ORLANDO — The arrival of fall means if you’re planning to spend some quality time traveling on your motorcycle, you’ll definitely be one with the environment.
You’re also going to be at the mercy of the elements, so before you mark your trip on the calendar, think about what you need to make your fall journey the best one yet.
That’s especially true if you’re heading someplace where the summer heat disappeared weeks ago, and the taste of fall
is already in the air. Before you start the engine, be sure you’ve got the right gear to maximize your confront and safety, no matter what your surroundings are. That includes wearing the right protective gear for the trip.
And you’ll definitely want to be out riding throughout the coming months, because this is one of the most rewarding times to enjoy our nation’s highways and roadways, for a variety of good reasons.
Fall is one of the best seasons to be out riding. It’s a time when most parts of the country are enjoyably mild and the scenery – autumn leaves in New England have an amazing reputation for a good reason – is gorgeous.
At the same time, the stuff you don’t like – snow, ice storm, arctic blasts – is still months away.
Of course, if you live in the SunBelt, it will likely still feel like extended summer, but probably a lot less stifling than July or August were.
So there isn’t much to keep a the true motorcycle enthusiast off the road, and nothing can quite match the freedom that your motorcycle provides you. The end of summer is your gateway to the joys of riding in autumn – assuming you’ve got what you need for this trip.
So let’s get down to the basics.
What gear offer a safe and comfortable ride?
Safety is obviously a rider’s top priority — you understand how important it is to be visible to the rest of the traffic and equipped for a possible emergency.
So the most important safety gear to start with is your helmet, the piece of equipment that’s going to make the biggest difference when it comes to keeping you alive and riding again.
If you’ve been using the same one for a while, it makes sense to stop by your local dealership and check out their newer models. If you’ve been riding for a while, you know this isn’t a snap decision. There’s a lot to consider when selecting a motorcycle helmet, from the brand to the shape and style.
And most of all, you want to be sure you’ve got the one that’s going to save your life if something goes wrong on the highway, no fault of yours.
Next, your gloves. Open roads can be bumpy, those potholes might be numerous, and your ride isn’t always going to feel smooth and unruffled. Gloves are crucial for everyday driving, and it’s worth it to get the best riding gloves you can find. Do they feel smooth and comfortable on your palms? As you grip the handlebars, do your knuckles feel flexible and protected? A really high-grade pair of gloves can make a big difference in how your ride feels.
And are your gloves waterproof? If not, that’s what you’re going to need for your trip.
You’re also going to want the ultimate protection available for your limbs: a great pair of riding boots, the sturdy but critical way to maintain your ankles and feet so there’s never a problem staying on the road.
Finally, think about getting the right jacket to offer comfort from the elements, and protection as the weather changes along your journey.
What makes fall so special for riders?
Touring places you’ve never been so before. Long, blissful hours riding across state highways and expressways. Major distances to cover. Any experienced rider knows how good they have it on the open road.
And with the snowbound days not upon us yet, there are so many benefits and pleasures to be had when the weather makes it inviting to be out there, grabbing the opportunity to set your own adventures.
Whether you’re planning a cross country trip during the months of September or October, or simply looking to see where a three-day weekend can take you, the environment in autumn is picture-perfect for being outdoors.
Motorcycle enthusiasts understand this, which is why there are so many motorcycle events organized in fall, giving riders an opportunity to meet one another, network, and enjoy some camaraderie.
There’s the Tennessee Bike Fest coming up on Sept. 20-23 in Tracy City. And don’t forget the Bikes Blues & BBQ Motorcycle Rally in Fayetteville, Arkansas from Sept. 20-23.
Who will be out there with you?
A decade ago, studies indicated that only about 25 percent of all riders in the United States were 50 or older. Today, that age demographic makes up half our nation’s riders. Those Baby Boomers who developed a passion for riding at a young age are not giving it up.
At the same time, the tradition of exploring the open road isn’t fading out among younger people. Today, a fast-growing number of young adults is joining the men and women who have been riding for years. Regardless of age, these men and woman are eagerly embracing for the opportunity to escape to the open road, for the sheer fun of a long-distance motorcycle ride, and for the freedom it provides.
And fall may be the ideal time for them to get in gear.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..