Day two of the heat wave. I think it's actually hotter than it was yesterday. According to the Nat'l Weather Service
it is 93 degrees right now
with a heat index of 100. Last night's drive home in the 22-year-old Ford with no AC was like driving through a smelting plant. Gad. And I'm anticipating doing it again in about an hour or so.
But most of my motorcycling has been in cold weather. Cold, yes. So good.
I rode once in January, mostly just to say I'd done it. I was in college, had my bike parked in my living room, and we had a "heat wave" in January -- not like today's "gee am I on fire? Nope, just outside" heatwave, but the snow melted from the roads, and it was warm enough to leave the parka and mukluks in the closet. So I pulled out the bike and rode to McDonald's with my girlfriend. We had lunch, then rode back...total distance, about 3 miles, but I did it!
Last year, I rode up until mid-October and was ready to ride more, but we went from ridable weather to 6" of snow in one night, and that was it, the season was over. Michigan is kind of like that. If you want to ride outside of July and August up here, you have to be prepared to take some cold. Most spring and early summer days are absolutely perfect
for the ride home...but the ride into work is dark and frigid. I've found that I can ride down to 60 degrees comfortably without my handlebar-windshield attached, and down to 50 degrees with it. Below that, it's just cold.
Basic prep for riding to work in mid-April through mid-June. Lunchbag in the tailpack, check. Shirt tucked into pants to stop wind, check. Fleece vest zipped all the way up my neck, check. Lined leather coat, check. Helmet vents all closed, check, check and check. Thinsulate ski gloves on, check. Lightweight gloves in tailpack, check. Bike on...choke, start....warm up for five minutes or so....test w/o choke...nope, choke back on for a bit more....test... ok. Clutch in, kickstand up, in gear, out the driveway we go.
The first mile or two are good, I'm taking 633 instead of the busier M-37 so I can go slower if I need to, but I don't need to yet. The air is crisp, and the mist smells clean. The next couple of miles I check my jacket zipper and yup, it is already zipped all the way up. Hmph, I could've swore not. S'okay, though. Is there a hole in that finger in my glove? Seems awfully cool there...nope, guess not. Hm. Knees? Hello, knees? Are you there? Looks like it.
Okay, we're past 10 miles, and have another 10 to go. I'm hugging the motor with my knees, and getting a tiny bit of heat that way. No more two fingers on the clutch, because those two fingers want to be with the rest of them, not out in Siberia. I had to crack the visor about 5 miles ago because my exhale was fogging it up, so my nose is starting to do something really disgusting.
Almost to town...Yay, a stop sign! I get to stop...wait, there's a car behind me? Awwww....spoilsp-sp-sport!
Anyway, I'll make it to work, motor around the parking garage to the corner where us bikers park, back the bike in and shut it off...well, really I'll slide my hand off the end of the bar and turn the key with the knuckles of my first and second finger, because I can't voluntarily open my hand. I generally get the gloves off, then hold my hands on the cooling fins of the motor until I get some feeling back in them, at least enough to un-bungee my tailpack without snapping myself in the nards.
Riding home? Fleece in the tailpack. Heavy gloves in the tailpack. Light gloves on, helmet vents open, leather coat half-unzipped, total comfort all the way home. It's almost decadent how good that feels after beating Jack Frost in the morning. Strange thing? I like
riding in the cold mornings. For a number of years I had to be to work at 6:00 am, and would ride the bike if it was basically over 40 degrees or so. The cold was invigorating; it made me remember that I'm alive
by darnit, and I could get to work and stand by the bike and inside my own head think "Yeah! I did that! Go ahead and stare at me, you LPN's in your heated Corollas, because I am better than the cold -- Man vs. Nature, baby, who's yer daddy?"