Wednesday, December 02, 2009

What kind of sickness?

Yesterday was one of those days. You know the kind. The kind where you start asking questions of yourself. Things like "why am I doing this?".

Looking outside yesterday morning I saw nothing but fog. I mean that literally. The mercury was at 41 degrees ( f ) and bravely holding on. I swear this combination is colder than a clear, freezing, day. My day called for a trip to Eugene. Unless there was ice, snow, or freezing rain, I'd done this trip every day for three and a half years in a previous time. Yes, I knew what was in store for me.

There are two vehciles with perfectly good heaters available to me. Yet, what do I do? On goes the riding gear. Nothing electric, by the way. One of these days I'll get around to wiring Elvira. Of course, after a year and a half, I'm beginning to wonder why I should bother. I've got the week off between Christmas and New Year's. Maybe then.

What kind of sickness drives us to ride in the cold when most people are warm in their cages? Get the pun? What kind of sickness DRIVES us? Cages? Oh, never mind. Sheesh.

Sick though it may be, I do enjoy riding in the cold. Warm is better, but I'd rather ride in the cold than not ride. The photo above is of Highway 99 and 34th St. I waited for a miracle to no avail. ( get it? Miracle on 34th St? Ok, I'll quit before I hurt myself ) I happened to catch a Sheriff's Office cruiser coming the other way in the photo. The officer shook his head in bafflement as he went by. What? Don't you see a motorcyclist with his helmet on standing by the side of the road taking pictures of an intersection every day?

Here's the other factor behind the riding. If you're going to profess to be a certain thing then you need to actually walk the talk. Or ride it, in this case. If I claim to be a hardcore rider using a bike for everyday transportation all year, then the proof should be in the riding. As cold as it may get.

Elvira had been sitting for a few minutes while I took the intersection photo. The indicator had shown 39 degrees when I turned off the key. According to the wind chill calculator at 60 mph the felt temperature would be just a shade over 23 degrees. For those on the metric scale, suffice it to say that in our scale it's well below freezing! Yeah, I know, Elvira badly needs a bath. I never really noticed until I saw this photo.

By the way, somebody had posted that chill factor website on their blog. I can't remember who it was. Feel free to take credit for it. Whoever it was is pretty sadistic. Now we can put a numerical value to our suffering!

Fifty two minutes later I arrive at Valley River Center in Eugene. That's fifty two minutes at 23 degrees, mind you. I'm not whining. I just want you to feel like you rode along with me.

Alone in my sickness, there is only one bike in the sea of cars. No matter, though. The mall is festooned for Christmas. Malls make good temporary offices for us road guys. Especially the food courts. Seriously, we don't go there to eat. The food courts are the only place with tables to spread out our stuff. I think I need a little backup here, Mike!

More importantly, and of immediate need, was hot coffee! Fooled you, didn't I? You thought that after 52 minutes in below freezing weather I'd want a restroom. Hah! When you're that cold you don't want to release any body heat whatsoever!

I did make one concession to the cold. I had donned a balaclava. When it's this cold you need to keep the visor open a bit to keep a clear field of vision. The balaclava helps deal with all the cold air rushing in as a result.

That's a cold face! We won't discuss the pretty factor at all, here. I think the white on the mask and my eyebrows is ice. At least it feels like it. Note to self: Remove mask before entering mall!

In between calls I made a couple of personal stops.

There's a Trader Joe's at Oakway Center. I showed up at the checkout counter with three bags of chips made from different vegetables and some bags of trail mix. I'm still in full gear with helmet in hand. Miracle of miracles, the young woman at the counter has powers of observation and brains to go with it. Spying my gear, and deducing why I'm wearing it, she asks me how I would like the items packed. What great customer service!

Yes, I let her know about it, too.

On the way out I snapped this photo of a Citroen. A 1965 model if the plate is to be believed. I'd seen it pull in earlier. Picture a blonde hippy chick my age who never let go of the 60's and you'll have an idea of the driver.

