Spring has sprung

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Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung and you know what that means - right? The rain will be a little warmer and the smoke season is on the way. Okay, just kidding, (even though both are a reality).

But some nice days will be showing up soon, too. Those comfy 60 degree plus days, a few puffy clouds, all kinds of color in the fields, and a chance for you and your bike to commune since you put it away last fall.

Hold on there, partner. Are you and your bike ready to ride?

Let's start with you. Spring is a great time to ease back into riding after not having done much during the winter. The best way to do that is to start off with a few short rides. Regardless of your age, if you try and conquer 300-500 miles in a day, chances are your body doesn't have the stamina it needs to put up with that.

I like to "go for a cup of coffee" the first few weekends of spring. Living in Seattle, I head to Snohomish along the backroads out of Mountlake Terrace, grab a coffee at the filling station somewhere, or maybe lunch; then leisurely ride across the valley west to Everett and over Marine View Drive, then back home. A few of those types of rides gets me back in tune with the bike and lets me know what parts of my body I may want to add a little focus to during my 3x weekly stretch/free weight workouts. If I'm consistent, by May I'm ready for longer rides, perhaps even a few overnights and by June some multi-day touring is in the cards. God - how I've been missing doing that!

Beyond your physical abilities, how sharp are your skills? We can always use a little tuning up. During those initial short rides, focus on the key factors - reading the road, braking, stopping distance, the space between you and the vehicle in front of you and smooth cornering. Use your state motorcycle operator's manual (available free online) to brush up and dig a little deeper with reads by authors like Lee Parks, David Hough, and Nick Ienatsch.

How about the bike? Is it ready? You could start by spending a weeknight going through your bike following the MSF T-CLOCS outline (available online). Take it a few steps further by doing a 20-point safety inspection on the bike. Don't have one to follow? Create your own using your owner's manual as your guide. This is also a good time to put your battery on a good charger like the ones made by Optimate to assess and charge your battery to its fullest extent. An Optimate will tell you, if this is a good time to replace an older battery. Why figure it out when you're on the road?

Look at your odometer and reference your owner's manual. Is your next service due soon? Will it be a basic Level I or a more involved Level 2 or Level 3? Knowing what's coming up is going to better help you plan ahead. With supply chain shortages in play, we'd all be wise to order parts well in advance of when we need them.

How about those tires. If either is nearing 2/32's left of tread, you're due for a new set now or soon. If this sounds unfamiliar to you, take time to learn about how to assess motorcycle tires or visit a trustworthy mechanic/shop soon for an evaluation.

Thinking about doing some motorcycle camping this year? Most State Park reservations are sold out by now. If you didn't make one, give it a shot, or start looking at alternatives, of which there are many.

The fun warmer days are just ahead. See you on the road.

Patrick Thomas/April 2022


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