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Riding in the Rain

Riding in the Rain

By Miller Langhorne

It may be called the “Sunshine State” but Florida motorcycle riders know that sooner or later they'll get caught in the rain. For some riders, when the rain starts, the riding stops. That's the right thing to do if you don't feel comfortable riding in wet conditions. But if you understand a few things about the mechanics of riding on wet roads, combined with the right gear, you can survive and arrive mostly dry. 


Riding on a wet road requires some adjustments to your riding style. The smoother you are with throttle and brakes, the better. Starting out slowly will give you better traction. Increase your following distance and begin braking sooner and more gradually if you can. Locking up the brakes will likely put you on the pavement.  Unless you're on an adventure style bike, avoid deep or moving water. If you're not sure how deep it is, go around it. 

The road is the slipperiest when it first starts raining as the small debris and oil deposits are being raised to the surface before being washed away. Be wary of slippery surfaces like painted road markings, metal bridges, tar snakes, rail crossings, and oil droppings from vehicles at intersections. Keep the ride smooth and straight and those surfaces shouldn't give you any problems.  


Remember this, “Tread is your Friend”. Tires that are properly inflated with good tread will funnel away more water to give you better traction. Keep the tires perpendicular to the road for maximum traction. Leaning into a curve is fun when it's dry, not advisable when wet.

Any vehicle can hydroplane, including motorcycles. Hydroplaning happens when the water causes the tires to lose contact with the road surface. You and your bike are floating. It's a scary feeling but don't smash the brakes. Ease off the throttle slowly and keep a firm, but relaxed grip on the bike. As your speed goes down you will regain traction.  

Rain Gear

Buy a quality rain suit designed for riding. An important key to staying dry  is to put the rain gear on before you need it. And yes, once you put the gear on, many times the rain will run scared. That's the truth. Look for rain gear with reinforced seams and reflective material to help make you more visible. If you can find one in a bright color, buy it. The hood should be detachable or able to be tucked away when not needed or you'll have a mini-parachute on the back of your head. 

Watching a stream of water empty out of your boots at the end of a rainy ride is not a good thing. Waterproof boots can help but in my experience they tend to be hot to wear when it's not raining. There are other options. You can buy boot covers which slip right over your regular riding boots. Make sure they're anti-slip. You can also find waterproof socks which will do nothing for your boots but will keep your feet dry. Not too long ago when newspapers were still flourishing, the plastic bags they were wrapped in made for a cheap solution to keep dry. There are also dozens of waterproofing treatments you can buy. Some work better and last longer than others.  

There are good gloves and bad gloves for riding in the rain. The good ones are waterproof, flexible, and help you easily grip wet controls. Some will have a small rubber wiper on one of the fingers to help clear your face shield. The bad gloves will get wet, make your hands cold, and likely leave your hands covered with black dye. Voice of experience. 

If I don't have a face shield, I prefer anti-fog goggles. They keep the water from dripping or blowing in my eyes. Like the goggles, face shields also need to be anti-fog. 


The word for bikers in all types of riding weather is visibility. The darker it is and the heavier the rain, the less visible motorcyclists become. Along with the wet stuff falling from above, you've also got the spray from all of the vehicles around you. Be bright. Be reflective. Be seen. 

Use your lights. I always ride with my high beam on during daylight storms. And now it's legal for vehicles to use hazard lights in Florida while driving when the conditions create “extreme low visibility”. The law applies to roads with speed limits over 55, but I'm going to use everything I can to be seen, no matter the posted speed limit. I doubt any cop will want to stop me in the rain to write a ticket. 


There's really never a good time to be gawking around when you're riding a motorcycle. During a rain storm it's even more important for you to be paying close attention for all of the reasons listed above. Keep your head up and your eyes looking forward and to the sides for any potential trouble spots.



Use your favorite weather app to check the local radar and see if you've got a good escape route or if you should make plans to wait it out. 


While the number of riders struck by lightning is low, it does happen and the results are most often fatal. If you can see the lightning, or hear the thunder, park the bike in a safe area and wait it out. 

Finally, always remember to ride your own ride. If you're feeling uncomfortable in any riding situation, don't do it. Your goal should always be to live to ride another day.

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Make Your Own Motorcycle First Aid Kit

Make Your Own Motorcycle First Aid Kit

By Gregg Geerbaux

Don't Leave Home Without It

First Aid Kits are something many riders overlook. Most won't give a thought about one until the time comes when they need it. Space is precious on a bike so you don't need to pack a lot. The challenge is figuring out what to carry, it isn't the same for every rider. My kit isn't meant to be a life saving package, but rather items that will give me relief from minor injuries or provide comfort until emergency help arrives.

There are many pre-packaged kits but they usually have items you don't need. It's easy to construct your own. You don't need to pack a pharmacy's worth of stuff either. Small quantities will do just fine.

