Winter in Kansas. By all rights it should be cold and windy. So what makes this day any different? The weather man said “high of 50 and a slight breeze by this afternoon”. As I left the house to go to work, I was dressed in the appropriate gear and mentally prepared for at least a cold ride in. Now keep in mind, I live in a small town and I ride about 25 miles one way. It’s all at highway speeds with a couple of spots where you can slow down for a curve or two. Most folks in my home town know me and fully expect to see me riding to work so it’s nothing new to them. On occasion, I will get a look from a motorist not familiar with me or even small town living for that matter when I wave at them.
Sure I have ridden in colder weather than this, and regretted it. This time of year I do wear the appropriate riding gear-Leather jacket, chaps, gauntlet gloves and my full-face Fulmer helmet. No heated gear for me! When your face shield is fogged, and there’s that little leak of cold air coming in around your neck, your waist, your cuff or all of the above, you have to ask yourself “am I the only guy who loves riding so much that this would be considered fun?”. Of course not. We’ve all been here to some degree. 16 degrees to be exact, with no windchill figured in. Now I have to admit, the first 5 miles were cold. Real cold. At 8 miles my mental fortitude was breaking down.
Don’t breathe because it fogs the shield. Just passed the neighbor on the road and I waved. That’s what we do in Kansas, we wave. Turn my head and the cold air gets to my neck. Focus. Over half way there so the rest should be easy. Down in another valley at mile 11. Wow, now that was cold. Cold? Of course you idiot you’re on a motorcycle! Focus! Meet another neighbor on the road, and I don’t wave. Didn’t have it in me. Now the whole town will be talking about me! Out of the valley and now the sun is coming into sight over my right shoulder and mentally it helps. Who am I kidding, I can’t feel anything. But at least it is helping on the right side of my face shield. Now I’m riding with what appears to be an eye patch over my left eye. Ugh. Mile 16 and I’m speeding, because as we all know the faster you go in the cold, the warmer you’ll be!
Finally, I slow down and make the final turn to work. As I’m riding along in the 30 mph zone I reflect on my adventure to the Arctic Circle. How is it possible to put yourself out there on purpose, on a bike, in the cold, and look forward to the “high of 50” that the weather man talked so proudly about? Because I ride. Not because I have to, but because I want to. It helps me to appreciate the ride when I know that sometimes the weather man gets it right!
Now excuse me while I find my neighbor to return a wave! Because that is what we do.