Top tips for riding your bike this autumn
“All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey”….
Autumn in Scotland is lovely, it is a gorgeous time to be out on the motorbike, enjoying the crisp fresh air and frosty mornings. The colours of the leaves, the sun highlighting our spectacular scenery…. People stopping in lay-bys all over to catch that perfect picture, pulling out in front of you... The leaves falling all over the road…
Whether you’re riding for business or pleasure this autumn, now with the clocks about to go back, you are likely to be spending a lot of the time in the dark or dusk and the risk of a motorbike accident is higher.
Top safety tips for riding your motorbike this autumn
1. Be visible
Always wear a high visibility jacket, it could save your life. Check your lights are not only working, but are clear from mud and squashed bugs. You need to make yourself as visible as possible. It’s time to ramp up the reflective clothing, if you’ve not already done so.
Unfortunately, other motorists may not be as vigilant at this time of year, as they may not be expecting to see you on the road. Do what you can to be seen.
2. Respect road conditions
Dry leaves can camouflage potholes and road markings. The trees covering the road mean that damp areas will take longer to dry. Wet leaves will have been soaking up the water and will be slippery, which can cause you to lose traction – particularly into corners.
3. Wrap up against the winter cold
Make sure you wrap up warm. There is nothing more exhausting than trying to stay alert when you’re cold. Make sure to take regular breaks to warm up, and fill up with caffeine and food if you’re on longer trips.
We looked at some of the great winter riding essentials available at winter previously – heated gloves (or handle bar grips) are invaluable as we come into the colder months.
4. Beware of deer
I was up touring in the highlands a few weeks ago, and had a close shave with a couple of young deer. I was in a car when they bounded out, which meant I was able to brake harshly and was more stable than I would have been on a motorbike.
Remember that there are more collisions with deer now than at any other time of year as they move across country to feed. Sunrise and sunset is the busiest time for their movement.
5. Consider sunlight glare
You have also got the added issue of sunlight glare on the roads at this time of year, with the sun being low – not just a consideration for you on the motorbike, but also take time to consider whether the glare may prevent other motorists seeing you.
6. Fully charge your mobile
Be sure to take a fully charged mobile phone out with you, in case you need to call for help.
7. Stock up for fuel and food
If you’re out sight-seeing, make sure you think about where you can stop for fuel and food – as I discovered, not everywhere is open outside of the main tourist season.
8. Watch out for tractors
I think we’re nearly past the mad harvest tractor run, but there are definitely still a significant number of them on the road – take care rounding bends, in case you are faced with queuing traffic or a turning tractor and trailer.
Most farmers are better these days at clearing away mud the wheels have brought onto the road but take care and look for signs, such as freshly ploughed fields, to make sure you’re prepared for whatever you might be faced with round the next bend.