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Planning your next moto year

6 things to plug into your calendar for the coming riding year

It used to be that folks just sort of shot from the hip when it came to planning the next year of riding. And in many cases that's still the norm. Whether you like to plan ahead or shoot from the hip, there's a lot more to making the most of your motorcycle year than just going to one event. So, let's look at all the options, and while we're at it, feel free to have your calendar nearby and mark it up as we go along. You can save the image above and print it out in a larger format.

Training

Most of us put the bikes away in the winter here in the Pacific Northwest. Newer riders basically get to learn how to ride all over again. More seasoned riders will pick it all up quickly for the most part. But riding requires a lot of knowledge, and over time that knowledge can erode. Luckily, in this neck of the woods, we have lots of options for relearning during the spring, or any other time period for that matter. If it's been longer than 24 months since your last update, consider signing up for an intermediate or advanced rider course offered by any of the state approved basic rider course providers. Or, is that what you took two years ago and now you want to try something new? OK, take a sidecar safety class, on-street course, dirt bike class or adventure riding class, all of which will go a long way in getting your every-day riding back in the pocket and expose you to the possibilities of other styles of riding.

Training like this is best taken in the late winter or early spring so you'll have plenty to chew on when you hit the road. For a listing off all the training schools, use the Services page

Track Days

There's no place to better learn about your and your motorcycle's abilities than on a closed course. Track days aren't just for those who plan to race one day, or like to go fast. A good track day instruction school will provide you throttle control, braking, transition techniques and body positioning techniques you can use during your road riding adventures.

One thing to remember when taking a track day is that because of the speeds, one way traffic and wide open sight lines on the track, there's not much need for peripheral vision. Don't forget to work on your eye scanning techniques when you get back on the street again.

Grab a track day early in the spring so again, you'll have lots to work on during your road riding escapades later. We'll be updating the Sound RIDER! Calendar page with next year's track days as they become available.

Meetups

Meetups like Seattle's Old Bike Night in Georgetown, Backfire Moto Night in Ballard and Grit City Motorcycle Night in Tacoma are just getting revved up when spring comes around. If you like to mingle with friends and meet new riders, as soon as the sun comes out and a meetup arrives on the calendar, don't miss the chance to hook up with others.

We keep a list of all the local meetups on our Calendar page

Group Rides

Unless you've been out riding the annual Green Freeze rides that ensue from January to March, chances are you haven't been doing much riding in the winter. A group ride - or two or three - is just what the doctor ordered. It's a chance to get out for the first ride of the year with others, enjoy the colors of spring and celebrate the oncoming warmer months.

It's also a chance to get out and work on some of the techniques you learned over the last few months if you partook in any rider training. But even if you didn't. you can always grab a good book, like David Hough's Proficient Motorcycling or some other skills guru and focus on one or two techniques you need to get better at this year.

All groups are not created equal. And all the riders in a group are not going to ride at the same skill level. If you find yourself dragging down the group, you can gracefully bow out anytime. If you'rfe annoyed with someone else's riding, you can bow out, too. Of course, it would be great if everyone got along and was equally matched, but some days that's just not the case.

For a list of clubs, use our Clubs and Orgs directory. For a list of rides, use our Calendar page.

Rallies

A decade ago, there were a handful of rallies in the Pacific Northwest. Today there are dozens to choose from. If you find yourself going to the same rally year after year, broaden your horizons and try someone else's. But one way or another, consider putting at least one rally on your calendar for the upcoming year, more if you have the time. Every event promoter runs their rally a little differently and there are events to cover just about every riding style you can think of from sport bike to adventure touring, sport touring to dirt bikes, cruisers to full-blown touring and on and on.

For a list of Rallies, use our Calendar page

Solo Rides

For many of us, some of the best rides are the ones we take solo. While some riders feel the need for constant camaraderie, others enjoy the freedom of doing what they want at their pace and not being held to someone else's. Whether it's a day ride or a multi-day trip, be sure to plug some solo time into your calendar.

For some ride ideas, have a look at the many on-road and off-pavement adventures we've published for the Pacific Northwest over the years.

Gary Meeker/November 16


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