You may not have noticed, but on September 22 of last month the fall season officially arrived. For today, if you live in the northern tier of the lower 48 states, you know this because you probably woke-up this morning to find a light covering of snow on the ground. As we know, this means winter is coming. It also means that we must switch our senses to high alert if we are riding our motorcycles these last few weeks of the riding season. Just like last year, here is a short list of safety tips to remember during this time of year. Remember, reminders are good.
Beware of leaves. The leaves were beautiful, but now they are almost all on the ground. And, when they are on the ground, they can be your worst enemy. They are slippery, especially when wet and icy. In an instant they can spit a front wheel while turning. They can also hide hazards when they pile up on the shoulder of the roadway. They are especially dangerous when navigating around curves or when turning at intersections. The best way to reduce the risks is to avoid them, and when turning, go slow and keep the arc of your turn at a minimum.
Watch out for wildlife, especially deer. Remember, there are more collisions with deer in the fall than at any other time of year. The deer come out at night, and since night comes earlier each day, you are more likely to encounter them in the fall than in the summer. Deer also stray from their normal range when food is less plentiful. They are the greatest danger to us at dawn and dusk. Therefore, be especially alert during these hours.
Dress appropriately. Always, remember the rule about dressing for an accident: leathers are best. They not only keep you warm, but if you spit the front wheel while turning at an intersection or negotiating a curve, they also are protective. Needless to say, always wear a helmet.
Be prepared for the cold. When the sun gets low, it doesn't take long for the earth to give up what little heat it has accumulated during the day. Shorter days mean colder sunsets. Be sure to carry additional layers of clothing so that you stay warm.
Ice and Frost. Depending on where you live, freezing temperatures are already here, especially in the morning. Riding early in the morning increases the chance you'll encounter icy road surfaces. Be prepared and expect hazards. Although it isn't winter yet, frost is always around, especially on damp mornings.
In summary, you can extend your riding season by keeping a watchful eye for the various hazards of fall riding. Leaves are the enemy when on the ground. Frost and icy patches are common when overnight temperatures are at or near the freezing mark. Wear the proper clothing. Ride safe and enjoy the rest of 2020 safely.
Attribution: South Dakota Department of Tourism, Motorcycle-Central.com., and Durham Police Dept.