HOW TO TOW ANOTHER MOTORCYCLE SAFELY

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HOW TO TOW ANOTHER MOTORCYCLE SAFELY

 

 Have you ever had your Motorcycle break down while you were out on a ride by yourself or riding with your friends? Or maybe you just once ran out of gas a couple of miles before a fuel stop? Well if you carry a tow rope with you on your bike there will be no more walking the bike or sitting on the side of the road waiting on someone.

First, get 12 feet to 20 feet (4 to 6 m) of rope, tie-downs hooked together, a bit of fence wire or phone cable, or best of all, a one inch (2.5 cm) wide flat nylon strap. I prefer the nylon strap.

One method in towing a bike will keep the towline down low. On the lead bike, wrap the line once around the right foot peg (if the drive chain/belt is on the left). The rider firmly holds the line in place with his foot. The rider being towed does the same thing using the opposite foot peg. If the tow goes wrong, either rider can easily let go.

Another method  starts with the line tied to the frame of the lead bike as high as possible. Alternately, make a “Y” in the end of the line and tie each end to a foot peg; the fork should rest in the center of the seat above. The end leads back to the trailing bike, and goes under the headlight, on the centerline of the bike. The loose end wraps around the handlebar once or twice, and is held by the left (clutch) hand. The towing rider operates the front brake normally, and if he needs to get free, he can simply let go.

Either way, the more experienced rider should be on the trailing bike, and should keep all the slack out of the line; because the trailing rider can easily run over a slack line and get it caught up in the front wheel if you do not keep the slack out of the line. All braking should be done by the trailing rider, and the lead rider should keep the speed down.

Michael Theodore
National Road Captain

Slaying the Dragon mountain riding 101

Curve-photo-croppedMe On The Dragon

Lines through a corner

Compared to roads in a flat country, roads in mountain areas have far more corners, and those corners are often really tight.

Start in the outside

Very important in the mountains is the line you ride through a corner. Always start at the outside: in a corner to the left you start at the right side, and in a corner to the right you start left.
If the road is narrow, you can even use the part of the road for oncoming traffic. The advantage is that you will see oncoming traffic earlier than when you stay inside the corner.

Look through the corner

Hold on to the outside line for a long time. There will be a moment when you can look through the rest of the corner in one straight line. That’s the point where you turn in for the second time, and then ride along that straight line. That will be the only time that you touch the inside line through the corner.

Try not to reach the lane for oncoming traffic, in a left turn. In that case there will be space if you need more space, and at the same time you train yourself riding tight corners.

And in a blind corner, you should not only expect cars or trucks, but also all types of animals one would expect in the mountains.

On really narrow roads with hairpins, don’t begin on the lane for oncoming traffic: in that case, there might be not enough time to get back to the right side of the road when a local arrives from the other side.

Try to keep your head inside your own lane as well, in corners to the left or to the right.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead

Before entering a hairpin or switchback, always look up or down, so you know in advance what you will encounter during the turn.

Often, you can see through more than one corner (even when the corner before you itself is blind). The more you try to see what is in front of you on the road, the more you know about the oncoming traffic, and where you can expect them.

Throttle

On the throttle

Always try to keep the throttle open (a bit) during a corner. The corner will certainly be easier that way.

When going up, keep the speed above the minimum that is needed not to stall, because you don’t want to stall in the middle of a hairpin, and squeezing the clutch while going up won’t help either.

If you descend, keeping the throttle open often is difficult, but do try, as it will make life easier.

Stalling

When your motorcycle is going to stall mid-turn, let it stall. *Don’t* pull the clutch: the motorcycle will go backward, down, and you would be pulled along.

To brake

Upward: rear brake

When you ride upwards, you can use the rear brake during turns: that will stabilize the bike, and it allows you to keep the throttle open during the turn.

Downward: front brake

But downward, the rear brake is of no use: the rear wheel almost carries no weight, which means it will stop turning very easily when you apply the rear brake.

If you ride steep downward and you have to brake, use the front brake.

Why no rear brake downward?

