Spring is Here, Time to Get the Bikes Out…Or Not

(partial re-print from Goldwingdocs.com https://blu174.mail.live.com/?tid=cmYfNREljY5BGKmAAiZMGXXg2&fid=flinbox )

It was with great joy the emergence of motorcycles a couple of weeks ago here in the Midwest.  The sun came out, the thermometer headed upward, and like the blooming of the Spring crocus, two-wheeled vehicles appeared. Of course, the riders were bundled up like the Michelin Man, but hey, we take what we can get!

This false start was quickly ended with yet another dump of snow. The unwanted snow once again quickly gave way to spring like warmth, and the motorcycles re-emerged. We even had some rain to wash the winter salt off of our roads – our bikes, lacking even the most basic anticorrosion treatments applied to cars at the factory, are extremely susceptible to salt-induced corrosion. For this reason, many bikes stays off the road until all evidence of salt is gone.

This past Friday I sat looking, forlorn, out my office window, as the snow poured from the sky all day long. I ended up driving an hour and a half through a snowstorm Friday night, while salt trucks dumped their corrosive poison on the roads once again.
I have high hopes for this week however, with sunny skies and warm temperatures forecast, along with some rain to (once again) wash away the salt. Which brings us to our next problem:  Potholes: to automobiles, they’re an annoying fact of life, something that in the extreme, can actually cause damage to wheels or suspension. To motorcycle riders, they can be lethal.

An inattentive motorcycle rider hitting a large pothole can be launched from his ride before he even realizes what’s happened. When a car’s wheel falls into a pothole, there are still three more on the ground helping the car track straight through the hole. On the other hand, the first wheel on a motorcycle that hits a pothole is also the only wheel responsible for steering the vehicle – and a sudden, uncontrollable swerve caused by the pothole’s effect on this wheel can cause the bike to slam to the ground, or veer into oncoming traffic or a ditch. And with the brutal winter that the majority of the northern states and Canada have just been through, the roads are in severe disrepair.

potholesPotholes are formed when water seeps into the road through small cracks in the asphalt or concrete. The water then freezes, and expands with tremendous force. This force breaks up the asphalt or concrete. The next day, the water melts, and seeps down even deeper. That night it freezes again…this freeze/thaw cycle is horrendously destructive to roads, and is why our road crews spend their summers spraying “tar snakes” all over the roads, in an attempt to keep the water out of the cracks.

Sand On The Roads Salt truck
All winter long, trucks spread sand and salt on our roads to assist in traction and keep our cars from sliding into one another.
This sand sits around in spring until it is washed away by heavy rains, or swept and vacuumed up by street cleaning machinery. Until then, this hazardous substance lays on the road, waiting to bite careless motorcyclists.

When you hit this leftover sand with your bike, you can slide just like on ice. And if you happen to be in a turn at the time you hit the sand (which is normally the case, being that the sand tends to collect on the inside of corners), you can be on the ground so fast you don’t know what hit you.

Quite a few people over the years have posted stories about their unfortunate encounters with sand – like a wise pilot once said, learn from the mistakes of others; you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

Ron Walldren (& Missy)
Chapter Educator