Goodbye rain-Hello black ice!
Good news, the rain is gone. Bad news, it's been replaced by freezing fog and black ice. Sunday was a great day for riding. The sun even came out for a while and, sure enough, I saw more bikes out that day than I have in the last few months combined. I guess the enthusiasm for riding is still alive even if the passion and dedication that causes some of us to commute year round is missing. It was the typical mix of riders. Some were out on bikes that were unmistakably practical. These riders were doing errands or riding just to enjoy the day. It was also obvious that some were out just to "be seen". Whatever their purpose, motorcycle tires were spinning on Sunday.
This morning the effect of removing the insulating cloud blanket was evident in the cold temperature and heavy fog. The Valley was under a dense fog advisory and the mercury was at 33 degrees. Except for a few days which were a rare exception, this seems to be the pattern. Either rain or heavy fog. I decided to leave the electric vest at home as I set off to work. Some of you are riding in colder weather right now and you have my deepest respect. It totally blows my mind how COLD it feels under these conditions. The fog seems to penetrate everywhere, bringing the low temperature in with it. The decision to leave the vest and balaclava at home would not be the best one I've made recently.
If you have never experienced freezing fog you haven't lived. Ok, maybe you have. I have to make it seem brave and adventurous somehow, don't I? The trouble is that this moisture causes black ice in unexpected places. The Highway Department guys had done their usual excellent job of spraying that fluid that smells like vinegar and is supposed to help keep the water from freezing on bridges. I'm glad the stuff gets sprayed but they usually seem to put it on heavy just before I come along so I end up smelling like pickles when I get to work. Some spots had sand down. My bike had a little rear wheel spin issue on an on-ramp. Not sure if it was ice or sand. Suspect it was both - sand on top of ice. Neither one gives the bike much confidence although I have to say I prefer sand to ice. Perfect example of why it's so good for road riders to have some dirt bike experience so that less- than-perfect traction situations don't freak you out as much ( which can cause you to do something less than wise-don't ask me how I know ). Did fine until I got close to the office. Spores Bridge spans the McKenzie River. There were some slick spots but since bridges automatically engender suspicion in seasoned travellers I was ready for them and all was well.
Got to work without further incident. I had high hopes that the sun would come out later and that there would be glorious riding to be had in the afternoon. Next dream, please, as this one didn't pan out. The fog never burned off and it was COLD on the way home. Seems like I had just been there. (riding in the cold, that is ) There was one bright spot. I had to run an errand around 3:30. ( On the bike, of course, who says your company car has to be a CAR?). On the way back I actually saw a COMMUTER!! This guy was riding an older Kawasaki 454 Ltd cruiser with an actual lunch pail strapped to the back. Needless to say, enthusiast waves were exchanged by both participants in this brief encounter. The temperature rose to the point that ice wasn't an issue on the ride home. My faithful ST is covered up for the night and patiently waiting for tomorrow's adventures. By the way, a cover designed for a Harley bagger works great for the ST1100, too. I won a gift certificate from a Harley dealership as a door prize. I was able to put a little money with it and get a great new cover for my daily ride. Yes, I did find one without the Eagle logo. No offense to the Eagle, but I didn't want to give the ST an identity crisis.
We are supposed to have one or two more days of dry weather before the rain comes back. The hope is that some of the moisture will evaporate leaving less to freeze on the roads. I guess we will find out tomorrow if we face fun in the sun or a freeze in the fog.