All About Safety

Winter Safety

It’s hard to believe that we’re in the “Thanksgiving” season and for the most part, we’ve still been riding with our warm weather gear!  What a great place to ride motorcycles.

Hate to tell you, that’s going to change soon…probably already has!  This month, I’m going to reiterate what Don said at the November General Meeting and add a few thoughts of my own.

Let’s talk tires again!!!  Here in Bakersfield, it’s not uncommon to have a 40 degree difference between the afternoon high and the midnight low.  Since I’m like most of you, I keep my ride in the garage so it too experiences the temperature difference.  With this much change in temperature, the air inside your tires is continually expanding and contracting over and over again.  Consequently, it’s imperative that we maintain vigilance over our tires in the winter…much more important than summer riding!

So, why is it more important in winter?  We all know that if you ride a motorcycle long enough, sooner or later, you’re gonna get wet!  In a car, you have 4 contact points with the road surface.  For most of us, we only have two.  (I know, some of you have three but stay with me on this!)  The amount of surface contact on a car’s tires is much greater than what we get on our Harleys.  Now decrease that by more than half and you see what I mean.  Add a poorly maintained tire with worn tread into the “wet” equation and it’s easy to see that an accident is just waiting for a place to happen.

As I’ve said before, I keep a good quality bicycle floor pump near my ride.  It has a built in gauge that is very accurate.  I can perform a tire pressure check on both tires in less than 5 minutes…probably under 3!  When you think about this, it’s easier than hooking up a compressor and dragging a hose around to check the pressure.  Generally, it takes less than 6 pumps to get the tires back up to operating pressure for my Ultra.

In continuing with this “weather” stuff, I just read an article in the HOG magazine on one of those $100 rides.  Sounds like a great idea…I think I’ll give it a try.  I figure if I sleep under overpasses and eat bread and water, I can be gone for about 10 days!!!

Anyway, the rider I was reading about left the Los Angeles basin in 85 degree weather.  He ended up at the 8,000 foot elevation saying he was glad he brought “all three sets of gloves.”  Therein lies my hint (or suggestion…however you want to take it!)

We know that when riding from beautiful Bakersfield over to that Central California Coastline, we’re likely to experience a difference in temperature.  Y’all know if it’s warm here, it’s cold over there and vice versa!

I always try and bring an extra coat, chaps and all 3 sets of gloves.  That’s right, a light weight set, a medium weight set and some cold weather gloves to keep my hands comfortable.  After all, your hands are pretty important when it comes to riding so make them comfortable.  Now would be a good time to get on down to our sponsor, Bakersfield Harley Davidson, and pick up on some gloves for the riding season.  (Ladies…if your hubby is a rider, get the size from his gloves and get him a new pair for his stocking on Ladies Night!  Men, you can do the same if your lady is a rider!)  Keeping your hands comfortable and warm is vital to a successful ride.

The last piece of clothing I’ll talk about this month is our shoes.  I constantly see guys riding around in tennis shoes.  At accident scenes I’ve responded to over my career, I always see a shoe or two lying around in the rubble.  Just so you’ll know, these were on someone’s feet and the force of the impact tore them off leaving the feet unprotected.  I’ve never seen a lace up boot lying around at an accident scene.  Get the picture???  Nuff said!

Winter is not a time to put it away and quit riding.  It’s a time to bundle up, prepare and get out on the road.  It’s always fun to talk about one of those rides that went a little awry but ended up with a good laugh.

As ever…ride safe.