It's official - this year was the hottest summers on record. Hats off to those hardy souls who braved the heat to keep on riding. And while the hat is off we'll scratch our heads about how some riders were out there without a camelback full of water!
The State Election is our lead story this month - but don't get too excited. Read on for our election analysis.
Riders' Guide to the State Election
With just one week to go before the State Election both major parties have rolled out plenty of promises - but not for us :(
Neither party has directly pledged funding or support for better, safer facilities for riders - yet - but some of the promises could have implications for riders.
After jumping up and down in Parliament about the need for the State Trail Bike Strategy for nearly two years, Labor has gone strangely silent on this issue. As far as we can see there are only three policy announcements with potential to impact riders:
- Commitment to protect the environment could see more areas designated as conservation zones, limiting access for recreation of all types - including trail bikes. This sounds like a return to the bad old days of "let's lock out all the people from our parks so our grandkids can have them to be locked out of as well".
- Labor would upgrade Gnangara Road to make it safer. So if you've survived an afternoon at the Gnangara Off Road Vehicle and rubbish tip site at least there's less chance of being cleaned up by an eighteen-wheeler as you turn back out onto Gnangara Road.
- Reduced hospital waiting times. Probably the best promise for riders. Now when you arrive at hospital you won't have to wait as long on the ramp.
The Libs have had the State Trail Bike Strategy in the 'too hard' basket for nearly five years. Like Labor their election pledges contain nothing directly addressing the needs of riders but there are a couple of policies that could have impact:
- Splitting DEC to create the WA Parks Authority to: "... promote the amazing scientific, adventure and tourism potential of WA’s extraordinary natural assets." This should result in more resources and better management of forests for active use - potentially a good thing for riders.
- Power boating on Wellington Dam. Water skiing has a much higher noise impact than recreational trail bike riding, so an area that is sanctioned for power boating is a good candidate to also encourage riding. This could potentially see some excellent riding terrain further developed and promoted.
- 'First-strike' hoon legislation. We don't have an issue with confiscations where people are being idiots on unregistered bikes on suburban streets, but the RTRA will be watching the drafting of legislation (if it happens) very closely to ensure that this policy doesn't expand and potentially ensnare responsible riders outside suburbia.
With a week to go before the election there is still time for more announcements - but with trail bikes still a polarising issue we won't be holding our breath. We will, of course, issue an alert to members if anything significant changes.
National GoMoto Day - March 2/3/4
The National “Come and Try” day is an initiative by Motorcycling Australia to encourage member motorcycle clubs to run non-competitive 'fun' events to showcase their clubs on a single weekend throughout Australia. First time riders will be provided with a free one event recreational licence for the day and by filling out an application form after the event they can receive an annual Junior Mini or Senior Recreational licence free of charge.
For details of participating clubs see the Motorcycling WA web site.
MWA Policy Change impacts RTRA Members
The Board of MWA has changed the policy relating to club membership for the purposes of obtaining a competition licence.
Effective January 1st, riders seeking a licence will need to be a member of a fully affiliated club. RTRA membership will no longer be eligible as we are affiliated as a Motorcycle Association, not as a Club.
The RTRA regrets any inconvenience to our members and apologises for the late notice, both of which were entirely beyond our control.
Lost Quad Rider Highlights need for Safety Systems
The recent incident where a quad bike rider was lost for several days in extreme heat near Yarra Road (the second lost quad rider this summer) again highlighted the need for better preparation.
Three simple steps could prevent a life-threatening situation:
- Corner Man System. When conditions are dusty it makes sense to hang back for clear air. But the rider behind you can miss a turn off if your dust has settled by the time they reach the turn. The safe way to deal with this is by using the corner man system where the lead rider 'drops' a corner man whenever taking a turn off the main trail or at any branch in the trail. The corner man must then wait until all other riders have passed (either counting the riders or waiting for a signal from a sweep rider is one is used). It's a simple and effective system and it works with groups of three or more.
- Water. There's simply no excuse for heading out without a camelback of water. You never know when a breakdown or incident might delay you and in a Perth summer it is absolutely critical to stay properly hydrated.
- Phone. Coverage might be patchy out in the hills, but you can often pick up a signal on a rise or as you get closer to a main road. At Metro Road, for example, there are many areas with (just) adequate phone reception. Even if reception is too weak to call you can often get an SMS message out, and if you include your coordinates you'll get help a whoile lot quicker.
When we're out riding we can be very quickly into properly remote areas. When even simple things go wrong they can have serious consequences. We suggest all ride leaders, even just of family groups, should read and be familiar with the Adventure Activity Standards for trail bike touring.
Minimal Impact - Be Fire Safe
With the number of fires over the past few days and no end in sight to the dry weather it's worth repeating some tips to stay fire safe.
Any recreational activity in dry bushland is a fire risk, but trail riding has some added risks so we have to be extra careful when we're out there:
- Don't park your car on long grass. The hot exhaust can ignite dry grass.
- Take care when refuelling. Fill up before you go or at a petrol station and if you must refuel from a jerry can make sure you're on bare ground.
- No campfires, and if you must smoke, extinguish cigarettes on bare ground and pour a little water from your camelback on it just to make sure.
- It should go without saying, but never remove your exhaust's spark arrestor.
- Stay on track.
- Observe fire bans and be aware of total vehicle movement bans that can be proclaimed on extreme fire ban days.
- If you have an off and your bike goes down on grass or pine needles pick it up as quickly as possible and check to make sure it hasn't spilled any fuel. Hot exhausts can ignite dry grass (there was a fire at Pinjar last year caused by a bike going down). It there's any signs of smoldering use your camelback or whatever you have handy to dampen it down.
Our continued access to forests during summer could be jeopardised by a single trail bike-related fire, so we all need to be aware and take extra care.
Follow the RTRA on Facebook
Our new Facebook page is proving popular and we'll continue to expand this as a way of making it easier for our members to engage with the RTRA.
We hope you 'like' it - and don't forget to share it with your friends!
You'll find us at www.rtra.asn.au/facebook
Spread the Word
If you think the RTRA is having a positive impact for riders, just think how much more effective we'd be if we had double the members. It's actually not that hard - all it takes is for each member to find one other rider to sign up. If you have riding buddies who are not yet members of the RTRA, please forward them this email and give them a prod to join up.