Motorcycle Riding Tips: Sweepers Defined
With the bike at full lean, eyes scanning for an exit, RPMs high, and throttle hand wrung deep, the rider is deep into a Sweeper. Yet another term used almost exclusively in the motorcycle community; however, every rider knows what it is and what it means. There is no secret handshake to enter this club.
What is a Sweeper? A Sweeper can actually reference the person in the rear of the group that would help a fellow rider if they went down, binned it, or if anyone had mechanical issues. However, in this situation a Sweeper is a road that has gradual turns that can be taken at a fairly high rate of speed.
Why choose a Sweeper? Everyone has driven or rode one; imagine the shape that half of a circle would make and stretch that out to scale. Many riders prefer this type of road to others because they seem to be smoother in and out of the turn. You can let it hang out just a little more without the fear of binning it, assuming you possess the proper riding skills (and gear).
Most roads consist of Sweepers and a variety of technical turns. One of my favorite roads in the area that has a little bit of both worlds with some elevation change is Laureles Grade. If you have never heard of that road, you are missing out. It is located between 68 and Carmel Valley Road (Monterey County). Five miles of the best road around so pick the time of day right and you don’t have to share it.
Other great Sweepers are Highway 25 and 198 in Hollister, which you can expect to see other riders out there, too. The great thing about these two roads is that they don’t have a lot of traffic on them. The draw back is that I think this is the winter retreat of all Squirrels in the USA (yes the animal).
How easy is it to find sweepers? Well, finding a sweeper is as easy as picking out the North Star on a dark night in the desert. Most every road has turns that can be classified as a sweeper; however, it is best to look for the older two-lane highways on the map. Highways 9 and 17 in the Santa Cruz area are great examples of “off-the-map” sweepers.
A few things to keep in mind are pacing yourself at the proper speed that is not only legal but also safe. On these roads you can easily get in over your head by going into the turn to hot, getting on the gas too early, following too closely, or just riding above your ability. Be safe and don’t be the person who needs swept up afterwards.