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Motorcycle tips for fall rides

Added October 18, 2016
Bicyclist Fall Road

Riding a motorcycle is a great way to escape the hectic work world—Just you and your motorcycle exploring back roads and forgotten byways far away from the crowded city and minivans of suburbia. 

This time of year is particularly enjoyable, as autumn turns the forests and woodlands into a colorful extravaganza. Farm fields have turned into “amber waves of grain,” as harvest time is upon us. Even the sky is busy with migrating birds. The world is alive with the change of season.

Surprises hiding around the next curve

What may be a surprise is that roads that were nearly vacant during the high heat of summer are alive with unexpected users. The mild fall weather and the foliage brings a lot of folks to the countryside. Harvest time is also a busy time for farming communities. While we always expect the normal vehicular traffic, here is a short list of some other road users that might be just around the next bend to watch out for:

  • Bicyclists, both single riders and touring groups
  • Joggers, walkers, and even school cross country teams
  • Farmers on slow-moving farm equipment
  • Drivers of recreational vehicles and campers
  • Leaf-lookers stopping to take pictures

Avoid surprise encounters

Riding a motorcycle has been compared to flying. Yet unlike modern aircraft, our motorcycles don’t come equipped with collision avoidance systems. As riders, it’s our job to be alert to road conditions and scan for hazards. That also means being aware of the surrounding area, not just the road. Here are some examples:

  • Vehicles parked on the roadside: Those with empty bicycle racks are a clue that riders might be ahead.
  • Foot traffic: Sidewalks aren’t everywhere. Signs of a footpath along the shoulder means possible pedestrian traffic.
  • Farm fields: Harvest time means tractors and farm equipment are more likely to be on the road.
  • Campgrounds: The end of the season means campers and RVs on the move, with increased congestion.
  • Scenic views: Spectacular views and fall foliage draws tourists. If the scenery looks great where you are, expect company.

Enjoy riding in the beauty of nature this autumn, staying alert to the possibility that surprises might await ahead. A few things you can do on the bike are:

  • Adjust your speed to your sight distance.
  • Take a late apex line through blind turns, helping you see further ahead.
  • Don’t be distracted by the scenery—scan the road.

Share the road. And till next time, ride safe!