Weather Or Not To Ride

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It’s funny, winter comes around about the same time every year. We even have the early warning system derived from trees shedding their leaves. I know it isn’t an alarm or flashing lights but these leaves need to fall a little louder to the ground. They pile up and blow around signaling the coming of winter, but somehow it goes unnoticed to the motorcyclist in me. It’s this time of year when cold, blustery days start creeping in with excited weathermen and women telling us to be prepared. Even the dedicated weather channels start airing episodes depicting blizzards and freezing rain and the cause and effects of temperature change.

Cold temps can be tough enough to ride in, but when you just add water, in the form of rain sleet and snow, it brings us to a parked bike and a closet full of gear.

But the one detail left coming from the lips of said meteorologists is the affect is has on those of us who ride motorcycles. Cold temps can be tough enough to ride in, but when you just add water, in the form of rain sleet and snow, it brings us to a parked bike and a closet full of gear. Not to mention all the hopes and dreams of someday riding again. It just didn’t sound right to say “with the wind blowing through my hair again.”

So how do you break the bad news to a guy like me that the weather will make it dangerous to ride? First and foremost, don’t sound excited that bad weather is coming. This may be your line of work and I know at times it can be boring, but I like boring. Boring lets me get outside to ride. Secondly, be honest. Tell me it’s coming but give me hope. Hope that one day the sun will shine and the temperature will be above 20 degrees. And thirdly, be accurate. There is no honor in telling me lies. I know it’s hard to predict the weather but if we combine the room full of radar and computer programs you have at work with maybe a peak out the window we might get it right. Let’s recap – contain your excitement, be honest with me and be accurate.

One more thing, let’s get our local meteorologists interested in motorcycling. Maybe this will take the sting out of the cold weather forecast. At least then I would know we were in this together.

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20 O’Clock

Nobody said it was easy. I would go a little further and say sometimes it isn’t much fun. For the last few days as the weather has danced around from comfortable to cold, it’s been a hit or miss as to whether or not to ride. I know what you’re thinking; but Jeff, you always ride. Not always. I seem to be in this transition of psyching myself up to ride in freezing temps. Did I just say riding in freezing temps? Whoa.

I seem to be in this transition of psyching myself up to ride in freezing temps. Did I just say riding in freezing temps? Whoa.

This morning as I sat down to put my boots on, I hesitated whether or not to ride. With snow-showers in the forecast for the weekend and a snow storm brewing up next week, I thought today I might as well put my pull up big-boy pants and ride. After checking the temperature on my phone I pushed the bike out of the garage and fired it up. Now, I’ve mentioned before that I have my junior meteorologist credentials and with that I could feel it wasn’t 30 degrees out. I hadn’t ridden for a couple of days, so I felt like maybe I just wasn’t acclimated to what 30 felt like. It’s all in my head, remember?

Well, the ride in was no fun. The first 10 miles was doable but after that it was obvious I wasn’t prepared for, you guessed it, 20 degrees. I didn’t have my glasses on after pulling my helmet over my head so from where I sat it looked like it was 30 degrees on my Formotion thermometer. It looks like a clock, doesn’t it? Take your glasses off and look again. See it?

This is just the first of many cold rides to work. Like callused hands it takes time to work your way up to the hard stuff. I’ve heard jogging is like this too but I wouldn’t know. So if you pass me on the road while you’re driving to work with your heater on and your coffee cup beside you, don’t feel sorry for me. I choose to do this. Wow, saying it like that makes me sound a little crazy.

 

I’m Bitter, and Cold

So this goes without saying but I’m saying it anyway. If you live anywhere that experiences a full swing of seasons and you ride a motorcycle, it can be the same as an emotional rollercoaster. Ride today, wait a week, sneak in a 15 minute ride before the temperatures drop at dusk and then spend days walking around dazed and confused at the conflicting reports of weather from one channel to the next. What TV station is right and why do the weathermen lie to me? Even my phone can be overly optimistic when it comes to predicting the weather and riding my motorcycle.

I know it’s temporary and Spring is right around the corner, but for crying out loud, I need to put some miles on my bike as all of this winter baggage is stacking up in my head. I have all these thoughts running around in no particular order and I use my bike to file them properly. My head feels like someone dumped a filing cabinet in the front yard while the wind was blowing and left me to pick it up. In the dark. With my motorcycle mocking me through the garage window.

We all know the solution to this. Move. Move south where the sun shines 365 days a year and the temperature hovers in the 70’s every day. Trees and grass and rainbows around every curve, and no matter the direction you look, there are mountains and clouds that have whatever shape that makes you happy…blah, blah and blah.

