Things are…different. That seems to be the understatement of 2020. Especially when discussing the COVID-19 pandemic. Those conversations tend to involve a more thorough description with a sprinkling of expletives not suitable for print here. Frustrations over some of the safety requirements are certainly understandable. To me, it seems the restrictions we’ve had to follow have not only had a negative impact on the livelihood of so many, but tend to stifle human nature itself. Take masks for example. While they may help to limit the spread of the virus, the inability to see and share smiles with others is really starting to wear on me. I miss hugs, and although I enjoy riding on my own, I’m looking forward to the day when bigger group rides and in-person gatherings are possible. One of the joys of riding that I’m most drawn to is the feeling of freedom. On the bike, I’m not too fat, thin, rich, poor, old, or young. I’m just me, living in that moment, free from being categorized and judged. I think most riders are attracted to not only that sense of freedom, but the actual freedom to move about and travel at will. The lockdown and social distancing have cramped that style and led to the cancellation of many events. I was stunned and saddened to hear Gettysburg Bike Week had been called off for 2020.
A favorite rally in the Mid-Atlantic Region, it’s traditionally falls over the weekend following Independence Day. It offers the usual attractions of a motorcycle event, meeting others who love to ride, games, music, and vendors. In addition the town is of course full of history, restaurants with fantastic food, and the surrounding areas provide gorgeous views to ride through. Another unique aspect in Gettysburg, the residents seem to enjoy the event as much as the bikers. I’ve always felt welcome, and discovered that the Saturday evening parade of motorcycles through downtown is yearly entertainment for a lot of the locals.
Luckily, the pandemic restrictions are easing in Pennsylvania and it appears the spirit of freedom can’t be cancelled. From what I understand through word of mouth as well as online communication, most people who were planning to attend bike week are still going. This is news that lifts my spirit more than I could’ve imagined. There are businesses like restaurants, campgrounds, and hotels that are reopening and need the patronage. After all, safety precautions are nothing new to motorcyclists. They’re considered in how we ride, the way we maintain our bikes, and what types of gear we choose to wear. I’m confident everyone is capable to make their own choices about what is safe for them regarding the virus too. So while things might be…different in that there is no “official” event scheduled, I have a feeling Gettysburg is still going to be full of fun the second weekend in July. Be safe, and Happy Independence Day!
I love to laugh. A point I made clear to my handsome man years back on a trip to Myrtle Beach Bike Week. Out for late-night beverages, he teased that I had fallen for him because he was such a smooth operator. I said no, explaining that good-looking guys with cheesy pick-up lines are a dime a dozen and I fell for him because he makes me laugh. He instantly turned to a young lady walking by and asked, “Hey! You want some cheese?!” With a giggle, she said no and continued past us in the direction of the bathroom. As we laughed over his cheesy-line failure, a friend came up and asked what was so funny. We told him, and as fate would have it, the same young lady was approaching on her way back to her friends. Not even knowing this, he turned and asked the poor girl if she wanted some cheese. “NO! No I don’t!” With that she was gone, probably with a story about encountering a bunch of dairy-infatuated freaks while at a motorcycle rally. As for us, the tale is still told whenever bad pick-up lines come up in conversation.
These past few months, keeping a sense of humor has served as a huge coping mechanism throughout all the changes in life this global pandemic has caused. Riding itself is important therapy even with a much different start to this spring season. Usually there are dozens of rides and rallies to look forward to, but so many have been cancelled or postponed. I pick up pins or patches as souvenirs from these events, so I had to buy one I saw online to cover what I’ll miss in person. It says “COVID-19 STOLE MY RALLIES, 2020,” and I laughed at this subtle flipping off of the virus. It came from Big Gurl Designs in Tennessee and when I received my order I was touched to find a sweet hand-written thank you note from owner Tonya. As you’re able to, please support these small and local businesses. While the cancellation of some of these gatherings rob us of a good time, they could be much worse financially for the vendors.
