Make use of these as per your route planning and obtain the necessary receipts as proof of your ride. It is advisable and efficient to combine a fuel and human substance stop. Filling up and then searching for a place to eat afterwards will waste valuable time. Should you or your pillion at any time during your ride feel tired, sleepy or fatigued, rather stop where it is safe to do. Even if it means pulling into a safe area and catching a much needed power nap as it may save your life.

Speed

Avoid excessive speed. Besides the risks that are associated with high speed, the increased concentration at extended periods at high speed will add to fatigue and also suck up fuel at an increased rate forcing more unscheduled rest and fuel stops.

Lost time and the subsequent loss of distance covered can only be caught up in three ways.

Either reduce scheduled rest or fuel stops which is not a good idea as you will need more stops as fatigue sets in during the later stages of the challenge or risk running out of fuel which could sink your attempt, extending the total time of the journey which may cause you to exceed the time limit for the challenge or increased speed which consumes more fuel and forces more fuel stops as well as the risk of being pulled over by a traffic official spending half an hour to issue you with a speeding violation.

At 120km per hour, a 15 minute unscheduled stop will result in having to catch up 30km. Increasing your speed to 130 km, it will take 3 hours to catch up. In short, rather stick to the golden rule of consistency and rhythm with fewer planned fuel and rest stops in the beginning when you are still fresh and more towards the end when you will need more rest stops due to fatigue.

Documenting the challenge

In order to document your challenge, we require that you obtain a witness to document the start and a witness to document the end of your challenge which includes documenting the time, date and odometer reading on your bike. We also require legible computerised fuel receipts, restaurant receipts, shop receipts and ATM receipts clearly indicating the establishment name, date and time, a log of your route to indicate progress and a map clearly indicating the route travelled and stations visited.

Take a photograph wherever possible showing the bike and petrol station in the pic.

Starting the challenge

Obtain a witness to document the odometer reading on your bike. This person may be a friend, a relative or even a petrol attendant. They must however be contactable for VOG during the verification of your completed challenge afterwards. If you are riding two up, they will have to witness for your pillion as well.

The odometer reading must be taken at no more than 5 km from your start station and no less than 15 minutes before your starting time. The witnessed odometer reading will be the recorded starting km of the challenge and will also act as proof later that you have covered the distance on your bike. Fill up your tank and obtain a computerised petrol receipt that clearly reflects the establishment’s name, telephone number, date and time. This will be your recorded starting time of the challenge.

Logs required during the challenge

Record the date, time, place, odometer reading and reason for your stop on the log sheet every time you stop. That includes all stations on your route. From start to / and including end stations. Ensure that all the receipts are legible so that they can be verified during the verification process and contain the establishment’s name. telephone number, date and time. Remember to obtain a fuel, restaurant or shop receipt every time you change direction to eliminate the possibility of taking shortcuts.

End station and ending the challenge

Fill up your tank and obtain a computerised petrol receipt that clearly reflects the establishment’s name, telephone number, date and time. This will be your recorded ending time of the challenge.

Obtain a witness with contactable details to witness the odometer reading on your bike. The odometer reading must be taken at no more than 5 km from your end station and taken at no more than 15 minutes after maximum time allowed for the challenge has expired. The witnessed odometer reading will be the recorded starting km of the challenge. This will be the recorded distance covered and will also act as proof that you have covered the distance on your bike.

Please take the calibration of your odometer into account as variances may influence the distance covered and may impact on the minimum distance required for each challenge. As the calibration on most odometers is not completely accurate, a 5 % negative variance may be the result in not covering the minimum distance required for each challenge with subsequent disqualification. Rather add 5 or 10 % to your journey to be safe. It is not pleasant to not recognise the completion of a tough challenge due to a rider missing the minimum distance required by 5km.

We make use of accurate maps and GPS software to measure the distance between your start and end station during the audit and approval of your claim.

Document submission

  • Write a short report of the challenge with specific reference to obstacles that you had to overcome as well as the cities passed on your way. The city names will be used in your individualised certificate.

  • Place all your fuel, shop, restaurant, toll and ATM receipts in date and time order on a copier and print one page that contains all your receipts.

  • Make a copy of your map used clearly indicating your route and circle your stations visited.

  • Make a copy of your completed log sheet and witness forms.

  • Submit the copies of your documentation to the VOG executive.

  • Keep the original documentation in case of the unlikely but ever possible mislaid documents, in case there is a query and until challenge verification process is complete.

Awards

You will be informed of the verification process outcome but your award which includes the relevant medal and certificate will only be issued at the next official VOG outing that you will be in attendance.

Enjoy the ride . . . it adds to our worthy life experiences!!!

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