February is already over half over with. For me, that brings a smile to my face because I see that no matter what happens – winter is coming to an end! Yes, I know we can have winter storms in March and April. However, from the way I see, we are on the downhill side and headed to spring and once again riding season. My bike’s been parked since early November and I am missing my time in the wind.
As a biker in a northern climate, winter is the time to prepare for the upcoming riding season. What comes to mind for most of us on this subject is those major maintenance or upgrades to the bike. I am sure there are more than a few of you out there that have the motor out and the bike in pieces in the garage and basement, even a few who have made room in the living room for the bike. It will not be long and those motors will be back in the bike and, after a marathon session of turning the wrench, ready to be kicked over and hear her purr.
We have all heard the list of what needs to be done to have the bike ready for a new riding season – tires, brakes, and battery. My question this month is what have you done to get the rider ready for the new riding season? It does not matter how much you have ridden or what you have done in the past. We all can learn more and grow our skills to make us better riders. This winter, I have fought off the cold winter nights with visions of riding by reading Lee Parks’ book “Total Control High Performance Street Riding Techniques”. There are many great books out there for reading that can add to your riding knowledge. However, like everything, we just need to make sure we take action and do it. Just because the bike is not on the road does not mean that as riders we can’t be sharpening the saw and getting ready for that next ride that is coming up soon.
Being lifelong learners and growing our skills as riders are habits we all could benefit from adopting. Accident Scene Management’s “A Crash Course for the Motorcyclist” and “Advanced Bystander Assistance” classes are a great way to be prepared if the unexpected comes up and there is a crash. Earlier this month, I sat in a courtroom in suburban Chicago as a distracted driver was sentenced for taking the lives of two bikers, paralyzing another, and injuring countless others. It is always really hard to listen to the events of a crash be retold by the witness as a biker. It really sits heavy on my heart to hear the details of the minutes before and after such a horrific event. I was not alone in the courtroom by any means. Every seat was full with bikers turning out like the family we are to support the families of our fallen riders. This time was different as the bikers that witnessed everything testified. They told how they took care of their own until EMS arrived on scene. They were in a large group and everyone did their part like they had been trained. Someone controlled traffic. Others went to assists the most seriously hurt while more went to check the ditch and field for additional passengers that could have been thrown from the bike. For a brief time in the midst of some very hard testimony to listen to in court, I smiled, looked to the sky, and winked at my angel because those bikers on the ride cared enough about their fellow bikers to get the training of what to do when the worst things happen.
As a rider with over twenty five years in the saddle and riding between fifteen and twenty thousand miles a year, I consider to myself to be a very proficient rider. I often hear my fellow bikers with a similar background saying that they ride a level above the traditional experienced rider course offered by the MSF. Though I would argue that no matter what your level of experience is or the amount of time you have in the saddle, everyone could benefit from a course that brings you back to practicing the slow speed maneuvers that the experience rider course offers. In reality, everything builds off the basics and reviewing the basics and practicing those foundation skills is something everyone can benefit from. However, for those that want to take riding to that next level there are courses out there that do that. Lee Parks’ Total Control Course http://www.totalcontroltraining.net/ is offered in many locations across the country and if there is not one right next to you, it sounds like a great reason for a road trip. I have had Lee’s course on my to do list for couple of years and this year I am going to cross it off. There are many other great on-bike rider training programs to help you grow your riding skills and offer several different advanced rider courses in the Midwest and other areas is http://www.totalridertech.com. They offer courses both in Michigan and Illinois with no worries about scratching your bike up training as courses include the use of a Harley police bike. To recognize Road Guardian members that go the extra mile in being a lifelong learner, taking an on-bike motorcycle training program meets one of the requirements to becoming a “Certified” Road Guardian. For more information on the Certified Road Guardian destination see: http://roadguardians.org/site/membership.
It’s that time of year with the calendar turning from February to March that many bikers make the pilgrimage south for the annual Bike Week in Daytona, Florida to get that early taste of spring. If you’re making the trip down to Daytona keep the rubber side down and be safe, keep an eye on the Road Guardians Facebook page as there may be an opportunity to get together and meet some of your fellow members. As of press time, details have not been finalized. “Like” Road Guardians on Facebook – it is always the best way to keep up with our latest news.