Since a lot of the functions hosted and attended in the motorcycle community are designed to benefit a charity or good cause, remember to find ways to support those groups as well. Bigfoot…The Social Distancing Champion’s Solo Motorcycle Ride challenge to benefit food banks provided an amusing concept to deal with adhering to separation guidelines. As well as a funny t-shirt logo featuring Bigfoot riding a motorcycle with a roll of toilet paper in his hand. I know at one point not long ago, I would have been more surprised to see fully stocked TP shelves than Sasquatch himself! In any case, hang in there as virus-related restrictions ease. Hopefully we’ll be able to get together soon to share fun, hugs, laughs, and of course…pick-up line stories!
I’m waving at you! Not the casual, graceful, outstretch of the arm as we pass each other type of wave. It’s that YOU’RE-ONE-OF-THE-FIRST-RIDERS-I’VE-MET-ON-THE-ROAD-THIS-SEASON-AND-WE’RE-BOTH-SO-HAPPY-TO-BE-OUT-WE-LOOK-LIKE-WE’RE-ABOUT-TO-DRUNK-JOUST-EACH-OTHER kind of salute.
Because I’ve missed ya! I haven’t been writing much lately…well in this way. I’m taking a class on business writing and it’s so different than what I’m used to, it’s hard and taking up a lot of time. Add that to an already busy phase in life and THEN! Suddenly there’s an undercurrent of attention circling around a new virus that has the same name as a beer. They start referring to it as COVID-19 which I can’t seem to get right until someone points out that you can sing it to the Dexy’s Midnight Runners tune “Come on Eileen”. And that undercurrent of information swells to a daily drenching as you take in more stories and statistics and find out people are building toilet paper forts or something like that.
Before you know it, we find ourselves treading water in a dangerous global pandemic and life is completely different. In the grand scheme of things, so far I’m okay and feel very blessed for that. Everyone is facing some sort of struggle as we all try to stay safe from this virus. For me, the most difficult requirement is staying away from my dad. He lives in a senior/memory care facility that recently locked down in order to protect the residents. In-person visits are prohibited which can frustrate me to tears. He also loves to shoot pool and while I might have to remind him whether he has solids or stripes every turn, he’s still a good shot. We talk on the phone often, but I miss taking him out to play. How do I explain this change in our routine to someone who doesn’t fully understand? Hell I don’t really understand, I wake up each day feeling like I’m living a Stephen King story!
Still, I find myself counting my blessings even more than usual. Included in that count, is the ability to ride. Thank God it’s spring and warmer temps will become the norm! Feeling teary a few days ago, I took a break from stress and went for a quick scoot on the Heritage. By the time I was out of my neighborhood I could breathe easier, then once I hit fifth gear I felt every muscle release tension and relax. Not only did the ride lift my spirits, but it helped to see evidence that folks are still supporting each other through tough times. These days, regional restaurants have been forced to close for in-house dining, but can deliver or offer curbside pick up options. I rode past a local establishment that under normal conditions would be a fun stop for good food and a cold brew. It made me feel better to see they were still doing business as there were quite a few cars in the parking lot while customers waited on their to-go orders.
The more you look, the more you see these sorts of examples. When small businesses are hit with restrictions, their supporters find ways to lift them up. People are actively looking for more things to do to help each other. Efforts are underway to take care of the elderly, children, hospital workers, and truckers. I think this is going to continue. If this pandemic is a situation that is going to get worse before it gets better, I feel our positive reactions are going to increase and we’re all going to make it through this. Not only will we survive, but we’ll get to the other side even stronger.
In the meantime, remember to find ways to comfort yourself as well as others. Go for that ride, count your blessings, and find a way to lend a neighbor or a stranger a hand. We all know any road trip is full of highs and lows; this phase in our lives is the same. Be as safe as you can be, and keep in touch along the way.
The cat needed a hug. He let me know this like he always does by sitting up on his hind legs and tapping at my shins with his paws. I picked him up and as he relished the attention, wandered over to my Christmas tree. My favorite sign that the holiday season is here, it becomes this three-dimensional type of scrapbook, and I paced around it taking in all the trimming. I’m guilty of forgetting why I walked from one room to another sometimes, so it amazes me that I can remember the details of every decoration. There are those I made or remember seeing on the tree as a child. Others I recall buying and enjoy the memories of where I was at that point in my life. The most treasured ornaments make me smile because they bring to mind the person who gifted them to me.