If you ride downward, almost all the weight of the bike is on the front wheel. Therefore, it is very easy to lock the rear wheel when you use the rear brake.

In that case, the rear wheel will try to get past the front wheel, which will take you and the bike down.

Try to use the compression of the engine to brake, and when you need more brakes, use the front.

Do not brake while in the turn

If you must brake do your braking before the corner not going into it  this will stand your bike upright into the wrong direction you need to be going.

Downward

Preferably with the throttle open!

Riding up is not a problem, most of the time; it is riding downward that is the most difficult.

Try to use the engine brake: shift downward until you have the right speed without the throttle, or with a bit of throttle.

In a turn, open the throttle a bit.

When it is so steep that your speed is too high, even in the first gear, you will have to use the brake as well (the front, that is).

Fear of heights

Look in front of you

Do you have fear of heights, and do you get dizzy when looking down? Then don’t!

Concentrate on the road ahead, and look forward: far, far forward

Stopping and getting away

Upward

If you have to come to a standstill while riding upward, you can keep your foot on the rear brake. Just keep the bike in the first gear, and it’s easy to ride away again.

When the surface of the road is a bit loose, let the clutch go slowly to ride away, You can drag both your feet on the ground for added safety. Once you feel comfortable at that moment, you can open up the throttle a bit, and you let go of the rear brake.

Downward

Downward, you come to a standstill with the front brake. Pulling away is even possible without the engine. Hold your clutch in some while releasing your brake as you are now starting to roll.

Parking

Mind the other traffic

Remember, when you park to enjoy the views, or to take a picture, that you park your motorcycle in a spot where it can be easily seen from both sides.

Sometimes you think to see a spot that is perfectly fit to park, and it happens to be a spot to let cars pass each other on narrow roads. Those spots are there for passing, so don’t use them!

Sloping surface

While parking, you will notice the results of the three dimensions in the mountains: where you would otherwise feel the surface with your foot, there may be nothing… the surface is sometimes further away than you are used to. So look where you stop, and check which foot to use to carry your weight.

Foot on the back brake

If you stop while riding upwards, you should make sure that your right foot can stay on the peg, because you need the back brake in that situation.

Try to park you bike with its front pointing upwards: otherwise, it might ride off the side stand. Also: keep it in first gear.

The side stand

If you have to park with the front of the bike pointing downwards, the bike could fall, even when parked in gear, 

because sometimes gravity pulls harder.

And always try to check the situation with respect to riding away again. In principle, it is no big deal when you first have to let the bike go a bit downward, but if you would have to turn it at the same time, getting away could become a bit of a problem.

The weather

Change of weather

You may experience huge changes of temperature when riding upwards or downwards in the mountains. So always carry something warm, and especially something which keeps out the rain as in rain gear.

What is also likely to happen, is that you ride in very bright sun light, and suddenly, after a corner, you enter a thick fog. or dark shadows of the tress.

The weather high in the mountains can change very suddenly, from summer to winter, from thunderstorm to clear skies, from snow to fog to bright clear sun.

So carry a riding jacket and  rain gear  sunglasses.

Slippery

Above 2000 ft  means a chance of slippery roads, or even black ice. When it is raining up on the mountains.

Being polite

Allowing people to pass

When you are experiencing your first mountain ride, your speed will probably be much lower than the speed of people who are used to riding the mountains. Especially people living there will know each corner, and are able to ride certain passes blindfolded.

Don’t be tempted to try to keep in front of them. Try to maintain your own comfort speed, and let people who are faster than you in corners, pass. Move to the right to let them pass you.

So don’t open up the throttle after each corner to make up for a slow corner: on the contrary, use straight stretches to slow down, so people can easily get past you. Ride your own ride.

When you are getting used to mountain riding, and your own speed gets higher, you will notice that some people will let you pass in the same way, and you will be grateful.

So, check your mirrors often!

Oncoming traffic

The same politeness also applies to oncoming traffic. So just try to determine for whom it is most easy to stop (which will often be you, the motorcycle rider).

