When it is hot out there are a few things riders should keep an eye out for… Tar snakes can be scary, but with a few snake charming techniques they’re no big deal. We put this blog post together to help our friends and customers ride safely during a Heat Wave.
We all have some things we don’t like. People who know me know I don’t like snakes… Tar snakes don’t scare me, but rattle snakes do! I remember one incident during the High Desert Rally a few years back when I cleared a 4th gear corner on my KTM 950 Super Enduro and saw heaven for an open class rider. A long relatively flat straightaway that promised the opportunity to let the big dog roll and make up some time on my teammates riding those pesky 450s. I saw some movement about 100 yards ahead, but at those speeds there isn’t much time for evasive maneuvers and I hit a 4 foot long rattlesnake dead center as he tried to cross the trail. Funny how most people seem to assume that all snakes are male… I spent the next few miles with half of my mind dedicated to reading the my GPS chart / terrain and the other half distracted by the idea that a supremely pissed off rattler was coiled up in my rear suspension looking for the right moment to test his fangs against my KLIM Rally Air pants. I reckoned I had a 50/50 chance the fangs would penetrate the mesh in a weak spot not lined with D30 armor and sink deep into my leg… I imagined the initial pain followed by a warm sensation of the poisen spreading through my veins… and then blacking out before having made it to the next check point… With every corner the fear abated and I was able to refocus on the task at hand.
At the next pit, there was no snake head, no tail, no evidence at all that I tangled with the scary beast and to this day I am still not sure if the snake was real or if the heat and the high desert were just having a little fun at my expense.
Tar Snakes in the Wild
Tar snakes are another hazard that come out when the temperature rises. They can be scary for all two-wheeled vehicles and their riders. California uses a tar-like material to fill in cracks on the roads and while we appreciate smooth road surfaces at normal temperatures, at high temperatures like the ones experienced in recent weeks tar snakes can become a bit gelatinous and slippery. As with any snake… avoid them if possible. Treat them the same as railroad tracks and cattle guards by crossing them at 90 degrees and as upright as possible. If you do hit one at speed while leaned over and your rear tire starts sliding out from under you – stay calm – and the tire will grip again. Don’t over-correct, keep your line, keep your head up, a loose grip, and keep your body steady for when your tire traction returns. Most of the time you’ll feel a little slip and then you’re back on your way.
That’s it… no snake bite… just stay calm and you will probably roll right by without a problem.
Tar Snake Charming 101 – Don’t try to over-correct, keep your line, keep your head up, a grip loose, and keep your body steady… well done!