Friday, February 17, 2006

A great start, a rough finish.

I woke up and looked outside. There was no snow. The temperature was well below freezing. Yet not the 15 degrees predicted. I think it was a tempest in a teapot. The ride to work was delightful. That is a flowery word for one such as I. Delightful. It was that kind of morning, though. Like daisies in the morning sun. If I fall off the cliff of reality into a poetic sea then I shall plunge deep. We would not want to waste the trip. The morning was cheerful. My heart was uplifted. Birds were singing. People were smiling. Damn, I need to come out of the ocean. Out of poetic and onto dry land. A person like me could drown here. It was a great ride. So much positive energy.

I love the Aerostich gear. It is the best I have ever found. This is not an advertisement. Their gear has been proven in battle. I have even crashed tested it. Even an ironman has an off day. I have crashed once on the streets. It is not a tale for today. I saw a man who I am sure was colder than me today. He has an interesting job. A large truck was hauling a gigantic cement beam. It is so long that the rear of the beam needs to steer separately. Like the long fire trucks in big cities. This man was sitting in a little cab under the beam. That is all it is, really. A small cab with a few windows. It has eight wheels, mirrors, and a steering wheel. The only connection to the tractor is the beam. That and a few cables. I am not sure if it has heat. It could only be electric, if so. The man was bundled up and looked cold. I am not sure I would like to travel like that. With my butt a few inches off the freeway. With impending doom on top of my head. Many are now controlled remotely from the tractor. This is an older one still on the road.

There was an endearing moment at a stop light. I am in the lane next to a small school bus. It has the name of a rehab center on it. It is a place where folks can work. Folks with challenges; mental, physical, or both. One needs personal worth no matter our circumstances. There were perhaps a dozen passengers. All looking out the windows at the bike and me. All with very serious and straight faces. All waiting for a signal. I waved. A simple, cheery movement of my hand. The bus exploded. Not literally. This is not a story of disaster. ( think daisies! ) The bus exploded with cheer. In an instant a dozen smiles burst out. A dozen hands waved wildly. I had given the signal they were waiting for. Many years ago I drove a morning route. Filled in for a while. A driver was out with medical problems. I took the mornings, someone else took afternoons. It was an enlightening thing for me. The world is often put off by the handicapped. It can go to the point of revulsion. Or is it fear? "There but for the grace of God, go I". It was fun to get to know my charges. They were some of the purest hearts I have ever felt. That is one of the reasons I became a cop years ago. To protect such innocents. I no longer carry a badge. I still carry the urge to protect. The interaction brought back good memories.

During the day the temperature dropped. The wind got teeth. You have heard of a lazy wind. One that bothers not to go around. Instead it just goes through you. The weather channel said we were still in for trouble. They showed us great pictures. Wonderful animations of a moving cold front. They called it an "arctic blast". The animations showed the front coming down into Montana. Stopping at the 45th parallel. Turning West and heading right for us. The winds were to be 30 mph or so. Gusts could be up to 60. I figured it was just so much bluster. Like the dire predictions from last night. My attitude changed somewhat at noon. I talked to a man in Redmond. It is about a hundred miles East of me. On the other side of the Cascade Mountains. Johnny says the wind is howling at 30 mph. Snow is blowing everywhere. So this arctic blast has come this far. Still, it is the other side of the mountains.

It is a good excuse to leave work early. I tell my boss I am concerned. I wish to get home on the bike before big trouble hits. He is not impressed. My own reputation betrays me. Very convenient on a Friday afternoon. I leave anyway. The clouds have come in a little. The sun is not completely blocked out. It will be a perfect time for my back roads. A leisurely ride followed by a long weekend. It will be relaxing. I am so wrong. For a while all is well. There is a strong wind from the Northeast. It is playful. Like two men who are friends we push each other. The wind pushes me and I push back. Sometimes harder, sometimes softer. I reach a stretch with little protection. There are foothills and large open fields to the East of me. The wind leaves. It seems it has tired of the rough-housing. It is peaceful for a while. Now the wind is back. The playful nature is gone. In its place is the fury of a boxer. I am slammed with an icy blow. The blows vary in intensity. None of them are soft. I am hit over and over again. I now believe the 50 and 60 mph gust prediction. The moving air has time to gather strength over the open fields. The coldness of it makes it harder. It is a frozen, iron fist.

It is a giant struggle to corner properly. A line is picked. The wind changes my line. Leaned over I am vulnerable. Yet, lean I must. I have chosen these roads for the curves. Many small corrections must be made. There are several stop signs at transitions. I am not smooth. Usually I coast up and gracefully put my foot down. Now the slowness leaves me open to attack. I must keep speed up for stability. This means quick, abrupt stops. I arrive home feeling battered. We have made it without incident. I am sore from wrestling the bike. It is good I did not see another rider. I would have been worried for them. I would have been afraid to take my hand off the bar to wave. I would have been afraid the other rider would try to wave at me.

It has been a day of contrasts. I am exultant at defeating the weather Gods once more. This encounter has drained me. Yet I am recharged in spirit. Monday is a holiday. I am taking a three day weekend to spend with Katie. The bikes will stay parked. I need to soothe her nerves! I am the warrior, she is the nurturing one. This weekend I will lay down sword and shield. I will be calm and domestic for her sake. ( God, I can't wait until Tuesday!)


Gary Charpentier said...

Ahhh yes... we both tasted battle today, and we both made it home to blog about it.

I remember the Santa Ana winds of Southern California. They would toss us around a fair bit, especially in some of the canyons.

Out on the open prairies of South Dakota, I have ridden hundreds of miles leaning twenty degrees into a hellacious crosswind.

These are some of the challenges which make motorcycling so much more interesting than cage travel.

Stay strong, brother.

Ride well,

irondad said...


Been there. I remember a two day 1000 mile ride in the far eastern part of Oregon. I spent hours doing the same thing you did. It was weird to be in the back of a line of bikes and see them all heeled over so far!

Steve Williams said...

It was so windy here today. I thought of riding the scooter to work this morning because the temperature was fine. I took the Ford Ranger instead today because I had to run some errands and the 60 MPH gusts jostled the truck. The Vespa probably would have blown away much like my propane grill fell over in the "breeze".

Light wind and 17 degrees is the prediction for morning. I plan to ride. Wish I had something a bit warmer than bluejeans.

You and Gary are more adventureous than I am.


Mad said...

I've always waved at kids and anyone who smiles when I ride but I never knew why I did it till Gary pointed it out to me. It's teaching the future generations that bikes are cool. I'd have got so much pleasure from that explosion of waving from the bus!

Crosswinds have a favourite jape they like to play on me: I crank it over into the corner with the wind blowing and I have no choice but lean on the wind, it seems to wait till I'm mid corner and then it stops blowing. Gets me everytime.

I'm glad you won your battle and got home intact.