When you see a Truck, don’t enter a hairpin with the idea that the truck will have to wait because you have as much right on that hairpin as the truck, but find a place to pull aside far right as you can get instead. Because that truck will now take up your lane also on the curves.

Most people who ride and drive in the mountains are very courteous, as you will notice, and it is a pleasant feeling to be one of them.

Badly running engine

Less oxygen

If your motorcycle doesn’t have injection, you may experience a badly running engine at heights. The air becomes thinner, and your bike will receive less oxygen, while the amount of fuel stays the same: so the mix will become too rich.

Some motorcycles will protest. The fuel consumption rises (with a well running engine, fuel consumption will decrease in the mountains), and the engine seems to want to give up.

Air filter

In such a case, don’t fumble with the needles, but, as a temporary measurement, take off the air filter. The amount of air in the mixture will increase, which will compensate a bit for the decreased percentage of oxygen.

Distances

Less miles in a day

When planning your trip, keep in mind that you will cover much smaller distances in the mountains, especially when you go up and down through hairpins. A distance of 50 miles doesn’t mean that you will be there in half an hour!

It applies even more for the distance on the map: on the road, you will cover vertical miles as well.

Also be aware of the fact that gas stations on top of mountain passes are rare. Always make sure you start off your ride with a full take and to top off any chance you get.

Michael Theodore
National Road Captain

 

Stayin’ Safe Overcoming the fear of Tar Snakes

Stayin’ Safe
Overcoming the fear of  Tar Snakes
Who knew the incidence of ophidiophobia would be so high among motorcyclist? Yet nearly every rider I have known through all my years of riding has expressed a distinct and sometimes paralyzing fear of snakes. Especially black snakes; aka Tar snakes. These species are commonly found stretched across the pavement. Of course almost always on a nice twisty road as you approach  the corner or exit it. They are on the back roads and also the supper slab highways. But are these tar snakes in fact a serious threat to riders? The straight answer to that question is….it depends. For the most part, tar snakes on the road is relatively harmless, especially those that are thin,and few in numbers and surrounded by traction-rich pavement. Although you the rider may feel momentary uneasiness as the bike’s tires squirm slightly on the tar strip surface,traction and a more direct feel will quickly return once rubber finds clean pavement. This unfamiliar movement of the motorcycle is generally more disconcerting to you the rider then it is dangerous, provided you remain calm, Granted, tar snakes can become threats in certain conditions. If you see more black tar than tarmac, there will certainly be way less traction avalible. When tar is cold and damp such as in the early morning in spring and fall, it can become hard and slick. In a rain storm it can be very slick. In the hot summer sun can make tar snakes squishy, although they still provide moderate traction. In each of these scenarios, I will say that it is best to stay loose, keep a light touch on the handlebars and look up the road to where you want to go (looking ahead adds a sense of stability). Make subtle steering and throttle inputs, avoid extreme lean angles and just glide though the tar snake. With a little caution and smoothness you can avoid being bitten…and maybe even become an expert snake handler 
Michael Theodore
Azusa StreetRiders National Road Captain
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Packing,Eating And Staying Cool

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Packing,Eating And Staying Cool

