Safety Tips When Motorcycling In Winter
When wintertime comes most people with motorcycles would prefer to keep them indoors and wait for warmer times.
The irony of this is that during winter while the body is struggling to keep warm you lose more calories and thus get a lot more benefit than you would normally.
The concerns of most about the cold, however, are very legitimate and should be addressed. Below are some tips that should be able to keep anyone safe in cold weather. Most of it is just common sense but still reading it won't hurt.
The key thing during winter is warmth. The body is losing heat fast and so will make decisions based on the amount of heat available. The core temperature that is the temperature in the mid and internal regions of the body will determine what your body does; it is crucial then that this temperature should be kept warm.
You might think that the best way would be to wear thick and heavy clothing, but that would be ill-advised. The best way to keep heat is layering. Layering involves wearing some clothes over each other.
The number of layers you choose will depend on how cold it is. The individual layers of clothing are separated by air cushions so to speak. These air cushions are excellent insulation against cold and will ensure that the core temperature doesn't drop too much.
Another reason for having layers of clothing is that it allows for sweat to evaporate naturally instead of growing cold on the skin and leading to even more heat loss. The clothes also absorb swear which conserves heat even more.
By extremities I mean hands and feet. These are those areas of the body farthest from the core. When temperatures outside drop the body sort of neglect these areas and focuses on the core. You will, therefore, have to take extra care to keep them warm. With the hands, appropriate gloves are a must.
These could be worn over another layer of clothing if the user feels the need. This increases the protection on the hands. These gloves must also be good enough to allow the fingers to maintain their dexterity and thus their ability to handle the motorcycle.
With the feet thick socks are sufficient and on top of these a good pair o boots that should be comfortable. The socks will absorb swear as well as provide a layer of protection against the cold. Keeping extremities warm prevents the cold from affecting them. When cold affects these parts for long periods, the effects might be very bad.
Most motorcycles use water for cooling. Water is easy to come by and a very efficient cooler. In winter, however, water could be a great disadvantage. It freezes over, and once this happens, it ceases to be functional. Motorcycles usually have a solution for this that involves antifreeze.
Antifreeze is a special substance that prevents the water from solidifying. Basic science States that if impurities are added to water then the freezing point must drop and this holds true here. The antifreeze is usually changed once a year as part of routine maintenance.
With winter weather a user will have to disregard this condition. They will have to ensure that there is a fresh batch of antifreeze to replace any that was already there. This is the best way to keep safe and ensure that the bike is in good condition while riding it.
Perhaps the most important thing is that of tire condition. When the weather gets cold tires tend to get cold too, and cold tires are not at all good for riding. They are very unsafe because they lack traction and might lead to slipping and even worse forms of accidents.
Before a user goes out with their bike in cold weather, he should check the condition of the tires and so looks for means to ensure that the tire temperature doesn't drop too much.
Avoiding areas with ice and melted water is also a very important thing. Tires that lack grip will very easily lead to accidents in these kinds of conditions. The user wants to be safe so they should keep this in mind.
Still, on the issue of safety, the user has to be extra careful in his riding. On normal days a motorcycle user has to observe many road safety issues such as keeping an appropriate distance from other vehicles and also anticipating situations.
In cold weather with all the added risk these measures have to be respected even more. Seventy meters is an appropriate distance between the rider and a vehicle. This provides enough distance for any reaction that might be done. Any shorter distance would lead to a very short reaction time which wouldn't be ideal. The rider also has to focus ahead and not just on his immediate surroundings.
Focusing on the horizon makes him aware of dangers long before they happen. With this foreknowledge safety is guaranteed. There are other obvious matters such as driving at a manageable speed that will minimize the risk of accidents.
One often neglected issue but that is very crucial. You must remember to include extra gear whenever you go out in cold weather. There should be additional layers of clothing to have in case the weather gets colder.
There should also be normal spares that a motorcycle user might need just in case the motorcycle breaks down while he or she is on the road. Something as simple as an extra pair of socks could come in very handy when you happen to step into some cold water.
The outer layers of clothing are also likely to get wet, and for this reason, the user will need to change them. The idea to include extras is really important.
Be sure to have avenues for help ready to come in whenever things get bad. If you belong to a motorcycling association, you should have the numbers that are used for emergency purposes.
Numbers of family and friends should also be on speed dial. These will help you when you run into a situation that is not very easy for you to handle on your own. An even better thing to do would be to let someone know that you are going out.
They should also know the route you intend to use and how much time tour trip will take. With this knowledge, they can keep track of your traveling and call for help when anything appears amiss.
Most associations have towing services and can even offer medical help for the user when they are in need.
Food And Drink
As we have already seen, the body loses a lot of heat when it is cold. It is therefore very important to eat and drink well if you intend to go out into the cold. Carbs for energy would be a perfect choice to have at this time, complex carbs that will be broken down slowly and therefore provide energy continuously instead of bursts. One could also carry a light snack to chew on while on the road.
There is nothing wrong with this. Water is even more important. In cold weather, the rider will very rarely feel thirsty, but this doesn't mean that they don't need water. They so need water because a lot of it is being lost in sweat and in keeping the body warm.
Carrying water is an absolute essential. Water could be kept in a warm flask to prevent the temperatures from getting to it. The rider must be diligent and take frequent sips to hydrate.
When riding in cold weather the best thing to do is stop often. Riding for long periods of time will cause problems. When riding the rider will most likely be going into the wind. This means that they are facing even colder temperatures.
Exposure to these kinds of temperatures for long periods of time is not ideal. The best way to prevent this is to ride for short stints and then stop.
If the road the user has chosen is not deserted, these steps could be taken in buildings by the side of the road. This way the user can be out of the cold and keep warm for that period of the stop.
Know When It's Too Much
A tip that needs no repeating but one that I will anyway. The rider must be conscious and ever aware of the conditions outside.
You may start out in relatively mild conditions and think that the situation will stay this way for long. But soon enough lots of snow start falling, and the weather becomes even colder.
It is very important to know that when this happens, the best thing to do is turn back and forth home. The water and salt are the worst things that could happen to a motorcycle.
They accelerate corrosion and could lead to your motorbike breaking down in a very short while. Even when the weather is mild, the user must wash it thoroughly after every trip to rid it of all excess salt and water that could be on it.