Update on "Buzzard"
You might remember "Buzzard". If not, you can go back and look at the post from February 6.
I had a meeting last night in Salem. One of the instructors at the meeting told me that Buzzard had come back to try the skill evaluation again. This time, she said, he passed. What was interesting was that Buzzard grossly exaggerated
skills like head turns. It seemed he was doing it just to pass the test. At least he knows what to do. What he does with it later is going to have to be up to him. Buzzard can be his own best friend or worst enemy. I truly wish him the best.
I hate following vehicles that I can't see over or around. Especially on the freeway. It feels like I spend most of my time riding the superslab any more. Whenever possible I actively work to get around these rigs. Once upon a time I usually had a good view from the seat of a bike. These days I end up behind another "wide-body" all too soon. Is it just me or has the number of big vehicles rapidly proliferated the past couple of years? Between vans, mini-vans, SUV's, and big pick-ups it feels like riding in a thick herd of elephants. Some people really need a large vehicle. It's hard to haul a whole family on a bike. I'd say the majority aren't driving these vehicles for practical purposes, though. Either way, the average gas mileage can't be too good. No wonder the oil companies have us over a barrel. ( no pun intended ) I like my 48 miles per gallon just fine, thank you. More should join us in riding to work.
We've had some late snow. See more in the next post. I've always complained about drivers who do stupid things like tailgating. The speeding, taking chances, and tailgating don't let up at all when the conditions turn nasty. I saw on the news tonight that there was a 60 car pile-up on Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 in Washington State. I don't mean to impugn a lack of common sense to any driver who might have been an innocent victim here. But how the heck does a 60 car pile-up happen if folks aren't speeding and following too closely without regard for conditions?
Why do I do it?
I spent this last weekend in the Big City doing step-up training for instructors. It's the same kind of thing that was going on when we met "Buzzard". Despite the forecast for heavy rain and wind, I rode Sophie. It's always a trick trying to get enough gear in the two saddlebags. One of these days I guess I should buy a trunk bag. I had to laugh my butt off on Sunday. I showed up on Saturday on the bike. Most of the instructors in attendance were local. Only a couple rode on Saturday. My good friend Jeff Earls rode, but he's a top ranking Iron Butt competitor. What else would you expect of him? Talk about peer pressure! After my peers saw I rode a hundred miles one way almost all of them rode on Sunday. Yes, we did get soaked all weekend. My own ride home Sunday night was not the best ride I ever had.
There was a very big storm pelting us. The winds were strong and gusty from the Southwest. Which meant I not only had a head wind, but I was being hammered by gusts coming from about two o'clock to me. Between the winds trying to move me over in my lane, the standing water on the freeway, and the quickly falling darkness, it was a challenge.
This morning I woke up to rain which was mostly snow. The temperature was hovering at 33 degrees (f). Still, I saddled up and went. I had an early meeting at the office. By the time I got to the South Salem hills, I was riding on a slush covered freeway. It was still dark. The good news is that almost all of the drivers were actually driving within the limits set by the conditions. There was more snow in Portland and Vancouver.
By the time I set off for home the temperature had soared to 39 degrees (f). There was still snow in the rain with a little hail for contrast. Again, I faced gusty winds with the added thrill of having snow laden rain blasted into my face shield. My last three rides have been a little hairy. Why do we say that word "hairy"? A ride isn't really covered in hair. I think it's a macho way to say "scary". It sounds the same, doesn't it? There's a part of me that wants to use the word scary. As in "My last three rides were a little scary". Another part of me doesn't want anyone to know that I sometimes feel anxiety that's a couple of heartbeats away from fear. We want to say "scary" but our macho brains dictate the substitute word.
Just North of Salem there was a brief spell where the rain stopped and the road was dry. The first thought was "this was worth all those miles in the storm". Right. It was still cold and I still had heavy traffic all around me. I was also still on the freeway. The only reason it was good was that I was on the bike and it wasn't as bad as the storm. Some people tell me that a rider has to ride in bad conditions to better appreciate the good rides. Baloney!!! That's like me saying I beat my head against the wall just because it feels so good to stop.
I actually called my kid brother about this. I pretty much put him through medical school. Now he's a full fledged psychologist, working with addicts. I figured he'd be able to give me some insight. I asked for some "pro bono" advice. He denied knowing what that meant. I persisted. I explained that I had nothing left to prove. I could actually be more comfortable in a car. It would be possible to drink coffee on the journey. I might even be safer. So why did I always feel the need to ride? Why do I start bitchin' about not being able to ride when I'm forced to use a car for a couple of days? Why can't I accept being warm and comfortable in a car? Why, why, why?
He looked right into my eyes and gave me a straight answer. For those of you who are a little sensitive, you should cover your eyes for a few seconds.
My brother looked at me and said these words. "It's because you're f**ked up, man!"
I've always suspected that. It's reassuring to have a professional confirm it for me.
Almost pulled the plug
I've been blogging here for well over a year. Time is starting to be in shorter supply. Now that I'm back in sales as a manufacturer's rep, I'm enjoying myself more but have less time. My schedule used to be more structured. I went to work at a certain time and left at a certain time. Now the schedule's a lot more varied. I still enjoy blogging but it seems the posts are getting farther and farther apart. Sometimes I find myself tempted to post something just to put out a post. I'd much rather have it be more meaningful. So I'd actually come to a decision as I laid awake in a hotel room Friday night. I was going to pull the plug on this blog. I figured I'd helped found our little community. First Gary, then Steve and I. Now there's this neat little community of thriving bloggers. Nobody much would miss me. That's not meant to be any kind of plea for feedback. I just felt like I was filling space and not doing things justice anymore.
Coincidentally, a couple of comments appeared here. Then I saw a post by one of our community to the North of me. He mentioned our group and how we all learned from each other. I decided that I would really miss being a part of this community. It's a really neat little neighborhood we've built up. I don't want to move yet. Thanks, all, for being such good neighbors!
Miles and smiles,