Okay, call me gun-shy. A few days ago I had a close encounter with a doe standing on the road in the exact same spot where a previous close encounter happened almost a year ago to the day. Two close encounters in the same spot with a deer a year apart. Who would have thunk it? The first was “Motorcycle Crossing” and the second was “A Second Either Way” if you’re curious.
Well, on this particularly foggy morning commute on my motorcycle, I was understandably cautious. Typically, when riding in fog your windshield and face shield will fog up as well. This morning was no different as my windshield was completely fogged over and the face shield on my Torc helmet was lifted to better see. It’s one thing as a rider to be on the lookout for anything that might stop my forward progress, but it’s also important to see and be seen.
So I set out on my journey in hopes of getting to work unscathed. The fog wasn’t too bad at first but I knew going into Skiddy, which falls into a valley, it would become worse. As I started my decent I saw a skunk scooting across the road and a second later realized his defense mechanism was in perfect working order. He must have seen me coming. Feeling good about being cautious, I’m only about an 1/8 of a mile from the curve that is a known deer hangout. As I enter the curve I see a deer standing in the ditch by the trees. Not again! It’s silhouette poised to leap in my direction, I maintained my nerves of steel and continued into the face of danger. As I rounded the curve, fully prepared for what may come, I realized the deer was nothing more than a combination of tree branches and bushes in the shape of a deer and that either the deer or the fog were playing tricks on me. Relieved, I turned the throttle and rode on. But now my eyes are seeing things in the fog that may or may not be there.
As I left Skiddy I’m sure I saw Popeye standing on the side of the road. I can’t be sure, but it sure looked like him. Further down the road I saw a herd of buffalo standing by the fence, but they were pretending to be cattle. I’m not crazy, I saw buffalo. It’s kind of like looking at the clouds and seeing shapes of animals and characters. The only difference here? If I see Snoopy in the clouds he isn’t going to jump out of the ditch in front of me.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been battling a cold. Headache, coughing and a runny nose, along with the usual achy feeling you get when the crud is winning. That, combined with extremely cold weather, has kept me off my Road King for a few weeks. Now that it appears all that remains is a runny nose and the Kansas temperatures are back to what’s typical in January, I’ve been back to riding to work. This morning as I was getting my leathers on to leave for work, stopping every few minutes to blow my nose, I thought to myself once I get my helmet on I won’t have the chance to blow it again for about 25 minutes. So the helmet goes on as I go out the door.
When its 18 degrees outside before you get on your bike, you know you’ll be in for a cold ride. I’ve been here before and for me it’s more of a mental thing. As long as I’m prepared inside my helmet, I’ll be okay. It only takes a few miles to realize where the short-comings are in your winter riding gear as my fingers start getting cold. The face shield of my helmet is opened slightly to keep it from fogging over so my eyes start watering and of course that runny nose of mine is a bit of a nuisance. As I slow down two miles west of town to make the corner, I raise the face shield and use my gloved thumb to wipe the snot from my nose before it goes any further down my lip. Nobody ever said riding a bike in the winter was glamorous.
Another 5 miles and my nose is needing wiped as I roll down the hill to Skiddy. Again, I raise the face shield of my helmet to use my thumb and another crisis is averted. This allows me to focus on more important things, like I shouldn’t have had that second cup of coffee before leaving the house. It’s still a beautiful morning no matter how cold and it’s seeing the sun shining and the few clouds in the sky that make it all worth the hassle. As I came to a stop at highway 77 for the final leg of my ride, I had a realization; my nose had quit running! It appears that at 18 degrees with a wind chill of who knows what, snot will eventually stop running from your nose. A small victory I know, but I’ll take it. I finally pulled into work and removed my helmet and found a paper towel to blow my nose on. Much like molasses when exposed to this temperature, snot will slow if not stop when placed under harsh conditions such as this. My gear is a pretty good indicator of how cold a temp I will be willing to ride in, but my snot indicator tells me the colder the better.