If It Looks Slippery

An old adage of experienced bikers: If it looks slippery, assume it is.

While autumn is my favourite season, it comes with one of the worst road hazards for motorcyclists: wet leaves on roadways. Wet leaves are worse than ice. At least with ice, you know you have absolutely no traction, and it’s not likely you’ll be on the road. With wet leaves, it’s usually still warm enough to be riding weather, yet you can and you can’t have any traction and you don’t know which — so always assume that wet leaves are slippery. Period.

Lately, I have not been riding my Harley very much. My main reason for not riding has been a busy schedule at work. But beyond that, it has been raining a lot. It has been drizzly and sprinkling more days than usual for autumn here in Maryland. Unlike some other places, we do not have a “wet season” or “dry season.” It is customary to have rain throughout the whole year, about once a week or so. But we go in cycles of no rain for weeks and then days like these past several weeks, where it drizzles for two or three days at a stretch, much more like the damp weather in the US Pacific Northwest than the US East Coast.

Wet roads aren’t enough to stop me from riding, but wet roads covered with wet leaves causes me to think twice, and hop in the truck if I have to go somewhere instead of the saddle of my trusty iron steed.

In doing some research, I found the following information on various websites, but it all said the same thing. Thus, I believe it was pre-written by a knowledgable author and distributed for publication on these websites. It is useful information. I abide by it, and recommend it:

Riding a motorcycle in slick conditions requires the rider to make every movement s-m-o-o-t-h. Slow down and concentrate on making each input into the bike gentle and gradual. Try to avoid turning the bike while you are passing over obstacles. Reduced traction could cause you to slide. Don’t panic if the rear wheel slides a little. It may not feel stable, but as long as the front tire is going where you want it to, physics will hold the bike up.

Besides the misuse of the term ‘panic’ (which means an irrational response to fear), the content of this article is right on. And that’s how I ride: smooth and steady, with very careful application of the brakes when needed.

And I always ride with full protective gear. My cool/cold weather gear includes: solid, tall motorcycle boots with good tread on the soles, layers of clothing for warmth and protective leathers as the outer shell (if not inner, as well), gloves with gauntlets, and a full-face DOT-approved helmet. Always, without exception.

Life is short: ride safe!

One thought on “If It Looks Slippery

  1. Theoretically and technically, physics will hold the bike up. Then how come I can't even ride a bicycle?

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