Tis the season! No, not THAT season (although it will be here soon enough)! Walt and I were riding on a scenic winding road checking out the new fall foliage while we squeezed in some saddle time before I start complaining about how cold it’s getting. We noted some road work ahead of us and we carefully navigated through some bumps and around potholes. We were slipping into 2nd when we suddenly spotted a huge wet spot in the road and, worse, it was covered over by wet leaves. How would YOU handle this situation?
Before I finish the story, I surfed the net for wet leaves and other seasonal hazard information and advice and, as usual, motorcyclists are awesome. They live, learn and SHARE their experiences. Here is a sampling of the sage advice I found:
Tire temperature – it takes quite a bit longer for tires to reach optimized temperature to grip the wet roads (which is already reduced) when you first start out. Take it easy for the first couple of miles.
Proper tire inflation – Give grooves a chance to channel water.
Rain on the road – Most of us are well aware of the potential hazard during the first half hour of a heavy rain or light drizzle/mist. While a good downpour will wash the road clean, a light drizzle can cause slippery surfaces from greasy deposits welling up from between the cracks in the asphalt.
Reduced visibility – Yes, your visibility can be reduced but perhaps more critical is the reduced visibility for other drivers. Drops of rain on a side window can greatly reduce the chances of you being seen by cars particularly at intersections.
Be smooth – Smooth braking, smooth throttle, and smooth turning are important and possibly can prevent damage to your bike and to you. Try to relax, but not too much!
Stopping or accelerating – be alert for wet paint, oil, diesel, slick dirt build-up, gravel, manhole covers (anything metal), pine needles, etc., when you put your feet down or when accelerating. You could slip at 0 mph!
Leaning – Don’t lean as much but don’t be afraid to lean when you need to do so. If you find you need to lean too often (or too far) in turns during wet weather, you may be going too fast for conditions. You can keep the bike fairly perpendicular to the road with good body positioning.
Helmets – Visors should be kept fully closed. Deal with fogging issues that arise but avoid getting significant water inside your visor. Also note that a chin vent in some positions may spray water up inside your helmet.
The silver lining – Look at riding in inclement weather as a challenge. If you see riding in the rain as a challenge to improve your riding overall, it’s no longer a bother, hindrance or fear.
What did we do? Luckily we spotted the hazard in enough time to reduce speed, check for oncoming traffic and divert what could have been catastrophic had we been traveling at a higher speed. The point is that blind curves should be negotiated with caution and you need to keep a clear head and think through the hazard.
If anyone has other hazards or helpful hints for our readers, please feel free to share. Remember, not all of our readers are experienced so please don’t feel foolish stating the obvious. It might save a brother or sister’s life!