What is the most effective method of mitigating riding risk?
Not riding at all.
But if you're like me, that's not an option. Not when you've found no other visceral vice and soulful salvation like twisting the throttle on a two-wheeled machine. So we accept that this is of a dangerous sport, of a lifestyle on borrowed time that stretches and thins out as dictated by our very own decisions. We could completely shun the risk – it is what it is and its price is what we pay to play. Or we accept that it's there, but we mitigate it, to wrestle some control over its chaos even if just on our side of the battle out in the world.
When I started riding over seven years ago, I rode year round for at least a couple of years through all four California seasons; through the long days of summer, through the early nights of fall and winter. I rode the bike as much as I could to and from work, and as a weekend recreational rider. If it was raining, I was that guy that wrapped my socked feet in plastic bags before slipping them in my boots (until I bought proper rain boots) to and from my work commute. I was that guy that packed a clear and smoked visor, to swap as needed when the night set earlier (smoked visor said “daylight use only” – it said!). When it got really cold to ride, it simply meant I didn't need coffee to wake up in the morning, thanks to the wind chill. California has year-long riding seasons; all four climates are perfectly fine for riding because its extreme temperatures, be it cold or warm, are hardly extreme compared to other parts of the world.
So I rode year round, all for the sake of riding year round.
Then I stopped. Just like that.
When your morning commute looks like your evening commute, the odds are stacking up against you
I stopped riding to and from work late fall and through winter, when daylight was shorter and rain was more prevalent. I didn’t stop because I had an incident during these times of the year, or because it made for an extremely uncomfortable riding experience. I just realized that it made riding riskier. It stacked the odds even more when it was already stacked to begin with; it was already hard enough for other motorists to see us in broad daylight, let alone in the dark. Then when you throw in the rain, well, all bets are off.
I didn’t mind moto-commuting year round, but I wanted to ride for many years to come, and so I felt that if I didn’t NEED to stack the odds against me, that maybe I shouldn’t. Mitigate, I figured. I do my time in my car commuting to work a quarter of the year – the riskier quarter of the year – and I ensure longevity in this lifestyle I practically devote my life to.
My battery tender does double time 'round this time of year
When Daylight Savings Time ends, that's when my yearly self-preservation begins. This is about that time of the year when I put the bike(s) on a battery-tender. This is when I start to think more about riding than I do actual riding (also when I fire up the PS2 to play Tourist Trophy!). This is the time of the year when there is some absence that starts in me. But you know what they say about absence, right?
It simply makes the heart grow fonder.
And I am very fond of riding.
So I mitigate.