But when the weather finally does break, look out. You can only hold the excitement back for so long and then we kick the door in and free that trapped motorcycle from the chains of isolation we call a battery tender.

The reality is overcast, cold and windy with a chance of rain mixed with snow. My motorcycle is sitting in the garage (or at least I hope it is, I can’t say I’ve looked that hard) just waiting to be backed out and fired up. It’s tough having a blog about riding motorcycles when, well, you can’t except for maybe that sliver of nice weather the weatherman is promising me, next Thursday, south of I-70 between 9 am and 9:45 am – if you’re lucky. But that’s a week away and it might as well be a month from now. Do I sound bitter? I sound like I ride motorcycles.

But when the weather finally does break, look out. You can only hold the excitement back for so long and then we kick the door in and free that trapped motorcycle from the chains of isolation we call a battery tender.

We ride motorcycles, and unless you are fortunate enough to live in the land where the weathermen are accurate and the roads are free of salt and sand, we wait. We wait until we can wait no more. Be patient my fellow riders as it’s coming… soon.

 

An Amazing Machine for a Simple Guy

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The long old road of truth awaits those who ride motorcycles. We somehow find our way to places we think we’ve been only to find this time it’s different. It isn’t always about what we see, but more of what we find. Finding the truth about myself and giving validation to everything that goes on inside this pretty little head of mine is exactly what I need when the moment is right. Sure, sometimes those moments are few and oh, so far between. Winter can be longer and harder for a motorcyclist as we need the constant motion and the tilting of horizons to be plumb again. The less vertical we get our bikes, the more true we feel. It’s all about calibration.

“The less vertical we get our bikes, the more true we feel. It’s all about calibration.”

When we finally find answers to questions we never asked, it becomes apparent there is more to us than meets the eye. We ride to not only lose ourselves, but also to get an understanding of why we desire to get lost in the first place. Having ridden motorcycles for so many years it has proven itself as a vehicle for answers. What’s over the next hill and around the next curve? My motorcycle will answer that question. How cold is it and how hard is it raining two miles down the road? Yep, you got it. How far is the next gas station and will I make it? I’m confident my motorcycle will let me know the answer to that one. Not every answer is something we want to hear or see for that matter.

Those answers to life’s questions come to me in the form of reflection and contemplation. I’ve often said my motorcycle is where I do my best thinking and this remains true. The longer the ride, the further I reflect. Reflection seems to put me on the road to find what I search for internally. I don’t know if we are designed to find all the answers to life’s questions as I think it is the search for these answers that keeps us moving. As long as I’m moving, I’m good.

You have your own reasons for riding as I do. Our motorcycles provide us with the stimulation for all our senses and it’s hard to give just one reason. Transportation, recreation, motion and emotion is a lot to expect from our bikes but they handle it well. I can do my best thinking when I’m not thinking about much at all, and I often see more of my surroundings without even looking. An amazing machine for such a simple guy like me.

Looking for Phil – A Motorcycle Journey

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At times it can seem like a desperate situation, one minute you’re a hero and the next a total zero. It’s hard to make up for those times when expectations are high and then reality beats you down. Some days it’s just not worth all the hassle. On the other hand, determination will take over and you feel like no matter the odds, you can – and will overcome. We ride. Sometimes we don’t ride. Sometimes we need to ride regardless of the weather. This morning it is freezing drizzle. Today, I’m looking for a particular Ground Hog.

I know it’s not his fault. Just like our local weatherman, both are just messengers of truth, or rather speculation, on what we motorcyclists consider the key ingredient to our particular mode of transportation. Good weather is our gasoline and right now for some motorcyclists the gas station is closed. Toying with our emotions is never advised and we put such high hopes in all you represent. How long will you keep us off our motorcycles? Maybe the greater question is CAN you keep us off our motorcycles?

So today I ride. I ride in search of you my friend – to show you that it is not my desperation to ride, but rather my passion to ride! Alas, I do not blame you. It’s your job to be the bearer of news, good or bad. And I will lift you to shoulder height when the news of an early spring comes, but not today. So hide in your stump, Phil. Look away from me and know that for the next few weeks we are not friends. Our relationship will always have its moments, but for now you are dead to me.

We can choose to be fair-weather riders and have our riding habits dictated by fury animals and “weather in motion”. But if the garage walls appear to be closing in, it’s time to get out – and ride. I prefer to ride!