Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cold and clear!

Life has been busy. This will be a short post. Some of you will be deeply grateful.

It is perfect for riding. At least for winter. The sun smiled all day. A cold smile. A smile, nonetheless. It is below freezing. Tonight the low is predicted to be 15F. Drivers see me now. I see them look twice. One young man was using his cell phone. He looked, and then looked again. His eyes widened. I could see his lips move. I imagine the person on the other end. The young man saying "You won't believe what I just saw!" I was thinking of earlier. An early morning stop was made. A man asked about the bike. He is a rider. A fair weather rider, it seems. These are his words: "You are a tougher man than me. When the temperature gets below 50 I wig out".

There it comes. My smile. It is not really meant to be friendly. Rather, the creature inside smiles. The need to be "different". Cut of sterner cloth than most. I am working on my bias. Riding allows us expression. We must all do what we are moved to do. There is room for all. Yet I am proud to be doing what few others care to. ( or dare to ) I find his comment deeply satisfying.

At work I park across the street. We are in an industrial park. I have deemed this the safest place to park. Big trucks move down this street. This spot is between two driveways. Trucks come an go from them. My spot is out of the way of the trucks. Some drivers are not as good as others. There have been accidents. There are often two large pick-ups parked here. They leave room between them. It is shelter for the bike. I suspect the bike taunts the trucks at times. A Greyhound between two Saint Bernards. One day I fear the trucks may have their revenge. During the day there has been water in the gutter. A pipe was replaced. This is the overflow. When I leave work the water has frozen. For a while there is ice stuck to the rear tire.

Time pressure keeps me to the interstate. It is almost a sin to waste this run. Skipping my back roads is like missing church. Sadly, it is necesary. I am late leaving the office. I slide over onto my off-ramp. The visor is pulled up. It is good to breathe the cold air. The smell of fuel hits me. My nose tells me of danger. There is a large diesel swath on the ramp. Riding a bike tunes us into our world. We are more alive. It is because we experience things more fully. It is that which makes us more alive that keeps us alive. The bikes enables us to "tune in". Tuning in gives us clues. The clues keep us alive. It is a circle of life. A circle of success.

Tomorrow I shall ride again. There is a threat of snow. It does not matter. Brave words these may be. It is a fine line between challenge and stupidity. Perhaps the weather Gods may win. Forty four miles of snow. A seven hundred pound bike. The formula will need worked out. My own dear Katie has turned against me. Her words are angry. The anger hides great worry. I am told that I am on my own. She will not brave the ice to come to a hospital far away. I wish to reassure her. I care for her. On the other hand, I need the challenge. I have my own reasons. I only hope to have the wisdom not to cross the fine line.


Mad said...

Yeah, we readers must agree with Katie in that we wish you to remain intact and blogging. I'm sure you'll know when it truly isn't a good idea to ride. ;)

Steve Williams said...

I don't ride as often or as far as you do, nor do I brave the same level of weather. My "you're a braver man that I am" comment comes at about 15 degrees or with snow on the road. I'll ride through most of the cold weather.

I appreciate the feeling that comes from braving the elements, being different, and from the freedom I feel when I am riding. And I also know how dangerous it all can be and the effect it has on my wife. I tell myself I am a safe rider, well prepared, blah blah blah, but the fact remains it is a heightened risk. And I choose to take it with full knowledge of what I am doing.

My annual auto insurance renewal came in the mail last week. As I was reviewing the policy I saw there was no first party medical and income loss coverage for the scooter. "Wow, they screwed up!" So I called the agent and she tells me that they don't offer that coverage, "Riding is too dangerous". I have a million in medical for the car and truck and income loss coverage but nothing for the scooter. A check with other companies reveals basically the same thing. Once company offers $5000 in first party medical coverage. They all say the same thing---"too dangerous".

I'm not really worried because I covered through my employment policies and benefits for income loss and medical costs, but to see the hard evidence from an insurance company based on data was hard to swallow.

Riding is dangerous. Period. Is it as dangerous as being a farmer or coal miner? Not sure. But I am sure that for me I am willing to take the risk. It is that important. And unlike a farmer or coal miner who is taking the risk to put bread on the table I am doing it for what? Pleasure? A sense of freedom? Ego? Or maybe a supreme act of self indulgence...

You know, I don't care about any of that right now. I just want to ride. This sounds more like an addiction as I think about it.

Keep riding.


Art B said...

Hey Dan, only brave souls like us can relate to this. I had many warning regarding this weather we are having here in Seattle that I should take my car instead. I ignored those because I want to know how far I can go. This morning ride was uneventful it was cold yes at 21 degree with the wind chill at 5 degree. Those people that gave me this warning only ride when weather is up in 70s. No wander they are so fast to tell me the seek the comfort of my car. Only people like us that ride all year round understand that these are the challenges that shape us to be a better rider. I had a blast riding my Ninja this morning. I felt like I was Valentino Rossi on I-5 except my maximum speed was 70mph. The cold tickle my soul and reminded me that I am alive. That's the feeling I get every time I ride...Being alive!!!



irondad said...

Thanks for weighing in, guys. I think it's more than just "self-indulgence" or pleasure. While it's true that riding is pleasurable it goes further for me. After all, riding on a warm day on great roads is recreation. Riding in winter is not pleasure on the surface. There has to be a deeper reason or we wouldn't do it, right? I think we are meant to grow. Riding helps me do that. I have time to think about things. I have the opportunity to stretch my boundaries. I even like to feel that riding makes me a better person as the things gained from riding directly translate to the rest of my life.

People use different things to achieve growth and enlightment. Motorcycles happen to be the vehicle I choose.

I just got a t-shirt as a gift. It says "The road to enlightment is more fun on a bike". That kind of sums it up for me.

Steve Williams said...


I agree with the idea that the ride can lead to enlightenment and insight and I feel that. I'm just not sure what I'm learning....

I need to be a more deliberate listener and take the time to hear what God is saying. My own "stuff" gets in the way so often. Like fear that I am taking unnecessary or unfair risks that could adversely effect my family.