Wednesday, October 14, 2009

When You're Prepared

When you're prepared you can do many things, I've learned. Its all the rehearsal before the stage lights come on that makes the experience so worthwhile. No matter what you do, its preparedness that allows you to think more clearly in the face of adversity.

I've been playing the saxophone since the late seventies. From the days that my parents had to insist that I play for half an hour each day to playing as long as time would allow. Its been a great musical life. But it all started with learning perseverence.

You might think that playing that long might make me feel like I've accomplished something. That I've arrived. Nothing could be further, as they say. What its gotten me is a tenacity to keep at things until I break through. My sound has definitely evolved. My style, changed so many times as I'd learn new things that playing to fit the music seems natural. Its a skill that evolves the more you play.

This is not unlike that machine I put away this evening. Wet and cold. A steady light rain and a temp into the thirties during an indirect meandering home after the meeting with our scooter group.

I would not have tested the weather if that tenacity and pure desire to ride were not instilled in me from a young age. But I prepared myself. (Over time, just as I had with the saxophone.) Mainly for the cooler air though the rain never got to me.

There is something inherantly fun about riding a scooter in the rain. I don't know what it is, but it just seems like legshields and floorboards were made for this type of weather. Pin a sizeable windshield to the thing and you've got a pretty serious foul weather repellant form of two wheel transportation.

It takes time to learn the proper combination for you the individual. What's too warm or too drafty for seasonal riding where you live? Questions we ask ourselves.

But why would anyone take that much time to put on that much gear just to ride in cold or wet weather?

Ask someone who loves to ride. Enough to find the right gear in order to prolong the riding seaon. That person will tell you its worth it. Something about seeing the changing seasons from the saddle of that favorite two wheeler. So what if its cold. Or wet. If there's better gear made for inclement weather, that rider will tell you.

Sometimes its trial and error. Sometimes the right combination of clothing is already in the hall closet. The end of the summer riding season is a great time of year to bring a few extras along for the ride. Change into them when dusk falls and see how well they work. An extra sweat shirt or an added liner for example. Overpants or long underwear. Definitely a personal choice. (Or both!)

Still, you get the best idea of how cold or wet weather riding gear will work for you when you use it for the longer rides. Because you get comfortable on the longer rides. You... settle into the spirit of the ride when its more than just a few miles. Short rides don't really provide much information on gear and that includes how well the bike works for distance treks. I think the shorter rides are indicators giving an idea of how clothes might work or feel, but settling into a long ride is as much a state of mind as anything else.

Oh, before I forget, I should point this out:

There is no perfect gear. There is very good gear and there is gear you can get very comfortable in, but you sort of have to, I don't know, come to terms with the few shortcomings you might discover. It might mean a quick duct tape wrap on a fold to stop a draft from shooting up your sleeve. (You can solve that problem if you know someone who can sew velcro to the wrist of a jacket for example) It could mean buying those thicker socks you would only use to ride. But those are small investments to extend your fun into the cooler weather won't be regrettable efforts. The ride is worth it.

A little over a week ago I began the ritual of digging through all the old winter riding gear. I acquired more than I thought over the years! And other than needing new heavy socks, everything else fit the bill. Sure, I was overdressed for hanging out at a coffee shop. But I wasn't over dressed for the ride home. Which certainly wasn't by the direct route.

What I haven't told you yet is that I'm usually one of the first to arrive at the coffee house for our Wednesday Night Rides. I didn't expect anyone to ride to the meeting (save Colin-man of steel) since I didn't check the weather and it had started to drizzle at immediately the moment I crossed from my driveway onto the street. Imagine my triumphant joy at seeing Chauncy, Zuma and Colin arrive on two wheels. Besides these brave souls, Sam, and the Dibbers also came. I'm guessing they fit the meeting in along with other responsibilites or they also would have ridden. I really don't see anyone in this group shy about riding when the weather changes.

We had a good meeting. We talked and laughed and passed Keith's new Scoot magazine around. Ideas for next season's runs were tossed into the fray. Keith has always got great ideas for rides. Be they long or short, he's an excellent organizer and really knows how to get the group involved in the planning.

I guess its easier to plan what to wear when you've planned for the ride, eh?