For many, winter means parking the bike and waiting out the cold, wet, gray months that take over from November through February. For some, it just means putting on warmer clothing and getting out the heavy duty rain gear.
I have a few words to the wise for both camps.
Watch it out there. People in the Puget Sound who drive cars, trucks and RV’s will panic when the roads get wet. Many of the imports (people born outside the Puget Sound region) have no clue about driving in less than perfect conditions.
You’re invisible. When the dark moist days hit visibility in most cars drops by as much as 60%. Think about how many of us drive everyday in fogged up cars for the first few miles until our windows defrost. While this takes place you cannot see much around you; especially a small two wheeled vehicle like a motorcycle.
Night vision ain’t day vision, baby. Remember your visibility and clarity at night drops significantly for both cyclists and drivers. So please drive slower and look around you more often. Do not hug bumpers; the truck in front of you can’t see you.
Here are a few things that you can do to make the most out of the winter days.
Buy a reflective safety vest and wear it. Yes, you may look like a flagger, but your life is worth it.
You might think about an upgrade in the horn department. The louder the better. Many bikes come with horns that sound weak and can’t be heard in many of today’s sound proof vehicles. A truck style air horn just may save your life.
Make sure you have bright headlamps and tail lights. Older cycles may be in need of high tech riding lights, the brighter the better.
Make sure that your equipment is in top condition. Start with tire pressure and tread wear. There are some great aftermarket tires out there designed to offer riders exceptional handling. But follow the pressure guide on the new tires for proper inflation. Many of the aftermarket tires have a much higher tire pressure than the stock tires. The mistake by some riders is to keep the same air pressure in the new tires they did in the old ones. Bad move.
Enjoy the cold days. As an enthusiast I can say I’ve had some of my best short rides on crisp, clear Saturday afternoons. Not a lot of people out on a cold January day as most are in watching football or out at the mall shopping. This makes for some very open roads. Did I say open? You know what I mean.
Use the down time to fix and repair any thing that needs to be tended to or that you put off during the prime riding season. For some this may mean stripping the bike down and getting a new paint job. For others it may mean a complete engine overhaul or tune up and lube.
Catch up on your movie watching. Go to your favorite DVD/Video outlet and rent a few old 60’s or 70’s biker movies. Start with Electra Glide in Blue – not a true cycle movie but a pretty tough and gritty movie involving a cop on an Electra Glide. Another good one is On Any Sunday. Even the local library system has Easy Rider and the granddaddy of them all, The Wild One. Just keep in mind, most of these biker flicks are adult fair and not geared to the kiddies.
The bottom line, whether you are a year-round rider or a fair weather rider, remember to drive safely and make the most out of our Puget Sound winters.
Finally, we had Flash Gordon, MD, author of Blood, Sweat, and 2nd Gear, on Hog Radio for an interview. As part of our interview we went over various real-life scenarios bikers come into. You would do well to listen to this episode as he gives a lot of great advice. Flash is an MD and a long time rider; he owns and rides an Aprilia and a BMW.
Have a great November and make sure to listen to Hog Radio as we will keep you entertained all winter long.