Later I realized I had another mobile scrapbook of sorts and some trinkets that hadn’t been added on yet. That memento would be my motorcycle vest. Sure enough, I found a couple of loose pins from this year’s bike weeks, so I got busy finding spots to attach them. I reminisced on more people and places as I looked over older tokens along with patches from rallies and various events. A pin from a 911 Memorial run drew my attention. It reminded me of the first time I met a group of girls I’ve been friends with for over 15 years now. Coincidentally, some of us have recently discussed a reunion for a trip back to Tennessee. Four of us rode out that way in 2006 to investigate the famed Tail of the Dragon.
Off we went one morning in July: Crash, MA, Linda, and me. Most of that first day was somewhat scenic and relaxing. However, the stormy moods of summer would catch up with us and we found ourselves dealing with vicious downpours in the evening hours. Thinking the first was a one-off downpour, we dodged it in the shelter of a bank drive-thru. But as we rode on a real deluge hit us on the interstate and that turned into a hiding-out-under-the-overpass-extravaganza I’m sure we’ve all been caught in at some point. When the rain finally let up so we could continue, I remember coming into Blowing Rock, NC listening to Crash’s radio. She was in front of me blasting “She’s a Beauty” by the Tubes and I can’t hear that song without smiling and flashing back to this trip.
We made it to the motel room we’d reserved tired, hungry, thirsty and soggy. Lucky too since we got to a pub just across the street before they closed for the night.
While not exactly sunny, the next day was thankfully much drier. We leisurely rolled our way down part of the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville, NC, a city where it seems like there is always a cool place to head to for live music. We found one and not only had a great time listening to the band there, but I’m convinced we met the real-life version of Dale Gribble from King of the Hill. This man approached us after spotting our crappy flip phones sitting on our table. He looked and sounded just like the cartoon character as he warned that Big Brother was watching us through the devices. If that’s true, let me make it known I’d like more pictures from our adventure because I know we didn’t take nearly enough.
We were blessed with sunshine, scenic views, and surprisingly uncrowded curves the following morning for our journey across the Tail of the Dragon. We rode it from North Carolina to Tennessee where we spotted a hammock-sized bra draped across the grill of a pickup truck at our first rest stop. We’ve never stopped wondering about that fashion statement, or how a yellow jacket managed to get inside my clothes to sting me in the belly as we pulled into the parking lot! Eventually we headed back to Virginia, to see how close to home we could get. However, Linda’s new little GPS gadget was about as high tech as the cell phones we had back then and we wound up riding for hours in circles…still in Tennessee. At least it was a gorgeous day, and we were lost on some awesome back roads. After an impromptu pizza party in a motel parking lot and a good night’s sleep, Crash and Linda hit the interstate to get home quickly and I paired up with MA on a day-long putt making our way back from Bristol to Central Virginia.
Thankful for these experiences and friends to share them with, I hope the holidays have brought you fond memories, and dreams of upcoming chances to make new ones too. Happy New Year!
The time of year for a switch back has come and gone. In this case I’m not talking about taking a day to find a bunch of crooked mountain roads with plenty of fun switchbacks to ride. I’m talking about that switch back from Daylight Saving Time to Eastern Standard. It’s when we’re out riding and find ourselves digging through our pockets and bags looking for our “clears” at around 5 o’clock instead of 8:30 pm. Unless you’re more organized than me and can better keep up with your nighttime glasses that is. A recent hunt for mine reminded me to put clear lenses on my Christmas wish list this year since I usually blank out whenever someone asks me what I would want. And so that leads me to my Top 10 List of Gifts for the Motorcycle Lover. In no particular order, except maybe a loose train of thought, these are items I’ve given and/or received to great reviews.
Clear lens glasses- Let’s go ahead and start with clears for riding in the dark or rain. It doesn’t hurt to have extra pairs to keep them handy. That way, you also have some for use as replacements if any are scratched, lost, or broken.
