Membership News

Chilly Chronicles

AMA members offer stories of their coldest riding experiences

Grab your jackets, beanies and gloves, because winter has fully settled in across the United States.

As much of the nation has battled frigid temperatures and mounds of snow over the past few months, we are yearning for the days when it’s warm enough to ride on a consistent basis. For a brave few, however, the frosty air does little to dissuade them from hopping on two wheels.

For January’s Question of the Month, we asked our members to recount their coldest riding experiences. Here are some of the responses:

“One morning a few years ago I misread the thermometer as I was preparing my commute. As I was riding to work, the thermometer on my bike indicated the cold truth. The air temperature on my ride was 7 degrees below zero, not 7 degrees above zero. It was a chilling ride and my heated gloves and grips didn’t keep up with nature. I also experienced significant frost creep on the side of my helmet visor. I survived my 25-minute ride, but vowed not to go that low again.” – Tom Leonard

“It was the winter of 1985. I was riding my trusty Honda 125XL to work because I didn’t know how to drive a car yet. I was new at riding too. I got to an icy patch of road. With limited experience, but knowing when the back wheel felt like that in sand a handful of throttle helps. Not on ICE! I fell quicker, harder, faster, and did not let go of the bike! I slid behind it a half a block! I look back and grin. I still ride, still race, still love all bikes. They have shaped my adult life like nothing else.” – Kara Austin

“My wife and I left Denver in late April headed to the Barber Motorsports Museum in Alabama and stopped for the night just across the state line in Kansas. We woke up the next morning to snow on the ground but the highway was wet but not icy. We finally decided to press on but as soon as we got on the road the fierce winds from due north were utterly chilling. Every time a truck would go by heading the other direction it would block the wind momentarily requiring me to compensate with the steering. We got about 20 miles, totally freezing and then the wet on the road turned to ice. I white-knuckled it another five miles to the next town and pulled into the first motel I saw, plowing through four inches of snow in the parking lot. We ended up snowbound there for the next three days as the winds blew down all the power poles and shut down the roads.” – Ken Bingenheimer

“Taking our 350 Honda CBs to a pool party for the evening. We left OUR houses with only T-shirts on. Fine taking the interstate (I-95) to our destination in Milford, Conn. By the time we departed the party (after 12 p.m.), the air temps dropped by over 30 degrees from our departure temp. With a wind chill of 60 mph, we were freezing without any jackets/gloves/ or even a full-size shirt in lieu of our Tees. NEVER left on another trip without SOMETHING bungeed to the seat or in saddle bags with future bikes (i.e. gloves/turtlenecks/jackets). We even lost a silencer from vibrations on the highway and never stopped to get it so we wouldn’t extend our travel time in the cold!” – Joseph Acampora

“It was sometime in the mid-90s (forget the exact year). My fellow AMA Member Donnie Williams and I planned to leave Louisville and ride to Daytona for Bike Week. I lived right across the Ohio River in Southern Indiana and I was to meet Donnie in Louisville. As I loaded up the BMW K100RS I could hardly move. It was 17 degrees F at my house and I had on long johns, jeans, a flannel shirt and leather jacket, all covered by a snowmobile suit. Nylon socks covered with wool socks and insulated boots, a full-face helmet, balaclava and leather gloves topped it all off. Not long after meeting Donnie and heading south on I-65, we pulled into a rest area near Elizabethtown. Donnie, a long-time motor officer with the Louisville Police Department, was used to riding in bad weather and asked how I was doing. I told him I was fine except for my hands, which were freezing. He held up his hands and showed me his MITTENS, then told me that he thought he had an old pair in the trunk of his Goldwing. He found the old pair of mittens and off we went. We stopped for the night in Valdosta, Ga., and as we pulled into the motel parking lot, there was a thin layer of ice on the puddles. I can honestly say it was not that bad and the clothing, the Ks fairing and the help of a seasoned fellow rider made it a memorable experience. It was a cold year at Daytona!” – Richard Reynolds