Near where I parked Elvira was this drunken teddy sleeping off a bowl of good stuff. It hadn't moved while I was gone. I resisted the urge to see if it was okay. I'm not good at mouth to snout resuscitation anyway. Let drunken teddies lie, I say.

The Mustang may have more horsepower, but which of us can get to 100 faster?

The temperature shown on Elvira's guage never got over 43 all day. I had planned to take some back roads home and extend the ride. I know some pretty cool and curvy roads in this area. Elvira and I had the roads mostly to ourselves. I felt like a little boy still playing outside in the cold long after everyone else had gone inside.

There was a bit of sunshine but it was far away from where I was.

Near home, I stopped to see Brad. Usually I just cruise by in stalking mode. This time I had a question or two for him. Ok, now that you've twisted my arm, I really wanted to get inside a building and warm up. Brad's office was handy. There, are you happy?

While I was there I snapped a quick photo of our bikes together. As you can see, Brad's proving to be pretty harcore himself. A tip of the helmet to you, Sir!

Despite the cold and fog, it was a good day. Like Brad reminded me, at least I was on the bike. I'm not suffering from a sickness as far as I can tell. No, I'm enjoying every minute of it!

Miles and smiles,



Stacy said...

You've been without electrics all this time? Really? You put the hard in hardcore!

And is Brad rocking a fairing now?? BWAAAA!

Dave said...

What kind of sickness?
I am not sure but I think there is no know cure

It seem I have it to : )

Was out yesterday started out at 35F an it did finally get up 45 by sun down winds SW at 18 mph.
But hey this is Ohio and you take what you can get and it does beat not riding. : )

Could be worse we could be in one of throes places were it 120 in the shade an there is no shade

Far easier to dress for the cold than the heat in my book.
No heated gear here either

It is all ways is a good idea to remove your balaclava if you doing some banking Don’t ask how I know : )


Anonymous said...


You are just as crazy as I am. People at work could not understand why I subject myself each day to frigid wheather commuting on a bike to work. I said to them that it is the mere challenge of how much and how long I could continue to ride to work regardless of the weather before I call it quit. I know exactly how the wind chill factor works. I left the house today with temp of 32F but I am sure at 70mph the temperature could easy change to low 20's. I hooked both my bike to power up my electric gear. This is the first season I surrendered to the luxury of heated gears and I will never ride again with them. Perhaps you may want to give them a try. I don't know about you but as I age I am have less tolerance when it come to cold weather.

Keep on riding


Young Dai said...

We have had a day around the mid- upper 40's. The downside was that the cloud brought a real 'Hollywood rain. The storm drains had over-flowed on the main roads by the time I left the office to get home, leaving lakes of water in several areas on the highway. Hit one of them at normal road speed in the dark it has a real pucker factor !

Worse is when you get hit by bow-waves from traffic in the opposite lane crashing through their standing water, especially where you have the lid cracked to try and keep some visibility.

With the normal slow speed fender benders and drowned cars, the journey tonight doubled to over 2 hours , my eyes were out on stalks by the end. !

As for 2CV's, ugly, dangerous and uncomfortable to ride in. Ok for a Peasant , his pig and sack of potato's, in 1950's France, but get with the C21th Burn it,burn it, burn it .

bobskoot said...


Heavy frost this morning around 30F (-2C), I'm sure Mr Conch is gloating right now in KW. Too much ice for me to take the bike out, plus I worry about visibility (being seen) in the Fog.

I love those 2CV: deux chevaux, simple, utilitarian, spacious, but parts would be the deal breaker

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Dave said...

Young Dai

I am just an old farm boy from Ohio

But if you put a pig an a sack of taters in the back seat in short order you have a very happy pig sleeping off a belly full of taters .

The taters have to ride up front with you even if the pig called shot gun : )

Send that car my way I like old iron I restore farm tractors an that little guy would have a good home here.

Heck you can even keep the pig an taters : )


Mike said...

Very entertaining post Dan. Thanks for the mention. Food courts are the best offices and the best shelter these days. And isn't it true Eugene has several hippies who haven't let go of the 60's? :-)

Keith said...

