The weekend of the 15th / 16th of March brought warm sunshine and clear skies to large parts of the UK. Consequently plenty of bikes appeared making their seasonal debut – and with sad inevitability accidents and fatalities involving motorcycles skyrocketed, a fair proportion involving no other vehicle. Between the Friday and Monday I personally witnessed some truly awful riding  – people overtaking through villages while speeding past junctions;  wrong road lines through corners resulting in lane crossing and minimal visibility;  loosing control on unclassified roads still cluttered with post flood debris, and a general lack of skill and anticipation that was shocking to behold. I posted up some of what I’d witnessed on a forum and by the time we’d got to thirty posts, a quarter of the contributors reported witnessing the aftermath of local bike accidents in the previous 48 hours: I myself arrived at one such scene.  It’s hard to imagine a more negative PR campaign for Planet Bike.

The general consensus was that returning to riding after a lay off rendered less experienced riders horribly exposed. You have to make allowances for lack of recent ride time, and failure to do that can have fatal consequences. As well as riders exhibiting a lack of control at speed, a few forum contributors noted another disturbing manifestation: older riders swathed in hi viz clothing riding apprehensively, cornering hesitantly and looking generally uncomfortable as they wobbled around.  Bg can only assume that this group was also suffering the effects of a winter lay off.  We’re hoping to get a statement from police re the recent accident count and will publish their comments. Meanwhile, we present Bg’s Spring Survival Guide.

  • After any significant lay off from riding, you will need to re-adjust.  Relax, ride defensively and consciously anticipate until you are dialled back into road riding skills. It takes time, days rather than hours.
  • Remember max viz lines at corners. Stay left on right hand bends and vice versa.
  • Smooth is the watchword – ride as though you were out in the wet until familiarised.
  • Be confident, don’t hide in the verge. Backing off too much means it will take longer to get back to normal riding.

I also noticed that riders tended to become erratic as I closed in and they became aware of my presence behind them, far more so than had been the case in depths of winter. If someone wants to get past, just give them room and let them go. The last thing anyone who has returned to riding on the road should be doing is getting competitive. Good luck out there – if the last weekend is anything to go by, you’ll be needing it.


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