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March 12, 2015

Scenic Springtime Rides are not without Risk

Scenic Springtime Rides

With the freezing temperatures and snowy conditions in Philadelphia, it is no surprise that many motorcycle riders spend the winter months counting down until spring when they can get back onto the open road. Many riders in Philly are already scouting out routes and planning scenic springtime rides with groups or alone. For example, some riders have discussed[1] riding to the highest points in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia in a single day. Such a ride will involve beautiful scenery as a person travels from Mount Davis, PA[2] to Backbone Mountain, MD[3] to Spruce Knob, WV.[4]

Even though a lot of the roads leading to these high points have been paved and are better maintained than they once may have been, rides to remote points can still be very risky. The following are some of the factors that may result in accidents and injuries to motorcycle riders.

Some of the most beautiful roads for scenic springtime motorcycle rides are in the hills or mountains. Such roads are built around the natural surroundings and thus are unpredictable with many twists and curves. While these types of steep and winding roads can be thrilling for most motorcyclists, they should be fully aware of the risks of these roads. These roads are fully of unexpected turns, dips, and even cliffs off of which a rider may fall. Motorcyclists should take a skills course[5] to make sure they know how to handle sharp turns, sudden braking, and other emergency tactics to make sure they know how traverse this type of terrain.

In addition to the curves and steep inclines on mountain roads, there also may be many different potential road defects that you may encounter. Because these roads are often in remote areas, they are inspected and maintained less often, allowing dangerous hazards to develop. Hazards such as potholes, cracks, uneven surfaces, or debris in the roadway can all cause you to have a collision. You also may encounter mud, gravel, or other conditions on the road that may cause you to skid or slide out.

Sudden adverse weather

Anytime you are traveling from one region to another, you run the risk of encountering changing and unexpected weather conditions. This is especially true if you are traveling at the very beginning of spring, as winter weather can always make a comeback. Snow, sleet, ice, and rain can all make road conditions treacherous and can cause motorcycles to skid or slide on the slick roads. All riders should be trained on what to do in the event of a skid and how to maintain control of their bikes as much as possible to avoid laying the bike down.

Additionally, higher altitude often comes with stronger winds, which can make it significantly more difficult to stay balanced on a motorcycle. Anyone traveling in hills or mountains should know how to handle a motorcycle through strong gusts of wind and should always pull over if the conditions become too dangerous. Furthermore, you should always have the proper gear for any type of weather condition, including but not limited to rain suits, gloves, goggles, and more.

Motorcycle malfunctions in sparsely populated areas

Though motorcycle malfunctions may occur at any time, they can be more dangerous if they occur when you are on a long trip and are miles away from home. Furthermore, tire blowouts, brake failures, or steering problems can be particularly dangerous if you are on a mountain road. Inclines, curves, and other road conditions can only make losing control of your bike more dangerous.

Springtime AccidentAdditionally, many scenic rides take motorcyclists through more remote areas miles away from homes, businesses, or towns. If your bike breaks down, you could be stranded for some time and could be vulnerable to the weather conditions or other harmful environmental factors. The situation can become even direr if the area in which you are stranded is so remote that you do not get cellular service. For this reason, if you are planning a ride in an especially remote area, you should always have a riding partner. 

In order to try to prevent motorcycle malfunctions, you should always have your bike thoroughly inspected and tuned up before heading out in the spring, especially if the motorcycle sat in the garage all winter. Even if you have your motorcycle fully maintained, there is still always a chance that a part of your bike will be defective and will still unexpectedly fail, causing you to lose control and be involved in an accident. You should always have the proper first aid kit and other emergency items in case you are stranded and injured in a remote location.

Motorcycle accidents on mountain roads

You can find proof that riding a motorcycle through the mountains or hills can be dangerous by simply examining the news headlines from the past year. For example:

• A 58 and 56-year old husband and wife from Illinois died[6] while taking a motorcycle trip together through the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Law enforcement officers reported that they lost control on a sharp curve and collided with a tree.

• A 71 year-old California man was killed[7] while riding his motorcycle through the Santa Cruz mountains in January. He died after colliding with an oncoming vehicle on the narrow road. 

• Well-known and respected Delaware restaurateur Matt Haley died[8] after embarking on an three-week long high altitude ride through some of the world’s most dangerous mountain roads in India along the Pakistan border. He collided with a truck at an altitude of approximately 18,000 feet.

The above are only some examples of motorcyclists who have died as a result of mountain accidents. Simply because there is risk involved in mountain rides does not mean that you should not set out to enjoy the scenery and adventure of beautiful rides in the hills or mountains. It simply means that you should carefully prepare for your trip in order to avoid injury and make sure that you return home safely.

[1]http://www.revzilla.com/common-tread/riding-high

[2]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Davis_%28Pennsylvania%29

[3]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backbone_Mountain

[4]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spruce_Knob

[5]http://www.msf-usa.org/BRC.aspx

[6]http://www.ky3.com/news/local/2-from-illinois-die-in-arkansas-motorcycle-wreck/21048998_26634598

[7]http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/general-news/20140115/los-gatos-man-dies-in-santa-cruz-mountains-motorcycle-crash

[8]http://www.wboc.com/story/26318876/delmarva-restaurateur-hurt-in-motorcycle-crash-in-india

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