Saturday, December 13, 2014

Merry Christmas part II

Fog.  The bane of the rider.  A thick, wet, clammy-to-the-skin sensation.  In warm seasons it can be refreshing.  Somewhere in the forties though, fog can be debilitating.   When it's in the valleys of country roads in the summer, passing through it can make one a feel rush like flying on two wheels.  During the colder nights or after the "traditional" riding season has come to a close, it finds bare skin and teams up with it's evile brother Wind Chill.  Think of frozen snakes crawling up your arms and around your neck but you can't do anything about them until you stop the bike. 

There is no bad weather. Only bad clothing.

It's been warm here in Minnesota thus far this December.  Enough so that I hear riders discussing whether to dig their machines out of the corners of garages and sheds.

"Ya know, the gravel to the pole barn is almost dry.  If we get some sun it could clear enough lane to get the bike out of the yard..." 

This is Minnesota.  Normally, ice doesn't form and melt away after a day or two.  It becomes thick and craggy after brief melting periods followed by heavy equipment tracks jamming it into ankle spraining immovable seasonal stone.  Up here we chip away at it with hardened steel.  We pressure steam it out of our gutters and buy special electrical line to heat our roofs so the stuff doesn't build up under shingles and slowly tear them from the wood underneath.   Then we go snowmobiling.

This year has been warmer.  I think I recall having heard a solitary snowmobile go by after the snow event we had which dumped a little over a foot of the white stuff on us.  But that was a solid month past.  Steady warmth since has given way to clearing roads.  Now all we have to contend with is fog.

A young man inside me keeps asking the older guy if he still wants to ride,  You know, like you used to.  The other one, the one actually facing the younger one in the mirror reminds himself of the grey in his beard.  The pictures of his wife and children reflected from the wall behind him.  

These then are the questions:  Can you enjoy the ride without mentally abandoning attentiveness?  Will you forget to ride to the conditions?  Will you prepare by dressing appropriately for those conditions?  Is your bike, fresh out of dormancy, ready for a winter ride?

Lots to think about and an itch to scratch.


Monday, December 08, 2014

Merry Christmas!

The season of riding this last year felt short.  Incomplete.  As my children grow, decisions are made regarding how my time gets spent.   So in one sense, you lose one thing but gain another.  Trade offs are natural.  They're part of life.  In another sense, you can't help but miss a little of the time when you could be a bit more selfish.   When you could slip awayt on the bike for a ride without someone wondering when you'd be back. 

You don't get the time raising your kids back, so you better think about their future (and how it affects their world tomorrow) in the present.   My son likes to ride on the back of the Genuine but the Vespa doesn't have a backrest.  He also rides the scooter I rebuilt some years back, out on the country land my wife's parents own. 

I recently discovered my daughter likes vintage cars.  I mean, I finally realized just how much she likes them as we sat together watching Fast and Loud.   I told her to do well in school so she can own the ones she wants.  "I can do that..." came with a sidelong grin at me. 

Despite the riding season being low on miles added to the odometer, I had some fun and learned some things.

I learned to keep the feet in board when going down. On a scooter, my belief is that the rider is safer by staying on the scooter with the feet on the floor board.  Stay on that thing until it stops unless it's absolutely safer to dismount and get as far from the scooter as possible. 

I rode sopping wet gravel after a torrent and found myself on a dirt road.   Everything was going smoothly and I got cocky.  I picked up a little speed and the front end of the bike simply washed out.  I rode it into the mud because there wasn't anything else I could do at that point.  The truth is, I put myself into that situation with overconfidence.  My prize was to ride thirty miles home with the handlebar at the ten and four o'clock position.   A half blue, half brown Vespa scooter and half brown rider with the strangest hold on the bars.  Why isn't he turning right??

You get some strange stares when people see you ride by that way.

The bike survived, although cosmetically, I plan a little tlc.  Next year will bring what it brings. 

Ride safe,