For many of you, 2017 was an amazing year on the bike. Several circumstances collided to allow you the time and energy to explore new roads and trails, and you grabbed life by the bars to make it happen. We know this because you shared it all on Instagram.
Some of us were green with envy, while others huddled in our man caves with pals to sketch out a plan for 2018 as the temperature plummeted below zero ... last week. Here are six tips on how to make 2018 your best riding year ever.
1. Attend an event in another state. Old Man Winter came in hard this year, and with spring a long way off, consider booking a flight to ogle custom motorcycles in another state, especially one with warmer temperatures. The visual feast begins soon, so check your calendar and put in for vacation time.
Some examples include the Outlier’s Guild (OG) Custom Motorcycle Show in Los Angeles (March 31), the Handbuilt Show in Austin, Texas (April 20-22); and the Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel Valley, California (May 5).
2. Organize a buddy trip. If walking around old foundries and abandoned pickle factories looking at other people's art-project bikes isn't your thing, consider planning a weeklong trip with riding buddies. Several businesses rent all kinds of bikes to enjoy, so determine what scenery you want to drink in and make it happen.
A few recommended destinations include Mendocino, Hollister and Kern County in California, as well as Baja, Mexico.
3. Attend a major race. A couple of years ago I started paying Dorna to watch racing on MotoGP.com, but nothing beats the real thing. Experiencing the sights and sounds of top-level motorcycle racing in person is priceless, and with Valentino Rossi nearing the end of his racing career, this might be the last year to see him holding fast with Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso, Dani Pedrosa, Johann Zarco, and company.
Some options: Catch the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas (April 20-22) in Austin (you can see the Handbuilt Show at the same time), or hit the FIM Superbike World Championship Laguna Seca (June 22-24) in Monterey, California. If you have large ambitions, bite the bullet and get on that ferry to the Isle of Man to watch the 111-year-old race of gladiators (May 26-June 8).
4. Learn a new skill on the track or in the dirt. Spend the lion's share of your riding on safe asphalt? Consider taking your passion for speed to a track or in the dirt, where riders of all skill sets and experience have been flocking the past few years.
5. Buy another bike. There's always room for another bike, right? Instead of sticking with the same brand or style, consider adding something that takes you places you hadn't considered before. There's a treasure trove of information in this Buyer's Guide to help you count the cost before making a decision.
6. Learn how to maintain your bike(s). A major hurdle for many new riders is feeling overwhelmed by how much maintenance their new bike needs. Stripped down to the basic preventative needs (oil, tires, rotors, brake shoes), taking care of your bike isn't impossible if you have the right tools and resources. Start with Cyclepedia, an online resource for training videos and service manuals.
If you lack space to work on your bike, seek out one of the many DIY shops across the country. For a nominal hourly rate, you get a lift and access to tools plus assistance from the owner of other customers. My experience at Moto Guild Silicon Valley has been nothing short of a miracle to keep my bikes rolling.
The major caveat to knowing how to maintain your bike is eliminating the fear of getting stranded. Most mechanical issues can be avoided with proper maintenance, and little things don't have to become big issues.
Your best riding year ever begins today!
This piece originally appeared at Cycle World.