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  • Tips for Motorcycle Riding in the Mountains

    Hello folks,

    Is anyone familiar with Motorcycle riding in the Mountains ??

  • #2
    Sudden Wind Gusts

    A rider may be unaware of prevailing strong cross winds, until they suddenly grab hold of him or her in a clearing on the windward side of a mountain. It’s always best not to ride too close to either side of your lane, particularly when a clearing in the trees is spotted up ahead.
    Diminished Engine Performance

    Many, if not most, modern motorcycles have fuel injection and usually don’t lose power in higher elevations. If you’re riding a carbureted bike jetted for a lower altitude, however, power decreases as you climb higher and the air becomes thinner, reducing the bike’s ability to overtake and pass other vehicles ascending a mountain. Due to the effects of gravity, though, even bikes with fuel injection will lose some passing capability on steep inclines. Allow for this when passing other vehicles.
    Blind Curves

    Mountain roads are usually synonymous with blind curves (unless you’re riding above the tree line). Consequently, it’s usually a good idea to approach a blind curve with the most advantageous line of sight. On right hand curves it’s advisable to leave space between you and the yellow line, just in case an unseen approaching vehicle has strayed into your lane around the curve.
    Dramatic Temperature Changes

    At the base of a mountain the temperature may be in the triple digits, while at the summit it may be at or below freezing. Bring extra layers of clothing to be donned before beginning the ascent; there may not be a safe location to stop and add layers once the ascent begins. Electric vests with a variable temperature controller are especially handy when riding in the mountains. Also, be on the lookout for slippery road surfaces.
    Increased Exposure to Lightning and Other Weather Changes

    Thunderstorms can develop quickly in the mountains. In the Colorado Rockies, for example, afternoon thunderstorms in the summer are frequently produced by dry cool air from the west colliding with warming moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. Storms like this usually develop with little or no forewarning. And in many mountainous areas there’s often no shelter accessible on short notice. In addition to the risk of a lightning strike, rain-slick pavement further compromises traction on steep grades (see #6 below). Therefore, it’s important to know the weather patterns of the area you’re riding in ahead of time.
    Reduced Braking and Cornering Performance

    When approaching a tight uphill curve, riders should be aware that more load has been shifted from the front to the rear tire; the front tire has less grip in these situations and may slide out if the front brake is applied too vigorously. When approaching a downhill curve, riders should go easy with the rear brake due to the considerable load shifted to the front tire. This situation makes the front brake a better option when coming up on a downhill turn, but be sure to release it before leaning the bike over. The substantially greater front tire load on downhill turns also increases the possibility of losing traction and low-siding if the corner is entered at too great of a speed. It’s also essential not to overuse the brakes and cause them to fade. Trail braking is an advanced riding technique that, with practice, can be used to salvage a corner entered too fast. Increased Danger of Traffic Rapidly Approaching from the Rear

    Drivers of vehicles behind you, not well-versed in mountain driving, may overheat their brakes and not be able to stop on downhill sections. With little warning, a truck may be bearing down on you from behind at a high rate of speed. Check mirrors frequently and be ready to take evasive action as necessary.
    Deteriorated Road Surface

    Mountain roads, by virtue of their altitude, are often subjected to more intense abuse from weather than other roads. Some sections may be smooth as glass followed by rough pavement that hasn’t been resurfaced due to budget constraints. Also, summer rains can wash rocks and other debris downhill onto the roadway in locations where riders have limited sight lines. Keep at a reasonable speed, as you just can’t predict what hazards may lie in wait around the next curve.
    Off-Camber and Decreasing Radius Curves

    The highway engineering of some mountain roads may leave a lot to be desired, particularly for motorcycle riders. It’s not unusual for nice sweeping curves to ratchet up your confidence level just before a hairpin, off-camber curve and/or a decreasing radius curve suddenly pops into view. If you’re ascending the mountain, gravity will help slow your speed. But on a descent, gravity can rapidly increase your approach speed, raising the possibility of losing traction in the curve. Low-siding on a right-hander means you will likely slide across the opposite lane and will be at the mercy of oncoming traffic. The antidote? Maintain a constant high level of focus and awareness, don’t get complacent, use engine braking on all curves (the higher the engine’s RPMs the greater the effect), apply brakes before leaning the bike over in curves, and look for any escape route that may be available.
    Diminished Escape Routes

    With drop-offs on one side, vertical embankments on the other, and narrow roadways, often there aren’t any escape routes on mountain roads, making your attention to the above items all the more important.
    Riding in mountains and canyons can provide some of the most memorable motorcycle touring experiences on the planet, but it’s imperative to keep in mind the special risks posed by this terrain and their proper mitigation strategies. This is especially true for riders who log most of their miles on flatter terrain.

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