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7 serious ways to enjoy your motorcycle in the dead of winter

You think the southern states have a monopoly on motorcycling from November to March? Think again! There are still plenty of ways in the off-season to improve your skills, enjoy the sport and get out and ride. Here are 7 serious ways to enjoy your motorcycle in the dead of winter.

1. Grab a cup of coffee

Ok, so in reality this is a bit like “ride more,” but grabbing an early morning cup of coffee comes with a few additional benefits. First thing in the morning, weather patterns tend to be a bit more stable and if you look outside and see dry roads, there is a good chance that they will stick around for at least an hour or so. The casualness and cost of a cup of coffee will give you ultimate flexibility if the rain/snow does start to fall, and being just a short distance from home you can easily make the trip back to warmth and safety. As a bonus, early in the day traffic tends to be less, giving you the perfect opportunity to keep your skills fresh and honed in for the warmer months.

2. Read a book

At the coffee shop or at home, the winter time is the perfect time to find inspiration in a travelogue, flip through your owner's manual or review some expert literature. With the previous riding season still fresh in your head, re-reading that well-worn copy of “Proficient Motorcycling” or delving into a new text, can really help “connect the dots.” We all have a close call memory that we’d like to avoid repeating or an area of weakness that could benefit from some dedicated study.

3. Pick a skill to develop

It’s been said that every off season, Michael Jordan would pick a new skill and try to develop it. A great attitude for sports and a great attitude for motorcycling. While you’re catching up on your reading, make a note of those topics that jump out to you and dive in. Do all the research you can on the subject and when the sun shows itself on one of those glorious, dry days, hit the road and start practicing.

4. Attend an event

Just because many put the bike away in the winter time, it doesn't mean that dealers, instructors and manufacturers aren't still out there trying to make a living. A quick search on the internet even in the dead of winter will find you a treasure trove of great options. Maintenance clinics are always a cold weather favorite, but also be on the lookout for meet-ups and presentations which can help build your anticipation for the coming warm weather riding season.

5. Plan a trip

For the dedicated tourer, some might say that this is half the fun! While meandering weekend long rides have their benefits, so do those where you plan a few highlights along the way. Combine a regional atlas, stack of travel magazines and a few of those internet articles you’ve stashed away and start planning. It’s the winter time, with not many places to go, so really delve in. A luxury trip, the ultimate ADV tour or a twisties filled weekend jaunt; when the summertime hits, pack your gear and hit the road.

6. Evaluate your touring gear

Did you enjoy a busy riding season? Good for you! Now, how much of that gear did you use and what had the “crap” kicked out of it? Time to unpack and repack, so you don’t waste any precious days this summer. Take a spare bedroom, the living room, or a section of your (heated) garage and spread it all out. First step: Do you need it? If it’s not an important tool or first aid device then get rid of it. Second step: Is it in operating condition? Tents and camping gear wear out, first aid kits get used and waterproof equipment starts to leak. “Test it and pack it” or “trash it and buy it.”

7. Shop a local dealer

Sure, because of the seasonality here in the Pacific Northwest, local dealers could really benefit from your contribution in the cold months, but you can really benefit from their time. Believe it or not, lots of shops have some bona fide gear and motorcycle experts and smaller crowds means more one-on-one attention. Been thinking about a new model? Pick the guy's brain for a half hour. Need a new touring jacket? Maybe the gear manager can provide a little more detail on features and what may work best for your riding style. Regardless of your goal, the winter time is a great time to hit the shops and see what’s on offer.

To be sure, there are lots of ways to enjoy motorcycling in the wintertime. The two most important things are to keep enjoying your motorcycle and to get out and ride!

Derek Roberts/January 2016


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