I was about to say that winter was finally over, but it seems to have been replaced by the monsoon season, the weather in the last week has been very wet and very blowy, not very conducive to biking weather, so I hope you are all wrapped up and dry.
The heavy rainfall brings out three of the motorcyclists’ favourite winter things, standing water, potholes (guaranteed to be found on the preferred position) and the top of the pack, MUD. Great if you own Turtle Wax, but not so great if you come back from a ride on Sunday evening and need to get ready for work, no one wants to come back to a dirty bike.
Motorcycles and cars don’t really play well with water, but motorcycles are particularly vulnerable to hydroplaning, especially at speeds over thirty miles an hour when the tyre is rolling at a speed where it cannot displace water as efficiently as it might wish, it can skip on the surface and create less grip. Cars do this too, but they have two driven wheels and two undriven either at the front or at the back. The key here is to reduce speed with as little braking as possible to bring the wheels down and maintain grip. The manufacturers will have included a little mathematics and geometry here to help ensure the bars do not snap back violently when the grip is restored.
You are on a country road following a car, and the driver appears not to be confident in the wet conditions and is rightly cautious; you want to pass the vehicle in front because it’s a hazard, and we don’t like hazards; you’ve done your pre-ride POWDERS, so you know your tyres are at the correct PSI (essential for rain riding), but you are wet, your visor is misty, and it’s cold.
Using the system, you are about to consider the perfect three-stage overtake when suddenly the car starts to brake because in front of them and unbeknownst to you, there is an unseen lake of water on your side of the carriageway; hopefully, you considered this in your plan and are at a safe distance and speed behind and able to reduce speed safely without drama, if you aren’t then the key is to never panic.
Your brakes still work in the wet - you’ve been on a machine control day, so you’re good (oh wait, you haven’t? perhaps another thing to do in 2023); brake firmly and steadily; don’t grab the lever because you don’t want to break traction. Stay loose, and don’t tense up.
The mistake many people make in the wet is by riding too gingerly. By tip-toeing round corners on a closed throttle and as good as upright, generating virtually no cornering forces, your tyres will barely grip the road at all, and the bike will feel unbalanced, nervous and twitchy. It's a downward spiral for nervous wet weather riders.
By riding confidently and smoothly, and generating some degree of braking and cornering forces, you make grip for yourself that otherwise won't be there. Sounds crazy? It works. Gently slide your finger across a smooth surface, and it will glide across; push down with increasing force, and it starts to grip. Of course, there's a limit to this, but up to that limit, you get more grip than you'd otherwise have.
If ever you're going to force yourself to relax, now is the time to do it. Once again, smoothness is the key. Any sudden load, be it from turning, braking or accelerating, will shock a tyre into breaking traction, and turning in too suddenly, with too much-turning force too soon, can have the front sliding. It may be no more than a nerve-wracking twitch or small slide, or it could have you on your ear. Instead, by squeezing the tyre into the road, it will find grip.
Smoothness is the key; stay smooth, plan your ride and ride your plan, and you should (fingers crossed) never have to worry about hydroplaning; a good rider is a thinking rider, one who has planned for what they can see, planned for what they cannot see and planned for what could reasonably be expected.
2023 has already kicked off with several rides already booked in the Tracker calendar, make sure you check it out and sign up for what you fancy.
The delayed Cider Run Take II took place in January with a decent turnout, we had 2 groups of roughly 10 and some challenging country lanes of single track, but it was a great outing to cut our teeth on for 2023.
I’m sure you have all seen the chimp asking for ride leaders, don’t be shy, you don’t have to be an Observer to lead a ride, just have an idea of where you want to go and invite some fellow LAMkins along for the ride (done in Tracker).
As a ride leader:-
You CAN go where you want to go
You CAN choose at what pace you want the ride to go at
You CAN get help and advice from other ride leaders
You CAN limit the number of riders you are leading
You CAN ask for suggestions of routes and be sent .gpx sat nav files
You CAN be given the pre-ride briefing notes to read out rather than having to remember them.
You CAN choose whether to operate the “drop-off” system or the “look after the rider behind you” system
As a ride leader:-
You do NOT need any special skills or qualifications
You do NOT need to be a better rider than those you are leading
You do NOT have to be out all day. You decide whether it’s a long or short ride.
You do NOT have to lead the ride back from the destination
You do NOT have to plan months in advance.
You do NOT have to ensure that the destination can accommodate everyone for a sit-down meal
LAM is run by volunteers, all our Observers are volunteers, and our ride leaders are volunteers, you don’t need a qualification to be a ride leader, just be willing.
If you are interested or have any queries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the end of January the shop should be open for bookings for Norfolk, so get that in your diary and get your weekend pass at the ready and book your days off work if necessary.
Skills days are also open for bookings via the IAM website, so hop on over and check it out, the closest track to us is Thruxton, and at last look, there was still availability in September. It’s a great learning experience and great fun too.
We had received notification from the Metropole Hotel in Wales, that the hotel has been sold and is under new Management, but fear not, we have heard from them, and the staff are still the same, and we still have our booking for September, so we are still good to go – phew!
There are lots of things booked for 2023, keep an eye on Tracker and don’t forget to do your practice miles and book up for a group meeting, there are 2 every month, the first Sunday of the month at Banstead and the third Saturday of the month at Tatsfield.
See you there, ride safe
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