Be prepared for motorcycling season

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Master Sgt. Michael McGrady dons required safety gear before getting on his motorcycle here Tuesday. Any motorcyclist on base must wear a helmet, reflective vest, a jacket or long-sleeved shirt, gloves, long pants and shoes that cover the ankle. Sergeant McGrady is first sergeant for the Space Innovation and Development Center here. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Don Branum)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Master Sgt. Michael McGrady dons required safety gear before getting on his motorcycle here Tuesday. Any motorcyclist on base must wear a helmet, reflective vest, a jacket or long-sleeved shirt, gloves, long pants and shoes that cover the ankle. Sergeant McGrady is first sergeant for the Space Innovation and Development Center here. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Don Branum)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Spring has sprung. However, that rumbling isn't thunder from a spring shower; it's the roar of motorcycles returning to the road for the 2007 riding season. 

Whether you hit the road by yourself or join others for a benefit ride, exposition or motorcycle festival, don't forget to prepare yourself and your motorcycle for the new riding season. Here are a few suggestions: 

Consider taking an experienced rider course

This is a safe way to hone ridership skills and to learn more about safely interacting in different traffic situations. This can be especially useful if riders who purchased a new motorcycle. 

Wear a helmet and other protective gear

Protective gear serves three purposes for motorcyclists. It provides comfort and protection from the elements, prevents injury and increases the biker's visibility to other motorists. 

Helmets are the most important piece of safety equipment a motocyclist can wear; Helmets that comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 save lives by preventing or reducing head injuries in an accident. 

Because many motorcycles don't have windshields, riders must protect their eyes against insects, dirt, rocks and other airborne matter. Even the wind can cause eyes to tear and blur. Choose good-quality goggles, glasses with plastic or safety lenses or a helmet equipped with a clear face shield. 

Jackets should have long sleeves and be made of heavyweight, durable material such as leather or denim. Gloves should be of a non-slip type so that you can firmly grip the controls. Footwear should extend above the ankle. 

Make sure your motorcycle is road-ready

Check tire pressure to make sure they are set correctly. Inspect the motorcycle for loose chains, and make sure the clutch, brake and other control positions are set correctly. Check headlights, taillights and turn signals to make sure they're working as well. 

Following these simple guidelines will help not only start your 2007 riding season off right, but see it to the end as well. 

(Information courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)