Bungee cords- If you’ve ever seen a couple of riders on the side of the road, forced to take their belts off their waists in order to strap down camping gear that’s come loose on a bike, you know the value of these beauties. Forget diamonds, bungees have been this girl’s best friend many times. Keep them around the garage for packing to go on a long road trip. Happiness is having a stash on the bike as well. Just in case you find yourself picking up something that won’t fit in a bag but must be tied down in order to get it home. Multi-packs of various lengths make a great gift, extra bonus points if cargo netting and zip ties are included.
Rain suit- I’m not a huge fan of riding in the rain, but this is the best gift I’ve ever hated having to use! Thanks Dad!
Heated gear- Once upon a time, another rider approached me at a party. He said that one morning as he headed down 29 south toward Charlottesville, he saw someone on a motorcycle merge into traffic ahead of him. He explained his thought was, “It’s 32 degrees out, now who is this crazy a$sh*le?!” He grinned and said when he caught up with the bike; he realized it was me, “No offense”. None taken! I got a good laugh out of it right along with him when I described how I would cheat the chill by sticking an aromatherapy heating pillow in the microwave, then stuff it down the front of my jacket for the 20-minute ride to work. Thanks to thoughtful family members, I now have a heated jacket liner and gloves. In cold weather, these extend not only the length of each ride, but the whole riding season each year. However, there are times when I catch a scent of lavender and think fondly back to that essential oil-filled quick fix for a frigid day!
Bike manual- When I first started riding, I happened to be in a dealership where I overheard a woman complain that her bike had been there for 4 days and she wanted it back so she could ride. The simple oil change she needed still hadn’t been done, and they weren’t sure when they could get to it. Unwilling to ever find myself in the same situation, I asked friends to teach me how to change my own oil and perform basic maintenance on my motorcycle. The first lesson was that everyone should have the service manual for their motorcycle. It makes the rest of the lessons much easier. Which leads me to the next gift idea.
Oil filter wrench, filters, oil- An oil filter wrench makes accomplishing the needed oil change a lot easier in my opinion. And one year, my boyfriend gave me a filter and case of oil. While non-riding friends thought practicality canceled out romance in that instance, I was thrilled. The smiles and memories on my bike long outlasted flowers or other options!
Gremlin bell- If you’re not familiar with the legend of gremlin bells and the protection they provide bikes and riders, a quick search online will fill you in. The short explanation is that these bells are attached to a motorcycle in order to trap and drive away road gremlins that want to cause harm. These are tough little trinkets; however, the power is only activated when the bell is a gift. Have fun picking one out and give your rider a little extra safety insurance.
Bandanas- There’s no such thing as having too many bandanas because there are as many reasons to keep them on hand as there are colors and designs. It’s common practice to fold one into a do-rag to hide crazy helmet hair or wipe overnight dew off a bike seat. But you might also find yourself rolling ice cubes into one at a convenience store to tie around your neck and make crossing a hot corner of Mississippi in August feel a lot cooler!
Lip balm- Great stocking stuffer to protect not only against windburn, but sun damage too. Pick some out, SPF included.
Gift cards- When in doubt, gift cards or gas cards are always welcome! My Mom used to worry that these weren’t personal enough. Of course, they are! After all, it’s the thought that counts and you were thoughtful enough to pick one up. Christmas is about Christ, not stressing everyone out over presents. Just BE present. Enjoy this time with your loved ones over the holidays, and Merry Christmas!
We’ve all experienced the symptoms: sluggish body, nausea, an ache in the chest, tearful eyes. Only in this case it’s not the flu, a hangover, or a bad breakup. It’s returning to work after going out to lunch on a gorgeous day. Walking away from your motorcycle when what you really want to do is fire it back up and ride the rest of the afternoon away. One such day, knowing it’s hard to make a quiet and unnoticeable escape on a Harley, I dragged my feet back inside the workplace. As if proving that riders are more conspicuous than other commuters, a woman in the elevator glanced at the helmet in my hand and said, “I like your bike!” She went on to explain that the day before, she’d left the building with another female coworker. “We heard this motorcycle coming through the parking lot and looked up and it was you! A WOMAN on this big ol’ bike…and we were so proud!” It brightened the rest of my workday considerably, even if she didn’t realize it. Funny how a simple comment or gesture can lift another’s spirit, whether you are on the giving or receiving end. Recently, performing a random act of kindness WHILE on that longed-for road trip left me with a priceless souvenir.
