Saturday, October 04, 2008

Bittersweet Fall

What a difference a couple of days have brought to our weather! Thursday and Friday gave us a heavier dose of rain than we've had in a while. Bike parking that was full on Wednesday was barely occupied on Friday. More on that in a bit.

This is a bittersweet time of year for me. Things change on several levels. Hot temperatures are moderating. I don't know if it's global warming or whatever, but it feels like the weather changes are more abrupt. One day it will be 70 degrees (f) and the next 95 (f). There's no chance to gradually ramp up to it. Things go back to cold and wet just as quickly. I suffered through temperatures over a hundred degrees while teaching this summer. With about half a dozen classes still on the schedule, I know the chances of teaching in the cold rain are going to be pretty high!

Riding conditions are changing for the worse. At least for most riders, that is. For me, while undoubtedly being less comfortable than in summer, there's going to be more adventure. I'm sorry to pop anyone's balloon, but continued riding in ideal conditions gets boring for me. I'm a person who needs and thrives on challenges. Maybe I'm just not smart enough to know when I've got it good. Whatever. Call it what you will, but that's the way it is for me.

A lot of folks are exploring two wheels as an option to four. Allen Madding's blog had a post in late September referencing a link to a news story. The story said scooter sales were up 66% from this time last year. I believe it. Everywhere I go there's a scooter stashed somewhere nearby, it seems. Small displacement motorcycles are flying out of dealership showrooms. There's evidence like this photo from a post of mine this week.

As you recall, I could hardly find a space to park in this place reserved for two wheeled vehicles.

The Great Sorting time is upon us, though. I sincerely hope that as many riders as possible will explore getting gear and skills that will tide them through the upcoming bad weather months. By the way, that scooter in the front of the picture has a decal proclaiming the presence of ABS on the thing. Cool, huh?

My wish is that these new arrivals to our world find even a part of the joy and satisfaction I've found on a motorcycle. Using a bike as primary transportation is enrichening way beyond the fuel savings. I really do want as many people as possible to experience these riches that extend to almost every aspect of life. Truly. At the same time, there's a part of me that takes a sort of evil pleasure in seeing the number of bikes slowly dwindle as the sunshine fades.

Check out this scene from two days after the first photo was taken. I snapped it with the camera phone so it's not as sharp as it could be. You'll get the point, though.

I rode back to OSU on Friday to man a booth that TEAM OREGON had during a campus fair. You can easily see Elvira in this photo as opposed to the previous picture. This time there were only the three bikes. The difference?

The rain came!

By the way, I saw Stacy, who works at OSU. Her of fame. You should check out Stacy's October 3 post on adjusting bike headlights. It's practical advice. Sure beats my "in the middle of the night on a deserted dark road" method! Stacy and I have crossed paths fairly often recently. She's starting down the road to become an instructor. Stacy will be good as an instructor, I think. She's personable, bright, and has empathy for people. Anyway, as much as I enjoy her company, there's a slight problem. You see, as Stacy's gotten to know me better, her sense of awe is diminishing. Actually, she's even gotten to the point of harassing me! Is that any way to treat a Motorcycling God?

I was getting ready to leave the place where our booth was located. In preparation for the walk back to the bike I'd donned my riding gear, which included the Hi-Viz 'Stich. I distinctly remember some smart remark about how Stacy had seen my jacket from clear across the way. That's the point, isn't it? She also had riding gear adorning her body. Someone else was riding in the rain! Good for her!

Back to the task at hand.

It's probably just a selfish ego thing but I like being one of the few hardy souls out and about on a bike during bad weather. There's a certain elitism at work. It's a reverse peer pressure thing. You know the group I'm talking about. Instead of being one who has to "join" a group, I like being one of the few. Winter, even here in Oregon, is a great separator. If people choose not ride in the bad weather, I respect that. My own personal choice is to keep on going. I'm actually looking forward to Winter!

I'm a Road Warrior, after all. The peaceful season has been too short. I'm hungry for battle.

How are you all feeling about the upcoming Fall and Winter? I know what I'll hear from Conchscooter in Florida, of course. "Winter? What Winter?" That's ok. Michael's a tough guy in his own right. He doesn't have to ride a motorcycle in bad weather to prove it!

Miles and smiles,


P.S. I'm on the road for a few days this coming week, but I'm packing the laptop. Look for the next post where I'll answer the question posed by Unsure Bandit!


Earl Thomas said...

This is getting to be the lonely time of year for folks like us; already I’ve noticed a considerable drop in the number of riders on the road as well. One of the guys that I work with (a long time motorcycle rider), who rides an Ultra-glide, looks at me like I’m a fool when I arrive to work on the bike in the bitter cold rain.