I identified with the "walk the walk" statement. I started commuting on a scooter to cut down on the amount of gas I was using and become a little greener. The van I had been driving was older and was lucky to get 16 mpg. As luck would have it the van died the day after I bought the scooter. So, in a span of eight days, I ended up with both a new car and a new scooter. But, the plan had been.....

I stuck to the plan even tho' the car gets in the over thirty miles to the gallon range. I joke I'm going to get a sticker made for my scoot that says, "My other scooter is a Yaris." Still,I wanted to follow through on what I'd started. So, I gritted my teeth started to add the gear as the seasons changed and a funny thing happened on my way to and from work, a transformation happened.

Today I was greeted with the "looks" as I walked into the courthouse in my gear. It was in the low thirties this morning and rain was in the forecast for the afternoon.

It has stopped being about the "plan" and become about the ride. I've tried to explain it to co-workers, but I've come to see that if I have to explain why I ride on days like today the person probably ain't going to get it....and if the person gets it I probably didn't have to explain to begin with.

Oh well, I rode home in the dark, in the rain, the wind, and mid-thirty degree temperature (F). was wonderful.


Lucky said...

You know, while riding in that kind of cold sucks (glad I don't have to do it much... yet.), it IS still better than being in a car.

I mean, getting in a cold car is just about the worst experience one can undergo without being able to claim human rights violations...

Keith said...

Lucky, here's an irony.

We have a motorcycle parking area right next to the door to the courthouse. The regular parking lot is 4 blocks away. There is a shuttle but still there is a half block walk to the pickup area and another block walk from the shuttle drop off to the entrance.

On cold rainy days many of my co-workers come in wet, cold, and grumpy. When I take off my gear I'm bone dry and I suspect a little warmer.

So, who is really crazy here LOL

Charlie6 said...

Irondad, I applaud your riding in spite of the cold....

I wimped out and had my heated grips on "high" today as I rode in on my Ural....but then again, it was 6 degrees farenheit....add in the windchilll...and it begins to feel brisk.

On the plus side, not much snow or ice on the main roads....side roads, a bit more but since I was on three wheels....

cpa3485 said...

The only sickness involved is in the eyes of others that think we might be just a bit crazy for riding in less than desirable weather. My wife is really good at rolling her eyes at me when I come downstairs in the morning all dressed up in my gear. "Are you really riding today?" she would ask. But she knows in advance what my answer would be regardless of the weather conditions (unless it is icy).
A couple of nights ago, it was cold, I met the family at a local Olive Garden restaurant. I rode the scooter, while the others were in cars, and they arrived a couple of minutes before I did. When I entered the restaurant, the hostess examined my clothing and said something to the effect of how crazy I must be to be riding in weather like that. What do you respond to someone like that? I have come to just ignore it a bit and know inside that they just don't understand, and probably never will.

Keith said...

Deng Ming-Dao has written:
"Whatever system of spirituality you practice, do it every day. If it is prayer, then pray every day. If it is meditation, then meditate every day. If it is exercise, then exercise every day. Only then will you be able to say that you are truly practicing spirituality." (365 Tao, p.94)

Hmmm, I guess then if it is to ride every day, then ride every day.

Hey Charlie6, was that a dry cold :-)

Charlie6 said...

Keith....the joke here is that it's a "dry cold" but with 63% humidity today...not sure I can claim that.

Anonymous said...

Le 2CV, te car that looks like it was assembled from the cuttings in the sheet metal shop. The seats are rather odd, but then so it the entire vehicle.
Sadly as so many small vehicles, the emissions testing people don't like these cars one bit, too many pollutants. That said the stick shift is in the dash and the seats are basically similar to a hammock strung between frame bits.
The car does have an hydrolastic suspension and will do a very nice three point turn if forced.

Citroen as an autombile company has some very odd vehicles amnd ideas. That noted. their industrial vehicles are very sturdy. Thing is
here in North America we see only those vehicles that sell here, the foreign vehicles such as the Citroen
simply are not seen except in museums or similar. Then too one has to be able to find a service person who understands (very important with a Citroen), can find a parts source and knows how to
use said parts to keep the vehicle functioning.

