Soon, the ice patches will be gone from the roads across most of the country. The salt will be washed away. The temperatures will be consistently outside of electric-vest range.
For most parts of the country, that means more riding, and riding more often.
To help you make this the best year yet, as well as stay safe on the road and trail, here are some tips and tricks that may help you out.
It’s been a long winter for some of us. Start the season off right by taking stock.
Check your bike. Fresh fuel, fresh oil, chain oiled, hydraulic fluids topped off or replaced, coolant fresh, tires in good shape, all bolts tight, all lights working.
Check yourself. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere you can ride year-round, congrats. The rest of us can benefit with a bit of a mental and physical tune up. Find an empty parking lot and practice hard braking, swerving and tight turns for an hour or so.
Search, Evaluate, Execute. Search out and identify potential dangers, evaluate what needs to be done and execute your plan. Always.
Lane position. The left wheel track is a good starting place, but be open to varying your position within your lane to maintain a buffer between you and potential dangers.
Keep asking “What if?” What will you do if that car turns in front of you? What if that dog runs out? What if that van moves over into your lane? Be ready for anything.
Look where you want to go. If something goes wrong in front of you, don’t look at the problem. Focus on the path through it. The bike will go where you look.
Get your eyes checked. If your vision isn’t as sharp as it used to be, what you see might not be what you get. If it’s been more than two years since you’ve seen your eye doctor, make an appointment and see if your eyesight has changed.
There are some things that you should back that could really get you out of a bind.
Duct tape. It’ll fix almost anything. Just wrap a few feet of it around the handle of a tool in your kit.
Flashlight. A small source of light could be a lifesaver if your bike dies after sunset.
Extra key. Either give it to a friend on tour, or zip-tie it to a hidden location on your bike. Trust us. An ignition key is not something you want to be left without.
Ear plugs. That ringing in your ears at the end of the day? That’s the sound of hearing damage. Prevent it with earplugs. Buy in bulk at work-supply stores.
Sunblock. It should always be in your tank bag, and on the back of your neck.
Water. A backpack hydration system that allows you to drink while riding makes a huge difference to your mental sharpness on long days.
Riding a bike keeps you in the elements, which is great, but it can also tire you out quickly. So always be on the lookout for:
Dehydration. Long days on the bike, or even short ones on hot days, can dry you out much faster than you realize. Either use a hydration system or take frequent breaks to drink fluids.
The stupids. If you find your mind getting a bit foggy, like you can’t decide whether to stop for a break or not, take it for the warning sign that it is and stop. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Figure out what’s wrong and fix it before you get back on the bike.
Small pains that could turn into big ones. Sitting in one position for long periods of time can cause muscle soreness. Tightening up? Stretch your muscles (safely) on the bike, or better yet, stop and walk around. A few minutes off the bike can buy you an hour or more of comfort back on it.
That voice. If that voice in your head is telling you to stop for the night, or that another 100 miles may be too much before lunch, or that you’re riding too fast, or anything else, do yourself a favor and listen.