Women Riders

Think Before You Park!

Written by  July 31, 2006

Remember when you first started riding in a group? Maybe you were on a charity ride. All the bikes stopped in line in front of an open parking space, turned off their motors, whipped their handlebars left or right and quickly and gracefully backed into the available space.

Because of my lack of experience I passed them, went around the block and found another space to park. I lacked the confidence to back my bike without holding up the line, re-positioning my alignment, etc. So it was easier to avoid the group parking, not to mention it was embarrassing.

Later, during my first few attempts, my husband told everyone I was “parking challenged” while I struggled to position my bike to back into the line of previously parked bikes. It took a while to master the skill, but with practice I finally got it.

Let me encourage you not to be discouraged if you can’t park as close to the bikes as everyone else. If you keep it upright during the procedure, you’re doing great. On several trips and occasions, I have seen female riders get off their bikes and let their spouse back in for them. You may need extra support until you accomplish the skill, so you shouldn’t have a problem with someone helping you. It could definitely save you, your bike and the adjacent bikes from getting hurt.

Just like everything else when it comes to riding, it takes a tremendous amount of
focus and balance. Parking surface and traffic is a factor in safely parking your motorcycle. Here are a few tips that have helped me over the years:

Think before you park! Check out the surface for rocks/gravel, grass, oil, chuckholes, or soft tarmac. If you don’t feel comfortable with the parking space, don’t park there.
Abide by parking rules, handicap, no parking, etc. Find another spot.
When the bike in front of you is backing into a space, turn left or right, whichever is appropriate, stop adjacent to it and in front of the next available parking space.
Shut off your engine, align your handlebars, place both feet down, look over your shoulder, and slowly walk your bike backwards until your rear tire touches the curb. Be very careful if you have long exhaust pipes that might scrape the curb as you back up to it.
Put your kickstand down. If you are on soft soil, you may need to use a plastic or metal plate under your kickstand so it won’t sink into the ground. Sometimes there are wooden blocks provided at a rally or bike nights. A crushed soda can works great and you can keep it in your saddlebag for the future.
If the lean on the kickstand is going DOWN a hill, it can make your bike unstable and it will be difficult to stand upright from the kickstand. Change your angle or position of parking so it is stable, easy to lift and ride off.

If the lean on the kickstand is UP a hill, the chance of falling over is greater. Change your angle or position of parking so it is stable, easy to lift and ride off.
Sometimes you may have to adjust your balance and momentum if you are carrying additional weight (T-bags, cooler, etc). Take it slow, don’t rush; the bike behind you will wait until you are parked safely.

Every parking situation is different. Survey the area and be comfortable parking there. Don’t put yourself in a situation you cannot get out of just because everyone else is parked there.

If you have other tips for parking, please share with us and we will pass on to our readers!

Recently during a trip to South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana I had a tire experience I’d like to share. As our group was about to depart on a 300-mile leg of the trip, my husband noticed a screw protruding from my rear tire.

There was no way to know how long it had been there or how deep it had penetrated the 1-year-old tire. The only reason he saw it was it was visible in the small portion of the tire tread that is exposed when parked. His first inclination was to pull it out but he resisted that impulse. If he had and the tire went flat it would have aggravated the situation.

We located a nearby bike shop, split off from the group and rode slowly to have the tire inspected. The mechanic pulled the screw out and it was only imbedded approximately 1/8th inch in the tire. He performed a water test by pouring soapy water on the area where the screw was and waited to see if it bubbled. At first it didn’t and we thought maybe we would get lucky and not have to replace the tire, but after a few minutes it did slowly bubble so we replaced it.

Even though tires are unbelievably tough, they can pose a serious danger if they neglected. Every time you ride you should inspect your tires for sidewall and tread groove, cracking, punctures, knots, cuts or excessive wear. Unlike a car, your motorcycle has only two tires so you rely on them for your saftey and the safety of your passenger. If your tires are not well maintained you can easily lose the ability to steer, stop and accelerate effectively.

While the chance of a blowout was probably minimal, eventually the tire would have gone flat, possibly by the next morning. We eventually met up with the rest of our riding group who had finished breakfast and off we headed for another journey through the beautiful roads of the Black Hills.

Ride safe, and if you are off to the Sturgis rally or other trips have fun and keep the shiny side up!

Goldie Arnold
“Never rider faster than you angel can fly”

TIP OF THE MONTH: In poor driving conditions, at higher speeds and at night, use a 4-5 second following distance for added space between vehicles.