Saskatchewan's great spring awakening is underway. Have you peeled off the tarp and tuned up your two-wheeler for the spring riding season? Let's take a look at what hazards might await you on that first trip out of the garage.
Does this springtime road hazard look familiar? Yes, under all that melting snow lies the classic motorcycle nemesis - sand and gravel. Especially on urban roads, these slippery hazards can wreak havoc on your traction, and are hard to spot from a distance. Let's go over some facts about these sandy patches that await Saskatchewan riders in the spring.
First off, what does a slippery surface do to our tires? In our Basic Rider Training Course, riders learn that friction is our friend, with the force of friction directly proportionate to the applied load, or weight. The lesson here is more weight = more friction, and more friction = better traction.
So, what happens to our bike when a slippery patch ruins our traction? The answer is.... Anything. If we are leaning into a corner and lose that critical friction, there is no telling what the bike will do. At that point, we are trying to avoid abrupt or sudden changes in weight distribution. The best course of action in this situation is to do more of 'nothing' than trying to do 'everything'.
Do nothing... That doesn't sound like very useful advice, does it? As per usual, prevention is the name of the game when it comes to managing dirt and sand. And it may seem obvious, but speed really is the key here. Our friends at SGI lay out this advice for motorcyclists entering corners:
1. Reduce Speed.
To make up for the possible lack of friction, reducing speed puts your bike's weight back in balance over both tires.
2. Avoid Sudden Moves.
Sudden changes in speed or direction rock that weight back and fourth over the tires, which leads to a skid.
3. Use Both Brakes.
Using both brakes in a straight line is the most effective way to stop in the shortest distance. If you are in a turn/corner be very careful when using the front brake, as the wheel could slip right out and cause you to go down.
4. Avoid the Worst Slippery Areas.
Easier said than done! Try to find the best pavement, and use it. Certain sections of the road dry out faster than others. Try to stay in the best part of the lane at all times.
Some extra facts to help your early season moto-mindset:
Got some sand and gravel tips? What other springtime hazards should motorcyclists be aware of? Help other riders by leaving a comment below!