Bike Psych Motorcycle Publishing
CLIMATE CHANGE by John Del Santo


Are You and your Bike both ready for the rainy season? We want good tires with plenty of tread and proper inflation; if the tire pressure is too low or high, the tires will start to lose their grip on the road. Look at the sidewalls of the tires for checking caused by baking in the summer sun. Are there any cracks in the valve stems? It's time for a good top-to-bottom detail check on the whole bike. Rain rinses off lubrication ... Do what needs to be done. Is everything tight that should be tight and does everything move that is supposed to? Are there any loose or chafed electrical wires that will short out when they're doused with water from a puddle? It's much more comfortable tracking down problems now, instead of laying in three inches of muddy water out on the road in the rain with cars splashing cold water on you as they zoom on by. A wet soaked body lowers temperature which causes hypothermia which affects decision making and reaction time and can cause drowsiness and even falling asleep. "Falling" asleep has its very own meaning when we're riding a bike.

The first couple of hours of a rainy day lifts the oil and gunk off the road and creates a surface with as little traction as an ice skating rink ... especially near the intersections. Be ready; allow yourself a LOT more stopping distance. Most of the other drivers around you don't have a clue on how to drive in the rain ... they'll either be going 20 with a death-grip on the wheel, or be hanging six feet off your back end with NO idea that they will need a lot more space to stop. Keep Giant Space around you and don't trust a single one of them to make good decisions as you get near them. What are you wearing? Can the other drivers see you in time to slow down or stop? Wearing "colors" can have a whole different meaning on a dark and gloomy rainy day. Wearing dark leather clothing gives you about the same amount of visibility as a deer. .. And we know what happens all the time to them out there on the highway.

When on slippery roads, anything that changes the smooth flow of your forward momentum can cause your bike to head off in a direction you had not intended. Easy acceleration, light braking with both brakes, and smooth steering are a necessity here. Are you ready for a good gust of wind? Or a good blast of water from a car going in the opposite direction hitting a big puddle? How deep is the Pothole under that next puddle? Wet brakes have a lag-time between application and grab.... Be ready for that.

Sooner or later you'll be caught in the fog. Recent studies show that fog distorts the messages to our brain regarding speed and distance.. .It seems like we're going too slow and have more space than we really do ... AND it has the same effect on the drivers around us. Beware! Car drivers can't seem to see us on a bright and sunny day, so they're surely not going to see us when the visibility is poor. The fog will get thick enough when you will need to make the right decision to pull over and sit it out. Kenny Rogers said it best in a song: "You gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em", It's not a good idea to just pull over to the shoulder of the road and stop ... You will have just set yourself up as "The Target". Pull way off the road and become invisible.

Properly maintained equipment, decent training, and a good defensive attitude will go a long way towards getting you home. You may get home wet, but get home in one piece!

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