Never Say Never!
You think it will never happen to you? Think again! Not only at the beginning and end of the season either. I have vivid memories of an Easter Sunday when Grand Slam René and I, leaving one bright and sunny morning, experienced our return in a wet snow storm, with 10 cm of white stuff on the ground! It was probably the coldest 75 km I have ever known. A trip to New Orleans at the end of May, where I was missing equipment… Then, a crazy urge to watch the sunset in James Bay, on the June 21 summer solstice when the puddles of water were frosty and the smell of snow surrounded us.
Mechanically, we must beware of our motorcycles. The engine’s power increases with cold air; the colder the air, the more air volume there is, which has the effect of a small turbo on your engine. More torque makes it easier to lose traction, especially since the tires adhere less because of the cold road surface.
To protect yourself when riding in cold weather, the basic rule is to protect your extremities, because that is where we lose the most heat.
Riding in cold weather
Practice no. 1: We never have enough equipment! Whether it’s to go to the depanneur or the Café du Monde in New Orleans (for a chicory coffee and doughnuts… and meet one or two vampires), I always have at least 3 pairs of gloves with me: A light glove for all the nice days, a waterproof glove which is also good for cool days and a glove for the really cold days!
Practice no. 2: After the gloves come the neck warmer and boots! Nothing feels worse than the cold going down your spine. A neck warmer covers the opening around your neck and is easy to keep well in place on the motorbike. Having cold feet is almost just as bad! And in addition to selecting a boot that protects the ankle and toes well, a waterproof boot, by its construction, will keep your feet warm.
Practice no. 3: Long underwear. Naturally, in this case, we must expect to be facing the cold and pack accordingly. Also, at the beginning and end of the season and winter, if I go out for more than 60 minutes, I put on underwear and thermal socks.
Practice no. 4: A complete waterproof suit: coat and pants. Because it is an accessory that we must always have with us for a long outing, the raincoat will help to keep you warm if you are lacking equipment, by reducing some of your heat loss.
Practice no 5: Coat and pants or a one-piece suit. There again, to prolong the season, more than one coat/pant is needed. From the short and ventilated coat for the nice summer days, we must know how to choose a style that allows you to add a lining for the night ride back which will be cooler. For the longer trips, I prefer a heavier style and especially longer to cover the lower back. These styles are generally waterproof with a few openings for ventilation. However, on a beautiful Thursday in Raleigh, North Carolina, when it’s 40ºC, they could be overly protective, but in Radisson, a month later, it would be perfect. Finally, when the temperature goes below the level of 10ºC, ignoring protection, I use a snowmobile coat and pant.
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