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Preparing for autumn motorcycle trips

The Denver area has some of the most avid motorcycle riders the country over. It’s no surprise, you have to be dedicated to rolling around on two wheels to think about tackling our winding mountain roads and rugged back country.

For many riders, the motorcycle season is closing. For a select few, though, the autumn rides are just getting started. Autumn in the Colorado mountains isn’t just beautiful, it also provides some of the best rides of the year. Longer sunrises and sunsets, fall colors, a chill in the air, it makes the season unique. The season also comes with unique dangers for motorcyclists.

Autumn hazards on the road

Any good motorcyclist is used to riding with a little bit of danger. It’s part of what makes riding a bike exciting. If you’re new to the hobby or are introducing someone new to the thrill of motorcycles, be aware for these hazards while speeding down the road:

  • Shorter days – The days are getting shorter and night can sneak up on you. Always be aware of how far out you are and how long it will take to get home. Riding in the dark means less visibility to other vehicles, animal crossings and other accidents waiting to happen.
  • Worse glare – The sun doesn’t rise as high in the winter as it does in the summer. This means a more intense glare during sunrise and sunset. Eye protection is required for all riders in Colorado so be sure to at least wear some sunglasses – or better yet, a helmet with a visor.
  • Snow – If you’ve spent at least a year in Colorado you know that we usually get snow accumulation by mid-October. Snow is incredibly slippery, especially when it’s loose. Avoid riding over it when you can and take it slow when you can’t.
  • Frost and snow melt – Frost has sent more than a few motorcyclists sliding. And when the frost and snow melt, the roads get slick with moisture. Don’t take wet roads lightly, they contribute to hundreds of motorcycle accidents each year.
  • Leaves – Hitting the road to see the autumn colors is part of the fun. As they fall, however, they become greater hazards than people expect. A patch of wet leaves on the road can be just as slippery as a sheet of ice.

Motorcycles account for just 3 percent of all registered vehicles but represent over 20 percent of all accident fatalities. The Colorado Department of Transportation has recorded that as of 2016, motorcycle deaths had increased over a time and a half from what they were 4 years earlier. An increase this sharp is deeply troubling – be smart, don't add yourself to that statistic.

Riding a motorcycle is always a calculated risk. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s one of the reasons bikes are exciting. Remember the fundamentals, though. Keep yourself safe and enjoy your time out on the road this season.

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