I had fedex driver ask me last week about my experiences riding and if I had any advice for him on getting started. As I gave him my own personal advice, taking an MSF course, buying a bike that’s proper for a beginner, wearing protective gear and such, I was pleasantly surprised to see that he actually seemed to listen and agree with what I suggested. There are so many times when I get a lot of guffaws and “whatever” comments when I offer my suggestions.

My own personal wishes are that more beginning riders will be as open minded about the responsibility and safety of learning how to ride as well.


fasthair said...

HI Dan,

Just yesterday I was at a friend’s house watching football when one of the guess pops up and says to his date “fasthair will ride until it snows.” It seems normal to me to ride until the road conditions will not allow it. Everyone in town knows I ride all the time until it can’t be done safely. So it’s becoming a bit lonely out there this time of the year but I don’t mind. You know what’s really funny? One of the first thing people ask me when they see me is… “are you riding?” Go figure.


Bryce said...

Never fails does it? The weather changes, drastically and the motorcycles disappear! Round here with the beginning of school the
motorcycles all disappear. Remember we do get winter here, real winter, as much as many other areas.
So, what appear back in my garage today after a long summer drought? My Goldwing! In some cases parts took nine weeks to be delivered. Happy it wasn't being repaired at a local Honda shop, or any other commercial outlet for that matter. it would've been sold the scrap dealer!

Still trying to decide what to do.
I shall probably go out and try and recall how to ride.

Charlie6 said...


It's probably just a selfish ego thing but I like being one of the few hardy souls out and about on a bike during bad weather. There's a certain elitism at work. It's a reverse peer pressure thing. You know the group I'm talking about. Instead of being one who has to "join" a group, I like being one of the few. Winter, even here in Oregon, is a great separator. If people choose not ride in the bad weather, I respect that. My own personal choice is to keep on going. I'm actually looking forward to Winter!


Dan, I understand...and am similarly affected....

Lucky said...

Riding in bad weather is what makes a biker, in my always-humble-and-asked-for opinion.

Back in the day, I used to ride my bicycle regardless of weather conditions.

Are we not men? Are we not above cowering in our hidey-holes when the weather changes? That stuff is for creatures without opposable thumbs.

irondad said...

I have a t-shirt that says

"those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music"

Once in a while, though, some will actually start to hear the music we hear. It's fun to help them learn to dance!

Isn't is funny that what we just take for granted, like riding as long as we can, seems extraordinary to most?

I'm thinking you need to go ride! Judging by your comments here, the urge is still there. Just remember to listen to your body as it tells you what the new limits might be.

I knew there was something about you I liked!

Yes, men we are!! Grunt, grunt! Although I thought opposable thumbs were mostly for holding beer mugs and pizza slices.

Steve said...

I've written a few similar observations on my blog on the apparent extended riding season this year. It seems that gas prices have encouraged more to ride and existing riders are riding longer.

The weather here in Ohio has been markedly cooler, but the numbers of scooters are not decreasing as in years past. Our parking lots are just as full with bikes now as they were this summer and almost double what they were last year at this time.

I stopped in my local scooter shop over the weekend and had a conversation with a couple of folks about riding this year until there is ice on the roads, which for central Ohio is about January.

Maybe I'll take the money I saved on gas this summer and spend it on a 3-season riding jacket and just not winterize the scooter this year.

Macavite said...

I am happy to see the new riders of my commute are still riding. For the most part I have not seen the drop in ridership that I expected as soon as we started having some wet days.

There's often a thread on rider forums about why people wave or who they wave to. I wave because it's polite and because I feel a kinship with anyone on two wheels.

However, come winter I go out of my way to wave to anyone still riding in January. These are the people I feel a real kinship to. The guy on his beat up old honda with the courier bag thrown over his shoulder. The woman on the SV with the givi-bags. Intrepid commuters.

Stacy said...

Dan, you're far too kind!

I must say, we look rather dashing in our ATGATT getups.

I'll ride unless there's ice on the pavement. My jacket's starting to let me down in the waterproofing department, though. Is Aerostich gear waterproof, or do you folks need to wear rain gear on top?

irondad said...

I'm sure your scooter will appreciate that!

I wave at everyone, too. We're all on two wheels. There really is an extra kinship with the brave Winter riders, isn't there?

Yes, we were both looking good! My Roadcrafter jacket, the Hi-Viz one, will eventually soak through. I use NikWax products which seem to help a lot.

They have a Tech Wash that goes into the washing machine with the garment. It does a good job of adding extra water protection. There's also a spray. Places like Joe's have them. I have never felt the need to wear extra layers over the Roadcrafter.

On the other hand, I have an Aerostich Darien with the fleece liner. Nothing has ever gotten through that jacket!

Take care,