Come late December, I hadn't ridden since Thanksgiving night and the itch was pretty strong.  I was working from home and decided to suit up and head out on my lunch break for a quick rip around the hills near my home.  I recall a bank thermometer reading around 31 degrees, and it was noticeably colder up in the elevation, but my heated gloves and socks combined with layer upon layer for the rest of me made for a very comfortable ride.

Even further to my surprise, I took a ride just a few weeks ago with my new Tour Master mesh jacket.  Yes, you read correctly - mesh.  To be fair, it does come with a rain liner and a thermal liner, but even with those I wouldn't have expected it to be as warm as it was - I noticed no more cold than with my Joe Rocket one-peice suit.

My most recent ride was this past weekend.  I met up with a friend who I had done the MSF RCP course with.  Temperatures were warmish - mid-40s at best - but the rain overnight and melting snow made for some very wet roads and a very dirty bike and the end of the ride.  We probably did something around 50 miles through the hills, and while most of the roads were ones I was already familiar with there were a handful that were new to me and real gems at that.  I will be returning when the weather is warmer and drier.

I'm not terribly sure when my next ride will be.  Mother nature just dropped another few inches of snow today and temperatures are slated to plummet again by the weekend.  There is moto-hope in sight, though.  I will be meeting a bunch of fellow Buell (and former Buell) riders in New York City for the Motorcycle Show at Javits Center.  In addition to checking out some of the industry's newest offerings, we will likely also enjoy a late lunch at the Dinosaur in Harlem as well as discuss the details of this year's ADK Buell Rally.  I'm really looking forward to this year's event and hope we have at least as good of a turnout this time around.  It seemed to be a hit with those who were able to make it last year.
 
Well, let's make this blog earn it's namesake!  We're now on the cusp of December and being the Northeast, that means temperatures are reliably falling below the freezing mark.  So where does that leave us?  I could yabber on about fuel stabilizers, battery tenders and gasoline-soaked rags stuffed in mufflers, but instead we'll go over some very simple steps you, yes YOU can take to extend your riding season.  Hell, maybe even not have an off season!

When I first started riding, I would make it until about mid-November and then I would go through an all-day process of cleaning, waxing, stabilizing and packing up, stuffing the bike into a corner of my father's garage for the winter.  This was the modus operandi for a few years and multiple bikes until we had a warm stretch of days one February.  I would have loved to have gone for a ride, but my bike was not home and not ready to ride.  Both of which were not cool.  Ever since then, the bikes don't get packed up and I take advantage of any warm(ish) day we get while the Northern Hemisphere tips away from the Sun.

So what can you do to make sure your ride is as comfortable as possible when you cruise past that bank thermometer when it says 31 degrees?  There are two schools of thought - The New School, and the Old School.  Let's start with the latter.

Old School

When riding in cold weather, you're battling two things: the ambient temperature, and the windchill factor.  While there is a lot of crossover, there are some separate things to do to combat each.  To keep warm, layers are where it's going to be at.  Personally, if it's below about 50 degrees, I put on a thermal base layer and go from there.  There's a fair amount of engine heat as well as leg fairing on my bike, so not much else besides a thick pair of socks and sweatpants or jeans goes on the lower half of my body.  The upper half gets a t-shirt, maybe a long-sleeve shirt and a hoodie.  Really cold days will also add a fleece vest.  All of that gets wrapped up in a one-peice riding suit (to keep the wind out) with the insulated liner in as well.  It all feels a bit cumbersome when you put it on, but once you're on the bike you don't need to move around much so it's not too intrusive.  A full-face helmet is a must as well as something to cover your neck.  If your various layers don't have a tall collar, you can spend $15 or whatever on a purpose made neck gaiter, or just use a cheap neckerchief.  You'll want warm boots and winter-specific riding gloves to finish everything off.  Obviously the more fairing your bike has the better off you'll be, but this shouldn't be a make it or break it kind of deal.

New School

Real simple, here... add electrics!  The Old School methods should be enough for most hearty people down to around freezing and for short rides in the sun.  Past that, you need to be exceptionally warm-blooded or turn to technology.  Currently I have heated gloves and socks and can vouch for both.  There is the rumor that simply adding a heated vest or jacket to keep your core warm will also keep your hands and feet warm, so if you're budgeting on buying all of that stuff anyway try starting with just the jacket and see how it does.  The only brand I've used is FirstGear (which just rebrands Warm & Safe products) and can recommend them.

That's about it - I think the next entry will go over some good riding habits to use when things get frosty.
 
We've had an unseasonably warm winter so for in the Northeast (figures that I don't have a bike in commission to use right now), and although we haven't had any snowfall that has lasted more than a day or two here, morning dustings are getting more and more common and I'd expect that February is going to hammer us.  I'm sure mother nature is all pent up at this point.

I already ride all year here in New York when bike function and road conditions allow, but I've been giving thought to being able to ride in all weather for some time now.  I know it's not for everyone, but suiting up and heading to work in a snow storm on a 2WD Ural sounds like a blast to me.  Or perhaps find a set of studded snow tires for a Can Am Spyder.  I'd barely be able to justify owning a car anymore.  Bliss.

Alas, I'm sure it is not to happen for a number of reasons.  For starters, I'm not sure that my wallet or my garage will have the capacity for a slippery surface-capable machine for sometime.  More importantly, my lovely girlfriend has made it quite clear that there's no damn way in hell she's getting in a sidecar, much less when it's freezing cold out and snowing.

Oh well.  I can dream.  In the meantime, I'll just watch videos like this one while the snows falls outside my window:
Feel free to hang around the site a bit - I've added some verbiage around the Choosing the Right Bike section.  Still a work in progress but at least there's some pretty pictures.