By: Jim Gilbert
Spring is coming. Everyone can sense it, and if you are a rider, you may have an even greater sense of urgency to get out there for that long awaited first ride of the season. Slow down just a bit. Are you sure everything is ready? If you’ve taken a Motorcycle Safety Foundation class, you probably learned the acronym T-CLOCKS, an easy way to remember the items that should be checked before EVERY ride.
A quick, 1-2 minute pre-ride inspection of your bike can make every ride more enjoyable, safe in the knowledge the basic components of your bike are ready to go. But, what about you? Do you have all your riding gear: boots, long pants, long sleeves, gloves, eye protection, helmet? Is it all in good condition?
How ready are you? It should be no surprise that your riding skills are near their peak at the end of the riding season. Then we hibernate for several months and jump on our bikes on that first nice day and expect nothing has changed since we parked in the fall. This couldn’t be further from reality. Our ability to stop quickly in a straight line or in a curve, or to remember the proper path through a curve has eroded. This is also true of our ability to swerve. Most riders don’t think about this sort of thing. They also tend not to practice these skills early in the season, if at all.
Drivers, cars, trucks, SUVs, etc, are not looking for motorcycles early in the season. We have to be extra alert and vigilant during this time of year by making sure we have our headlights on, wearing high visibility clothing and a helmet, and riding in small groups.
I’m not a prude. I have enjoyed rides with the wind blowing through my hair. While I don’t intend to re-open the debate on the merits of wearing a helmet or not, if you’ve made the decision to ride during one of the riskiest parts of the year, would you at least consider minimizing your risk by wearing a helmet?
The best riders that I know take motorcycle safety seriously. They take a 1 day refresher course every year or every other year. These courses, designed to be taken on your bike, will certainly sharpen your skills when you need it the most, and may even get you a discount on your casualty insurance.
Motorcycle safety; it’s primarily your responsibility. What are you doing about it?
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