Commonsense Ways To Improve The Ride
We’re Not Backpacking
      Unless your hauling a trailer, your entire gear load is probably 40 pounds or less. Don’t get caught up what the backpackers do. When it comes to weight distribution. Instead pack very sensibly, placing items you’ll want to get to at any time during your riding day in very easy-to-access areas. Overnight items -coincidentally the heavier items are best stowed near or at the bottom of your top case or side saddlebags. Your regulars such as rain gear, sunglasses’s, sunscreen and water are best stowed on top near compartment openings.
Eat Light, Eat Whole
A rigorous 300-500 mile a day motorcycle tour is not the time to gorge. Eating lighter will keep your mind in a better place on the road and throughout the day. Eat more whole foods, such as nuts, dried fruits, meats, eggs, whole grains, veggies and fruit and fewer processed foods. I always carry with me power bars as you can eat them as you ride.
Mountain Pass Mentality
Have you ever noticed when your navigating your way up and over a mountain pass, how everything changes once you’ve ascended and start riding down the other side? No longer are you using mostly throttle to work your way up into the pass, but now you’re more focused on using your engine compression ( no throttle) and braking to work your way down the mountain. If you find it uncomfortable to make such an abrupt adjustment, consider pulling off to the side and stopping at the top of the mountain pass for a breather. This break makes it easier to reset your riding awareness and comfort level.
Evaporative Cooling-What is it?
Evaporative cooling is so essential to keeping your mind focused during hot weather riding. If you ride with just a T-shirt instead of long sleeves on a very hot afternoon ride. Sun exposure and wind evaporate perspiration too quickly, leading to dehydration and the build up of excess heat in the body. Wearing a full-coverage riding jacket with the air vents open allows you to control the wicking perspiration and heat from your body. I like to ride with moisture wicking shirts as an undershirt which keeps me completely cool while riding on very hot days. You can also soak a T-shirt in water or use one of those cooling vest or cooling head bands to keep your body cool. Remember to always Hydrate. Wear breathable riding gloves. Wear light colored clothing.
Michael Theodore
National Road Captain

 

Too Long, Too Short…Where is Just Right?

Too Long, Too Short…Where is Just Right?

When I am on a motorcycle tour I often get this question from other riders who may be joining me on this tour or even my wife. How many miles are we riding today? Sometimes, I say  I am just letting the road be the guide, Or I will say  I don’t really know. But usually, I’ve planned the route and know the answer, not counting my many  side trips that may strike my fancy along the way. This exchange, however, often makes me wonder what is the ideal touring mileage for a day in the saddle. In deciding that number, though, there are obviously a number of factors to consider: So when I hear that someone is asking me how long are we riding today? I just smile and say we are on a three hour tour. Which if you know me and have toured with me my three hour tours will be an all day long ride. Got to love it 🙂

My factors in considering how long to be in the saddle.

Riding Environment 

Weather: Because of the more exposed nature on a motorcycle touring (versus a car), checking the weather forecast each morning is a regimen followed by most experienced riders. I study the weather for each ride. For example, the expectation of thunderstorms may dictate altering the day’s route to avoid them. But much of the weather experienced on a tour can’t be avoided in advance. So you have the choice now to either sit out the thunderstorm in a protected place. Or put your rain gear on and ride through the storm. And even riding in a non-threatening steady rain usually means reduced visibility and a slower average speed.

Besides storms, very hot or cold weather may dictate more stops than originally planned for hydration or warming up in a restaurant with a hot drink. High winds can also affect travel mileage and slower speeds. Weather is always a wild card on any motorcycle trip, which can slow your ride rate of progress.

Terrain: Mountain terrain usually means more curves—and more rider smiles—than flat prairie, but lots of curves invariably results in a slower average speed (or at least it should). A two-hundred-mile ride in the mountains will take noticeably longer than a comparable distance with few curves, and it usually will be more tiring for both riders and passengers. Also, mountain terrain is often more scenic, inviting more stops to enjoy and photograph it. Love the longer scenic routes. But then there’s that situation when you want to get to the most desirable riding area as quickly as possible. To maximize the riding time best route then would be the super slab highways. The super slab would be your best bet. Because you can’t  cut time off  on the back roads. So Long story short, riding terrain is a very important consideration in planning the day’s distance.

Type/Condition of Roads: Paved versus unpaved roads will make a large difference in mileage each day. A 100-mile day ride on an adventure bike on challenging, unpaved roads takes much longer and more energy than riding several hundred miles on pavement. Also, I’ve noticed in the North East locations  where roadways are often in poor condition after severe winters, your average speed on  rough pavement is always slower than on smooth tarmac.

