Winter Riding. Who’s in?

//Winter Riding. Who’s in?

Winter Riding. Who’s in?

Jason riding in the rain snowAnother year in the books! As I sit here at my desk wishing I could go for a ride to release the stresses of the day, I remember that it is only 15 degrees out. For me that is just a little too cold even with the heated jacket liner I picked up last fall. Extending the riding season into late fall was great, but January is just a little too extreme for this biker. Between the frigid temps and ice/extra dirt on the road, I think that waiting until it gets nicer out is the smart thing for me to do.

On the other hand, I know there are a lot of readers out there who ride year-round in warmer climates. For all of you, I have only one thing to say “appreciate what you have” because I would do almost anything for a “ride” about now. When I lived in Florida a few years back the riding season was much longer, but I find myself thinking back to how much I rode. Comparatively I think the miles per year are about the same, but now I am just riding those miles in Iowa in a shorter amount of time. The reasoning? Well it’s probably because I know I have to get it in while I can.

budI have been wondering about the “extreme” riders who ride year-round in rain, sleet, and snow. Is it really that enjoyable? You get dressed up like an Eskimo, so none of your skin is showing and weigh about 20 pounds more because of all the leather (losing a lot of mobility). There are so many variables to take into consideration when riding in good weather, but riding in the winter or just bad weather, those variables increase so much more. Maybe it’s the thrill or just the pure enjoyment of being on two wheels.

Don’t get me wrong, I have had my share of riding in less than favorable conditions. One of these times took place last year while on a dealer ride in the Rockies. I got caught in a really bad rain storm which turned into a snowstorm. Riding over a switchback mountain pass in the snow is quite daunting and not something that I would consider doing again on a Suzuki M109R if given a choice. It was weird how small I felt and how big the situation was around me. Soaked to the bone, no visibility, and with the bike sliding from line to line on the road, I took my time and made it through. Now I have one really good “Riding Story.”

So my question for you is: What are the most extreme riding conditions you have ridden in and why were you riding in those conditions?

By |2015-04-15T14:04:15+00:00January 16th, 2013|Categories: Editorial/Commentary Articles|20 Comments

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  1. Steven C February 26, 2013 at 5:09 am

    Left Flagstaff on an early April morning a couple of years ago headed to the Laughlin River Run. It started to sleet just after leaving home and by the time I met up with two friends (who were trailering their bikes) at an exit off I-40 west of town it was covering the road. I debated waiting for another friend who was coming later in the day with a large trailer when two bikes went by and I said, well if they can do it, so can I. So I set off knowing that if I could just make it to Ash Fork where the elevation is lower I would just encounter rain at worst. The sleet and snow didn’t let up, 18-wheelers were roaring past me, cars were sliding off the road, but I made it and lived to tell the tale. I pucker up every time I think about it!

  2. Ken Rhoads February 13, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Rode in Rock Island IL -7 F.
    Needles to say at the gate the guy said are you crazy!
    Told him you got to get it in before the snow hits.
    It’s never to cold to ride just improper gear.
    I love my ultra!!!!!!!!!

  3. Jack Sooley February 13, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Our club participated in the annual Santa Clause Parade in Cambridge Ontario Canada. As we lined up the weather turned ugly with heavy rain and around the 36 degrees F. Poured rain the whole parade and changed to snow at the end. Managed to drive 5 miles home but had to stop 5 times to clear the windshield off to see where the**** I was going.
    Been able to get out for a run every month in the Winter when there is a dry road. Been close to getting skunked a few times.

  4. Sven February 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I am in Alberta, Canada and ride all year round. Even in minus 30 when the Bike will only start if it has been in the heated garage.
    Simple…. I installed an explorer track Kit on one of my Enduros. It replaces the rear wheel with a track and the front wheel with a ski. So far cops stop me and ask if that is legal and I just tell them yes and they let me keep on biking hahahaha

  5. Steel Pony January 29, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Rode in a thunderstorm downpour all the way to work, 20 miles away. The weather was supposed to be nice the rest of the day so I didn’t want to pass up the chance. Storms were raging in the area all morning but it let up for a short while and I took off.

    Needless to say, it probably wasn’t the smartest decision. The road conditions were horrible and I was soaked to the bone (it’s only water, it’ll dry). People looked at me like I was nuts when I got to work. But I had an extra set of clothes and the ride home was nice and sunny while they were stuck in their cages.

    I won’t ride in the winter though: ice, salt, sand, poor drivers, and too cold!

  6. Marty Smith January 18, 2013 at 5:27 am

    A few years back, I was on the Capitol Beltway in Maryland on a nice sunny afternoon. Then, the weather changed quickly – Pouring rain from nowhere. Then, the rain started moving horizontally, the sky turned green, and the wind just felt weird. It was when I saw tree branches flying through the air that I realized a tornado was near! I pressed on, since there was nowhere to pull of for shelter, willing my nerves to hang on a few more miles. I finally found an underpass that I could stop under, parked my bike, and hit the ditch underneath. I waited for about an hour until the sky cleared back up to a normal color before moving on…

  7. dave scandiffio January 17, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    The worst had to be Williams AZ in whiteout conditions, 6 inchs on the ground and the flakes were huge. You could hardly see the tail lights in front of you.

