Autumn Riding Is Upon Us
By Dom Mozzone, Safety Officer
Ah yes Autumn, the time of year when cool days make our engines purr and the changing leaf colors add another dimension to our riding pleasure. It’s a great time for riding up north for the day after planning and tracking the foliage maps for that maximum color experience. Autumn leaf changes are like sunsets, if you don’t plan and catch them right the foliage line moves and then we track it like storm chasers looking for those perfect full colored autumn leaf pictures.
All is well while the leaves are still in the trees and off the roads we ride on. Once they start falling our riding experience and training must come into focus and prepare us for the hazard that leaves in the road present to us as riders. Surely some of us have experienced an occasional slip of the front or rear tire as we passed over leaves during the autumn season. It’s a chilling and humbling feeling for that split second that a loss of control causes when riding a motorcycle. When riding on a road with leaves falling you need to be aware of your speed, road dampness and the turns you will be executing while riding. Trying to turn on wet leaves may as well be ice because that’s exactly how wet leaves effect traction and cause the loss of control with potentially lethal consequences. If you come across leaves and must ride through them assume they are wet, control your speed accordingly and keep your motorcycle going straight until the leaf hazard is behind you.
A few years ago after an autumn ride upstate I was going home and when I arrived it was wet out and as I began to execute the turn onto my driveway, over a cobble stone curb, my front wheel traction was compromised by some leaves and I went down in an instant. Fortunately for me I was going very slowly and was able to hop off unharmed as the bike went down. Talk about being embarrassed and humbled by that incident; thinking afterwards I couldn’t even imagine how it would have ended if I was going 15 MPH or God forbid 40 MPH or faster. We should always try to avoid riding on a group of fallen leaves; but if the situation presents itself it is imperative to be on your maximum guard, be aware of your surroundings and keep the motorcycle going as straight as possible. Early morning riding is particularly hazardous as the morning dew in shaded areas soaks into the leaves causing excessively slippery conditions.
Since autumn is upon us now and as this season progresses so will its potential dangers. Our job #1 is to be acutely aware of our surroundings, be prepared, dress accordingly, ride cautiously and do what we do best…have a blast riding safely together and alone as well!!