Sunday, June 1, 2008

Cruisin & Snoozin the Skill of Moto-Napping

So there we were, making our way home from our latest adventure exploring the great roadways of Virginia. It had been a busy couple of days, late nights, early mornings, lots of great roads to ride, but all good things must come to an end and we were now on our way home. The riding conditions were perfect, clear blue skies, temperatures in the mid 70's, a nice long boring stretch of road, I was comfortably settled into my seat on the back of the Goldwing, awesome music on the XM radio streaming through my headset, the bike humming along, I was in a state of complete relaxation and before I knew it... my eye lids started to get heavy, I leaned my head back and just like that, I was napping or more appropriately -- moto-napping.

Now this isn't the first time I've caught a few z's on the back of the wing, I do it a lot actually and I've talked to other Goldwing passengers who regularly nap on the back of their motorcycles. It's so common in fact that I decided it needed a name, hence, moto-napping. Yes, that's a word, or it is now that I made it up. Have fun with it, use it in a sentence as often as you can, amaze your friends and neighbors, before you know it, moto-napping will be a household word and you can say you heard it here first!

So what exactly is moto-napping. First of all moto-napping isn't deep, long lasting sleeping, we're talking about light, restful, napping, similar to power napping. Studies show that power napping has many benefits including reduced stress, increased productivity and improved memory just to name a few. All good benefits right, so it's possible moto-napping can provide similar benefits, although there are no studies to prove so don't hold me to it.

The right motorcycle and proper technique, allow moto-napping to be accomplished successfully and without injury. I should know, I do it all the time, and most of the time, my husband, the driver, doesn't even know I'm napping. That's the key to successful moto-napping, never let your rider know you're catching a few winks! If you do they will probably try to keep you awake, the theory being if they can't sleep, why should you. I never did agree with that theory.

Moto-napping is more than simply a matter of closing your eyes and snoozing. There is a real skill to successful napping on a motorcycle, at least if you want to do it properly and more importantly safely. Several things need to be take into consideration. In the wrong hands, moto-napping can lead to injury or at the very least the pain of a bruised ego, from an unplanned extrication from said motorcycle.

"Yea but if you're napping, you'll miss all the great scenery."

Let's face it, not everywhere you ride on a motorcycle involves breath taking scenery and windy, curvy roads. More often than not you're riding long, boring stretches of road. You know the ones I mean like anywhere on the New York Thruway, b-o-o-o-o-ring or The Ohio Turnpike between Cleveland and Toledo, "wake me when we get there" doesn't begin to describe it. You simply can't wait to get to your destination and off that "Godforsaken flatter than a pancake" stretch of road. The only thing that makes it even remotely exciting is the occasional mindless cager veering into your lane for no reason because they "didn't see you" on your bright red 900 lb motorcycle. That kind of excitement I can do without, thank-you.

Now, if you live in Ohio or New York (I live in NY), don't get mad at me, you know as well as I do those stretches of road are anything but interesting. They do serve a purpose, as they make it quick and easy to get from point A to point B. A lot of you may be saying "you're on a motorcycle, you shouldn't be on the superslab anyway". Well, that's true, but sometimes you just gotta get there so you do what you have to do. The sad part is that both states actually make you pay to enjoy the boredom. We paid to ride Skyline Drive but at least that had entertainment value and gorgeous scenery.

Moto-napping is the perfect way to counteract the boredom of such roads, and helps you reach your destination rested and ready to go. Let's face it, you probably don't want to waste your time sleeping when you get to your destination that would just be wrong. Why not be rested when you get there.

Choosing the right bike.

Obviously, not every motorcycle is suited to napping, but then not every motorcycle is suited to long distance riding either. The best motorcycles for moto-napping are those with large cushioned seats, nice large, comfortable backrest. Arm rests are optional, they do make napping easier but are not necessary for successful resting. The Honda Goldwing is of course the king of "napping bikes" but other good choices are Harley Davidson Ultra Classic, BMW 1200LT and the Yamaha Venture to name a few, I'm sure there are more, I just can't think of any. If you can think of other ones, post a comment and let me know. It also helps to have an intercom system with a radio or MP3 player to listen to your favorite tunes, an Ipod or other pocket MP3 player with ear buds will also do. Moto-napping is virtually impossible on something like a sport bike or any V-Twin with a passenger seat the size of a postage stamp, and if there's no back rest, forget it, you'll be on the pavement in no time. That may lead to a more permanent nap than you were originally planning. Not to mention, gaggles of laughter from your rider and those around you.

Ok, you have the right bike now what?

There are 2 requirements that lend themselves to moto-napping. You should be on a long trip 200-300 miles at least, after all what's the sense of napping if you're just going down the street for ice cream. The second requirement is that you are on a long, straight boring stretch of roadway. No one wants to be napping when there's great scenery to look at. That would defeat the purpose of riding a bike in the first place. If you're on the road to simply nap, then just take the car, it's easier.

So you're settled into the nice comfy pillion seat of your bike, awesome tunes streaming through your headset, you're on a long boring stretch of road, the bike just humming along down the road, looks like you're ready to start your nap. First, lean back in your seat so you're comfortable and gently close your eyes. It helps if you have a tinted shield or tinted glasses on so that you're rider won't know what you're up to, plus the tint will help keep the sun out of your eyes.

It's very important that you not fall in to a deep R.E.M. sleep, just a simple light catnap to take the edge off. If you fall into a deep you may run the risk of the dreaded "helmet smack". Helmet smack is when your helmet and that of your rider unexpectedly "smack" together when the motorcycle comes to a stop or makes another sudden move you're not prepared for. This may cause your rider to exclaim "what the f***!" and then you'll have some explaining to do. Trust me they just won't understand moto-napping so you're better off avoiding it altogether.

The secret to moto-napping is quietly drifting in and out of a gentle, restful totally relaxed state. No deep sleep, no dreams, and definitely no snoring! You will find that in this state you can still control your movements such as keeping your head from flopping around or slouching from side to side in turns. And you won't be in deep enough sleep that you can't instantly wake up if your rider asks you a question. They tend to get a little anxious if they ask you a question and you don't answer, they think you have fallen off or something.

So that, in a nutshell is the fine art of moto-napping. It's definitely a developed skill, but it's handy to have so go out and practice, practice, practice and before you know it, you'll be moto-napping like a pro and when you arrive at your destination, everyone will wonder why you're not exhausted from the long trip. Go ahead and try it, then come back and let me know about your moto-napping adventures. Recommend it to your co-rider friends and send them here to learn the basics. Come on all you professional co-riders, let's start a new trend, after all why should the riders have all the fun. If you can think of any additional tips to help make moto-napping easier and safer, post a comment here so that we can all benefit from your experience.