For many riders the arrival of the warmer spring sunshine is the green light for the start of their riding season having in many cases laid up their bike for the winter, which is, understandable to a certain degree given the value of modern bikes along with the inevitable extra risks that winter riding provides.
As the warm weather approaches, minds start to look forward to enjoyable hours in the saddle, but for many, they seem to think it is a simple case of throw on their helmet and their kit, fire up the bike and away they go. Potentially a crash looking for somewhere to happen.
For those of you who have been off the road for the winter, how many of you check the bike over but don’t look at or consider whether you, the rider, are ready for the road again?
We often hear of born again riders coming back to bikes after a layoff of several years and everyone is full of advice about how bikes have changed since they stopped, or recommending that they perhaps get some brush up lessons to ease them back in. They will be advised to take it very easy for the first few thousand miles so that they become acclimatised to riding again, but it doesn’t just apply to born again riders.
This can apply equally to those who have only been off the road for a few months during the winter.
It is very easy to check the bike over and make sure that it is safe and legal. You will hopefully check that the tyres are OK, everything is lubricated, lights work, fuel is in the tank, documents are all in order, but what about you? The rider?
It is all too easy to take the view that as you only parked the bike up a few months ago so nothing has changed, but the reality is that it is very easy to become complacent.
If you are one of those who stops riding during winter, it’s important to remember that your riding capabilities are not like they were at the time you parked the bike up for the winter. Your mind won’t be as focussed, even though you have only been off the bike a few months, if you have spent the winter in the car, you may feel a little vulnerable or exposed as you no longer have the protection of a tin box around you. You may not look for things like potholes in the same way you did the previous autumn, and most noticeably you will probably find that during the course of those first few days back on the bike you will ache, big time.
Many riders returning to the saddle are often surprised by this as they never realised just how many different muscles are used to control and ride the bike.
The bottom line is, if you are one of those who have laid the bike up over winter and you are now considering getting back on the road, give a little thought to not just the bike but you as the rider.
Do some short local rides just to help you get back in the groove. This is your opportunity to make sure that you are OK, all your kit is OK (its amazing how quickly you can find that you can grow out of current equipment), the bike is functioning properly and everything is working in harmony without being too far from home if something is not feeling quite right.
It may seem unimportant if you are a particularly experienced motorcyclist, but it is very easy to have your riding enjoyment spoilt because of poor preparation in readiness for the season ahead.
Take a little while to get ready for the new season and it will make your riding year ahead all the more enjoyable, but importantly, it may just avoid the possibility of you having the nasty crash that could spoil more than just your riding season.
Have a safe riding season and take care.