  8. Kevin Hollifield January 17, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I live in Spartanburg South Carolina and the winter of 2011 my Honda shadow 1100 was my only means of transportation at the time. I remember riding home at 2 am from working 2nd shift and it was 28 degrees. My hands were hurting from be so cold through my thick leather gloves. I had to stop about half way so I could get feeling back. Now restrict my riding to above 45 degrees lol. I love to ride but I like enjoying the too.

  9. Don Bova January 17, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Long story short….I listened to the rocket scientists that in report the weather in South Carolina and figured I was safe to ride home to Florida. Rode right into the middle of Hurricane Francis in 2004….a harrowing experience to say the least and one that will NOT be repeated………………BUT… describe the entire event is a great story.

  10. Keith R January 17, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Winter in west TN. Bike was only means of transportation. The annual Jan snowfall came out of nowhere. I was working the Veteran’s office at the college and watched as snowballs fell out of the sky. Roads were covered in an hour and 4″ deep by the time I got off work. Rode home with both feet down, slipping and sliding about 5mph. Had snow/ice caked up to my knees when I finally got to the house.

  11. Tapeworm January 17, 2013 at 2:28 am

    As long as there is no snow on the road, all year long in North East Pennsylvania. The coldest was 7 degrees, going to work at 4am! (Fifty miles round trip.) By the way, what are heated gloves?

    Super Storm Sandy was a trip.

  12. Chris T. January 16, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    17 F, rode without heated gear for a HOG members’ funeral honor guard. Realized I need good heated gloves.

  13. Bennie Barker January 16, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    I’ve been riding motorcycles now for going on forty seven years. I’ve rode in a lot of rain, in the snow, fog, high winds, extreme heat, and everything between. One of the toughest was a ride from Guthrie, OK to Jenks, OK for a soldier’s funeral. When I fired the old Softail and left Guthrie at about six AM, the bank sign read 25 degrees and there was a little haze in the air. One hundred ten miles one way; man was I cold.
    We (PGR) stood between the WBC and the family of the fallen soldier then rode in the procession to the cemetery. Afterword another one hundred ten miles back home, I was so glad to get home where I could try to warm up a little. It was worth every second of that cold ride and I have made a number of others for the same reason both before and since. Ride safe, see you down the road.

  14. Dustin Raibourn January 16, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    the worst I’ve ridden in was in the winter of 2009. I was working at an aftermarket motorcycle dealership as a technician. My only means of transportation was my 1982 FXB in 12 degree weather. the old shovel was barely running when i stopped at red lights! It was horrible

  15. Billy Senter January 16, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    This last spring on a ride home from work it was raining and blowing pretty hard. I noticed most of the cars were pulling over and some people were taking photos of something. I looked over my right shoulder and there was a funnel could touching down in a field about two miles out in the field right next to me. Needless to say it did turn into a tornado and I also made it home safe it was a ride to remember.

  16. Big Steve January 16, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    OOps submitted early

    I thinking going from stinking hot one day to freezing the next (Which we see in melbourne often) is the real challenge.

    Also Humidity with showers is tough because you need your gear to breath but not bring in all the water.

    I’ve seen the temps dip below freezing and my bike thermostat switch to “cold” I think as long as you prepare for it, rug up in the cold or hyrdrate and wear gear that breaths in the heat its all good.

    Part of the joys of 2 wheeled transportation, why would you want to just hop in a car.

  17. Big Steve January 16, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    I love the contrast from the states compared to downunder

    Its 39 Degrees Celsius (102.2F) forecast in Melbourne Today, we hit 42 (107.6f) last week

  18. John Herring January 16, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    I have ridden many, many times in the cold. I started when I was a kid delivering newspapers. I lived in Chicago and when the streets were clear of snow I rode no matter how cold it was. I rode last year in San Antonio, Texas when it was 27 degrees. The coldest ride was when I lived in Upstate New York. It was 11 degrees. My ride was short because my head felt like it was going to burst. I ride in the cold often because I have a heated vest, heated grips and heated seat. I have ridden in the rain, snow and hail. I go slower due to the road conditions. I love to ride – what more can I say.

  19. Lee O January 16, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    I was unprepared for my trip from Tx to Ca. I figured it was still summer and that riding through Wyoming in late August 2007 would be fun. But the weather was so bad with freezing rain and 20 or 30 mph gusts of wind. Gusts so strong that I was pushed across all the lanes on I80 each time one came. My glasses were fogged up and I was soaked to the bone as I had wore only a tshirt denim jacket jeans and boots. My bike was a stock 07 nightrain without a windshield. As I’m riding I come up behind the trailor of the semi driving in front of me. Through my foggy goggles I could see its rear passenger side tires coming off the ground with each gust. I slowed down to 25mph and kept going on. It lasted til I started heading downhill going into Utah.

  20. Hal Smith January 16, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    For the past 47 years, I’ve ridden 12 months. Living in Virginia, I only put it away until the snow melts enough to get down the driveway. Staying warm isn’t that big a deal, tho. In cold weather I wear Carhart bibs and jacket, tie a bandana over my chin, Gerbing heated gloves and 3/4 helmet with faceshield. It may not look “Cool” but at this age ….who cares. I ride an Electra Std so the farring helps a lot but 10 degrees isn’t bad at all!!! Just remember to flip the shield up when you stop or you won’t see anything …… And the bike LOVES the cold weather ……. For those that don’t ride 12 months ….. you’re missing a Great Riding Season …..

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