Whoa, look out!
Something you might say a lot during the fall months when you ride your motorcycle.
Fall, or autumn as some prefer, brings a sometimes drastic change in weather patterns from the summer months and things start to, as the season name suggests, fall.
Riding a motorcycle becomes a bit treacherous when pieces of shrapnel litter the road or fall from the sky and sunny summer days turn dark and stormy. You always want to ride prepared but as fall approaches now offers a good time to take stock of your riding gear and take extra precautions the next time you mount up and head out on two wheels.
Autumn Motorcycle Riding Hazards
Slippery when wet. Not just the name of a Bon Jovi album. Wet leaves act more like banana peels and when you ride over a pile of leaves, especially when taking a corner, your bike can certainly slide out from under you. Keep an eye out for leaves when you ride, even the smashed, rotting ones that have melted into the asphalt pose slippery issues, and avoid them whenever possible. If you need to roll over some, slow it down and don't use the brakes.
You probably didn't expect your street ride to turn into an off-road session but along with leaves sometimes come branches. Clearly you can't swerve around every branch and the smaller ones put up little fight against your motorcycle but always take caution. Broken branches can also rupture tires and like wet leaves, leave you with minimal traction. Falling branches hurt, too! Another reason to wear the proper riding gear which always includes a helmet.
If the season's first storm blows through you can expect small, medium and large branches to pave whatever route you take. So, it might be worth your while to take a day off the bike and let road crews finish any necessary clean-up before heading out on two-wheels if your neighborhood looks like a forest floor.
To the chagrin of children everywhere, fall starts the new school year which means school buses, busy crosswalks and slower speeds in school zones (expect your local PD out in force). If adults already have a hard time seeing you in their cars then expect the same from children walking home from school with their friends. Distractions vary from cell phones to music so when riding near children take the initiative and keep an eye on them because they certainly don't have their eye on you.
We have no evidence or proof of this but it seems like pot holes rear their ugly heads more so in the fall and winter months than any other time. Blame it on the rain (that was falling falling), the mass arrival of heavier school buses on the road, inattentive government or all of the above but pot holes not only wreak havoc on your tires and suspension, the big ones can send you over the bars.
Another reason to avoid leaves piled up because you have no idea what looms underneath.
The rain usually returns for most areas of the country which sends some motorcyclists to the confines of a car but others remain steadfast who gear up for the occasion and brave the weather. Rain need not keep you from riding but you need to wear the proper gear to remain dry. Meet any threat of rain in the forecast with the appropriate riding gear even if your day starts with sunshine.
Also, keep in mind the first rain usually leaves roads slick with a layer of oil from the months of dry weather and, of course, rain helps to get leaves and branches loose which means an extra set of hazards coming your way.
Fall offers a great time to ride especially in areas where the leaves turn bright colors so don't shy away from the roads. Remain vigilant, make good decisions and wear the appropriate riding gear whether commuting, taking a short ride to the store or enjoying an extended trip through the countryside.