Cold, Cold, Crosswind

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Sandscape, Oct 21, 2018.

  1. Sandscape

    Sandscape n00b

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    Today I faced two new enemies of the ride: cold temperatures and crosswind. In my MSF course, the instructor had said how cold temperatures can partially shutdown your brain. While riding with open fields on both sides, I was hit with freezing perpendicular winds. Not only did this almost throw me into the oncoming lane, but it also sent chills throughout my body. As a stubborn rider, I didn't pull over and instead fought the beastly gust until I reached town. All I could think about was how cold I was, which led to me almost running a stop sign and getting nailed by a speeding truck. I emergency stopped and dropped my KLR on her side, with luckily little damage to me or the bike.

    What I learned from the experience is that the cold will in fact "shutdown your brain". Usually, low temperatures are combined with fast moving wind on a motorcycle. This lethal duo is like venom to us riders because it paralyzes our reflexes, grabs hold, and pushes us into predators (oncoming freaking traffic). This was a terrible learning experience and I'm glad I eventually found a diner to warm up while I thought about how lucky I was.

    Here's what I learned after the experience...
    • Riding in crosswind - Stay low if your bike as wind protection. If your bike has less protection, sit up tall and push your chest into the direction of the wind. Wind gust are unpredictable and will change your direction without warning. To combat wind gust, lean off the side of your bike safely against the direction of force. You will be riding sideways for a short time because you're canceling the force of the wind. Do not panic! This sick amusement ride won't last forever and prevents you from veering-off in either direction. Also, ride on the third of the road where the wind is coming from (Wind--->You--Center--Right) or (Left--Center--You<---Wind). This will give you more time to correct your course before it's too late. Continue this technique until you reach a sheltered area.
    • Riding in the cold - Here's a good rule of thumb: Shivering = Danger. As I said before, your brain does not work properly in extreme cold. Temperature in general affects how we think, this is why when it's too hot or too cold, your only thoughts seem to be how to get comfortable again. Motorcyclist need their brains working at %100 or more in order to stay alive. If your teeth chatter, if your limbs go numb, or if your body becomes rigid - PULL OVER! Face the sun and use your engine's heat to warm your face and hand's when out of options. Don't try to tough it out. Seek shelter and warmth until you have mental clarity.
    Today was the scariest day of my short motorcycling career. As a novice, I'm sure this happens to every rider at one point or another. I avoided tragedy by a thin margin today and was humbled by the literal forces of nature for the first time. Remember that in order to experience adventure, you must internalize precautions of the road.

    Stay warm, stay calm and enjoy the ride. Thank you for your time.

    P.S.
    Close the vents on your helmet and tighten your jacket straps as much as possible.

    An article on extreme cold and the vital organs:
    https://journalstar.com/news/local/...cle_082a0e9c-fbbf-11de-9922-001cc4c002e0.html
    #1
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  2. ZappBranigan

    ZappBranigan Still Riding

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    1. Check the weather and 2. Heated gear.

    WRT no. 1, I ride for fun, not survival so if it looks like it's going to be miserable I'll find some other activity for the day. IMO heavy, gusty winds are worse than either rain or cold because you can adapt to rain (rain gear) and you can adapt to cold (heated gear) but you can't really "adapt" to wind, you just have to "gut it out."

    Heated gear is also a huge benefit. Once you try it you'll kick yourself for not having tried it earlier.
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  3. CaseyJones

    CaseyJones Ridin' that train

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    I have done both.

    I have, seared in my memory, a trip across Nebraska, with steady southerly 40-mph winds. I was on my R1200GS (good) with luggage (a problem, lots of side area) I was reduced, literally, to under 50 and a heavy lean into the wind. Worse was when a truck was passing me, and the side-pressure was suddenly cut and then resumed. Which was why I kept the speed so low.

    Cold. On a trip, sometimes you run into it. Sometimes it's not a front but a new long-term trend - I was traveling, Montana to Ohio, in May of '16 - and a cold blast of arctic air descended. Stayed with me, along with rain and some sleet and melting snow. Camping out in a motel for five days or so was not an option. A southerly route might have helped, but I had business in Michigan's UP.