Traffic/Construction Delays: Although my planned tours usually avoid metropolitan areas, construction delays on rural two-lane roads and bridges during the warmer months can put a big dent in a your rate of progress. Although there are web sites that can alert travelers to construction projects, and also GPS units. On my Harley I have the traffic alert it works great as long as it is in the construction system. My experience though on back roads is that many of those construction zones appear with little warning. I remember last summer on a trip out west with Bro Showalter. That we came to a  stop on a two-lane back country road. Can’t remember though if it was in Wyoming or Montana. Where our main flag man was many miles distant, and out of sight, from the other end of the construction zone.We were stopped by a worker. And we waited quite a while for the pilot truck to arrive and guide us at low speed along the single lane of asphalt.  Never experienced that in Ohio. And  then there are vehicular accidents, which can stop all traffic (particularly on rural two-lane roads) for an extended period of time. Also, you should expect heavy traffic around resort areas, particularly on weekends. And around Metropolitan area’s.

Touring & Travel Goals

Reservations: Reserved lodging can be an advantage or also a  disadvantage. The main advantage is that you know you have a place to  stay regardless of the arrival time. This is comforting when unexpected delays cause the ride to take longer than planned at the day’s outset. Occasionally on a tour, because of unforeseen circumstances, you may not want to ride the full distance to the reserved room. This may be caused by severe weather,  traffic or what not.Or maybe you discovered off the beaten path an  interesting place you discovered that you want to spend more time exploring. Reservations may or may not be canceled, unless it’s too late to do so.

Planned and Unplanned Stops: On motorcycle tours, try to plan one or two interesting stops each day, which you can include museums, battlefields, national or state parks, historical sites, etc. A must to get some of those great photo shots. And then there are those unplanned, surprise stops, which make motorcycle touring such a spontaneous and enjoyable way to see the world.

It’s not always places or things that prolong an unplanned stop, but the interesting people you meet along the way. Riding a motorcycle cross-country frequently triggers conversations with curious strangers, which driving in an automobile does not. Best part of conversations with people you meet along your way is. Now you have the opportunity to do some outreach as you are wearing your ASR back patch.

Preferences of Other Riders and Passengers: Riding with others means that their preferences have to be considered in planning the day’s route and distance. Some riders only want to hit the curves for as long and intensely as possible each day. Other riders want a more relaxed ride, stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.  Super slab or back roads? Rather than frustrating one or both sets of folks, a good idea may be to split into two riding groups, taking different routes to the same destination. Or to agree on the route with a mix of highway and back roads in the route so everyone is happy.

By now, you’ve probably reached the unavoidable conclusion that, in reality, there is no one ideal number of miles to cover each day on your tour. It’s  just all  depends on your day and how you fill and your group if your touring in a group. As for me if your riding with me.  All just tell you it’s only a three hour tour 🙂

Michael Theodore

National Road Captain

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Motorcycle Ride/Run Release and Waiver of Liability Agreement

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New for 2015 “next level” — we suggest & recommend that all ride event planners /organizers/coordinators use a “Waiver of Liability” agreement form at your ride event. In order to help with this, we are providing a form that you can use. Why should you use such a form? While we hope that nothing goes wrong (such as an injury or accident) during your ride, just in case something does go wrong, you will want to stress to all riders in advance (via such a form) that they are personally accepting all liability for their decision to ride with you, and they are not to hold your chapter/group liable. This is a step ASR suggests for you to take as an added precaution for safety as we move forward. Again, we strongly suggest that you have all riders sign a waiver. Below is a link to download the waiver and print it. You may also access this file at any time via the main ASR website, under “Ministry Tools.”

-Michael Theodore
ASR National Road Captain

Ride Liability Waiver Forms

Download: ASR-Motorcycle-Ride-Run-Release-and-Waiver-of-Liability-Agreement-2015 (PDF format, 54 KB).

Info: This file (linked above) is a waiver (a type of legal form) that is suggested for use by all ASR chapters / groups hosting an official, organized run. Suggested use: Download, print it out, and have all riders and passengers sign it before the ride. This is intended to insure  your chapter/group is protected from liability in case of any accident or injury during the ride.

Get Your Bike Ready For Summer

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After sitting for months motorcycles need attention before returning to service, which can also help avoid breakdowns and ensure safety. Refer to the owner’s and service manuals for inspection lists before giving your bike a thorough going over.

