Riding in a Reduced Visibility Environment - Thoughts for the new riding season.
Riding is a lifestyle. Our bikes are looked at as an escape that’s capable of taking the rider away from the grind of many responsibilities typically encountered during the light of day.
The night rider faces a completely different world. Although some streets can be less crowded, others can become congested as a direct result of lowered visibility. Also, the air is usually cooler, and the silence in some areas is almost deafening. Even for skilled riders, hazards in and near the road become more difficult to identify. In this environment , the motorcycle and rider becomes more invisible than vehicles.
Riding at night does have its advantages, but there are limitations. The central issue stems from the human eyes and their inability to see well in low-light situations. People see better when the sun is shining. Thus, at night, the rider has to worry about both seeing and being seen.
As motorcycle riders, we are far more vulnerable than those in an automobile. We sit on a bike, out in the open, exposed to every hazard. The only physical barrier we have is our apparel and gear. If a driver does not see a motorcyclist, a peaceful ride can go wrong very quickly.
The leaves have changed, the nights have become cooler and before we know it, it will be time to put away our Wings until next riding season. Of course, if you live in California, Florida or any other area with similar weather you have the luxury of riding all year long. If that's you, take a moment to be thankful and remember that there are others less fortunate than you! For everyone else, it's edging closer to the time when you will need to let your Wing hibernate for the winter. Before you do that, here are six tips/steps to keep your Wing pristine until the next riding season.
STEP ONE: Keep Your Fuel Stable
Over the long winter months that your bike sits, the fuel in your tank can begin to turn a brownish color and thicken. Gross. Over a long enough period of time it may even lead to corrosion, build-up and rust inside your fuel tank. As a result, the gas would no longer be suitable for use. Furthermore, it can end up clogging and ruining parts of the fuel system. If you want to avoid the possibility of this happening, we recommend that you mix some fuel stabilizer into your tank along with some fuel. Once mixed, fill the tank up the rest of the way with gas and run your engine for about 10-15 minutes to be sure that the stabilizer runs its course through the fuel system.
STEP TWO: Change Your Oil And Filter
After the many memories and miles of riding season, the oil that is left in your bike will likely have contaminants, pollutants and condensation that can lead to engine corrosion. In the same way, the oil filter will be in need of replacing. With this in mind, be sure to replenish your ride with fresh oil and a new filter before storing for the winter months.
STEP THREE: Replenish Your Coolant
There is another culprit that can cause some havoc to your motorcycle's engine - and radiator - if you aren't prepared. In colder climates coolant will freeze, resulting in cracks and engine/cooling system damage. To prevent this you will want to ensure that your bike is put away with a fresh supply of low temperature-rated coolant.
STEP FOUR: Care For Your Battery
If a battery drops only a few volts below its rating, it can freeze in the cold, causing permanent damage. Keep your battery plugged into an automatic smart charger to maintain voltage and keep it from freezing.
STEP FIVE: Protect And Preserve
Before saying adieu to your Wing for the season, take some time to wash it clean of all the dirt and bugs you accumulated on your final trip of riding season (if you haven't already). Once it's all shiny and pristine, apply a surface protectant to keep it looking that way.
STEP SIX: Keep It Covered
If you store your bike outside you definitely will want to throw on a waterproof cover. If you can afford it, a retractable shelter or clamshell is a great option for outdoor storage. It is the most ideal way, apart from storing inside, to protect your prized possession from the elements. Even if it's kept in a garage or somewhere similar, we recommend a cover to safeguard it from dust, moisture, pets and people. Be sure to consider your region's climate and storage location when determining the right cover for your needs.
Fall Riding Season Is In Full Swing!
The Hurt Report, published in 1981, showed that most accidents involving a motorcycle occurred as a result of car drivers failing to see motorcycles. The study also showed that helmets significantly reduced the chance of death or debilitating brain injury. Also, the MAIDS (Motorcycle Accidents in Depth Study) Report, published in 2000, showed that motorcycles were “over-represented in traffic accidents, and that most motorcycle accidents involved collisions with a passenger vehicle.” Therefore…Beyond personal protective gear, the other important development in rider safety is ongoing formal instruction on how to better control the bike.
