Life on bikes

Prep and pack for a mid-length trip

Jock McJock has done more trips than any other biker we know. He could probably pack with his eyes closed. Here’s how he goes about preparing for a two-to-four-day trip.

First the essentials:

Breakdown cover and bank cards. With those, you can pretty much sort our any situation.

Check and sort all the things that matter over 2000 miles (brake pads, tyre wear, fluid levels, chain tension, mot/tax/insurance, that sort of thing) and if a service is due, get it done before you go. Then, in that respect, we’re done.

Of course, if something goes amiss whilst away, well we’re still at home really, so hopefully easily sorted on the trip if necessary.

If you don’t have half decent wet weather gear, get some. Even in the summer, like any place when you tour, you may very well need it.


Next up, routes, accommodation

Routes I have in my head from years of riding the UK, but is a great source for avid planners. They have an app too.

I go online for planning accommodation, being a particular favourite or revisit places that I found to be suitable on previous trips.

I plan my days to fit around where I want to be at night making sure I don’t overstretch the mileage for each day, as being under pressure to get to a hotel is not cool. It takes away the pleasure of that day’s ride.

For me, I try to do no more than 400-500miles in a day if mainly motorway, 300-400 if mainly A roads, 200-300 if mainly B roads. So factor that into the number of nights you need to book.

When you’re on roads you don’t know, especially in a place like Scotland with staggering views you’ll not see anywhere else, your average speed is a lot lower than at home on roads you do know. 200 miles in Scotland can be an all-day ride as much as a bigger mileage day could be elsewhere.

Be mindful that not all roads or routes are equal. Don’t rush around and miss it all. You can have a spank one minute, park and photo, admire, breath it all in the next. Give yourself the chance to do that, don’t go with a MotoGP mentality, you’re missing the point if you do. Well, at least not the first visit anyway.

Motorcycle laden with belongings
You really don’t need to pack your entire belongings for a 2-4 day trip


Packing is the art of throwing away

I dig out some waterproof bike luggage, some bin liner bags to put my stuff in because I don’t trust anything to be 100% waterproof and make sure that anything I pack I split in half, dump half and repack.

Who needs all that junk, we’re riding, drinking, eating, looking, talking, laughing, pondering, being inspired, being impressed, being rolled over by the wonder of it all.

We don’t need junk; we need essentials and we’re travelling light ‘cos we’re only away for a few days.

Me, I pack basic toiletries, repellent, lip balm (yes, I know what you’re thinking right now), a couple of t-shirts, pair of jeans, trainers, long sleeved top, undercrackers and socks, job done.

Waterproof jacket becomes my outdoor jacket. These trips are 90% rural and the countryside doesn’t care for labels. It cares for attitude, embracing attitude. Go there with a cheap t-shirt and a smile, they’ll only see the smile.

Phone, charger, small battery pack if the bike doesn’t have an on-board charger finishes off the personal stuff.

Document wise I take the originals; driving licence, insurance, mot, V5 and make sure the bike is taxed. Kit wise I take two pairs of gloves, wet and dry. For, waterproofs, I prefer two-piece.

Kit wise I take two pairs of gloves, wet and dry. For, waterproofs, I prefer two-piece.

Clear and dark visor, I go with pinlock inserts. Or a lid with a pinlock’d clear visor and flip down smoked internal visor to save the faff when it rains.

Visor cleaner. Earplugs. Enough for me and a couple extra for the mates that forget or lose theirs.

Some type of locking device, a chain preferably, even a disc lock is better than nothing. One chain can do two bikes and so on. I take a chain and disc lock alarm, because they fit under the seat of my bike.

Places like Scotland aren’t rife with theft, the north of Scotland even less so (more sheep than people and last I checked there aren’t roving gangs of sheep on T-Max’s busting steering locks and pushing bikes away), but peace of mind is a wonderful thing.

Zip ties, some gaffer tape, puncture repair kit (it can save a long wait in the middle of nowhere), head mounted LED torch, a small can of chain lube if chain driven, and a small pack of selected tools for minor repairs / tightening of stuff.

Maybe a local map covering places you’re heading through as a backup, but that’s it really.

Get yourself sorted:

Don’t over-pack!!


More from Jock

With at least two shameful plugs for Scotland there, it would be remiss not to read Jock’s epic two-part Bucket List trip: Scotland’s West Coast and the North Coast 500 and Highlands.



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The Author

Jock McJock

Jock McJock

Jock would describe himself as a world child, though a child with a greying beard and ever-receding hairline.

Gaining his bike licence over 30 years ago, from the roads of Perth, Scotland, to the dirt roads of Perth, Australia, he stopped counting the miles as the half million mark easily came and went, barely noticed. Emotive, sarcastic, direct, as happy to bimble and take in the view as he is to drag a kneeslider and ignore the view.

His biking CV is an eclectic mix, from racer to tourer, track instructor to ride leader, he has ridden all over the globe, describing the journey as ‘in progress’, never ready to sit back and settle for the biking memories he has. Rather than just going from A to B, Jock makes sure A to B has a story in it to tell.

Jock revels in the analytical side of riding and product testing. His passion spills out into helping everyone from newcomers to aspiring racers, providing guidance to those riders who may lack confidence on their bikes, through lectures and riding analysis.

So buy him a donut and a coffee and settle in for a roller coaster ride of biking emotions.