Other Folk's Winter Riding Tips:
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Me, Chris Loynd, on my
very first Polar Bear ride.
Joys of Year Round Riding
Why do you ride a motorcycle? Take your hand off the mouse and just think about it for a minute. Close your eyes and you can feel it, right? That sense of “flying.” Leaning into corners. Feeling the bike leap when you twist the throttle. The rush. Heightened senses. Stronger smells. Freedom. Energy. Relaxation. Camaraderie with fellow riders. Looking cool. Admiring looks from women, envious glares from guys, waving kids in minivans. If I had to explain, you wouldn’t understand. Right?
So why would you give all that up for a full third of the year? At best in Connecticut we get 8 months of riding “season,” if you believe in such a thing.
Polar Bear Riders from 2004. Full face helmets,
If you want to sulk all winter, wistfully reading motorcycle publications, your bike in a bubble, tucked away in a corner of the garage, Stabil in the tank, battery tender humming along, saving a few measly dollars on bike insurance, hey, I respect your choice. Some riders would never dream of exposing their bikes to salt spray. I can identify. Washing the bike after a winter ride in below freezing temperatures is a unique experience.
You have another choice. Set your bike up right, dress properly, adjust your attitude just a bit and, voila, every season is “riding season.”
I’m riding into my fifth winter and loving it. Honestly, my opinion? The only difference between summer and winter riding is that you don’t just grab a pair of sunglasses and go for a ride.
You have to plan a bit more for winter riding. You definitely need to dress for it. And yes you need to deal with unique winter riding hazards like ice, sand, salt and snow. All these concerns are easily surmounted.
If you do it right, you will NOT be cold. Promise!
Most everything I enjoy about summer riding is there in winter too. After you get over the preparations and cautions, winter riding brings many of the same pleasures as summer riding, plus a few unique to winter.
Winter riding also offers its own set of pleasures unattainable in summertime.
For one thing it’s a whole lot rarer. There are thousands of Iron Butt riders. Being one is certainly a worthy accomplishment. I earned a license plate frame too. But there are only 500 some Polar Bear Grand Tour riders. It’s definitely my favorite patch.
For another thing, there’s that wondrous feeling when you turn up the thermostat, flood your jacket with heat, warmth rising up into the high collar around your neck. It is a sensation of warmth like coming in from the cold and standing in front of a roaring fire. It is radiant heat, the very best kind of heat, the heat thrown by an old fashioned wood or coal stove. And you are wearing warmth.
You have a sense of riding through a hostile environment clothed in protective armor. Like when your rain gear is so good you ride dry through driving rain. Sheathed in an electrified space suit you ride oblivious to temperature.
Just because I ride as a Polar Bear does not mean I like the cold. In fact the only warmth I know that’s warmer than my electric jacket is perhaps a steaming hot spa. And to get the same sensation a hot tub would have to be outside, in winter, surrounded by a snow bank and traveling 60 miles per hour.
Riding with the Polar Bears in winter I have similar adventures, enjoy the same volume of laughs and generate equivalent stories from winter riding as my Bridgeport HOG group enjoys in the summer.
Winter motorcycle touring offers real advantages. Hotel rates are lower. Resorts are less crowded. Traffic is lighter. Even gas prices generally drop off in winter. Knowing how to ride in winter offers the opportunity to ride your bike from cold Connecticut to warmer southern climes. It’s a great feeling to ride from freezing, mega-layer clothing here, down to warm, tee-shirt weather in Daytona. Wave to the trailer weenies as you cruise south!
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