Spring Riding Tips

5 Apr

Last week, we talked about how to get your bike ready for riding season. This week, we’ll talk about what you need to do in order to get yourself ready.

It’s probably been a few months since you’ve been for a ride, so you have to expect to be a little rusty at first. Don’t just throw leg over and head out on that big trip — spend some time to make sure that you’re back up to speed first.

 

The first step is mental. Take a few minutes to think about your riding. Review any challenges that you’ve faced in the past, and think about smooth, controlled inputs. If you have collected any articles or books about riding, this would be a good time to review them, and to cement good habits in your mind. Practice relaxation and smooth breathing techniques so that you’ll be able to recreate a calm sensation once you get on the bike.

Hopefully, you’ve been taking good care of your physical self over the winter, too. Flexibility is a big help on a bike, and many riders report great benefits from the practice of yoga. I’m not a yoga guy, but I do warm up my joints with stretching, squats and calisthenics before I ride, and I think it helps keep me more comfortable on long rides.

Take a good look at your riding gear, too. Is it time to replace that old helmet? Most manufacturers suggest that you retire a helmet after five years of use, and that any helmet that has been involved in an accident or has received an impact (like a fall from a high shelf) should be replaced immediately. Inspect your helmet, and give it a good cleaning inside and out, following manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Don’t get the inside of your helmet wet — moisture can cause the helmet lining to deteriorate and become less effective.

Take a look at your riding jacket and riding pants. Are the impact pads in the right places? Do the garments still fit well — not too tight, causing discomfort; not too loose, catching the wind and potentially shifting in an accident?

Give your boots a shine, and check the soles for wear. Replace if necessary — or if you just like new boots!

Now, find a nearby empty parking lot without obstructions, and take your bike for a training ride. Practice smooth starts and stops. Practice swerves and turns. Practice the bane of every motorcyclist’s existence — the dreaded U-turn. Once you feel like you’ve warmed up, and you’ve got some of the old sharpness back, you’re ready to join the flow of traffic again.

Once you get out on the road, be aware of the particular hazards of spring. Road conditions have probably changed over the winter. Look out for new (or bigger) potholes, soft shoulders and other wear to the road surfaces. Temperatures can vary widely during the turbulent spring season, so be particularly careful riding in the morning and evening hours, when you may encounter cold roads or even ice. Look out for that first warm day, too, because that’s when the pavement may choose to release some of that oil and grease that it has absorbed over the winter.

It will all come back to you, and you’ll soon be gliding along the road, enjoying those wonderful rides that you’ve fantasized about during the long, cold season. Take a few steps before you ride, and get started on the right foot.

Spring Riding Tips motorcycle tips , motorcycle travel

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