Waterproof Container – this can be hard plastic such as food storage containers, or a vinyl pouch that closes tight. It needs to keep your supplies dry.

Pain Relievers – over the counter aspirin or ibuprofen, along with some antacid tablets, breath mints, cough drops, etc. You can repackage all of these in one small bottle or container to save space. Just remember which pill is which.

Extra Prescription Medications – an extra days supply of medication if you get stuck away from home overnight.

Band Aids – Remember, a small bandage is useless on a large cut but you can cover a small cut with a large one. Liquid bandage can be a good substitute.

Medical Gauze and First Aid Tape – a good temporary bandage for just about any cut or wound.

Scissors – for cutting tape and bandages. Your knife will work too.

Burn/Sting Relief – eventually someone touches the hot exhaust.

Antibiotic Ointment – helps keep out infection as wounds heal.

Antimicrobial Hand Cleaner – as good as antibacterial and kills even more bad stuff.

Disposable Instant Cold Packs – for pain relief, swelling and inflammation.

Gloves – disposable non-latex will do the trick. As with band aids, you can put a large size glove on a smaller hand but not the other way around.

Glow Sticks – you want to make yourself as visible as possible at night. They're inexpensive and have a long shelf life.

Bottled Water – used to wash the wounds or provide hydration.

Cell Phone – it can be a good source for medical information and you can use it to call for additional help. And there's an app to turn your phone into a flashlight.

The best first aid kit is one you never need to use but there's a good chance that you, or one of your riding buddies, will be thankful you've got one when needed. Ride safe.

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Lane Splitting for Florida?

Lane Splitting for Florida?

By Gregg Geerbaux

A Risky Maneuver 

Have you ever thought that there's got to be a better way of doing something? That's what I was doing as I sat in a long line of traffic waiting for the light to cycle us through a busy intersection. I was tired of breathing exhaust fumes and was getting an urge to slip around and between the stopped vehicles to get me to the front of the line. With my luck, there would be a cop sitting somewhere up ahead and I really don’t need a ticket. Or some rude cager will see me coming and decide “it's time to teach that biker dude a lesson” and narrow the gap. Neither of which would have been good for me. 

Making that move isn't legal in Florida but if you’re an international traveler you’re aware that many places in the world allow and encourage the use of lane filtering, aka lane splitting, white lining, and other such names. In most of those places scooters and motorcycles do make up a larger percentage of the commuter traffic but perhaps it's time America got on board with the rest of the world. Maybe more people would ride to work if they knew a motorcycle might give them a traffic advantage.

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They’ve been doing it in California for years where it’s not actually legal but it’s tolerated. CHP actually published some safety guidelines for lane splitting but they had to be retracted when someone, likely, not a rider, complained that the state was promoting illegal activity. Again, one of the impediments to motorcycle safety is the non-motorcycling public.  

Other states are considering their options when it comes to lane-splitting. Utah is leading the way with a Motorcycle Lane Filtering law which went into effect in May 2019. You're allowed to do it only on roadways with a speed limit under 45mph, between stopped vehicles, and you can't exceed 15mph. It's a safe way of doing things if everyone follows the directions. There are a few other states with proposed legislation and while it's not legal, there are some states, and some law enforcement officers, who don't always enforce the law. That's not the case in Florida. Florida Statute FSS 316.209 forbids the operation of a motorcycle between lanes of traffic and I don't know of any police agencies that don't actively enforce the statute. 

The American Motorcyclist Association is pro lane filtering. They've sent out press releases, and even created a Position Statement, in support of it and urging motorcyclists to get politically involved and contact their legislators to get these bills passed. In part, they said this about the issue, “The AMA endorses rider responsibility and actions that make roadways safer for motorcyclists. Research and evidence suggest that lane splitting may reduce a motorcyclist’s risk exposure.” The AMA points out that “one of the most dangerous situations for any motorcyclist is being caught in congested traffic, where stop-and-go vehicles, distracted and inattentive vehicle operators, and environmental conditions, increase the risk of physical contact with another vehicle or hazard”.

I agree with that statement but I have concerns that granting bikers this privilege would only serve to escalate the prejudices we already experience. Riding a bike anywhere is dangerous but it's extremely risky in rush hour traffic. With all the electronic gadgetry and social media connections people have today, it’s hard for some of them to find time for things like “attentive driving”.  And now you want to be able to slide past them as they sit in traffic staring at their smartphone screens? Maybe they’ll be too busy to notice. But if they do notice, you can be sure more than a few will raise their voices and claim that it’s not fair for a motorcyclist to have that kind of privilege. Among those voices are people who have no concept of how dangerous it is navigating heavy traffic without the benefit of crash bumpers, airbags, windshield wipers, climate controls, and all those other safety features and creature comforts that cars and trucks give you. Motorcyclists don’t dent. We break. We bleed.

