by Liz Jansen
While Trudy, my motorcycle, is still in hibernation, the calendar has transitioned to spring. While many of you are already riding, it’s still a little early in some areas.
I’m in no rush. Rather, I’m savoring this time of anticipation, preparing, planning, and dreaming of where the road may lead this year. I’d be selling myself short to pin too much on the future rather than immersing myself in the present.
Nonetheless, the immovable and unstoppable cycles of nature are in motion. These rites of spring either alert us to prepare for riding or guide us into a safe and enjoyable season.
9 Motorcycle Rites of Spring
- Instructor Recertification. One of the first sure signs of spring is preparing for this season’s students. Every March we get put through the paces to make sure our teaching, coaching, and riding skills are sharp.
- First Teaching Weekend. Close on the heels of recertification is being out on the range on this Saturday and Sunday with the first eager group at Humber College. I’ll also get my first ride of the season, albeit on the course bikes!
- Motorcycle Inspection. Even if you were meticulous in winterizing it, corrosion, condensation, and critters may have caused damage during storage. A thorough and methodical check can alert you to areas that need attention and reassure you that it’s safe to ride. 10 Steps for a Spring Motorcycle Checkup
- Gear Inspection. If you’re like me, I squeeze as much season as possible out of autumn. By the time I’m stopped, daylight is short and the temperatures quite chilly. I’m pretty good at winterizing my motorcycle; less so at cleaning my gear before it’s put away. When spring arrives, we want to get out there riding. It’s important to give our gear a good examination before we do. We only intend to look good in it, never to test it, but you want it to protect you if the need arises. 8 Steps to Get your Motorcycle Gear Ready for Spring
- Personal Assessment. More than half the riders killed on Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) patrolled roads in 2015 died through no fault of their own. It’s a staggering number and one we can change. We can’t control the actions of others with whom we share the road. However, we can do everything in our power to make sure we’re alert, skilled, visible, and in control of our motorcycles. 7 Checks to Make Sure You’re Ready to Ride
- Skills Refresher. The longer the hiatus from riding, the greater the rust buildup on our skills. An annual refresher course is the ideal way to sharpen them, whether it’s a professional off-road course (ideal for road riders to learn how to deal with the unexpected), like SMART Adventures, Rawhyde Adventure Motorcycle Training or a road based course like Total Control Advanced Rider Training, Streetmasters, or Riding in the Zone, which offers both. This list is by no means exhaustive or exclusive, but a good starting point and a great benchmark to calibrate other courses against. If you can’t get to a course, at a minimum, visit an empty parking lot with a buddy and practice skills like slow speed maneuvers and quick stops, increasingly challenging yourself.
- Ride Dreaming. Since my priority is completing my next book, long distance riding is taking a back seat this season. I’d expected more progress but these things always take longer than you think, even when there’s a buffer added in. Books have a life of their own and the words and message come in their time. Having said that, I’m still dreaming of attending the Horizons Unlimited event in California in September.
- Local Event Planning. Even if you can’t ride far, there are many local gatherings which make a great destination. A few new innovative events around me include Motorcycle Film Fest in the County, Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival, Lobo Loco Rallies – a series of four long-distance scavenger hunts, and Poker Run for Ovarian Cancer, in support of my cousin Bonnie Caruso, Event Coordinator.
- Offering Gratitude. My pre-ride preparation includes a quick prayer to ask for protection, mental clarity, and to offer gratitude for a safe and fun ride. That first spring ride though gets its own special offering of gratitude, like laying down tobacco or even placing a special talisman on your bike. It’s a real gift to have the physical, mental, and financial wherewithal to ride a motorcycle, be part of an incredible community, and ride in lands of peace and freedom.
What other rites of passage do you recognize in spring?