There it is in plain English, the elements to safe riding. You’ve heard it many times before… swerving, cornering and braking under all conditions.
Where do you place your skills and abilities in these areas?
Don’t fall into the mindset that “my brakes will always stop me in time”. Sometimes it’s better to aggressively swerve around an object or situation. Honestly, most times you’ve got to make a decision pretty quickly. It’s very important to do one thing at a time though… either brake OR swerve. If you have to do both, brake first to lower your speed, then let go of the brakes and commit to the completion of your swerve. Counter-steering is by far the most quick and efficient way to steer through your swerve. Practice this a lot before you need to use it!
Leaning Into Corners
In fact, the word steering is possibly the wrong word, because it has the association of a steering wheel which you use to turn the wheels, like you do in a car, to handle a corner. That is not the way it is on a motorcycle. A much better word is "lean in". You start a corner by leaning your motorcycle. You lean again in the point where you can ride from the outside of the corner through the inside of the corner and then to the outside.
It helps to push with your weight, and it helps to push with your outside knee against the tank. In a corner to the left, you push the bike leftward with your right buttock; in a corner to the right you push the bike to the right with your left buttock. It also helps if you push against the inside handlebar. It feels like you push that handlebar downward. (So, this is different from "steering", because you only use the handlebars to lean your motorcycle, and use your handlebars only indirectly to get your motorcycle to ride a through a corner).
When your alertness and keen anticipation doesn’t succeed, or you didn't notice a hidden danger, you sometimes ride into a situation where an accident will happen if you don’t act. Believe it, in many situations braking may very well save you and the bike. Unfortunately, many riders cannot brake as hard as their motorcycle is designed to perform in extreme cases.
Braking has everything to do with grip, and grip has to be done with your tires and the weight that presses on the tires. The more weight on the tire and the stickier the tire, the harder you can apply the brake. Therefore, the weight of the motorcycle itself doesn't matter. On a lighter motorcycle, the tires have to do less work to bring the motorcycle to a stand-still, but at the same time, with the lesser weight, the tires can’t work as hard as on a heavier motorcycle. So, the weight of the motorcycle itself doesn't matter, but the distribution of the weight does. On a downward slope you only have to touch the rear brake slightly before the rear wheel locks. Why? There is so little weight on the rear wheel that a little bit of braking stops it completely. During hard braking, you will experience the same situation, where the weight "travels or shifts" to the front wheel.
You should practice using the rear brake slightly when you start braking. It helps prepare the motorcycle suspension for hard braking. After the start of the braking, you let go of the rear brake as necessary to keep it from locking up. The problem is that using the rear brake becomes a habit which you will also do in an emergency situation, and in such a situation it is very hard to let that brake go.
Become very familiar with how your motorcycle handles and your own reflexes so you will be able to navigate leaves on the road, distracted drivers, deer and potholes from LAST WINTER!
Train To Ride and Ride To Train
We are now at the beginning of the riding season and hopefully everyone has taken the proper procedures to get their bikes and personal protective clothing ready to ride, especially all the safety stuff. Don't be so foolish to think you can get an extra one or two hundred miles out of your tires by making it to the next rally, in order to save $20-$50 on those tires. Your life, your passenger or the life of a chapter member is not worth it.
Remember, if it has been a while since you have taken a rider education course, or if you are a co-rider and have not taken a class, maybe now is a great time to consider learning more about your skill level and what your bike can really do. You'd also be amazed how much a co-rider can help in case of an emergency.
Listed below are several benefits of a fully implemented GWRRA Rider Education Program at the District and Chapter level:
· Increased rider knowledge
· Increased rider safety skills
· Prevention of accidents
· Reduced injuries
· Reduced fatalities
· Improved general public image of motorcyclists
· Enhanced enjoyment of motorcycle riding
· Enhanced motorcycle safety through Motorist Awareness public presentations
Chapter members are reminded to get their Rider Course Registrations submitted soon to make sure they have a spot reserved in one of the courses being offered around the state. By submitting applications together for the same weekend, you can help facilitate your group training at the same location. The sooner this topic is discussed and decisions are made, the better!
Are You Ready To Ride In A Group?