So what about motorcyclists who don’t endorse lane splitting? That is your right and you should voice your opinion if you so desire. But, even if it were to become legal, it won't be mandatory and you’re welcome to continue to sit in that long line of traffic if you want to. Perhaps other drivers will see the benefit and consider switching to two wheels. That would ease traffic congestion. 

And then we have the riders-without-brains who will abuse the privilege and make everyone else look bad. All it will take is for someone to decide to pop a wheelie while lane splitting and wipe out on someone’s side mirror. Down goes the rider-without-brains and up go the cries for ending such a dangerous practice.  

Lane splitting can be dangerous. It requires your full attention and an attitude that every vehicle you’re passing has a driver who’s not paying attention to your actions. It’s not the solution to every traffic jam but it would be nice to legally have the option. 

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Helmets – To Wear or Not To Wear?

Helmets – To Wear or Not To Wear?

By Gregg Geerbaux

Freedom To Choose

Riding a motorcycle is a choice we freely make. No one has ever been forced (as far as I know) to be a motorcycle rider. The reasons for wanting to ride are many and as varied as there are riders. Just as varied are the types of bikes people ride and their choices of riding gear, or lack thereof. Here in Florida, for the most part, no one tells you what you have to wear when you ride. If a tank top, shorts, and flip-flops are your style, and you feel comfortable riding that way, that’s your choice and it’s perfectly legal. And if you're over 21 and have the proper medical coverage, you don’t even need to wear a helmet if you so choose. Freedom is a word often used in the motorcycle community and these choices are part of that freedom. Heck, if you drive a car, you gotta wear a seat belt all of the time. That is so oppressive. 

There was a time when no one had to wear a helmet. Then the national government got involved and started requiring the states to have a helmet law if they wanted to continue to receive highway construction funds. Of course, there was a backlash from those who ride and that led to the establishment of several of the motorcyclist rights organizations that you see today. Things have changed and now the helmet decisions are done at the state level. Back in the summer of 2000, the state of Florida allowed motorcycle riders over the age of 21 with $10,000 medical insurance coverage to ride without a helmet. That was when I put my helmet on the shelf in the garage and went for a ride with the breeze blowing past my unprotected skull. It was a wonderful feeling of freedom. If it was cold or rainy, I might dig out the helmet, but most days were lid free. 

Even though I know it’s not safe, nor smart, I like to ride without a helmet. I enjoy the feeling of the air rushing over my scalp as I roll down the road. I don't enjoy the weight of the helmet on my head nor the strap fastened around my chin. I like taking something dangerous and making it more dangerous. There’s a coolness factor to it that not everyone gets. And for those of you who never ever ride without one, I know it’s a totally foreign concept to you. But to me, and my feeble lil’ mind, it’s cool as hell. 

And while I really can’t trace it back to one particular incident or ride or whatever, somewhere along the way, I started wearing a helmet again. My attitude towards helmets changed. I didn’t have a close call or anything like that to make me think that I was playing the odds too long. Having friends involved in accidents wasn’t the reason as I’m the guy who thinks it’ll only happen to the other person and not to me. It might have been my frustration with trying to keep the helmet stickers attached to my forehead. Nah, not that either. 

Somewhere along the way, I started grabbing my helmet as I headed out the door for a ride. I was even wearing my helmet during the scorching summers, but I rationalized that was better than melanoma on my skull. Somewhere along the way, wearing a helmet when I ride has become a habit. It’s part of my riding regimen, along with boots and long pants. I even went so far as to buy a white helmet to help combat the summer heat. If you don’t believe that the helmet color can make a difference, put a white helmet and a black helmet in the summer sun for a few minutes and then place a hand on each one. Big diff, huh?

Do I think everyone should wear a helmet? Yes. Do I think everyone should be required by law to wear a helmet? No. I chose to ride without one for a time and I enjoyed it to the max. I understood the risk, but I preferred the reward. I do want to have that choice though. 

Many riders will tell you it’s all about freedom and the choices we make when we ride. We’re free to choose to drink alcohol when we ride, or not. We’re free to ride in a safe and responsible manner, or not. We’re free to choose to wear safety gear, or not. While we, as individuals, make those choices, we should also keep in mind that the results of our choices can have far-reaching effects on ourselves and others, such as our family and friends. Feel free to think about that.


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The Evolution Of Motorcycle Clothing - News

The Evolution Of Motorcycle Clothing

By Bill Akins

Style Matters

I recently spotted a meme with an old style motorcyclist's cap on a biker skull. It made me think about the old style riding caps worn back in the 1930's up until the 1960's and why they went out of style. 

