Random image taken from the internet (wouldn’t you know it, it’s a VFR!)
No, I’m not going to talk about the techniques and tips for riding in bad weather, I’ve done that before. Rather, I AM going to talk about the concept of year-round riding and what it means.
Every year at around about this time I see posts on social media from my riding friends in the northern hemisphere rejoicing that soon it will be riding weather again. And I count myself so fortunate that I live somewhere where I can ride my motorcycle all year round.
Yes, some adjustments need to be made FOR the weather, jackets, gloves, boots, socks, layers, etc. But the fact is that there are only a few days of the year when I can’t take the bike out for a gallop should I choose to do so.
That’s not to say that there aren’t extremes of weather that impinge upon the exercise. Where I live, on the south coast, the Summer is generally pleasant but, when the sun really decides to shine, the temperature can get up into the 40’s (Celsius) which is well over the ton in the old money. No amount of Summer gear can help under those conditions. Stopping often, hydrating often and sticking your head under a tap is the only answer.
Conversely, our winters here are mild by comparison with other areas. In the almost 20 years that I have been living on the coast I have never experienced a riding day where the temperature dropped BELOW zero degrees and only the rare day or two when it dropped into single figures. Layers and good protective gear can almost always mean riding can continue. I spent nearly 20 years living in Canberra, some 2000′ above sea level and daytime temps in single figures and near zero were common, but the above comments about gear still apply.
Of course, Autumn and Spring are the pick of the riding seasons with moderate temperatures, clear conditions and gorgeous scenery (especially when the deciduous trees are losing their leaves) being the norm. If you want to organise a ride, these are the best times.
I should also add that my location can also lead to some extremes within the parameters. On the coast where I am, the temperatures is usually 6 or 7 degrees warmer than it is at the Pie Shop, only 35kms away. The sudden rise in elevation between here and there is the explanation and many the riders there have been who have set out expecting mild conditions only to find that the body is exhibiting the shivers by the time they get to Robertson. Planning, of course, is the key.
Now many riders have a Plan B, a rain suit of winter liner to the jacket tucked away somewhere in case it is needed. I am not the sort of person who loves living on the edge but my mantra has always been to travel as light as possible so I don’t do that and only on very, very rare occasions has this policy let me down.
I’m enjoying watching a British car restoration programme called “Car S.O.S” at the moment and it never fails to horrify me just how quickly vehicles deteriorate in British weather conditions. Of course, with salt being put down on the roads to melt the ice and make driving safer, that’s hardly surprising. But even when a vehicle has been stored in a dry garage the deterioration that takes place is quite staggering. A Post-Winter strip-down to thoroughly clean the undersides and nooks and crannies of a bike seems to be mandatory if you want your bike to last. I’m so grateful I don’t have to do that (and, yes, I DO wash and clean my bike).
As you have probably noticed, I have been taking advantage of the wonderful Autumn weather and have been getting out and logging up some miles (my dad used to say that, if you have to go metric, you should go metric every inch of the way). Shortly I am going to start planning our group’s Icicle Ride, a ride to the backroads of Oberon and the Blue Mountains in the depths of Winter. It’s always a highlight.
Of course, one of the problems with the weather is that nobody really seems to know what it’s going to be until it’s too late. Today was supposed to be a shocker, cold, a lot of rain and a great day to stay indoors. Pfffft. There was a shower very early and the rest of the day has been sunny and dry. I’ve got a VERY busy week coming up and, with two rides already last week I wasn’t going to push it.
My new front tyre is feeling good and, as usual, it always amazes me how good a new tyre feels when you first put it on. The process of degradation of an old tyre is so slow that the brain accommodates to it in a very scary fashion. It sure is nice to tip it in and feel the confidence you used to feel when the hoop was new.
Shortly I want to compose an opinion piece on what is happening in racing at the moment. I’m compiling it in my head at the moment and I hope to present it soon.
In closing I pause to recognise the 90th birthday of country music luminary, Willie Nelson and the sad passing of the Canadian star, Gordon Lightfoot at the age of 84 years.
So, whether the weather is good or not, get out there and ride.