Opinion: Picking your spots

The window is closing on this riding season for most of us. You can feel it in the crisp morning air. The opportunities to ride may be dwindling, but there is still time to get in a few good rides yet. It simply requires a bit more planning and preparation than usual. Inclement weather in the summer can be a nuisance but come autumn it can be downright dangerous as road surfaces lose grip and hands become less dexterous.

Temperatures can fluctuate wildly this time of year. As I look out the window now, there’s frost on the rooftops of neighbouring houses, yet the forecast for tomorrow is calling for sunshine and temperatures in the double digits. Regardless of what the weather is like when you set off, you need to be prepared for what it may be like later in the day.

I do my best to efficiently pack extra layers and will usually throw in glove liners and a head sock just to be safe. If I’m likely to be riding a fair distance, I make sure to include my heated vest. It’s better to have it and not need it than to leave it at home and wish you didn’t.

Many people have started returning to the workplace, if they ever stopped, in some form or another. Commuting by motorcycle typically requires less fuel than a car and costs less (if anything) to park, but also provides a stretch of solitude where one can steal some much-needed time away from the stress of work and family. If you’re able, working flex hours would allow for the freedom to wait until it warms up to set off.

The sun rises later and sets earlier. Rather than using the dark tinted visor I typically wear most of the summer when the days are long, I’ve swapped it for the clear visor and wear sunglasses underneath if it’s a sunny day, so I don’t have to worry about compromising visibility when riding home at night. If you have saddlebags or a top case and space isn’t a consideration, then you can pack as many visors and pairs of sunglasses as you fancy.

Sometimes you’re forced to make a tough call by aborting a ride. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Leave the bike at home if the weather looks like it will be foul, or if the weather turns nasty while you’re out you can always find a secure place to leave the bike overnight and retrieve it later. There’s no sense risking damage to the motorcycle or jeopardizing your own safety for the sake of a false sense of convenience. Taking public transit or a cab home may cause short term pain, but nothing compared to dumping your bike. After all, you want to be able to ride another day, don’t you?

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