Most young riders today don't even know about them unless it's from the movies. They were worn by Marlon Brando in "The Wild One" (the jacket & cap obviously copied by Shia LaBeouf in "Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls"). They were very common from the 1930's through the early 1960's. They have been out of style for a long time but motorcyclists are starting to wear them again. They are so much more stylish and classy looking than a common baseball cap. Just like flared thigh riding pants ("jodhpurs") and high riding boots are versus jeans & sneakers. This was from back in the day when motorcyclists dressed to ride.

Either I gravitate towards things that are old school, or I was born too late into a time that I don't really fit into. I haven't figured out which it is yet. But what I do know is that somehow, some way, "Motorcyclists" have somehow become known by modern day society as "Bikers" although that is not really the correct term. "Motorcyclist" is the correct term because the term "Biker" comes from the word bicycle.

In the early days of motorcycling, it was called "Motorcycling". Somehow that term changed to include an "R" in it. Motorcycles came into being almost at the same time the first motorized carriages appeared and those first motorcyclists wore almost the same type of clothing as the early automobile motorists. Pork pie hat, gauntlet gloves, goggles, and a long motoring coat. The women riding in the early automobiles would wrap scarves around their heads, or tie their hats tightly on with scarves under their chins.

Motorcyclists soon realized the long riding coat could get caught up in their drive chains. Many switched to waist length coats or jackets that would not entangle in the drive chain. They also switched to the type of military officer's riding breeches, which were flared at the thigh to be roomy and tight from above the knee down, coupled with high riding boots or leg wrappings known as "Puttees" (to avoid catching in the open chains of their motorcycles), They kept the goggles and also adopted leather helmets like early aviators wore. This style continued throughout the nineteen teens and into the 1940's. 

In the 1930's, leather helmets were still being worn but many riders began wearing military, or police style visor caps. Motorcyclists also started wearing high horseback riding boots instead of the puttees. The flared thigh officer's riding pants (Jodhpurs) were still worn and kidney belts were used to protect the rider's kidneys from the vibration. Gauntlet style gloves were worn to protect the hands from road stones. This was a reflection on what the motorcycle cops were wearing at that time. Their snappy uniforms had a cut and style that made sense for motorcycle riding.  

In the late 1940's and early 1950's, things began to change. Riders had for the most part abandoned the Jodhpurs and began wearing blue jeans. The civilian riding boots got shorter. They became more like the shorter jack boots that enlisted German soldiers wore in WW2. That look became known as "The Greaser" look, popularized in many movies and TV shows like Fonzie from Happy Days. Rolled up at the bottom blue jeans, black Brando style jacket (it came out long before Brando but he really popularized it), hard visor motorcyclist hats, a white T shirt and a Brylcream laden ducktail haircut. 

What happened next was a major shift in motorcycle clothing fashion. In July of 1969, the movie "Easy Rider" was released and drastically changed the clothing fashion of motorcyclists. The black leather jacket was replaced by fringed Indian style leather jackets and the blue jeans became bell bottoms. It also popularized the look of chopper style motorcycles. 

Even more than the Greaser era, the late 1960's completely destroyed the motorcycle fashion of the previous generation. Gone was the classy look of the motorcyclist with the visor cap, traditional black zippered motorcycle jacket, riding breeches, high riding boots, kidney belts, gauntlet gloves, and the neck ties worn by their parents and grandparents. It was replaced with images propagandizing the public that what was cool was to look like Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider. To ride stoned, on a chopper, long hair flying, giving the finger to anyone on the road.

Along with the hippie fashion look, the outlaw motorcycle clubs were getting a lot of press. The public saw how they dressed with head wrapping scarves, denim jackets and vests adorned with pins and patches and the club's “colors” on the back. Movies and television picked up on the look which created an unfair negative stigmatizing of all motorcyclists which lasted for a long time.  

Somewhere, the term "Motorcyclist" changed to "Biker" and the term has stuck. It's universally used today by everyone, even motorcyclists. Is it because it's shorter and easier to say? To this day, the  "outlaw" motorcyclist look permeates the  motorcycle fashion scene. Go to any motorcycle meet, and you will see shirts, jackets, and vests with patches and pseudo biker gang "colors” back. 

As for myself, I love the old school 1930's through the mid to late 1950's motorcyclist fashion and employ that somewhat in how I dress to ride. I can guarantee you that if that became the fashion again, due to some movie or otherwise, more riders would be dressing that way. I hope it may be coming back full circle. We need a change from the patches covered vests, head scarves, and baseball caps that motorcyclists are now wearing. Time to bring back the old motorcyclist apparel fashion that's so old, it's new again. I'm an avid student of all kinds of history and the history of motorcycling too, and wanted to share this with those who may not be old enough to remember how motorcycle clothing fashion used to be.



  • EXCLUSIVE MAP - Scenic Ride 45

    This meandering ride along the fabled Suwannee River takes you from Fanning Springs to White Springs.

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