    I don't remember hypothermic euphoria, but maybe it was just me - or maybe that time. Maybe all the hot coffee I was drinking was keeping my brain rolling. I had heated grips and wool socks, and over the socks were plastic bags to keep my feet dry...rain gear, top to bottom...but it was miserable and stopping was not an option. Reversing would have been a better choice but I didn't make it.

    Plan, plan, PLAN. And be flexible with the plans.
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  4. st3ryder

    st3ryder Been here awhile

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    I agree, riding in very cold temps is no fun. I had only 1 occasion when I was underdressed for the cold, and felt it to my very core, right down to my bones. :vardy No fun and as you say, dangerous too. I kept on riding knowing I would get to lower altitudes, i.e. I was in some highlands, and that the sun would get higher, i.e. it was early morning. So I would add one can take other aspects into consideration as well before stopping the ride though stopping and warming up is never a bad decision. Cross winds are very hazardous too especially with high gusts. One has to negotiate them to circumstances as well, and use tactics like riding in the middle of the lane, canting into them, watching the scenery ahead of you for movement, visor down to keep crud out of helmet/eyes etc. The most dangerous situation I was in re cross winds is when I was trying to make time in Nevada, heading to Reno, early morning, really strong cross winds that I had to cant into steadily, and then passed tractor trailers with large negative pressures beside them, turning the canting forces into steering forces. :eekers Not fun.

    Neither circumstance is pleasant, but we'll all face them and have to handle them at some point of our riding careers. Just part of the deal unfortunately. Can't be BRP in July all the time. :-)
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  5. Chaostrophy

    Chaostrophy Been here awhile

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    My one word of wisdom is to try to stay ahead of it, if you noticed it's starting to get cold, stop and on warmer gear, rather than waiting until you are chilled. I found my limits the other day, seems I can handle 50 degrees with my current gear, but much colder than that, and I'm going to be slowly getting colder. I knew it was going to get cold, and I wanted to see how things held up, I payed attention to how I was feeling, stopped for dinner, and realized that even though I had been there an hour, I was still kind of chilled.

    Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
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  6. Tripped1

    Tripped1 RonS says I am BSC, scorched earth or something

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    I have a ton of experience riding in pretty crazy crosswinds (we are talking +65mph straightline) otherwise known as Spring and Fall in the south west.

    You really shouldn't have to change your seating. The trick is letting the bike correct for you which it will unless you are in a swirl where you are leaned one way into the wind and the wind shifts and hits your from the "off side" that will move you around in the lane. The hard part is relaxing and letting the bike correct for you, and it will. While the event feels ....odd... like the wheels are moving out from under you (because they are) it should take very little imput to stay on corse, usually a bit of steering to pull the bike out of the lean.

    Keeping a low profil is clutch, I used to commute in those winds 90 miles a day with a packpack laden with military uniforms including steel toed boots, PT gear with tennis shoes AND all of my books for a full load in college....suffice it to say that bag was large, and it made a noticeable difference dealing with crosswinds because it was adding more force to the top of the bike. Different bikes react differently to wind than others. My ex's Ultra Classic with its fork mounted clamshell was a bit of a bear in a crosswind. My Multistrada is barely effected. My nakeds are in the middle really.
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  7. D R

    D R Been here awhile

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    I pretty much concur with what you said. However, I believe your instructor was referring to body temperature (i.e. hypothermia).

    As other comments and replies to your post alluded to, the effects of cold air temperature and wind chill can be offset to a degree by good gear and equipment, preferably heated if the air temperature is very low. If you keep your body core warm, then the body will keep pumping the warm blood to the extremities. (That's the one sentence explanation. One could write a lengthy medical dissertation if you wanted to get into the minutia of how that actually works.)
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  8. usgser

    usgser Long timer

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    As the Norwegians say "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing."
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  9. MichaelTorre

    MichaelTorre i do it in the road.

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    at last..... a sane voice in all the frantic rhetoric. It is nowhere near the magnitude what some of the posters are reporting. having lived in the central plains for years. (KCMO).

    relax grip on the handlebars let the bike lean as much as it wants to lean..
    and stay in the center of the lane.

    60mph winds...Common.

    the only thing that seems to be a problem is the stupid plastic fairings and top bags.
    (which I eschew).

    edit to add:
    The above seems rather harsh admittedly, but I am trying to underscore that the bike tends to "stay up" because of how they are laid out geometrically and further, a death grip on the bars is way way bad.
    Grip with you knees. (!)

