Winter Riding – How To Survive & Stay Warm

Winter Riding – How To Survive & Stay Warm

I’m not sure I like the idea of muffs (err…  😕 ) like many Winter riders suggest.  I prefer having my hands free to bat away stray squirrels and gesticulate at Audi drivers and stuff.

I have Polish ancestry, and would happily live in a fridge, so it doesn’t seem to affect me the same as most.  Either that or it’s because I’ve ridden bloody stupid sportsbikes through the snow and ice and THAT was enough to keep me pretty warm… Anyway, here’s what my 12 Winters on bikes and 2 as a courier have taught me:

Something for your neck is ESSENTIAL.  The one time you forget your neck warmer, The Forces That Be will wait until your throat is so painfully frozen you can’t even close your jaw properly, and then… THEN, your helmet strap will -ing whip you in across the throat like some hungry housewife who speed-read the 50 Shades Of Grey trilogy whilst fantasizing about Indiana Jones. 

This tiny little strap will never do this for any amount of Summer riding – just when you decide you’re going to nip down to Tescos for a baguette on your lunch break.

I bought a Buff polar fleecy thing when I first started biking, and to be honest have never wanted for anything more.  It’s perfect.  Well, apart from the fact I picked the one with the logo all over it – which, when viewed from two steps back from the shop display, suddenly looks like tiger stripe print.  Seriously, why would I buy a tiger stripe print neck warmer?  Stop asking me why I did!  It’s a Buff LOGO.

You’re screwed for your helmet.  The visor will mist up despite spending £400 on the latest de-mist-o-prene coating, and you could tape all the vents closed and then stuff them full of thermite and somehow freezing cold gayness will still pass directly through your skull.

What you can do is buy a Foggy facemask.  This directs your shivering breath out of your helmet as opposed to onto your visor.  I wear mine all year round.  It’s uncomfortable at first until you get it adjusted right, but then so is riding into a snowplough because you can’t see.

If it’s snowing, enjoy it.  It’s like being in Star Wars!  Warp speed!  Hell Yeah!  And then it all builds up on your visor… which is why I think muffs are a Bad Idea…

In fact most gloves are crap when it gets really cold.  Your best bet is warming the buggers up before you get out, and hope they stay a bit warm before you get frostbite.

I can’t really recommend any Winter gloves.  I found wearing my regular Summer gloves (tape over the vents, if they get too bad) with some Cold Killers windproof gloves underneath did the job.  Rubber gloves will allegedly save you if you get caught out – I tried this once and have to say it didn’t seem to help.  You can call into any petrol station and get a free pair from near the diesel pumps, though.

If you’re doing long distances the ONLY thing I found that worked was a set of Oxford Hot Hands heated grips.  You wire it in (easy) and wrap them around your hand grips, and they work perfectly.  You may find you need to tuck your thumbs under your palms for a few mins to get them up to temperature, but other then that you can happily wear your Summer gloves with them.

I wear my Summer race leathers (Halo Oracle) as much as I can through Winter.  Remember thin layers are the best for staying warm, so get 3 t-shirts on under them and it will do the job!  I’d also recommend (again) Cold Killers thermal long sleeve windproof top thingy.  I also have a synthetic Lookwell Goldline jacket with removable thermal liner that’s excellent, although loosing its waterproofing after 12 years.  With that and the windproof top I’ve pounded out thousands of motorway miles – I’ve actually got off the bike before and been able to pull off a complete layer of ice from my front.  It kept me fine for all day long Winter riding at high speeds.

I have no miracle cures for the lower half!  I just wear my regular Summer leathers and am fine.  I did have the Lookwell trousers to go with the jacket, but a wet road, RGV250R and a flatbed truck did for them years ago.  They had a thermal lining, but even then I never actually used it.

And it’s the same for my feet – Sidi Vertigo Corsa race boots.  I’ll probably close the vents, if I remember.  I wear normal socks, but again if you get cold feet I’d advise doubling up rather than one thick pair.

Other than that the main thing I’d say is to get a bike with a fairing!  I have no idea why the ‘ideal’ commuter bike is seen as an upright bike with no fairing?!  Are you mad?  Sportsbikes have a fairing, naturally tuck you in out of the wind, and get your adrenaline singing nicely, as mentioned earlier! 

Whatever you’re riding this Winter, though – keep it safe and do whatever you need to keep yourself warm!

Bassetts Pole & The Council Shutting Down Bike Meets

Bassetts Pole & The Council Shutting Down Bike Meets

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I saw through a friends Facebook status last night that the Police were stopping all bikers from stopping at Bassetts Pole for the huge Tuesday night bike meet that’s been going on for decades.

There is a pub carpark and a McDonalds where everyone parks, and it seems that the pub is trying to take out an injunction to stop any bikes using their car park.

Whilst I can see their issue with having their car park crammed full with hundreds of bikes for one night a week – are they missing the point that IT’S CRAMMED FULL OF HUNDREDS OF BIKES FOR ONE NIGHT A WEEK?  I bet you anything that even if hardly any of them go into the pub itself it will still be by far their most profitable night of the week!

Bikers like to have a drink when they stop off, and we all know that a few hundred pints of shandy are the best any pub can hope to sell for a profit!  If they’re worried that they’re losing out on selling food (which has a much lower profit margin) someone needs to smack them in the face and point out what they’re GAINING for the drinks they sell!  Plus with a fucking McDonalds literally next door they can hardly blame a drop in food sales on bikers blocking their customers, can they?!

And that’s all assuming none of the thousands of fat-assed bikers are going to eat any of the pubs food at all (about as likely as getting kicked in the head by a quadriplegic dwarf).

