Transitions

by George Tranos

The months of October and November bring many changes. Days get shorter, it gets dark earlier and the temperature drops. The trees change color, going from green to yellow, orange, red and then brown. Leaf peepers head out to view the beautiful fall foliage, sometimes clogging the very roads that motorcyclists flock to. Mother Nature puts on a spectacular show and then it all turns grey before winter. Autumn is a period of transition.

As we move from summer to winter, the interim period is ideal for motorcycling. Cool evenings give way to warm afternoons that lend themselves to some good days of riding. Now is the time to get in those final rides of the season before the real cold weather sets in. You may want to start your ride slightly later in the day to allow the weather to warm enough to be comfortable before heading out. Watch for early morning dew and frost. Heed warnings that bridges may freeze before roads do.

I remember one day on a trip a few years ago where we woke up to frost covering our motorcycles! Be patient if this happens as roads can be slippery and cold tires don’t have the same traction as warm ones do. Grab an extra cup of coffee, have a hearty breakfast and delay an hour or so to let that frost burn off.

Abrupt movements can lead to instability on a motorcycle. This can be even more risky when the temperatures are low. Motorcycles have limited traction compared to cars and have even less adhesion in colder weather. Movements that are less than smooth can upset the motorcycle and can induce sliding of your tires which can lead to a fall.

One thing that can help enhance smoothness is subtle movements of the arms and legs for fine motor control skills. Moderate and then progressive use of the front brake lever, a smooth release of the brake (trail braking) and then a gentle roll-on of the throttle can help a rider smoothly transition from brakes to throttle.

Most single vehicle crashes occur in curves. Most often these are caused by riders entering curves too quickly and then panicking; causing them to go off the road or into oncoming traffic. Proper entry speed and lane position can help prevent these crashes. Proper transitions from brakes to throttle can aid stability in the curves. The biggest problem for many riders is giving too much throttle too soon causing subsequent panic and deceleration from throttle roll-off or braking at the wrong time.

November is a major transition time for many riders in the northeastern United States. Some have already stopped riding and put their motorcycles away for a long winter nap. But for others, November is merely another part of the riding season to savor before having to pick and choose when to ride during the colder part of the year. Enjoy these last days of riding until we have to transition yet again to another season.

I’d like to extend my best wishes to you for a Happy Thanksgiving! No matter what our circumstances, surely there is something or someone to be thankful for.