You must evaluate whether you need to stop and wait until the situation resolves. Although some of us likes to challenge the elements because it fires our instincts,sharpens our focus and makes us feel more like a gladiator. Be that warrior on a bike and survive these wild roads.
For starters you need to plan ahead. Browse the weather channel and check in advance the area or region you are going to be traveling. Be aware of altitude changes or elevation of any mountain ranges. Because altitude will change temperatures as well. The standard rate of temperature drop is four degrees for every 1000 feet you climb. Crossing the Rocking or Sierras can involve a temperature drop of thirty degrees Fahrenheit. That means it can be sunny at flat land and snowing 5 miles up the road. Altitude changes can catch unprepared riders by surprise. To combat this, you should be ready to layer for the cold. Be ready and anticipate what the weather will be.
In case of dense fog, use the side of the road to guide your way. If not pull over and find a safe place. Use your motorcycle’s blinkers and high beam headlight. In dense fog you are absolutely invisible and that could be dangerous. You can’t see what’s in front of you and you can’t be seen by those behind you. If you are in the mountains, you have no choice but to push on to the summit.
You must remember, it won’t hail for very long. It is wise to pull over and seek shelter. Even with protective gear and helmet the hail pellets will keep pummeling and it will surely hurts.
Extreme Summer Heat
On a very hot day,make sure you stay hydrated. Not noticing you may be losing fluid and you don’t even feel thirsty. A hydration backpack will come in handy in weather condition like a hot summer day.
If you are thinking of touring across the Mojave desert with over 100 degrees F in temperature, do not make the mistake of stripping down your clothes and exposing you bare skin to the sun, just to deal with the heat. Hot,dry moving air can literally suck fluids out of you, if you expose your skin to the elements.
You can get awfully sunburned,dehydrated,wind-burned and fatigued in less than sixty minutes. Mimic how the natives dress, those that live in the desert areas. The trick here is to hose down your clothes with water and then wrap yourself with a vented jacket. This way, it slows down the movement of air over your skin and drying of perspiration. We don’t want a lot of air over the soaked clothes, just a little circulation to provide a bit of evaporative cooling. A soaked scarf tied around your neck would spell a lot of difference when it comes to comfort. So i repeat. Hose down your clothes and then add layer to it like a jacket with venting system, to keep the cooling water from drying so quickly in this Southwestern desert.
Desert- crossers are advised to wait until late afternoon or early morning to begin riding. It is a good time to travel in any hot climate and you are less likely to experience thunderstorms.
When snow begins to fall it is pretty.But when snow gets to a point that is deep enough that you can’t maneuver your motorcycle, it is time to find a place to pullover. Also, your primary goal here is to avoid hypothermia. So wear layers of clothing,electric clothing and your full face helmet. To lessen the wind that leaks in wear a ski mask,scarf or leather bandanna. Ideally, a little fresh air should get in or you may run out of oxygen. To prevent your face shield from fogging up or worst yet, the fog will turn to frost, buy Fog City’s Pro shield. Another option is polishing a thin film of soap in the interior surface of a faceshield will do the work. If you get caught in the cold unexpectedly you can always do the old trick of putting newspaper under your jacket for insulation and cheap rainsuit that will reduce the amount of air that reaches you. Just always keep in mind to cover the important areas-head and torso. If you get caught in a snowstorm,stay calm. Don’t panic. Riding in the snow means drive slow and allow plenty of space to stop. Gently squeeze the brakes,clutch,steering and throttle, with more rear brake than front especially if you hit on a patch of black ice in shady areas. Also,watch out for those bridges that freeze before the roads do. Because traction is lost and sudden braking will send you skidding and it will be nasty if there’s a car following right behind you. So if it snows or rains drag along your rainsuit to seal out the wet stuff and provide additional wind barrier if it gets colder than expected.
The lightest sport bike with a rider weighs appropriately 500 pounds. The wind is strong enough but not enough to generate a tornado, trust that you are not going to be blown away. You just going to have to improve your foot aerodynamics. Lower your head just inches below your windshield, pull in your knees and become “one” with your motorcycle. Ride through the wind, even if the motorcycle moves a little with the gusts. Just stay calm, don’t panic.
Also, wind makes condition feel colder than they are. Especially if you ride at 30 mph. That is when the most of the chilling effect occurs. As moving air pass your body, it would suck the moisture,perspiration and warmth out of you. That is why you will even feel colder and more fatigue. So don’t take wind chill for granted. Bring along dry togs to provide barrier from the effects of wind.
If you are prepared, heavy downpours need not ruin your ride. It is more uncomfortable than dangerous to ride in the rain. You just need to be alert than you need to be in sunny weather. Just slow down. Give yourself plenty of distances between vehicles, take tuns a little easier. Ride with a little extra courtesy of others and wear the proper rain gear with reflective qualities,helmet with face shield that is pre-treated with Rainx or other commercial rain resistant invisible coating so that raindrops will not accumulate and formed a single film.
Do be aware of the middle of the road where the oil and rain mix and collects, the stretch before traffic lights, the white lines and arrows on the road which can be deceivingly slippery. If there is continuous lightning around the area where you are riding it is time to pull over and seek shelter.
You have the tendency to skid if you grab a heavy uneven pressure front brake. It will send you crashing into the ground in no time. If you hit a patch of wet leaves,black ice,dirt or gravel traction is lost if you abruptly brake over non-tractable substance like rain that have frozen up, it will send you fishtailing into a kind of wild ride.
If you ever get in a deluge unexpectedly and you haven’t invested yet in a favored Harley Davidson rainsuit, you can always have the option to drop by your local 7-eleven and buy cheap rainsuits or even a trash bag. Cut a hole at the bottom and wear it like a poncho. Once it stops raining you can always rip off the trash bag.
Make it a habit to check your tires before riding. Sometimes motorcycle tires don’t have enough tread to manage safely on wet,slippery conditions. You won’t want to experience a situation where in your rear tire will be stripped down to its belt, where you are many miles away from home in a rainstorm. You have to realize, when you only have two-wheels, you need both of them in order to survive.
Safe handling of a motorcycle is about being in control,being aware and staying calm. Know how to use both wheels properly particularly in wet,slippery roads. Other road hazards like wet leaves,patch of black ice, other vehicles etc. can be predictably dealt with, without damage to yourself, others and your bike. You just need to sharpen your survival skills.
So which are you going to be? The motorcycle guy who would keep his bike neatly tucked in the garage all covered up and locked in the cozy,warm boring darkness as rain begins to pummel and ping the helmet and nose like pellets out of an airsoft gun? Or are you the road warrior who does not give a damn, rolls his bike out like a gladiator proud of his chariot as the sky spits on his face? Of course, that does not mean, the old tough guy biker rides stupid.