by Jerry Palladino
Finally, winter is upon us and the
Hurricane Season is over. While it's true that winter in Florida is more
like early Fall to Northerners, if you've lived here for a number of
years, 45 degrees seems quite cold, especially when riding a motorcycle.
The wind chill factor is off the charts. At 60mph and 45 degrees, it can
feel more like temperatures in the teens and that's cold in anyone's
Hypothermia can happen very quickly if you're not dressed properly. What
happens is your body senses the core temperature drop and begins cutting
off blood supply to your hands, feet and your head. When the blood flow
to your brain slows down, your decision making abilities start to slow
down as well. Just like an intoxicated person has problems performing
two tasks at the same time, as in clutching and braking, so does a
person with the beginnings of hypothermia. You would usually first
notice your hand getting numb then your feet and last but not least,
your forehead, which can even make you feel like you've eaten too much
ice cream too fast. If you've got all these symptoms, I guarantee your
judgment has become impaired. If you prepare for a cold weather ride,
you should never have to worry about or suffer from hypothermia.
First, start with a good pair of insulated gloves. Cold numb fingers can
make for a miserable ride. I've got 3 pairs of gloves, lightweight,
un-insulated medium leather with Thinsulate and a somewhat bulky leather
pair with heavy insulation. If using the bulky type gloves hurts your
throttle clutch and braking abilities, get yourself some heated grips.
Heated grips work wonders and here in Florida, may be enough with just a
pair of light leather gloves. The warmest thing you can put on your
hands are electric gloves but they can be a little bulky.
For your feet, the best boots I've found are
These boots have a special waterproof insulation which not only keeps
your feet warm in the winter, but they'll keep you cool and dry in the
summer and they're extremely comfortable.
To keep your face and head warm, a Balaclava or ski mask will do the
trick especially when combined with a full face helmet, a 3/4 or at
least ear wraps zippered on to a half helmet.
To keep the wind from getting inside your jacket, there are many types
of neck wraps available from fabric to leather, even a bandanna helps.
Your main concern is the jacket. When your chest is warm it's much
easier to keep all your extremities warm. A thick leather jacket or one
made of Cadora which is also waterproof along with a couple of layers
underneath, is the way to go. An electric vest will keep you warm as
toast in even the coldest weather and eliminates the layers you'll
If you're ever caught without all the necessary gear and find yourself
shivering, pick up a newspaper and a plastic bag. Shove the paper down
your jacket and wrap your neck with the plastic bag and grab a hot cup
of coffee. That should make the ride home at least bearable.
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Back to Basics Series:
A "Motorman" is the term used in police circles to identify a motorcycle
cop, or any law enforcement officer assigned to the motorcycle division.
becoming a Motor Officer, Jerry rode for enjoyment for about 25
years. Then one day, he saw a 5 minute segment on a television show
which depicted motorcycle officers training on their Harley police
bikes. The way these officers could maneuver these full size motorcycles
around like a child's toy, made it appear as if they were defying
gravity. At that moment, he knew that he had a lot to learn about riding
a motorcycle. Shortly afterwards, the agency he worked for started a
motorcycle unit. he was sent for training to Tallahassee with the
highway patrol. The training consisted of 120 hours of intensive
motorcycle training, focusing mainly on low speed handling. Jerry says,
"When I finished this training, for the first time I really knew how to
ride a motorcycle."