Motorcycling is often an activity where you may be riding alone. For many, (including me) riding as a group with friends or with an organized motorcycle ride, it’s the best of motorcycling experiences. The following recommendations will help to ensure that you have a fun and safe group ride:
Before hitting the road, have a quick meeting. Discuss things like the route, rest and fuel stops, hand signals (see below) and CB channel to use. Then select a Road Captain (leader) and a tail gunner for the rear of the formation. Each should be experienced riders who are disciplined in group/formation riding procedures. The Road Captain should have some knowledge of each member's skill level before the ride and must monitor the riders during the ride under changing road conditions.
When riding in formation, the staggered riding procedure (see below) creates a safe distance between motorcycles so that each rider has enough time and area to maneuver or to react to hazards quickly. The Road Captain rides in the left third of the lane, while the next rider stays at least two seconds behind in the right third of the lane; the rest of the group assumes the same pattern.
At times, when entering a parking lot, driveway or entrance gate, a single-file formation with a minimum two second following distance is preferred. This is also recommended on a curvy road, under conditions of poor visibility or poor road surfaces, entering/leaving highways, or other situations where an increased space cushion or maneuvering room is needed. Watch for the Road Captain to use the single file hand signal in these situations or the double file signal when approaching a stop sign or red traffic light. All riders should repeat the same signal for those who can’t see the Road Captain.
Everyone should periodically check the riders that are following by using your rear view mirrors. If you see a rider falling behind, slow down so they may catch up. If all the riders in the group use this procedure, the group should be able to maintain a fairly steady speed without pressure to ride too fast to catch up.
Keep the group to a manageable size of five to seven riders. If there are more bikes present, it may be necessary to break the group into smaller sub-groups, separated by a few seconds or more, each with an assigned Road Captain and Tail Gunner.
If a rider exits the formation during the ride, the rest of the group should re-form the staggered formation by criss-crossing into the next vacant position. It might seem to be more efficient for the column directly behind the missing rider to move up but it’s not recommended because passing another rider within a lane can be risky.
If you become separated from the group at any time, don’t panic. Your group should have a pre-planned procedure in place to regroup. Don’t break the law or ride beyond your skills to catch up.
Take a moment to look at the following video that shows how to pick up your bike. I hope you don’t have to use the technique but someone in our group may need the quick lesson.
Ride prepared. Everyone should have a first-aid kit and full tool kit, and all riders should carry a cell phone, so the group is prepared for any problem that might come up.
Spring Is Closer Than You Think!
Submitted by, S2 Chapter Director
A brand new riding season is just around the corner. If you’re paying attention, the number of motorcycle commercials on television, radio and on roadside billboards will gradually increase with rising temperatures. This yearly phenomenon often produces a lot of daydreaming about what new riding experiences lay ahead for all of us.
As the temperature swings from cold to warm each day many die-hard riders will brave the large numbers of potholes, road salt residue, sand and grit washouts to get their face in the wind. While rider safety and motorist awareness is the immediate concern for us, many of us will consider the thought of upgrading or accessorizing our prized machines. Although our wings are pretty much bulletproof, GL 1500’s aren’t getting any newer and according to some online forums, OEM parts as well as aftermarket accessories are becoming harder to get. Now that there is a new GL 1800 on the market, it just might trigger a reduction in the prices of used wings. Before you take the leap, there are some thoughts you may want to consider:
· The reliability of your GL 1500 or GL 1800 that you have maintained over the years, may be in much better condition than the shiny used one you want to trade up to.
· The GL 1500 has a noticeable soft ride for long touring comfort, more storage and is better for tall riders with long legs.
· The GL 1800 is equipped with a more powerful engine, sporty suspension and reliable fuel injection.
· Talk to your biker friends to ask their opinions. You may find the word-of-mouth information you gather personally to be invaluable in your decision-making process.
· Buying from a private party may give you the best price for the bike you are buying, but it may not give you the same benefits as buying from a licensed dealer.
· The goal is to know what you are buying and how much additional money you’ll have to spend to make it roadworthy. It’s critical that you thoroughly inspect the motorcycle, because one missed problem could make your purchase more expensive than you anticipated.
· Changing bikes will demand that you seriously work on “regaining your seat skills” following the lay-off storage season, before you sign up for a challenging ride with your group.
