On a bike, you’re immersed in the ever-changing panorama of foliage colors—unobstructed by a car’s roof and its pillars. Even a convertible places a frame in your line of vision. On a motorcycle, you glide visually unrestricted through the majesty of the trees.
Fall foliage season is very symbolic for us riders. It’s a yearly mile marker in our riding season. The swelter of late summer is gone, transformed into the delightful daytime warmth and cool nights of fall. The trees tell us that temperatures are about to fall, as the leaves flutter to the ground.
And those fallen leaves look pretty on the ground. Who doesn’t remember the childhood joy of playing or hiding in leaves? Oh, those beautiful leaves are so pretty on the trees and yet so sneaky when on the ground.
Slip and fall—but that’s not all
Wet leaves on the road can be as slippery as an oil slick. Watch for them, especially in corners. Cornering uses a good measure of your tire’s available traction. Wet leaves can suddenly take away the remaining traction and lead to a fall.
Use caution when braking on wet leaves, as well. Wet leaves between a tire under braking loads and the road surface can cause the tire to lose traction and skid. Even with anti-lock brakes, caution is a good strategy.
Wet leaves are also a hazard under your boots when stopping or maneuvering in a parking lot.
Fallen leaves, even when dry, present hazards. They can cover the paint lane markings on the road, concealing the lane size and turn directions. This is particularly dangerous at night when sight distance is shorter.
Leaves piled along the side of the road can cover surface hazards like:
- Open sewer grates
- Roadside rain gullies
Piles of fallen leaves can conceal many surface hazards at intersections, including:
- Low-profile concrete dividers used for traffic calming
- Large, slippery preformed thermoplastic lane direction arrows and crosswalk markers
- Oil and antifreeze spills
- Broken glass and debris from previous fender benders
Also, be sure to never park your motorcycle near piles of dry leaves. Hot exhaust pipes can cause a fire. Motorcycles that have catalytic converters are at an increased risk due to higher temperatures.
And, please don’t ride through piles of leaves. Remember, a youngster could be playing in them!
Till next time, enjoy the foliage and beware the fallen leaves. Ride safe!
Road surface hazards come in all shapes and sizes throughout the year. Here are more articles on how to deal with road hazards:
Four winter surface hazards to avoid on your motorcycle
Why you need to keep road salt off your motorcycle
Road hazards to watch for on your first spring motorcycle ride