Canadian motorcyclists have a huge advantage over riders in the rest of the world and it’s called “the weather.” This is that glorious time of the year when the weather changes for the better.
I used to think spring was the best time. In four months from now, I might go back to that opinion when’s there’s the promise of six or more months of comfortable riding ahead. But no, this is the best time, and here’s why:
The scenery: Canada is at its most beautiful in the fall. This is indisputable. The leaves change their colours and the country turns into a giant art gallery. So do some parts of the northern U.S., but we’re still not allowed to drive across the border to go see, so don’t worry about that.
There are any number of articles out there about recommended fall drives to see the best displays of colour, but you should probably avoid those places and those specific roads. If they’re truly stunning, they’ll be filled with urban car drivers too busy looking at the scenery to watch out for motorcycles. They’ll be swerving their vehicles to the side of the road for photos, juggling their cell phone cameras in their hands while they should be holding the steering wheel.
Just be aware that fallen leaves are dangerous on the road – they can be just as slippery as grass clippings or even ice. If the road and the fallen leaves are wet, they’re even more of a hazard. Avoid them, and be prepared for them if you have to cross over them. You don’t want to round a blind corner on a leaning motorcycle and then hit a patch of wet leaves, because not only will your bike slide but it will keep sliding for as long as the leaves are wedged under your locked tire.
The climate: We’ve cooled down from the excessive heat of summer, and it’s now comfortable to wear the correct clothing on a motorcycle. All The Gear All The Time becomes easier to adhere to, and it’s not so tempting to shed your jacket or your gloves.
Of course, modern ventilated clothing is a distinct advantage in the high temperatures of summer, and a mesh jacket will prevent your skin from drying out in the wind and burning under the sun. It’s far more pleasant to wear a mesh jacket than just a T-shirt, but some riders will never realize this.
The heat can really beat you up on a motorcycle when you’re riding in the direct sunshine and if you’re not properly dressed for it. Remember all those times when you stopped for lunch or a cool drink, and all you really wanted was to get into the shade? There’s none of that at this time of year. A jacket, gloves, boots, and some cool, refreshing wind in your face is the ideal combination for a rewarding ride.
Buying a bike: This really is the best time to buy a motorcycle, IF you have a place to store it over the winter. The prices are lower than at any other time of the year, thanks to stores and other riders wanting to avoid that storage penalty.
If you take some time to look around, you can probably find a low-mileage edition of this year’s bike, because the person who bought it realized over the season that there just wasn’t the time to devote to it, or it was the wrong model for them. If you buy it now, you’ll even get a month or so of comfortable riding to confirm your decision. If you don’t have suitable storage though, wait till the spring, but there’ll be a lot more competition for used bikes then, and higher prices for new.
The lay-up: We’re coming to the time when most riders put away their bikes for the winter, unless they live in Vancouver or Victoria, or if they’re just nut-bars. That’s okay. A bit of enforced hibernation is a good thing because it ensures we take the time to prepare our machines properly for the following season.
This will be a time to get to know our bikes even better – to nurture them with oil changes and upgrades, and cosset them through the colder months. Maybe you’re thinking this is a stretch, and maybe it is, but it all works out because it fosters…
The appreciation: Best of all, when we know our riding time is limited, we make the most of it. We enjoy our rides all the more because we know they won’t be so comfortable in another month, and they’ll be nigh-on impossible in three or four months’ time.
We’re like dying people striving to fulfill a bucket list, filling our riding days with as much as we can of quality before they’re taken from us by the winter. Except we’re not dying. We’re preparing to rest up for a while before reinvigorating ourselves for the spring and taking advantage of the clearing roads, undeterred by the sand that will be stuck to the asphalt and the searing temperatures that grow hotter every year.
So get out there and enjoy your motorcycle. We’re all lucky to be Canadians, and we’re lucky to be here to enjoy this best time of the year.