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And can anyone actually get an injunction in place to ban ‘bikers’?  Surely that shit went out back in the 60s?  What next?  Ban the blacks and jews, you fucking idiots?

Although you have to be pretty retarded to be anti-biker these days (it’s on an even lower level of intelligence than racism), I was once in a group out on our bikes who a pub refused to serve a meal to.  We went back home, got a load more mates and went back there without the leathers and bikes and successfully ordered an ungodly amount of food.  When it arrived, we informed then that we’d just remembered we were bikers, and walked the fuck out without touching a thing.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the Bassetts Pole meeting, because there is always a huge oppressive Police presence and to be honest the ride to and from there is a bit crap, but if we don’t fight against stuff like this you can bet other bike meets will get killed.

Thousands of people would flock to Stratford-Upon-Avon waterfront every Sunday to have a look at all the bikes parked there.  The local businesses must have been raking it in.

But then the Council stepped in and banned all bike parking there, creating a bike-specific park outside the centre where nobody would go, making the waterfront area for disabled parking only, and in the process completely fucking missing the whole point.  And pissing everyone off.

But then the local council doesn’t have to make a profit, does it?  They get paid either way…

So we all need to fight this one, and show the twats in charge of this idiocy that we’re not going to stand for it – especially if their only ‘reason’ is to discriminate against anyone who might fall under the name of ‘Biker’.

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The Real Thrill Of Riding A Sportsbike

The Real Thrill Of Riding A Sportsbike

When you tell people you own a superbike, the main thing they think is that you go really fast.

Inevitably, as a friend asked me the other day, they will ask what speed you’ve done on it.

I answered him saying I’d seen 190mph on the clocks.  The reactions from others listening in ranged from impressed to disgusted to the usual mutterings about killing yourself.

Sure – it’s impressive that I’m in the 300kmph Club, and that puts me in with a select few, but answering the question and thinking about actually doing it, I realised something.

Not only is it pretty damned easy to do 190mph (ok, so maybe it takes some balls but essentially anyone can sit there and crack the throttle open), but there wasn’t much drama involved, and other than the ability to say I’ve done it… meh!  It’s not much fun, to be honest!

The REAL thrill I get from riding bikes is from banking the bugger over to obscene lean angles through the corners, and from the colossal acceleration!

Getting your knee down is part of the cornering experience, and I am a bit of a knee-down junkie who needs a fix every so often!  What most people don’t understand is that you CAN get your knee down at slow speeds!  All you have to do is hang off the bike and tighten your line through the corner, then lean that baby over until the glorious sound of plastic on tarmac sounds over the engine!

It’s a pretty unique view of the world when you’re hanging off the side of a sportsbike.  Your body makes up a third of the total weight of you and the bike, so to do it well and safely you have to gain an intimate and instinctive understanding of body positioning, balance and how bikes go around corners.

A lot of people have heard talk of ‘countersteering’ and see it as the be-all end-all of cornering.  It’s not.  EVERY vehicle that has two inline wheels HAS to use countersteering otherwise it wouldn’t turn at anything over walking pace!  This includes bicycles and Harley Davidsons – whether you realise you’re doing it or not!

Accelerating on a bike also takes more skill than you might think.  If you open the throttle on most sportsbikes you’ll either spin up the back wheel and launch yourself to the moon in a highside, or the front wheel will come up and smack you on the back of the head.

When you get it right, it’s awesome!  I did a video to time what my bike would do from a standing start, and found I can do 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds after only a few attempts!

You simply won’t get that performance from a car. People talk about how fast their car is when it does that speed in 6 seconds – but I’d be getting bored long before then!

Combine the two, like at Rockingham International and I can vividly recall pinning the throttle open whilst scraping my knee on the floor all the way to 120mph+!

Now THAT is a buzz!

Putting ‘BIKER’ On The Census As Your Religion

Putting ‘BIKER’ On The Census As Your Religion

It’s coming around again soon – the Gubbinment will be sending you a load of questions at great expense to the taxpayers so that… umm… they know more stuff about us?

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Whatever.

The important thing this time around is that when they ask me what religion I am, I am going to say it loud and proud that I am A Biker.

The road is my God, and the pathway there, too.

When I ride my bike it is a spiritual experience.  It’s a comfort to me when I feel lost or down.

Riding ‘in the zone’ is like a form of meditation.  It’s Zanshin – total awareness – as I try to see my surroundings before they happen, listening to every roar and click from my bike and trying my best to make sure as I execute my religion that nobody else is adversely affected by it.

We even have Priests – the mechanics who will fix up our trusty steeds and get us back on track.

A lot of us even just ride on Sundays!  And we have those living Gods amongst us:

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And think of the benefits or getting our religion recognised!

Would a petrol station be allowed to force us to remove our helmet if it’s religious clothing?

Could they continue forcing us to pay such high tax on petrol – essentially taxing our religion?

It is my form of worship.  Being a Biker means I enjoy life, and get more out of it because of my choices.

We’re family out there – nodding a greeting as we pass total strangers simply because they’re on a bike.  Sure, there are different faction within the Biking religion – the Sportbikers have some hostility towards Harley Davidson riders, and everyone dislikes Scooter riders.  Motard riders are just thugs.  We’re not going to go to war over it, though, and many of us treat everyone under the Biker banner equally, as it’s something that unifies us all.

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If you ride a bike, I bet you’ve put more effort into that than you have the made-up-deity, war-causing, only-when-it-suits-you religion that someone decided they’d choose for you before you were out of nappies!

It’s got to be done!

It is the time to show the World what we REALLY believe in!

Just put that single word as your religion: Biker.

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***EDIT***: There is now a Facebook group for this, so get theeself joined and spread the word: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_169227299791835