When it comes to winter, there are roughly two groups of motorcycle riders. If you're lucky enough to live somewhere that doesn't get super cold or have snow and ice, then it might just be another riding season for you. If you're in this group, we're extremely happy for you.

Unfortunately, if you're like me, you're in the second group. Maybe you'll ride when it's cold, and you'll just put on some extra layers and maybe some heated gear and go. But when there's ice on the ground, that's when even many of the most hardcore riders take a brief pause until the ice melts. (If you're an ice racer, though, our hats are off to you. But please give them back, because we're also cold.)

There's nothing wrong with taking this approach, but what you need to be aware of is that riding is like any other skill. If you're reasonably good at something, but then you stop for a while, you start to fall out of the rhythms you'd previously built. While you might pick it up pretty quickly from sheer muscle memory when you start back up, it may take a few minutes to find your groove again.

Here are a few important things to keep an eye on while you're getting back into the saddle for the new riding season.

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Sketchy Road Conditions

Look At This Giant Pothole

Road conditions can be super sus after a winter thaw.

If you're reading this, then we're guessing you live somewhere that gets seriously cold weather in the winter. Ice and snow are probably part of your life, as are salt and/or gravel trucks and spring road construction. 

Even if you had a mild winter, the constant expansion and contraction of the roads due to temperature fluctuations can cause them to fall into disrepair. If you've been riding for any length of time, you're probably used to scanning the road ahead to make sure you're not riding into anything you can't handle. However, if you've taken a few months off, you might need to be extra vigilant.

There's no need to freak out about it, but it's worth keeping an extra careful eye on the road ahead those first few times you go out. If there are potholes, crumbling edges of the road, or anything else that could throw a wrench in your ride, you want to see it ahead of time and avoid it.

Fellow Road Users Who Are Being Careless

Distracted Driver Dangers

Watch out for distracted drivers (and please don't be one).

Spring isn't the only time you can find fellow road users being careless, of course. However, you also have to keep in mind that you (and many riders in the area) haven't been out on the road in a little while. Since that's the case, those road users have probably gotten used to not seeing bikes on the road because they haven't been there.

Defensive riding techniques will serve you well at all times of year. Keeping yourself visible in a vehicle's rearview mirror, not hovering in their blind spot, and making eye contact if possible are all good strategies. Wearing bright gear that helps you get seen can also help (although you can also be discouraged every time you see someone driving while playing with their smartphone). 

Maintaining vigilance about your fellow road users, in addition to upcoming road conditions, can make a big difference in how well your ride goes. That's true every time you go out, but it's especially true those first few rides when everyone's getting used to more bikes being out on the road again.

This entire section goes double at intersections, whether they're exits and entrances to shopping areas or gas stations, or actual road intersections with other streets and roads in your area. You know how everyone seems to forget how to drive the first time it snows every year, even if they've lived in the same area forever? The same is true for sharing the road with motorcycles. Stay vigilant.

Nearly Invisible Ice Patches

Slippery, icy Roads

Slippery roads are especially scary if you're not keeping an eye out.

If you're the type of rider who will gear up and go out as soon as it's above freezing, we totally get it. We're excited, too. However, you need to remember that not all roads are going to thaw at the same rate. 

Bits of road that are in shadow most (or all) of the day, or that are up in the mountains, might still have patches of ice on them that other parts of the road do not. Sneaky ice patches are yet another thing to keep your eyes open for if you go out very early in the spring riding season. 

Random Animals And Pedestrians

Stay over there, deer

Deer are cool as long as they're not suddenly jumping in front of your bike.

Like some of the other things listed here, these are both things you'll want to be wary of all riding season long. No one likes a surprise deer in front of them at any time of year, and some random human suddenly crossing the street isn't much better. 

However, as with the fellow road users mentioned above, if it's been a bit since you've been out on a bike, you need to get used to the rhythms of the area again. That's true whether the other people and animals around are also using the road or not. It's all about observation, action, and reaction in appropriate ways, so everyone can go about their business safely.

What other spring things do you always keep in mind when you head out for your first ride of the season? Let us know in the comments!

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