Look for any signs of leakage, such as stains underneath that indicate problems. Check steering head bearings for looseness or binding. To get the best performance out of a hydraulic fork change the fluid every year or two.

Clean the battery terminals. Check the electrolyte level (if caps are removable) and add distilled water as needed. (Warning: Electrolyte contains acid so avoid contact and wear eye protection. Baking soda and water will neutralize the acid.) If the battery wasn’t on a maintenance charger it’ll probably be weak or dead. Turn on the ignition briefly and note how bright the lights are. If the lights are dim or don’t work, charge the battery. If the battery was fully discharged it’s likely sulfated and needs replacement.

Unless you put in fuel-stabilizer additives before storage, after several months the gasoline may begin to form deposits in carburetor jets and passages, and may also clog injectors and electric fuel pumps. Remove the gas cap and peer into the tank with a small flashlight (switch it on first to avoid sparks), look for rust in steel tanks, and note if the fuel has sediment or other contamination. Give the gas a quick sniff. If it smells like old varnish the fuel system may need to be drained, flushed, and the fuel filter replaced. Carburetor float bowls (if equipped) must also be drained before new gas is added. If a motorcycle won’t start because the fuel system is gummed up it may require disassembly and a thorough cleaning.

Check the oil level and note the color of the oil, as old, dirty oil leaves sludge and deposits in the engine. If it is dark or the level is low change the oil and filter before starting the engine. If the oil isn’t too bad it’s better to start the engine and allow it to warm up to allow contaminants to be suspended in the oil, and then drain it. If your motorcycle has a separate transmission or primary-chain case oil supply, service that, too. Always recycle used oil and dispose of filters properly.

Inspect tires for cracks, wear, and damage. Tires more than about five or six years old should be replaced even if they aren’t worn out. After a thorough inspection inflate the tires to the recommended pressure in the owner’s manual.

Check your maintenance records and schedule to determine if the motorcycle is due for a major service, including a tune-up and valve adjustment. If not it’s still a good idea to check the spark plugs for condition and measure the gap. Put a little anti-seize compound on the threads and torque properly – do not over-tighten them. Inspect the plug wires and boots and clean or replace them if they look worn or cracked. Also check the air filter and replace as needed.

Liquid-cooled engines should have the antifreeze/coolant checked, flushed, and replaced every two years, as old coolant causes corrosion. Also replace the hoses, thermostat, and radiator cap every five years. After starting the engine test the operation of the electric cooling fan. It should come on during extended idling.

Inspect the brake linings and rotors or drums for wear. Check the brake fluid, which should be changed every two years, and if it looks dark replace it. Refer to the shop manual for the bleeding procedure, especially on ABS systems.

Control cables should be serviced every year. Check the throttle cables and clutch cable (if equipped) for free travel and lube with special cable lubricant.

Inspect the sprockets and chain (if equipped) and make sure they are properly lubed and adjusted. Belt drives and sprockets should be inspected and adjustment checked. Shaft-drive machines should have the gear lube level checked and changed if it has been several years since this was done.

Start the engine and allow it to warm up gently without revving. After the engine is up to normal operating temperature, check the idle speed and adjust if needed. Test all controls, lights, and accessories to ensure they’re working properly. Addressing these items before you ride can save a lot trouble down the road.

Michael Theodore
Azusa StreetRiders National Road Captain

 

Touring Tip: Planning and Preparation

639a7e74-a68f-457e-ae88-6cac0f3fab92Touring Tip: Planning and Preparation

With the arrival of warmer temperatures, snow is melting and it’s time to get out and explore new roads and destinations. Before leaving home, though, some planning and preparation is in order.

