Summer Motorcycle Riding Hazards
Summer is here and so are the orange barrels that indicate road repair. Keep on the lookout for motorcycle hazards such as uneven pavement, differences in surface heights, repaving, road debris, and temperature changes.
When navigating on uneven pavement from stripping and paving roadways, keep a firm grip on the handlebars, maintaining control of your motorcycle. You may feel like you are in a blender, but don't panic. The key is to ride it out and know that the motorcycle is not moving as much as you think it is. For differences in surface heights, remember to cross with the most angle you can and roll on some throttle to get your motorcycle up and over.
Another motorcycle riding hazard is dehydration. When the temperature soars, remember to keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water. With the wind and sun, it is easy to get dehyrdrated and do stupid things on the motorcycle. Another motorcycle hazard is known as "tar snakes" or black tar that has been poured on the asphalt cracks for repair, become very slippery when warmed by the hot sun and don't lend themselves well to fast movements or high speeds. If you find yourself on a web of tar snakes, remember to keep your speed and angle constant until you can ride to a safer area.
Motorcycle road debris hazards come in many forms such as gravel, sand, oil, potholes, brush, and trash. The best course of action is to try and avoid the obstacle by choosing a better path or swerving. For slick obstacles, reduce your speed before your encounter because slick surfaces require more stopping time. Maintain a firm grip on the handlebars, keeping it straight and steady.
Strong winds means reduced riding control. If you are riding and wind gusts start pushing your bike, keep a firm grip on the handlebars, lean your bike into the wind by countersteering, keep an upright posture, and keep plenty of distance between you and other vehicles.
Rain storms mean slick road conditions because of oil buildup and slick lane markers. When a rain first begins, the road becomes the slickest from the oil and other debris mixing with the rain. After a rain, the center of a lane is where the oil tends to build up so gently change lane position to avoid the center. Be aware of slickness when stopping and wear oil-resistant riding boots to help alleviate slippage.
Summer is not only prime time to ride, but it's prime time for groundhogs to sun themselves on the side of the road and for deer to drink from roadside creeks.
Look for the deer crossing signs and reduce your speeds in these areas. Remember that deer are unpredictable and appear calm until you get right up on them, when they suddenly take flight. If the deer are on the road, be prepared to brake and allow the deer to cross, rather than assuming you can speed up or swerve to miss them.
Dogs are more predictable. The rule of thumb for dogs is to vary your speed, it distracts them and throws their timing off. A dog will go for the front tire in a herding response so make sure the dog doesn't make it there by varying your motorcycle speed.
These are only a few of the hazardous motorcycle road conditions that summer roads hold in store. Be prepared and practice your motorcycle riding maneuvers until they are an automatic riding habit. I recommend taking the Experienced Riders Course (ERC) sponsored by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation on an annual basis to keep your skills polished.
Until next week, ride long and safe.
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