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.
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,