Thursday, October 29, 2009

What is it about riding?

Great! It's raining so hard that there's standing water on the freeway. I've already taken a shower today, so why are those southbound vehicles throwing water over the barrier onto me? I've got to get out of the left lane. If only I could see. Black clouds are so dark that the freeway street lights have come back on. Not to mention the water curtain over my faceshield and Elvira's windshield. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to ride under a waterfall, I could give you a pretty good idea.

Thus began my trip to Kirkland this past Monday morning. Elvira and I are in the Terwilliger Curves during morning rush hour. Nobody's going anywhere fast. As a matter of fact, we're crawling along. I hope the crotch of the Roadcrafter pants keep shedding water. The 'Stich is getting another adverse weather test. It's eleven years old and has seen countless miles. How many more storms can it weather? ( get the pun? )

Strangely enough, I'm happy about being on the bike, even in the storm. How weird is that?

When we were at the coast I had Katie bait these gulls with a mini bagel. This kind of represents what's happening in my world these days. Everyone's fighting for a piece of an ever smaller pie. Or, in this case, a bagel. I've been summoned to the Mother Ship for an all day meeting with the whole crew on Tuesday. I need to make a stop at the University of Portland to troubleshoot an electromagnetic lock installation. I don't know how long it will take. When I'm done I'll finish the trip to Kirkland and spend the night. The ride home Tuesday night will be a late one.

Speaking of the ride home, I stopped at the same Starbucks in Woodland where I had dropped Elvira earlier this year. I'm glad to say I really can exit the parking lot while staying upright! Of course, we'd only been on the road for about three hours this time.

Having the choice to drive or ride, I chose the bike. It will prove to be an overall cold and wet trip, although nothing will equal the Monday morning storm. If you don't count Tuesday morning's hail, that is.

With the amount of stuff I had to carry, there was absolutely no room for the Nikon. Since some of you complain that there aren't any bike pictures in some of the recent posts, I'm recycling some pics of Elvira from trips earlier this year. Before I became the dazzling photographer I am now! :)

I could have been warm and comfortable in a car. Food and hot coffee would be a casual reach away. My little XM radio receiver would sound a whole lot better on my car's Infinity sound system than through the tinny ear buds I have under the helmet. Yet, I look at the traffic surrounding me and feel glad to be riding. What's up with that?

I originally started this blog to encourage using a motorcycle as much as possible for everyday transportation. That's why I'm listed on the Ride to Work site. Andy's philosophy and mine align in that regard. He was gracious enough to include me when the RTW blog roll was in its fledging stages. Riding for utility is a worthy and noble pursuit. One I want to encourage as many as possible to share in with me. You know, you can even haul the family Christmas tree on a bike. Check it out here. There's more to it, though.

I never sit in my S-10 pickup and think how cool it feels. Nor do I get that free and agile feeling in either the truck or the car. No, there's something more to riding than just utility.

It's not about riding twisties as I'm doing the super slab thing both ways. It's hard to explain, but the world just feels right on a bike. Being in a car seems so cumbersome. Maybe it's just the decades of riding. You're comfortable with what you're used to. Maybe there's some magical aura that surrounds a motorcycle engine. Or, perhaps, it's just plain ego when I see all those folks in their cars while the swashbuckler is out on two wheels.

I'm also pretty sure I'm not the only one who feels this way. Even if we might actually be safer or more comfortable with four wheels, we choose two. Here's a recent example. Dom couldn't wait to ride the bike and sidecar in the snow, for heaven's sake. Maybe what it all boils down to is that we're just plain crazy. There may be more truth to that than we're actually willing to admit.

What about you all? How do you justify your insanity?

Miles and smiles,



James said...

It is raining cats and dogs with cold fronts from North battling out the moisture from the Gulf for the tierra firma.

But I ride to work. It is insane but there is no justification required for madness.

I have ridden through tropical monsoons and a little rain does not put me off. Just slows me down a little.

kathy said...

I ride to work a lot because I just love being on the bike. My coworkers ask all the time if I rode in when it's raining. Just smile and point to the helmet on my desk. It's not crazy - it's just passion and love for two wheels. Then I tell them that I'm not that sweet and don't melt in the rain.

Mike said...

I got called a wuss Monday by an engineer at one of the hospitals for driving the cage because of the rain. I'm feeling like a wuss again after reading this. Your post is a little wake-up, after all it's only water.


RichardM said...

What about you all? How do you justify your insanity?
Why is it necessary to justify to anyone?

Anonymous said...


This is the season I enjoy riding the most. For me, riding during nice weather in Summer posed no challenge and I easily get bored. Raining is another. I enjoy clearing the rain from my visor and smelling the fresh air. It is odd but it's the fact I enjoy this type of weather.

Take care,
Art from Washington State.

cpa3485 said...

It takes a pretty good reason for me not to ride to work. Snow and ice are obvious reasons. Light rain is not a problem, but I do try and avoid heavy rain, mostly because of a fear of lightning.
I am usually very disappointed If I don't ride to work.
It wakes me up and makes me alert for the day. It is more sane than insane.

Conchscooter said...

