Women Riders

Riding in Crosswinds

Written by  August 31, 2004

Welcome back from Sturgis for those of you who made it to the annual rally. Even if you took the back roads through Nebraska, I’m sure at some point during your stay you traveled on I-90. You probably encountered extreme crosswinds? How did you handle it? Did you ride with confidence, were you scared or just nervous? You can read articles and tips on how to ride in crosswinds, but until you actually experience the challenge you won’t have a clue how it feels.

We took a beautiful day trip to the Badlands and it wasn’t bad going, but coming back into Rapid City was unbelievable. Maintaining safety margins and timing is crucial when riding at speeds of 75-80 mph, and then coupled with the crosswinds, it can turn into one heck of a challenge, especially if you are riding in a group and trying to stay together. It took everything I had to keep my bike in control and I felt like I was all over the road.

Your first tendency might be to tense up, white knuckle the handlebars and fight it, but you should relax your grip, keep your head up and let the motorcycle correct itself. Be alert, check your surroundings, look further ahead, anticipate traffic and shoulder check frequently before changing lanes. Always lean into the wind and slow down. Ride in the center of the lane to enable moving in either direction. When riding on the edge of the lane the wind could push you to the shoulder where you might hit gravel or grooved pavement. Allow space between you and a large passing vehicle (and there are plenty on I-90!).

Gusty winds are the worst, so try and relax. When going under an overpass the wind pushes you through, and then as you exit you are right back into the crosswind, so you might back off the throttle some. Riding in turbulence is not fun, granted it is the experience you gain like the first time you rode in the rain or a hail storm, but you wouldn’t want to do it often! I noticed some riders in our group leaned forward to reduce wind resistance, but we all agreed we love our windshields! That is except one rider in our group who did not have one and believe it or not still did not buy one before his trip home! We were all exhausted after the hour ride and I can only imagine how he felt. We also burned a half a tank of gas in fifty miles!

So riding diva’s, if you encounter strong crosswinds or undesirable weather conditions try to RELAX, be safe and stay focused!

Dear Goldie,
Panic stops really scare me. I dropped my bike twice in Colorado when my back wheel locked up. Any suggestions on preparing for sudden stops? I keep going over it in my mind; should of done this, should of done that. Thanks!
Julie Wiggins
K.C. MO


Hi Julie,
Sorry to hear about your bike: hope you are both okay. If there is a good part to dropping your bike, it’s you getting up, getting back on and riding. Congrats!

We all experience panic stops at some point in our riding experience. Some of us panic and grab everything we can, which is not the right solution. The quickest way to stop is by using a combination of both front and rear brakes. In the Motorcycle Safety class we practiced a skid, applying both brakes at the same time and coming to a controlled stop. Our instructor told us, “I hope you never have to use this, but you need to know how to do it properly and how it feels in case you do”.

The front brake should be applied gradually. This will decrease the chance of locking your wheels. The rear brake should be used firmly to the point of impending lockup.
If you want to find out how hard you can brake without locking the wheels or skidding you need to practice. You have a couple choices here, find an empty parking lot and practice, and try different scenarios that include braking on bumps, while turning and in the rain. Or you could take an advanced riders course and practice with an instructor.

Here are a few tips on sudden stops:
- Keep the bike upright and in a straight line with the handlebars straight.
- Apply each brake evenly.
- Remember if you take your feet off the pegs for balance, only your front bake remains.
- Check your mirrors to see if someone is close behind you and keep moving if you can so you won’t be hit from behind.
- Do not brake while swerving.
- 75% of effective braking capacity is in the front brake. Use it, but respect it!

TIP OF THE MONTH: Take two sets of bike keys on any long trips and give one to your companion. If you lose a key you cannot lock/unlock your bike.

2004 Sturgis Highlights:
* Meeting Bill Walraven, who is 75 years old and from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He has been to Sturgis six or seven times and he was riding a Gold Wing trike this trip.

* Meeting Brett White and Clint Candervoort at the Broken Spoke Saloon. Both rode their Panheads from Austin, Texas. Brett on his 1955 and Clint on his 1948, with no windshields! After visiting for four hours we all gathered outside to watch them kick start their bikes and ride off! Check future issues for a Reader’s & Their Rides article on their experience.

* Met a riding diva from Oscala, Florida, who had dropped her Harley-Davidson Deuce a couple times on her trip. They rode to Gillette, South Dakota, paid a visit to the Harley-Davidson dealership, and ended up trading her Deuce for a 2004 Dyna Low-Rider!

* Stopping for lunch at Carhenge, Nebraska and running into 20 plus from F.O.G. Cycles! And then again at the Broken Spoke Saloon and seeing Ronnie Ralston.

* Had a nice long visit and drinks with Jay Allen (Mr.Spoke as we call him), owner of the Broken Spoke Saloons in Sturgis, Myrtle Beach, Daytona Beach and Laconia.
You won’t find a nicer guy! We talked about his new television series called “The Journey”, to be aired on Speed Vision. He and his crew traveled to New Zealand, and throughout the United States in search of the greatest highways and byways. They interviewed and rode with bikers to find out why they ride and where their passion for the sport came from. All the filming was done from a bike!

We will keep our Cycle Connections readers in the loop on when the show will air.

Now are feet are back on the ground….ugh! Unpacking, laundry, back to work and anxiously awaiting our next road trip!

By Goldie Arnold
“Never ride faster than your angel can fly”