Peugeot cars and trucks are equally weird, well, they "are" French!

Like Elvira in name only???

OK OK i get the hint, you're telling us that you can drive anywhere, even in a total fog (The motorcycle, not the operator).

Sojourner rides said...

Hanging in there is giving me hope. My rides are getting colder but the enjoyment remains. I love the photo of the drunken teddy!

Conchscooter said...

Gloat gloat gloat.

irondad said...


I've always tended to be a little spartan. Mostly because I don't like messing with all that plug-in stuff!

Dave,( old fart )

Here's the depth of my sickness. You make a perfectly reasonable comment with good points. Yet, here I am, and all I want to know is the rest of the bank story! I'd love to have you share as a guest post.

Take care,


irondad said...


I agree that electrics are pretty awesome. And it's important to be comfortable when riding so you can concentrate. I just have this ego thing going!

By the way, you're as crazy as me, not the other way around. Remember who was riding first! :)

Young Dai,

It's not even remotely funny when you have a ride like that. Been there. Glad you hung in there. I like your comment about eye stalks! That's what it feels like sometimes at the end of ride full of hazards, for sure.

Take care,


irondad said...


See the comment below. Conch is definitely gloating. Although he might be accusing me of gloating about being able to ride for work. I don't think his headset cord is long enough for him to do that.

Ice is nasty. Wise to avoid it.


The only trouble with food court offices is that you can't just leave your laptop to hit the restroom. And I'm usually there in the mornings using lots of hot coffee to warm up. Timing is everything!

Yes, Eugene is full of all kinds of interesting people.


And another comes to the Dark Side. Good on you. I welcome you with enthusiasm and open arms!

Take care,


irondad said...


You know, you're absolutely right. Nothing is as cold as a car or a house that has sat empty for a long time. You've got too much character to cram it all in a car, anyway!

By the way, Keith makes a very interesting point, too. Who'd have thought the situation would be reversed? Crazy doesn't mean stupid, does it?


Your comment just proves I should think about things other than riding once in a while. I have absolutely no idea about tiny little cars, for example. Must come from riding in the fog so much.

Take care,


irondad said...


With all the tinkering you've been doing, lately, I'm surprised that you haven't come up with a way to pilot the bike from inside the sidecar. What's one more battery installed to run a heater?

Riding at 6 degrees isn't funny. You got me beat. I admit it.


So you're saying that we're not sick, it's everybody else? Somehow that takes away a bit of the fun for me!

Did the waitress at Olive Garden who thought you were crazy give you a table sooner to get you out of the lobby?

Take care,


irondad said...


The drunken teddy is the result of all you getting me thinking like a photographer. Now I stand there turning in circles looking at every angle. Just happened to see the stuffed animal under some shrubbery.

Keep hanging in there! We all seem to have a collective bond here that I find comforting somehow.

Thanks for helping Bobskoot look like a prophet. I'm sure he can use the reassurance being stuck up there in cold B.C.!

Take care,


Charlie6 said...

Irondad (Dan), no need for another battery for heated gear....I use my motorcycle battery for that, leaving the big battery in the sidecar to run the bike and its lights.k

It was really cold on today's commute, my left hand's finger tips were feeling the cold much more than yesterday.....must work on that.

Bucky said...

"I did make one concession to the cold. I had donned a balaclava. When it's this cold you need to keep the visor open a bit to keep a clear field of vision."

In addition to the balaclava, I use a Foggy Respro in the helmet. Keeps the closed shield and eyeglasses from fogging.

My cold weather solution:

Steve Williams said...

The desire to ride plays tricks on reason. It's evident when actual knowledge of events and outcomes are overcome by a decision to ride.

I know the feeling and process. For me the initial cold of winter exerts some control on my own decisions to ride. But once I become comfortable with winter then all bets are off and I make more questionable choices.

I've never ridden in frozen fog though. Have never experienced it at all here. Maybe it's a West coast thing.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks