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Riding in the cold: Dangers

Cold weather presents unique dangers other than purely staying warm. The exposed nature inherent in motorcycling drives most people into a warm car or truck. For those who choose to brave low temperatures, cold weather riding can be a rewarding experience.

Ice is an ever present danger when the temperature is below 40 degrees. Shadows can keep the road cool and moisture will freeze. If you hit ice, hope you are not in a turn. If you hit ice and you are going straight you have a pretty good chance of riding it out, as long as you don't panic. Don't change your speed and keep a smooth line. If you hit ice while turning, you will be on the ground before you know it.

Sand and Salt
A winter of snow removal will leave patches of sand or salt on the road even into the summer. While the intent is to increase traction when spread over snow and ice, once the snow is gone, it gathers into piles on corners and on the centerline of the road and will cause you to lose traction; usually when you need it most.

Falling Leaves
The winter makes deciduous trees lose their leaves. A layer of dry leaves will reduce traction, but mixed with moisture and cold weather it can be super slick. The temperature underneath a layer of leaves can be 5-7 degrees colder than the air above them, so ice is more likely.

The greatest danger of riding in the cold is what it does to your body. If you are not dressed well enough and your body temperature drops, your reactions will slow, your dexterity will decrease, and you will have lapses in concentration. Obviously you need all your wits to ride safely in any temperature, let alone with the additional unique hazards cold weather brings. To stay warm, please review our tips for riding in cold weather.


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