Fair-weather Biker?

Well Summer has gone, the nights are drawing in, and a number of bikers are hanging up their gloves, boots and helmets for the winter.

This isn’t unusual and happens every year, and who could blame them?

The risks we accept when straddling our bikes during the summer are relatively high, we’re vulnerable as road users, and we accept this fact, however, as winter approaches, it’s darker in the mornings and evenings on our commute, the roads are often damp and adorned with lovely colourful patches of diesel and oil, drivers are less aware as their morning coffee is still filtering through their body as their car windscreens mist up at the lights making visibility for them poor. Suddenly we, as bikers, become very aware that the risk increases exponentially. Have you ever driven a car somewhere and can’t remember the drive? Something like driving on autopilot isn’t it? Ever noticed how it’s worse in winter? You get the point here…UK roads are bad in winter. They’re full of potholes, covered in salt, diesel and oil, and most of all are populated with people in cars not looking for bikers, as the perception is that bikers only exist when it’s sunny! It’s a minefield folks, and the onus is on us to make sure we’re safe out there.

Whether you’re a fair-weather biker, or an all year round kind of person, in my opinion, there’s something that can really make your ride difficult, be it a pleasure ride or a commute.

The Cold.

Many of us shake our heads at the summer shorts riders, I couldn’t ride like that personally, but as it cools down, we really need to be aware that should we get caught in bad weather unprepared, then being cold can suddenly turn to feeling like you’ve been dropped in a bucket of ice. At speed, the wind will accentuate that cold dramatically, and a drop in body temperature can (and probably will) affect your concentration and reaction times. So just remember, whilst kitting up in the nice warm house and thinking to yourself “It’s warm enough, I don’t need that jacket liner”, the wind, changing weather and your own perception of the temperature can help make the wrong gear decisions! I myself have hung up my mesh jacket, and returned to my intermediate jacket, swapped out my summer gloves for my insulated ones, switched on the heated grips, and started wearing my buff again, and as the temperature drops further, will be adding in my jacket liner, and switching from armoured jeans to full on waterproof textile trousers. It’s simply common sense.

Wear your gear folks, stay warm, and stay shiny side up, but most of all, Ride safe!