If seasons had a face most of us would likely punch winter right between the eyes followed by a rousing body slam.
Rain ruined Seattle Supercross. Snow continues to bury the East Coast and only some southern states seem immune from the lingering cold temperatures. But, Portland briefly touched 70 for a day before dropping back into the 50s which only means one thing.
Spring is coming.
So if your dirt bike or ATV wonders (that's called personification though some riders swear their ride has a mind of its own) when the heck you plan to go for a spin, get ready because after the past few months you won't want to miss out on the first riding day. Careful though, when you go outside to wake your 250 be gentle. Remember those early Saturday mornings when Dad started the lawnmower just outside your bedroom window? No one likes a rude wake-up call especially a dirt bike.
Lingering winter weather ruined Supercross in Seattle and has delayed riding season for many
The itch to ride probably needs some scratching so keep an eye on the weather forecast. Those living in Portland knew several days in advance that 70 degrees was coming. But don't trust the 10 day, that's just ridiculous. Meteorologists can't predict the future that far in advance let alone tomorrow. Despite their predilection for getting it wrong a lot, a three- or four-day outlook usually offers enough accuracy to shrug off the clouds and head to the garage because those of us who put our rides away for the winter have some work to do.
First, let's talk about the elephant in the room. You put on some pounds that last few months, didn't you? In fact, you actually did ride a couch all winter long. Might we suggest getting in some semblance of shape before tackling the whoops.
If you have taken the winter off work your way back into riding shape with light exercise and most of all stretching. And after that first ride? Expect to pay some dues. You'll hurt but waking your muscles a week or more, if possible, before heading out helps to prevent injury and fatigue and contribute to recovery. Find something you enjoy doing whether it's lifting weights, jump rope, running on the treadmill or outside weather permitting. Anything to get your heartrate up and work your cardiovascular system. Take time to stretch. Basically everything you normally employ during the riding season, start now.
Start eating right. Lay off the beers and chips and go with lean protein accompanied by lots of fruits and vegetables. Serious racers or those entering off-road contests might find benefits from supplements designed for the Motocrosser like those from Ryno Power that help with pre-race conditioning and post-ride recovery. MotoSport also began selling the 4Arm Strong which many pros use to reduce arm pump one of the most common ailments among riders and a condition easily induced when not in shape or training properly.
Of course, diligence pays off and if you have kept in shape over the winter it won't take much time to relearn all the skills you have mastered over the years. However, take it easy the first few times back on the bike to reestablish your muscle memory. Push it too soon and you might ride the couch again while everyone else enjoys the great outdoors.
Next, how is the riding gear from last year holding up? Tattered shreds? That means you fell so might we suggest some riding lessons? Protective gear lasts much longer than jersey, pants and gloves so unless you had a serious get-off use the same helmet, goggles, boots and anything else you put on for protection against roost and falls. Replace a jersey or pants full of rips.
One thing to consider however is the helmet. If you haven't bought a new helmet in five years think about a replacement. The safety technology has come a long way especially with the concern over concussions.
Now, make some phone calls. Who is open? Don't drive 30 miles to only find out the track remains closed when a 10 second phone call could have saved you two hours and half a tank of gas plus all that time loading. Most riding spots, whether track or trail, provide information on their website anyway.
Lastly, how about your bike? If you missed our past articles on proper bike storage and long term care we'll offer a brief overview to get your dirt bike ready for the riding season along with links to the articles featuring more detail.
Spit Shine and Polish
You don't have to wait until the sun calls. Polishing the plastic just for kicks, breaking down the whole thing for a thorough cleaning or even a quick dusting works anytime. In fact, nothing cures the winter blues better then spending a few hours in the garage with little else to do but bringing a showroom shine back to your dirt bike or ATV. Check out How To Clean a Dirt Bike for more information.
Tires look OK? Depending on the hours or age of the tire perhaps you should consider a new set. Look for cracking along the carcass, inspect the tread for excess wear and look for any missing knobs. Remove the wheel for a through rim job and check the integrity of the spokes. Find out when to replace dirt bike tires.
Fluids and Lubrication
Let's see: You have oil, coolant, brake fluid. Did you change all fluids before putting your bike to bed? Brake fluid lasts longer than oil and coolant but if you made the most of last summer then spend the time to flush the brake lines. We always recommend fresh oil and coolant for long term storage but usually winter hits before that planned final ride and then maintenance continually gets pushed back. What else? Ball bearings. Grease them.
Read more about how to start a dirt bike that has been sitting.
Cables and Connections
Inspect the throttle and clutch cables to ensure connectivity and look for any frayed wires. Pull the levers. Smooth and responsive? Tighten and lubricate both. Follow each cable from beginning to end to rule out binding between both lines and the handlebars.
You probably already know whether the grips need replacing because on the last ride you thought, "I need to replace these grips." So do it. Now. No time like the present. Speaking of presents, Christmas is coming.
We can show you how to remove handlebar grips.
Oh ye of little faith, hope springs eternal so get ready for the riding season because the doldrums of winter can't last forever and before long you'll have more riding days than you can shake a stick at.
Written By: AndrewT