The temperature is dropping. Snow is in the weather forecast for this weekend. Fellow FJR rider Stacy Zuber and I are teaching the last class of the year. Twelve people insane enough to be taking a motorcycle class during the first week of December. In a place where it snows during the winter. Twelve people being taught by two even more insane guys. Yes, I'll be riding.
This is from yesterday morning. My schedule changed at the last minute and I was back on the road for Eugene. Another 45 mile drone down the freeway. For once I didn't need to start at the crack of dawn. By the time I left the sun was shining. Cold and clear. Mmmm, my favorite winter weather!
It didn't last. I got on the freeway at MP228. By MP209 I was in thick fog. The temperature had climbed a whopping two degrees to 29 ( f ). Freezing fog. I hate it.
The ice forming on the bike isn't so bad. I like to set the windshield so that I'm looking over the top of it, anyway. I pulled off by the side of the freeway to take a photo or two. The pictures don't really do justice to the situation. This photo and blogging thing is as much of a sickness as riding, isn't it?
Temperatures had been below freezing all night. The thick fog means there's a bunch of water in the air. Which, of course, means that the water turns to a light coating of ice on the pavement. Some of the areas along this stretch of freeway are open on both sides for miles. Perfect conditions for the wind to lower the temperature of the pavement even more.
Tire friction from heavy traffic can tend to keep the pavement warm enough to melt the ice. During this ride traffic was pretty light. I think everyone was saving the trip for the big Civil War game between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University later in the day.
What happens is that the ice melts and then refreezes. This time it's smoother and more slippery. Each stray car does its bit to add to the situation. Kind of like a giant Zamboni on an ice rink. Smooth the ice, put a little extra water on it, and get even better ice!
It's critical to ride prudently. We teach students to aggressively scan for differences in color and texture as they ride. You can believe that I was doing the same. A rider also needs to be as smooth as possible with all their inputs when dealing with questionable traction. Despite all my experience riding in adverse weather, seeing that sheen on the road reflecting my light back at me still makes me pucker a little.
We made it safely through to a spot where the fog had lifted. That's where I took all the photos but one. The second windshield photo was taken when I finally arrived at my destination. There was still quite a bit of ice on the bike.
The sun eventually burned the fog off so the ride home was easier. Still cold, though. We took the back way this time. After a quick bite at home Elvira and I headed in the opposite direction to go teach class. All together we amassed somewhere around 150 miles yesterday. We headed for the barn ( in keeping with the current blog theme, it seems ) at a little before 9 PM. No fog, but Elvira's dash showed 34 degrees. Maybe we'll go another winter without electrics. This time I hardly felt the cold. Must be getting numb!
I'll let you know how the class comes out. I taught the last class a year ago, too. Actually, I seem to be weird enough to do it every year. As well as the first one. These groups always seem to turn out to be pretty special. I'm especially looking forward to working with one student in particular.
He's in his 50's. He looks like the big, bad, biker dude. Long ponytail, ratty t-shirt, camo pants, big boots, leather jacket, and chains. He's just never ridden before. There's a '93 Sportster waiting in his garage. Contrasting his appearance, he seems to have a heart of gold and a great attitude. It's clear that he's here to learn and committed to the process.
Did I mention that the weekend is going to be cold? The National Weather Service is predicting lows in the mid-twenties each night. On Sunday the HIGH is predicted to be 36 degrees. Four degrees over freezing. By the way, just for good measure, they say there's a 20% chance of snow. We may have to dig out taller cones!
Miles and smiles,