I took an old grill to the dump yesterday in a trailer behind my Nissan. The operator at the dump, an aquaintance, looked at me and said "you have a vehicle?" "I think of my motorcycle as a vehicle <" I replied "I just can't tow a trailer behind it." (I leave that to HD's on overloaded camping trips).
Persoanlly I think riding a Ural in snow is crazy as unreliable as those things are.

irondad said...

See, you're a perfect example of what I'm talking about!

Ok, don't you get just a bit of a smug feeling when your co-workers shake their heads at you? I have to admit that I do.

As to being sweet, I don't know you personally. However, consider that if you're somebody's Sugar that could count!

The rain can make it a bit harder in our business. Only because we can look a bit less presentable, if you know what I mean. My intent wasn't to make you feel inferior!

Besides, you know those engineers. They like to make vendors squirm.

Take care,


irondad said...

Of course, silly me. By the way, I read your blog. Half the time I don't know what you're talking about as the technology is beyond me. I did like the helicopter pictures from Barrows.

Take care,


irondad said...

You're still at it, eh? I remember when I started this blog four years ago you were a new rider on a Ninja 250. Commuting through the winter something like 50 miles each way.

I've ridden in your area, most recently a few days ago. All I can say is that you are a true Road Warrior, my friend!

Thanks for being such a long time reader, too!

Take care,


irondad said...

Hmmm, I wonder if Lucky was thinking of you when he decided to write about accountants becoming daredevils?

You're a Wild Man!

I get the same reaction. Folks are surprised to see me with four wheels. I'm a little surprised you didn't try to attach the grill to the Bonnie. :)

You bring up a good point. Riding in the snow isn't crazy. Being stranded in the snow might be. Dom seems to have these guardian angels bailing him out all the time, though. My Karma isn't good enough, I guess.

Take care,


Unknown said...


Normally rain doesn't bother me. But ever since my little mishap I've been less than confident and added to the many tree lined streets with wet fallen leaves, I am waiting for the rain to wash them away.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Lucky said...

Insanity is its own justification.

That said, I fall asleep in cars. I never fall asleep while riding. On those terrible, no good, rotten, awful days when I have to take the cage to work, I never really wake up.

And I love riding through rotten weather. Real life is not at room temperature. And we vikings have a saying: there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying motorcycles are the best.

Balisada said...

I don't justify my insanity.

I embrace it.

I proudly put tiger ears and a tail on my helmet and 24 packs of toilet paper on the Rebel, knowing full well that I will probably end up on YouTube as fodder for jokes.

I will ride in the pouring rain with just a RevIt Jacket, blue jeans, and tiger-eared-adorned-helmet, fully aware that my feet are swimming in their own pool of water and I literally leave a trail of water dripping off my soaked jeans when I walk inside. I know that drivers shake their heads when they see me riding in the rain and wonder what would compel someone to ride a motorcycle in such miserable weather.


Because no where does it say that life was intended to be taken seriously.

Because if someone were to offer to give me my dream vehicle, I would honestly get to say:

"Sorry, I already bought it. I rode it to work today."


kz1000st said...

Call me lazy or a chicken but I don't ride in the rain anymore. My last bike suffered mightily from getting washed over by deluges. I had a front wheel bearing burn out when the grease was rinsed out and the steering head bearings seize up when the grease there also washed off. That's not to mention the cables needing lubing every week and some switches that gave me trouble from moisture.
Now I have a chain drive bike and it isn't happy either when it takes a soaking. Nope, dopler radar is my friend. I see green, I take the car.

LumpyCam said...

Yep, I ride though pretty much everything and often get the incredulous looks from colleagues.

Why? Probably for all the same reasons stated here. It is just so refreshing to feel the bite of the air each morning before work and starts the day off right. And at night, it is fun to take the long way home and have time to be truly alone with your thoughts of the day. Reflection, contemplation, and adrenaline. Who could ask for anything more?

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sir:

I can't believe you compared yourself to Domingo Chang (Charlie6) in an effort to qualify your sanity. That's like my first mother-in-law comparing herself to Charles Manson.

There's a rumor going around that Dom is converting the Ural to steam and replacing the sidecar wheel with tracks. (It is said he thinks he can get it to go 5 miles per hour faster with this arrangement.)

You're a better man than I am, but then again most are. I'll ride in the rain if I am caught in it... But in the past five years, I have only started out in it twice. I don't own rain gear, because it doesn't come in my size.

My waterproof riding jacket is good enough in the light stuff. Yet in truth, I don't mind getting soaked through my mesh on a muggy, hot summer day. I am less than inclined to ride in the rain now, with all the leaves on the ground.

The pictures of your bike are very straight-forward. I suspect this machine lends quiet dignity to your lifestyle.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

redlegsrides said...


I missed this posting when it first came out! My apologies....

As to comparing your "need to ride" with mine, I am honored to be in such august company!

Tomorrow might be my second ride in real snow, at least, that's what the forecasters are hyping up ....

and for tracks for Natasha....though you know, those wily Germans did make a tracked version of their army the term: kettenrad....I bet that thing would really go anywhere!

redlegsrides said...

whoops, I meant: Kettenkraftrad