The Autumn and Winter seasons create unique hazards and challenges for motorcyclists. Even though the odd weekend we are teased with sunny skies it soon turns to unpredictable weather. We still need to remember leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping, and the days are darker much quicker.
- Leaves on roads. Dry leaves can camouflage potholes. Wet leaves are slippery and can appear unexpectedly in shaded areas.
- Shorter days. If you use a motorcycle to ride to and from work you’re likely to be riding in the dark. Take extra care to make sure headlights, brake lights and turn signals are working and are clean. Wear high-visibility and reflective gear to make yourself seen and obvious as possible on the roads.
- Deer migration and mating season. In an earlier post I mentioned the dangers of deer, at this time of year its rutting season and when young deer disperse from their breeding areas, just be extra vigilant and watch out for deer running across the road.
- Cold tyres. While touring tyres with their harder rubber compound are generally more suitable for cold weather, sportier tyres are not. In the cold, they’re hard and traction is greatly diminished. Check your grip and tyre pressure to ensure it’s suitable for winter riding
- Staying Warm, riding in the cold causes fatiguing and greater impairment. Even when you’re wearing good gear and staying warm, the ambient temperature takes its toll. Make sure you keep taking those regular rest stops to help stay alert. Stop, revive, and survive.
- Motorcycle Clothing. Bundling up with lots of layers can seem like a great strategy for dealing with fluctuating temperatures. However, too much bulk is not only fatiguing, it can impede your ability to react. Invest in decent waterproof / wind proof protective armoured jacket and trousers and a quality pair of motorcycle gloves. wearing reflective clothing helps other road users to see you.
- Icy road surfaces. Frosty mornings mean that roads can have a thin layer of ice and you can lose traction. Be prepared for changing conditions even during the day. Increase the breaking distance between you and other vehicles to account for wet and greasy road conditions. By increasing your distance, you will get minimal spray off other vehicles and will be able to judge and anticipate other road users driving much easier.
- Fewer riders out. This means that car drivers, who don’t see you at the best of times, are now expecting to see motorcycle riders even less often. Be more cautious and alert. Make yourself as conspicuous as possible and assume they don’t see you. Signal earlier to make your intentions known to other road users
- Isolation. Scenic back roads which weave through quaint small villages, particularly in tourist areas, have a whole different feel to them in autumn. Seasonal businesses close and rest stops may not be available. Plan accordingly for gas, food, lodging and emergency contacts.
- Weather Try to avoid riding in strong winds, however if it is absolutely necessary then be aware of hazardous objects being swept onto the roads such as carrier bags, boxes, branches off trees, cones etc. Bad weather such as fog or even low winter sun can restrict your view. Be aware of the hazards and ride to suit the road conditions.
- Mirrors In winter months, use anti-misting spray on your visor and mirrors
If you do wish to go out this winter, check your motorcycle before each journey, stay alert and ride well within your limit, stay safe and enjoy Motorcycling!