Spring Fever

George_Tranos_Outside_EdgeBy George Tranos

April is a month of new beginnings. The sun rises ever higher in the sky and days get longer. Daylight lasts about as long in April as it does in September. Flowers begin to burst forth from the ground and color returns to the earth brightening the drab tones of winter. Motorcyclists too emerge from their homes and head to their garages eager to hear the siren song from the motor of their long neglected steed. The long road beckons. You are mere moments from that first joyful ride.

OutsideEdgeApril2016

The thought of cool air rushing past your head invigorates you. The warmth of the sun heats your body as light dapples your path ahead. Your right hand controls the g-force as you are slung rapidly ahead. You bend your machine right and left through a series of switchback turns banking like an airplane just inches from the pavement. You’ve been waiting all winter for this first ride and you aim to reawaken that dormant muscle memory that you’ve been remembering all through the cold winter months.

 

At first the feelings are familiar but still you feel out-of-sorts. It’s been a while since you’ve done this – your last ride was before the first snow dusted the land. You ease up a little trying to remember just how hard you should brake as you slow for the traffic light ahead. Thoughts of cold tires and the coefficient of friction dance in your head. You remember your riding instructor talked about the “progressive use of the front brake,” and immediately try to more smoothly squeeze the lever instead of grabbing a whole handful of brake. “Maybe I should practice this a bit,” you think as your round the next turn and decelerate for the upcoming stop sign.

 

You’ve never been a slow starter. All your life you went all out all the time. When you were younger, your reflexes bailed you out of difficult situations many times. The last few years, you noticed that your reaction time has gotten slower. Now that you’re getting older, you start thinking that maybe you should start planning ahead more and pick your moments of exuberance. There’s a time and a place for everything, right?

 

You don’t want to be “that guy” that gets T-boned in the intersection when that left turning car crosses your path. You are wise enough to know that it is just those spots where the most danger lurks for a motorcyclist. Enough close calls may suggest that you should also consider some additional skill practice in a parking lot before venturing further afield. This might just be the time that you actually invest in your riding technique by taking that track day, or experienced riding class that you’ve thought about over the years.

 

After all, the curves will come calling soon. As Bruce Springsteen says, “Tonight, tonight the highway’s bright; Out of our way mister you best keep; ‘Cause summer’s here and the time is right; For racing in the street.” Spring is here, riding season is upon us. The road ahead will beckon soon. You are mere moments from that first joyful ride.