April 13, 2009
Your first ride of the year:
Keep an eye on the road conditions and make sure you bundle up.
Well, it’s that time of year again to suit up and head out for your first ride of the season. The bright sun, warming temperatures, and the sight of pavement are a few good signs that the riding season is upon us once again. I’ve already managed to get out for about 5 rides this year and would like to pass on some very important factors to take in to consideration before hitting the streets on your scooter or motorcycle.
The first and probably the most important thing to keep an eye on is the road conditions. The roads in Ontario and for that matter most of Canada are in pretty rough shape after a winter filled with snow and cold temperatures. Pot holes, pot holes and more pot holes. These gigantic craters cause problems for all motorists but especially those on two wheeled vehicles. If you’re not paying attention one of these massive indents in the road can send you over the handlebars before you have time to react. Make sure that you’re always looking far enough ahead to allow yourself adequate time to react.
Another road condition that you should keep an eye on is the amount of sand and salt that still remains on the roads. Until we get a few good rainfalls there is still quite a bit of loose material on the roads left over from winter snow removal. This can prove to be a big problem. Your tires do not like unstable surfaces. If you’re not paying attention, your bike will be on its side before you even know what has happened. Take a little bit of extra time and slow down on the corners until those streets are clear. I’ve seen it to many times. Riders are excited at the beginning of the season and try to lean too far. Before they know it their nice new bike is getting scratched up along the concrete.
Salt and sand are not your only obstacles on the corers. Until the weather gets a little bit warmer your tires won’t grip the pavement as well as they normally would. The combination of warm concrete and hot tires creates much better traction than in the cold. Slow your turns down by a few kilometers in the cold and don’t try to drag any knees until it gets a little warmer. Oh yeah, don’t forget to air up your tires after sitting all winter, guaranteed they will be soft.
Much like myself there are a number of riders who can’t wait to get on the road. Spring is one of my favorite seasons to ride. We have just finished putting up with four plus months of snow and cold so the mere sight of payment is enough to get the adrenaline pumping. Even though the temperature is still fairly cool, riding can be just as enjoyable as it is in the warm weather as long as you’re dressed properly. A good pair of insulated pants, a heavy jacket, and thick gloves will go a long way. Something else that I like to wear is a balaclava. This really reduced the amount of cold air that can funnel down your jacket and into your helmet. Also, if you have the option of hand guards and a windshield I would recommend these accessories as well. They are a nice option that will reduce the wind and keep you a little bit warmer.
Spring riding can be one of the best times of year to get out on your bike. By keeping an eye out for those pesky road conditions and wearing cold weather gear your spring riding experience will be that much better.
Soft side up! cheers Aaron