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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Equipment - When Murphy Strikes

I'll assume that before any ride you've checked the fluids, tuned your bike, and used Loctite liberally. What could go wrong?

Quite a lot actually. This video shows a simple class 2&3 ride that went very bad, very quickly (just after the five minute mark). Honda had an ad campaign a few years back that said, “Stupid Hurts!” I would add that “Lack of preparation kills!”

Home made kit ...
When things do go bad, your first line of defense is a first aid kit. However, being the most obvious defense doesn't make it the most prevalent. I've asked many fellow riders if they are carrying anything and I'm generally lucky to find one with some BandAids in their bag.

That is advertises what it is ...
Googling motorcycle first aid kit returns over a million results in less than half a second. You can find everything from a $7.50 pocket kit to a $7,000 expedition pack. An alternative to a prepared kit is to make up one of your own. You don't have to carry a complete field hospital with you - a few BandAids, gauze pads, and tape, plus some antibiotic ointment and ibuprofen will cover most day trips. For longer trips look at the commercial adventure kits and raid your local drug store.

And is in a dry bag to protect it - This gets tied down on top of all my other gear!!
Whatever you choose – put it in a waterproof container! A water crossing can make everything useless. A zip lock bag will do for simple supplies and a small dry bag will keep larger kits clean and dry. 

Then put it someplace instantly available and marked so anyone will recognize it for what it is. Put it on the top of your pack not behind zippers or locked lids. Keep a flashlight with your med kit. You don't want to be fumbling around in the dark while somebody is bleeding.

Blood,Sweat & 2nd Gear is a great book for the average motorcyclist. It is full of information on motorcycle related health. It is written by a motorcycle rider for other riders. Thankfully it is short on medical jargon and won't render you unconscious on the 3rd page.

When the poop hits the propeller who ya gonna call? More to the point - if you're out in the middle of nowhere, how are you going to call? The SPOT Gen 3 Tracker is the device that will call for help wherever you are in the world. When the tumble you just took broke your smart phone into pieces, or you're in the many places with no mobile service, SPOT will get a message through.

The SPOT Messenger uses GPS to know where it is at all times. I won't cover all of its capabilities, but there are three important ones.
  1. I'm OK – send this message when stopping for lunch or for the night.
  2. I'm in trouble – send help but I'm not in any immediate danger.
  3. OMG I'm screwed – send the helicopter! NOW!
The SPOT Tracker will send these messages with the GPS location to a central service who will forward the request to whatever organization can respond in the best manner. When you activate your SPOT you have the option to sign up for disaster insurance that will pay your medical and evacuation bills. That could be the difference between getting medivac to a good hospital or taking a slow bus to a witch doctor. Surprisingly cheap, the insurance was a no-brainer for me.

The SPOT Messenger uses satellite technology to send a tracking signal every 5-10 minutes. This can be tracked on the Internet by anyone you share the website with. During my Mexico trip anyone who was reading this blog could follow my progress in nearly real time. The side benefit to this is that if things go really bad and I can't press the OMG button somebody will notice that the bike hasn't moved in a long time. That will mark the spot to start looking for the body. That's why I press the I'm OK button whenever I stop for very long.

SPOT – Don't leave home without it!

Nothing will replace common sense but accidents do happen. Adventure travel is a step into the unknown. As the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared!”

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