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Spring Riding Tips

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Chances are good with the incredibly cold weather this winter your motorcycle has found itself traveling no further than the garage. The following are some quick tips and suggestions for bringing your bike back out on the road after its long winter's nap.

Check Your Machinery

Even though your bike may have been stored following winter storage guidelines and was in good working order when you retired it, a thorough check is an important part of that first spring ride. Pay particular attention to the following areas:

· Brake and fluid
· Tire conditions and pressure (check when cold)
· Oil and other lubricants
· Drive belt, chain or shaft
· Lights
· Check your batter terminals (clean if necessary)
· Check, charge or install the battery
· Check cables and lube

Be Aware of Road Conditions

Spring riding brings a whole new variety of road hazards to be aware of. Be sure to watch out for:
· Ice and snow
It may be 50 degrees in the valley but as you ride in higher elevations, there is a good chance there will still be ice and snow, especially in shaded areas
· Sand and Gravel
Be aware of sand especially. All winter long, snow trucks have been depositing sand on the road. Sand and gravel tends to gather in corners.
· Rocks on the Road
Again, winter conditions cause the roads to be littler with debris, especially in less traveled areas. Be alert or avoid the back roads the first few times out.
· Mud
As things begin to thaw, be aware of mud near construction sites and fields. The trucks at these sites drop mud, rocks and debris on the road when exiting. At nighttime, when spring temperatures drop, the mud on the road can freeze, turning mud chunks into fairly substantial ice blocks.
· Temperature Extremes
Spring weather is still very unpredictable. Be sure you pack or wear your cold weather and rain gear.
· Other Drivers
Car and truck drivers are a short-memoried bunch. They have spent the last four months on road that have been virtually motorcycle free. They are out of the practice of watching out for two-wheeled vehicles. Be sure to exercise extra caution and alertness.
· Your Riding
Be aware of your own lack of practice. If you haven't ridden all winter, chances are you're a bit rusty. Your first time out, familiarize yourself with your vehicle functions and hand controls. Consider taking a shorter route.

Attitudes and Behavior

There is always risk when you get out and ride. Poor preparation amplifies that risk. Springtime is a notoriously challenging time for motorcyclists. It is wise to remember that it may take a few weeks back in the saddle to resume a high skill level and even longer to recover the skill attained at the end of last year's riding season. Riding, while incredibly free and rewarding, comes with a level of responsibility.