Lastly, take a test ride to be sure that the bike fits you comfortably. Now is the time to start digging your personal protective gear and saddlebag items out of storage so you can begin the inspection and assessment of their serviceability before the weather really changes.
Take some time to review the previous Rider Education Article emails, update your emergency contact information and plan on attending the meetings this year so you’ll be ready to get into formation and experience what we’re planning for you in 2018!
Do You Know When You Need To Stop And Get Off Your Bike?
By Allan Karl (Submitted by member, Chapter MI-S2)
We love to ride. Often for many hours or a whole day, only stopping for gas or when the weather turns ugly. We get into a groove following the rhythm of long sweeping turns, rolling into a series of tight twisties, or simply cruising the long, lonesome highway with some music. You can be very comfortable with only the wind in your ears and your thoughts.
After a long day in the saddle, ask yourself what you saw. How often did you stop? Riding is just one part of a day on the road. Taking the time to stop is the other. It’s important to stop and take in the fresh air, smell the roses, and look around. After a short break, get back on your bike and ride. When should you make time to stop and take in a place? After riding all over the world for almost 200,000 miles, I’ve learned to recognize the important signs telling me it’s time to stop and get off my bike. Here are seven signs you should look for:
1. You’ve Passed Scenic Viewpoints. Too often we get in a groove and just whip by those pullover points with stunning vistas of the countryside. If you’ve passed by five or more, it’s time to stop. There’s a good reason those stops
are there. Take a break and take a look.
2. Something Odd Catches Your Eye. If something strange, weird, or odd catches your eye, don’t just ride by. It’s a sign to stop, turn around, and check it out. Take a photo. Meet someone. Ask questions. After missing many opportunities in my travels, I now know how rewarding it is to stop and check out something new.
3. Your Butt Is Getting Sore. When you find yourself constantly shifting your seating position or if your rear is starting to ache or fall asleep, get off your bike. Don’t try to “ride it off.” It never works. Take a break and stop. You and your butt will appreciate it, and you’ll likely see something new or meet someone interesting.
4. You’ve Bobbed Or Nodded Your Head. This is the most important sign that it’s time to get off your bike. If you’re getting tired, if fatigue is setting in, or if you’ve fallen into a hypnotic zone and lost your concentration, stop. This is a good sign that you need different stimuli. Hydrate, grab a coffee, or take a roadside nap. Don’t tempt fate, and don’t doze off.
5. You’ve Ridden More Than One Hundred Miles Straight. Whenever you haven’t been off your bike for more than 100 miles, take a moment and get off. I have a friend who makes a game out of using his odometer to stop exactly at every 100 miles. His theory is that it forces him to get off his bike and look around at someplace he would normally just zoom by. Periodic breaks make the ride more enjoyable.
6. You’re Getting Hungry Or Thirsty. If your stomach is growling, your blood sugar is dropping, or it’s a hot day and you’re getting parched, don’t try to keep going for another hour. Stop, get off your bike, and have a snack or a drink of water. I’ve fallen victim to the desire to keep riding instead of stopping and snacking. Now I always keep a small bag of trail mix with me, and I stop to eat a handful while taking in the sights and sounds around me.
7. Sunset Is Long Gone And It’s Dark. Some people like to ride motorcycles at night, but I prefer riding in daylight. If you’re like me, the ultimate sign telling you to get off your bike is that it’s nighttime. Set up camp, get a motel room, or go back home. After a long day of riding, I like to get out of my motorcycle gear and enjoy a good meal with a cold beer. I’ll share stories, reflect on the day, and get a good night’s sleep so I’m alert and fresh for the next day.
We own motorcycles because we like to ride. However, the best thing about riding is the freedom we experience on the open road and the people we meet. In most cases, this freedom also gives us the opportunity to stop where we want and at the most random times and places. So ride on, but look for signs indicating that it’s a good time to stop and take advantage of that freedom.
Ride safe, A.T.G.A.T.T. and keep your head in the game!
Not preaching just teaching….
Riding in a Reduced Visibility Environment
Riding is a lifestyle. Our bikes are looked at as an escape that’s capable of taking the rider away from the grind of many responsibilities typically encountered during the light of day. The night rider faces a completely different world. Although some streets can be less crowded, others can become congested as a direct result of lowered visibility. Also, the air is usually cooler, and the silence in some areas is almost deafening. Even for skilled riders, hazards in and near the road become more difficult to identify. In this environment , the motorcycle and rider becomes more invisible than vehicles.
Riding at night does have its advantages, but there are limitations. The central issue stems from the human eyes and their inability to see well in low-light situations. People see better when the sun is shining. Thus, at night, the rider has to worry about both seeing and being seen. As motorcycle riders, we are far more vulnerable than those in an automobile. We sit on a bike, out in the open, exposed to every hazard. The only physical barrier we have is our apparel and gear. If a driver does not see a motorcyclist, a peaceful ride can go wrong very quickly.
The bike rider needs to be visible to all road users at all times. Depending on the model of motorcycle, there is often little more than a headlight, one tail light, and some small reflectors to alert others of the bike’s presence. At night, with other vehicles around and lights spread all over urban and some rural streets, this is not enough illumination. Aftermarket accent lighting is extremely applicable to safer riding at night. What every rider needs is to be visible to all road users under any condition. Given that the rider makes up a large portion of a motorcycle's signature or profile on the road, outside of painting your entire bike in electro-luminescent paint, the operator is an area where visual imagery can be improved significantly by wearing bright reflective clothing and helmets.
Think for a moment… about a possible situation where you are involved in an incident and your bike is laying in one lane with its lights illuminated but you are lying in the next lane with dark ‘cool looking’ gear on… If drivers focus on your bike’s light and position while navigating around the incident scene, you could easily become another ‘bump’ in the road. With bright gear, the chances of motorists observing you in the roadway increases greatly. If you choose to wear dark clothing, consider wearing a high visibility vest and matching helmet cover at night.
In closing, before you depart on your next journey consider thinking about the many factors that would cause you to cancel your ride. Now is a great time to examine your protective gear for serviceability.
Stay safe, get your gear in order now before spring!
Need another reason to add “get fit” to your list of New Years resolutions?
Well, we are not robots. Therefore, doing a little exercise during the non-riding season is one of the most effective ways to become a better/safer rider or co-rider.
The body can get quite a work out and lack of fitness can hinder performance, especially after a prolonged ride. There are several areas of fitness and well-being which when addressed can improve rider performance. It is recommended that before starting any exercise program you seek medical approval, and exercise under the guidance of professionals.
When the body is fatigued reaction times lengthen, the ability to maneuver around the bike can be impeded, and the ability to make sound, snap judgments can be impaired. Dehydration is also a contributing factor to fatigue and a good supply of liquids is essential to keep the body operating effectively. It is worth noting that in top-level motorsports, some drivers can perspire up to two liters during the course of a race. Of course, this is also climate dependent and there are other factors to be considered.
For improved motorcycle riding, large powerful muscles aren’t generally relevant; however, good quality toned muscle, with an emphasis on endurance, will help riders maneuver around the bike with less effort and more speed, and ride to a high level for longer. Improving general fitness and muscle tone will also help reduce the general aches and pains associated with riding for long periods by increasing joint strength and improving body posture. Of course, during the course of a ride almost every muscle in the body will come into play in some form or another. Outlined below are some of the more specific muscle groups and some simple exercises.
STOMACH – Used for position and posture on a motorcycle. Sit-Ups – target upper abdominals. Lie flat on your back, knees bent. Leg Raises – target lower abdominals.
UPPER ARMS – Used for position, control and posture. Biceps Curl – target biceps. Select a light comfortable dumbbell, holding it in one hand.
FOREARMS – Used for position, control, posture and movement off/on and around a motorcycle. Wrist Curl – target wrist flexors. Select a light weight. Place the weight in your hand and lower the weight, then slowly curl the weight up and back using only the wrist.
INNER THIGH ADDUCTORS – Used for gripping and movement off/on a motorcycle. The best exercises for this muscle group are in the gym because they mainly require specialist weights machines. However, leg lifts work quite well and can be done anywhere.
The basic exercises that have been listed above are just a few of many possible examples. Any improvement in fitness, however slight, will increase your abilities both on and of the bike and make the experience just that much better during the next riding season.
When you add GWRRA safety training courses to your health and physical conditioning regimen, you’ll be in total control of your bike when riding alone or in formation.
Remember, many members have requested that the ride schedule be renewed with different locations this year. Please take time to look under our events tab for the suggested rides for 2018 thus far. We will be riding a lot!
You Might Be a Good Rider If… by Ken Condon
When asked, the majority of motorcyclists consider themselves “good” riders. The problem is that we suck at measuring our own abilities. This behavior is common enough that psych experts gave it a name. The Dunning-Kruger effect describes how average people suffer from the illusion that their ability is much greater than it really is.
To help determine whether a rider suffers from this delusion we need to define our terms. Most people say a good rider is one who displays impressive control skills on the racetrack or in the canyons, can perform a lengthy standup wheelie or can precisely maneuver an 800-pound motorcycle within tight confines. Sure, these highly developed physical abilities deserve to be recognized, but being a good rider also requires good judgment, sharp visual skills, and effective survival strategies. The best riders also have a humble attitude that allows them to accurately evaluate their abilities.
Good riders rarely experience close calls. This isn’t because they’re lucky but because they don’t let bad things happen to them. They understand that drivers have a hard time seeing motorcycles, so they constantly utilize dynamic lane positioning and other effective strategies to make themselves more visible in traffic.
These riders have a well-developed sixth sense that foresees hazards before they materialize. Developing this sense isn’t that hard, but it requires a high level of alertness to spot the sometimes-subtle clues that warn of an unfolding situation. And when a problem does occur, they resist blaming others because they know that most mishaps can be avoided through their own actions.
Good riders know the limits of their ability, the environment, and their bike and ride within those limits. They never blast through busy areas or enter a corner faster than they can safely negotiate it. They have the ability to place their bike precisely where they want it at any time. This precision allows them to corner faster than most riders, but they choose to enter curves at a speed that ensures a healthy margin for error. They know that if they enter a turn a bit slower than necessary, they can always get on the gas sooner.
Besides these primary skills, the best riders also strive to brake and accelerate smoothly to preserve available traction and stabilize the bike’s chassis. They’ve learned the language of handing dynamics and tire loading, using them to understand what the bike and tires are saying about the limits of control and traction.
The best riders are eager to learn and practice new techniques and continually hone existing techniques. They seek advice and training from known reliable sources because they understand that there is always more to learn, no matter how long they’ve been riding. Smart riders know that seat time and experience alone don’t make them better if all they’re doing is repeating mistakes and bad habits. Someone might have ridden for 20 years, but too often these riders have one year of experience, repeated 20 times.
No matter how good a rider you think you are, it’s likely you have at least a few skills that could use some work. You probably also have some bad habits, dangerous attitudes, and inaccurate perceptions about riding that can develop over time without you knowing it. And unless you’re actively improving your braking and cornering skills, you’re probably not as good as you think at controlling your bike near the limit.
This description doesn’t constitute a complete list of good rider characteristics, but you can be sure that the best riders possess each of these traits. Do you?
Hope to see you all and spend some quality time with you at the meeting this Saturday.
Are You Prepared To Ride Smarter in 2018?
We can all improve our riding skills. Even if you have taken a motorcycle safety course every year for the last 20 years, there is something we can all learn, or re-learn from one of the GWRRA rider training courses.
I say that from experience and with confidence because following previous classes, I learned some different things about my abilities after taking the Advanced Rider Course (ARC). This class includes exercises found only in this class and they were designed specifically to help you deal with real-world riding situations.
When we ride, we encounter weather extremes, changing road conditions, cornering challenges, road debris, and other motorists’ bad habits that demand good braking, clutching, shifting and keen alertness on our part. If you can ace this class, you have some riding skills to be proud of! That is not to say that only the top riders should take this class, it is a total test of your confidence and your bike!
Every motorcycle rider in our chapter is eligible for this class and the others offered by GWRRA. Of course, I’m a strong and committed supporter of The Rider Education Levels Training Program: Level I – Safety By Commitment, Level II – Safety By Education, Level III – Safety By Preparedness and Level IV – Safety By Enhanced Commitment and Preparedness.
Let’s make a personal commitment for the safe operation of our motorcycles as a way of life. It’s this Chapters goal to achieve a 100% member participation in level one. We are very close to meeting this goal! Together we can do this!
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