Riding Tip written for Countyline Publications and printed in Wisconsin and Illinois Biker Information Guide fourth quarter 2011 Joe Stormin’ Norman There are times when we feel invincible when we are on our motorcycles, but nothing could be further from the truth, you know it and I know it. This is particularly true during the winter, when dangers increase exponentially. Icy roads and cold hands can slow your reaction time in hazardous situations, but there are some great, easy tips that you can use to keep safe and warm during the upcoming months. 1. Avoid riding over or stopping on painted areas, especially when it is raining. Painted areas become very slick when wet. Try not to ride too near the center lines of the road during rain or snow, as this area has the added danger of collecting dirt and fuel deposits from cars and trucks. This goes for man-hole covers, sewer drains, metal bridges and tar joints. 2. A puddle is not always just a puddle.  While it might look like a just a shallow puddle, looks can be deceiving – until you ride over it and it turns out to be deeper than you thought. It’s a good idea to safely avoid riding over puddles altogether.  Save your rims and your tail bone! 3. Roads collect fuel and oil deposits all summer long. When the season’s first rains fall, it makes for an extremely slippery surface that gives much less grip than a dry road does. Even if you’re familiar with a road, it could have a layer of oil that creates a dangerous slippery surface.  Additionally be aware when passing car washes.  The road conditions can be very slippery due to the soaps and conditioners that run off into the street (this tip applies all year round). 4. Oil isn’t the only thing that can cause a slippery film on the road. Trees produce more sap during the summer – overhanging trees will drop sap on the road and mixed with rain will create a slick surface. Also, watch out for areas that could have leaves on the ground in the fall (I’ve personally fallen victim to this road risk). 5. Rain is distracting, not only to pedestrians but to drivers of vehicles as well.  Pedestrians try to run through the rain and across the road to keep from getting wet, hunching their shoulders and keep their heads down against the rain. Drivers are distracted by technology to begin with and the road conditions only up the ante on the chances that they won’t see you.  This means that you’ll need to keep your head up and stay aware. 6. Watch your speed. This seems like an obvious one, but not everyone follows it.  Don’t accelerate too quickly or brake too sharply. Watch your speed when heading into a bend; the centrifugal force paired with high speed could take you out before you realize what is happening.  Also be sure not to down shift too quickly – combined with a wet road, this may cause your back tire to lock up. 7. Be sure to keep yourself warm. Cold hands and feet don’t react quickly enough to avoid dangerous situations.  Staying alert is most important if your cold and uncomfortable you will be distracted and not focusing on your riding skills and the road.  A good hand grip warmer kit can keep your hands warm or heated gear available for hands, feet and your core is a worthwhile investment that will keep you safe and comfortable.  (A personal note my hand grip warmers keeps my circulation warm) 8. If you’re not going to store your bikes for the winter take good care of your bike. Road dirt and salt can cause oxidization and ultimately corrosion. Put a bit of Vaseline in places that should stay dry and wax the bike with a good, hard wax. Remember ride safe, ride smart cause nobody’s gonna do it for you.