by Liz Jansen
From our vantage point at the top of February, riding season can seem so far away. Especially when many of us have experienced winter storms lately, with more to come. Yet every year spring arrives without fail, and it’s not far off.
Use these dark days of winter to prepare for your best season yet! Here’s an updated list of what to do now to get ready for spring riding.
10 Ways to Get Ready for Motorcycle Riding in February
- Check out local groups and associations. There are groups for all disciplines of riding and most of them meet all year. They offer lots of resources from discovering preferred destination to meeting people with common interests. On-road riders in Ontario can find a list of clubs on the Ontario Road Riders Association website; if your preference is off-road riding, visit the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders to find a club near you. Women Riders Now has a list of female related events across North America and Australia, as well as a list of National and Regional Riding Clubs.
- Join on-line forums to meet others with common interests. Not only will you find potential riding partners, you’ll learn lots about all things motorcycling – from destinations to technical information. Social networking sites like LinkedIn and FaceBook also have motorcycle specific interest groups.
- Consider attending a motorcycle rally this year. Americade draws 60,000 riders and combines social interaction, skills improvement and education. Lake George is in the Adirondacks so you get the added benefit of riding there and back through beautiful scenery. Laconia, in NH, hosts the continent’s oldest rally. MotorMaids, WomenOnWheels, Women In the Wind all have national rallies for their members. As do owner groups such as BMWOA, Yamaha Star Riders and HOG chapters. Horizons Unlimited host adventure riding meetings all over the world. I’ll be at three so far: Horizons Unlimited Events in Virginia and Ontario, and the BMW Owners Rally in Ontario.
- Visit websites for provincial and state tourism associations. Tourism outreach is increasingly directed to motorcyclists and many of them have motorcycle specific information on their website.
- Research the charity rides taking place in your area. Riders are notoriously charitable and raise tremendous sums of money for the less privileged. Choose your cause and there’s likely to be a ride for it – and others who share your interest. Over the past year, I’ve become more familiar with Lost for a Reason. If you’re looking for a wonderful motorcycle adventure combined with giving back, check them out. Ron Grace is doing amazing things! Check out my podcast interview with him here.
- Investigate organized tours. While initially they may seem more expensive, a good tour operator will save you hours of planning and avoid unnecessary hiccups with routes and accommodations. They will also know the local lore and points of interest you would have otherwise missed. While many consider these upsets part of the adventure of riding, there are others who would prefer to avoid them if possible. If you’re into adventure, Rene Cormier’s Renedian Adventures offers widely acclaimed tours in Africa. RoadRUNNER magazine hosts an annual Touring Weekend this year in Winston-Salem, NC, complete with skills training. Tour companies like Motoquest, Edelweiss and Ayers Adventures are well established and operate all over the world all year long. These rides fill up early.
- Read. Pick up any motorcycle trade magazine and you’ll find a plethora of resources. Given that most of them focus on specific riding interests, reading one pertinent to your riding genre will provide all kinds of tools, tips, events and stories! Read and dream – then make your dreams come alive!
- Use this downtime to get your winter maintenance done. Check your owner’s manual to see what routine work your bike is due for. If you’re doing it yourself, it may take a while to receive parts. If you’re trusting someone else to do it, good mechanics are hard to find and the shops they work in have long waiting times. Even if it’s not due right now, I like to get mine done in the winter so I don’t miss any riding during the season.
- Make sure your gear is ready. Replace worn pieces – it’s your safety net after all. Make sure you’ve got good quality gear to address a variety of weather. It’s amazing how having the right gear can extend your comfortable riding time – and season. Here’s an article I wrote for TD Insurance on How to Select Gear.
- Prepare yourself. Improve your physical fitness. One of the joys of riding is that it engages all your senses. One of the biggest challenges is that heat, wind, cold, rain, traffic – all take their toll physically. The better your physical condition, the better able you are to deal with the elements and enjoy longer rides.
Being ready for the motorcycle riding season goes a long way to getting in those miles – and experiences. Get started!
What can you add?