    20180912_220441.jpg
    #9
  10. double_entendre

    double_entendre Ticking away the....

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    Hoo boy. Maybe 8 years ago I was riding from BC to Saskatchewan on the Transcontinental Highway. Pouring sideways rain, maybe 40mph winds. Even my rain gear and heated jacket cranked to 11.

    When I stopped for gas, I forgot to put the sidestand down.

    I’m not sure how you dress for weather that bitterly cold. Without the crosswind, the calculator says that’s sub-25 degrees. I’m not sure how to add in the cross wind. Let’s just call it brutal.

    There’s a “how cold was your morning bike commute” thread somewhere, but I don’t feel the need to ride in that stuff anymore. If I’m caught out it’s one thing, but if I’m riding for fun, well, that’s not fun.
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  11. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

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    I don't think there's anything "frantic" about this story. Any sensible rider knows that risks multiply as they accrete. Riding in a crosswind might be no big deal, but when you start adding unrelated risks like cold, they multiply. That's how planes crash and trains derail... when things start to add up. Happy for you that you're such a stud, but I respect the OP, who described himself as a novice, for recognizing that this was a bad situation for him, personally, to be in. That's the kind of person I'd ride with.
    #11
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  12. spoon

    spoon Rubber's gone!

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    I see you have a KLR, loose the stock front fender and cross winds will be much more enjoyable. But a tire hugging fender on for the road.
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  13. keenerkeen07

    keenerkeen07 Adventurer

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    Friend of mine had a DR650 as did I , i watched him as he caught a strong cross wind in a corner on a uphill high way ramp , the front stock duck bill type fender became a wing and he nearly lost the front end , i was right behind and had no problem as i had installed an aftermarket fender that was shorter and more aerodynamic it also had louvers cut into it .
    Cross winds can be very bad especially when you ride bikes like a DR , KLR or the like that are designed for off road as well
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  14. MichaelTorre

    MichaelTorre i do it in the road.

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    Horray. You say you prefer to ride with novices.
    Prolly makes you feel better about your riding abilities.

    When you mature and you get over yourself you will find that excessive emotional content will cloud your judgement and make you do stupid things.
    M->
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  15. MichaelTorre

    MichaelTorre i do it in the road.

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    Smart.
    Hard earned advice.
    M->
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  16. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

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    So, there was absolutely nothing emotional about my post. And I stated a preference for riding with cautious, responsible people.

    I assume it's my turn to deploy a personal insult, since you've chosen to take us down that road. I'm sorry I don't have anything clever and 'emotional' for you... you're just an idiot. I hope for your family's sake that doesn't reflect on your 'riding abilities'.
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  17. MichaelTorre

    MichaelTorre i do it in the road.

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    .... Actually I'm a show off.
    And about me being a stud... Who told you?
    :- )
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  18. st3ryder

    st3ryder Been here awhile

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    Hmmm...I don't know about that "advice" for riding in a strong cross wind. The wind if strong enough *will* blow you right off the road if you don't take counter meausres like canting aginst it. So when you say "let the bike lean as much as it wants to lean", I don't understand. The bike is leaning to one side or another because it's geting pushed that way, and as on a motorcycle leaning is steering, you will get steered right off the road if you do not countersteer/lean/cant, in the opposing direction, sometimes with a lot of force at the bars. The bike will not "stay up" as you say. The rider has to keep it up/stop it from getting blown over and off the road. And, as for keeping a loose grip on the bars, maybe, but to a certain point. If the wind is strong enough, the rider could get blown off the bike as well. Maybe I haven't lived in the plains for years, but I know how to handle stiff cross winds with strong gusts having done my share of touring, and lettng the bike go where it wants to, and hanging on too loosely, isn't what a rider should do IMO.
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  19. MichaelTorre

    MichaelTorre i do it in the road.

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    With respect sir
    in my experience the bike starts leaning as soon as it starts getting blown..
    and it holds the desired line.
    the bike continues on in the direction you desire unless you change directions with countersteering.
    The experience is somewhat spooky as a bike starts to lean with no input from mebut it doesn't change direction.
    (this is a standard bike platform, naked)
    M->
    #19
  20. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

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    This is also my experience. I have to actively countersteer to hold my line in a strong crosswind.
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