Planning
1. Roads: I am an avid collector of moto-roads, particularly those that haven’t been ridden by me—but need to be. They’ re identified by reading the accounts of other riders and by—obsessively—perusing paper and computerized maps over the winter months. My primary sources of information include:

MotorcycleRoads.com
AmericaRideMaps.com
H-D Ride Planner
MotorcycleRoads.US
SundayMorningRides.com
OpenRoadJourney.com
And the good old paper Road Atlas

There is a wealth of information available to uncover the best moto-roads. My favorite roads usually have one or more of the following characteristics:
Lots of curves,
A rural, bucolic landscape,
Interesting scenery,
Areas not previously visited,
Frequent elevation changes,
Off the beaten path,
Lightly trafficked, and/or
An interesting destination.
The moto-roads of greatest interest can be catalogued on a simple list or, preferably, on a multi-state road atlas or a computerized mapping program.

2. Destinations: Obviously, motorcycle touring isn’t just about the roads. Interesting destinations are also important, particularly when they can be combined with a favorite road to get there. Accumulating destinations can involve the same resources listed above for identifying favorite roads. But, the list of other resources for targeting destinations is virtually limitless. Various state and national travel publications can be highly useful. I frequently cut out selected destinations in the travel section of the newspaper. Every state and many municipalities have dedicated tourism web sites that can be helpful in identifying destinations and also lodgings and restaurants.

Once you have established all your destinations  which will be interesting for you the rider. You can keep track of all the most interesting ones. By placing them in a paper folder  with tabs for each state.Or install your all your maps,roads, and destinations on your computer.

As riders we think about where to go and what to see, the maps of favorite roads and destinations can then be used to focus on particular geographic regions in order to get the most out of a planned tour.

Preparation
It almost goes without saying that before leaving on a multi-day trip, the motorcycle and its rider should be in tip-top condition.

1. Motorcycle: If the bike has been idle for several months, certain maintenance steps should be taken before departing on a tour:
Consult the owner’s manual and service records,
Check fluids and replace as necessary,
Check brake pad wear and replace if needed,
Lubricate the clutch cable and other external moving components,
Check tire condition and adequacy of tread depth and replace, if required,
Inspect hand and foot controls for proper functioning,
Check torque settings of key threaded fasteners, like those on axles, brake calipers, etc.,
Be sure that lights, switches, gauges, and other electrical components are operating properly,
Check age of battery and replace if several years old, and perform a detailed visual inspection and do a test ride to determine if the bike has any other mechanical or electrical issues that should be addressed before departure.
2. Rider: While daydreaming about routes, roads, and destinations during the winter months, I’m often overly optimistic in planning trips for the coming season. Let’s face it riding a motorcycle is more exhausting than driving a similar distance in a car. So it’s important that riders be realistic about their physical and other capabilities when planning trips. Here are some things to consider and do:
Get a physical check up,
Remain physically active during the riding off-season, with particular emphasis on core body strength and general stamina,
Make sure there has been no uncorrected diminution of eyesight,
Do some parking lot practice drills to re-sharpen key riding safety skills, including panic stops, negotiating tight corners, taking evasive maneuvers like swerves, slow riding maneuvers, etc.,
Go on one or more day rides with a fully loaded bike (and passenger) and re-familiarize yourself with the bike’s handling characteristics when it’s carrying greater weight, and
Practice on-road safety techniques, like looking far ahead of the front wheel, spotting potential hazards, 360º threat awareness, defensive lane positioning, looking through curves, etc.
Well, now you should be ready to enjoy another exhilarating season of motorcycle touring.

Michael Theodore
Azusa StreetRiders National Road Captain

 

 

Being Prepared for All Types of Riding Weather

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Being Prepared for All Types of Riding Weather

Let’s take a look at how riding weather can affect your plans and how you can manage with it. Rain, ice and snow are the most obvious weather related issues you can run into while on the bike, but heat, wind, altitude can also adversely affect your trip. Below are some tips on how to cope with weather while on the road.

RAIN is by far the most common problem for most of us and here are a few things that can help make your ride safer. Do not ride in lightning storms. They can be pretty fierce. When lightning starts flashing, head for cover…time for a short break. Since your bike is not grounded, it is very unsafe to ride while lightning is present. If you are on the road, exit immediately to a gas station or other covered area. If that’s not possible, the next best cover can be a highway overpass if there is no other safe place to stop. Overpasses stay relatively dry and generally you can find a nice place to rest. Just pay attention to possible water flows and flash floods and Do not stay beside your bike when stopped. Walk a few feet away from the road in case a driver not paying attention comes to close to you and your bike. Bikers have been hit and killed under overpasses trying to wait out storms. Activate the four way flashers on your bike and keep them on so motorists can see the bike.

