Monday, March 08, 2010

Waiting for the Rain

When I was a budding young riding enthusiast I recieved an important piece of advice. It applies well to these northern midwest climes where sand and salt are used to clear the roads during the winter months.

An old experienced rider, my friend's father, once told me it was better to wait for the first heavy rains to clear debris off the roads. He told me about accidents which could have been prevented by simply riding to the conditions. But that most people are too excited to pay enough attention to roadway surfaces. He told me how roads which looked clear and passable turned out to be dangerous enough to cause slides and spinouts.

"Its like riding across fine marbles."

I can attest to this. A fine rider, an experienced rider once had such an episode right beside me. We were stopped at a county road tee intersection. Once traffic was clear I rolled into my left turn. But I heard acceleration to my my right, followed by a cacophony of grating sounds. Metal grinding hard on pavement. A brand new bike. Not even through the break in mileage yet.

My riding compadre juiced his larger displacement machine to pass me in a swift maneuver from a dead stop. Only the bike had no traction under the rear tire. He had his feet down for the stop but didn't know the rear tire rested on soft, pliable road grit. When he spun the throttle the bike wanted to launch forward but slid sideways. In an instant he was down.

We gathered ourselves and headed straight to my garaage to assess the damage as best we could. Luckily, only minor damage and one bruised ego. All this carnage simply due over acceleration from a dead stop!

I've thought about that incident each spring since it happened. I've been waiting just a little longer to hit the county roads. Conversations with fellow riders always include road conditions of the farm lands. The hinterlands, as we sometimes call them. From what I've been hearing, some places are still pretty sandy. More than a few riders are thinking it might be better to wait until traffic and weather clean most of that stuff away.

Riding is about anticipation. Irondad will tell you that better than I ever could. Conditions must be respected in order to see another day. The price paid against it is just too high.

So I'm waiting for the rain.