Riding clinic: Get the most from a summer B-road blast
Here are our top tips on staying safe on a new twisty ride
Tractors and trailers
Farm traffic will increase, especially towards the end of July, through August and into September, as farmers get ready to harvest their crops. In rural areas you need to be aware of this, especially on late summer evenings. You may think the roads are virtually empty but be prepared for slow-moving farm traffic as grain is lugged along. Watch out for breaks in the hedges as these can mean field entrances.
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Look for clues
When you are riding roads for the first time you need to gather as much information as possible about what lies ahead. So, think about your road positioning – towards the left for right handers and closer to the centre for left-handers so you can gain the clearest view through corners. If in doubt, peg back your speed. There will also be information to be had from looking at the way hedges and even telegraph poles line the road – but always be aware that the telegraph wires can veer off to the left or right.
If there is a huge shadow in front of you then obviously the sun is behind you. The longer the shadow, the lower the sun is. This means anyone looking directly at you will be staring directly into the sun and may lose you in the low light. If you are approaching a junction with waiting traffic and you have a large shadow cast in front, be prepared to stop. The drivers waiting to pull out might not have seen you at all.
Don’t get carried away
The roads are dry, the sun is out, there’s hardly any traffic about late on a summer evening – perfect. But don’t get carried away. I see more crashes on road and track when the weather is perfect than when it’s wet. Riders get over ambitious, and push their limits in sunny weather, trusting the road conditions and increasing their speed.
The right kit
Race leathers may get sweaty, hot, and uncomfortable in summer, but they will save your skin if anything should go wrong. Riding in just a T-shirt may look and feel cool in summer, but it’ll definitely feel like the wrong decision if you end up bouncing down the road. Always try to wear the correct kit, and keep everything covered, that includes gloves and ankles. Stone strikes at even 30mph hurt, and can remove skin very quickly.