When you must ride in the rain there are several things that you can do to make things safer. First is rain gear. Try to buy 100% waterproof gear. Pack it so that it is easy to get to in your bags. Waterproof boots are really good to wear. If your feet get wet and cold, you can become miserable very quickly and this causes you not to be focused on the road. Gloves…Leather gloves get water logged real fast in rain. You can spray your gloves with leather water proofing before the ride to help, but this is only a temporary fix and your fingers and hands will soon become cold and wet. It’s better to have a pair of waterproof gloves. They work great I keep a pair with me on all rides. Or you can buy a pair of cheap rubber kitchen gloves they also work well and if you get large ones, you can put them over your leather gloves. You may get some grief from fashion-Nazis, but safety is the focus here. Absolutely the most important thing while riding in bad weather is to slow down. Ride with your four-way flashers on and always have your high beam light on. Never ride faster than the distance you can see. If you can’t stop in time you’re going too fast. I made this big mistake on my trip out west to the ASR National Rally in Colorado. Instead of slowing down while riding in a storm, I hit some oil patches and the rest was…well no more road trip…no more bike. I did not take my own advice. A lesson learned the hard way!

Ice and snow? Most riders just flat out avoid it. They say, If there is any snow or ice on the roads it just makes no sense at all to be out on the bikes. And then  there is me! I ride in the winter here in the snow belt in NE Ohio. It’s not that bad! Some of my best rides have been in the winter months. I always ride slow and do not ride when it gets icy. Wait for the road crew to clean the roads. Also, I do not ride at night during winter months. Heated gear for winter riding is a must if you want to stay out and ride all day. If you don’t have the heated gear, dress for the weather and make frequent stops to warm up.

Heat can get nasty; from the dry heat that roasts you in the deserts and prairie areas to the “so humid you feel like you’re riding through a wall of water” type heat of the east and south east. There are three things to remember…water, water, water. Dehydration can knock you down quickly while on a bike. Moisture is wicked away by the wind and further dehydrates you without you even knowing it. The hot dry areas can bake you with the wind and dry heat. Opening clothing and helmet vents to allow air when the temperature is over 100 degrees can create a blast furnace effect, so close up and cover up to keep the sun off as well. Try to take breaks more often in hot riding weather and again, drink a lot of fluids. It’s good to have a moisture wicking shirt on while riding during the hot months.

Cross winds can be difficult to handle. Sometimes you spend hours leaning into them as you ride. It can become physically exhausting. Most motorists don’t even understand what wind does to a bike, from simple head on winds that just knock down your speed to winds that blow off the 18-wheelers and buffet you around in the lanes like a jumping bean. Its best to slow down a bit so you have full control of your bike and give any motorist  some additional room. If you are on a four lane highway and have to ride in hard cross winds. Move your bike into the left lane. Then take up the middle of that lane to give yourself more room to handle the cross winds and ease the limit of the passing winds by the other motorist now passing you on the right lane. This is safer for all.

Altitude is something that can cause all sorts of interesting situations. If you are cruising through the Smokey Mountains or the White Mountains in the East, the elevation changes are not too drastic. At about 6,000. Going up to the mountain peaks from there is not a big elevation change. However if you are out West and go from sea level to 10,000 feet, that is a big change. At over 14,000 feet at Pikes Peak in Colorado, you will need to be aware of altitude sickness and less oxygen. Take your time when you ride in the mountains and slow it down. Taking breaks often as you climb will help reduce those effects. Also consider temperature changes and storms that can come up quickly. Always pack the right gear.

By being prepared for all types of riding weather in the different areas you ride in, you can avoid hazards and still enjoy awesome rides. Wherever you ride, I suggest you watch the Weather Channel forecast before you head out.

Michael Theodore

Azusa StreetRiders National Road Captain