Don't let those skills atrophy!

Locked your bike away for the winter? You needn't lose all the speed you earned this year over the off-season. With just a little effort, you can start riding again in the spring faster than ever. Here's how to improve your motorcycle riding skills during the off-season.

One: Study

The single best way to become a better rider is to spend time in the off-season studying. Check out Nick Lenatsch's Sport Riding Techniques. Start there and, when you're ready for something more advanced, move on to Techniques of Motorcycle Roadracing by none other than King Kenny Roberts. Need something more visual than the written word? The A Twist of the Wrist II DVD is good, if basic. Don't just read (or watch) these once, treat studying for motorcycle riding just like you would a college course. Take notes, practice the theory, pursue further learning.

Two: Get In Shape

It might sound counterintuitive, but the holiday season and winter are the perfect times to get in shape. All those extra calories can help you pack on the pounds (of muscle) and going to the gym will help pass those long nights, while helping to combat seasonal affective disorder. Greater resistance to injury, greater stamina, improved flexibility, and higher concentration are just some of the benefits you'll be able to apply to riding in the spring. Start with How To Stay In Riding Shape Over The Holidays.

Three: Improve Your Bike

All that time you're not spending riding can be used to fit new tires, improve your suspension, tune your motor, or even just performing basic service tasks like adjusting valves. Don't know how to do that stuff? Well, you've got time to learn. YouTube is a treasure trove of how-to videos that can show you how to do just about anything to your bike. A simple search by model and issue should net you a ton of good advice.

Four: Get New Riding Gear

The off-season is also the bargain season for buying riding gear. Look for closeout deals from major retails and search eBay and Craigslist for top-brand stuff that's only been worn a single season.

Five: Plan Your Riding Season

Set goals, then plan how you'll achieve them. Want to do your first track day? Ride on a different continent? Go motorcycle camping through The Sierra Nevada Mountains? Start putting together the pieces now; plan routes, sign up friends, save the money, buy the necessary gear and book the time off work.

What DVD and book recommendations do you have that can help with improved riding technique for next season?