We were on our way to OC Bikefest for a much-needed vacation. Rather than take my bike this year, I opted to snuggle in behind my boyfriend. I’ve had friends say it looks strange when they see me on the back of a motorcycle, but I’ve never taken the “M” endorsement on my driver’s license to mean “man-free zone”. I love being in the wind, whether on my own, or sharing the experience. The ability and freedom of choosing how I ride is a gift I’m always thankful for! As we came to a crawl approaching the Bay Bridge toll plaza, I looked around to check out the bikes of other riders also headed to Ocean City. We passed one particular couple riding tandem and they caught my eye because they appeared to be a father/teenage-daughter duo. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was their first trip together and thought about what awesome memories they would make. My own father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s this year, so I find myself reminded daily of how truly precious a memory can be.
Realizing we were edging closer to one of the toll booths, I started digging cash out of my pocket. As we finally approached a window, I heard a bike pull up behind us. Glancing back I was pleasantly surprised to see it was the twosome I’d noticed before. I handed enough money to the attendant for two bikes to cover our fee as well as theirs, and we were off to maneuver through the rest of the bottleneck. Before everyone made their way back to open road and once again got up to speed, I turned back to smile at the pair. The teen’s face lit up with a big grin and she gave a shy wave as her dad looked up and mouthed a thank you. The expression on her face made my day, leaving me with a huge grin of my own the rest of the way to the beach. Having to concentrate on the road, my boyfriend missed most of that exchange. When I described it to him later, I told him the feeling it left me with made that $4.00 toll the best money I’d spend our whole vacation. It’s definitely a highlight of the trip I’ll always remember.
Now, November brings with it a couple of introspective holidays for me: Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for our Vets and the sacrifices they make to protect the cherished freedoms we have. And each year I grow even more grateful for the time I am able to enjoy with my loved ones. Please keep Veterans, family and friends, and even complete strangers in mind when you are inspired to commit a random act of kindness. You’ll be glad you did- paying it forward is such a great gift not only to others, but also to yourself.
Does anyone remember Super Bowl XXXVIII? Not so much the game itself, I don’t remember who won or even who played for that matter. Oh- but I do remember the end of the performance from Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake at halftime. My friend and I were left squinting at each other, wondering if we’d seen what we thought we saw. We had…it was a flash of boob. Not only did that little peek at a chunk of fatty tissue cause a lot of controversy, the incident eventually led to the development of the term “wardrobe malfunction”. I guess it’s the politically correct way to say that without meaning to, you had your privates flopping around in plain sight of the public.
Although wardrobe malfunctions can happen anywhere, they can obviously be an issue for any woman choosing to ride in the wind at high speeds on a motorcycle. Especially in the summer months when we’re not bundled head to toe in layers and leather to keep warm. In my somewhat embarrassing case, I hadn’t thought about how a change of bike design could affect the airflow around me enough to displace clothing. I first learned to ride on a Suzuki Savage, and when I switched to an HD Sportster, I found the breeze coming around the windshield hit me at a totally different angle. Instead of flipping back, my hair would fly straight up. Maybe that should have warned me some tank tops could do the same?
Instead, I learned my lesson on Route 33 near Ruckersville, Virginia one beautiful day. No particular place to go, just riding a loop before heading to work that afternoon. I was comfortable in a previously well-behaved tank top, and a hoodie zipped at my waist. That way the sweatshirt wouldn’t flap up in the air and stream behind me like a cape, while also keeping any lingering late-morning chill off my arms. Heading north on 29, I had to stop at a red-light before turning east at 33 toward Barboursville. A couple of dump trucks coming from the other direction had the right-of-way. They turned left in front of me, each driver giving me a huge smile and friendly wave.
I made the turn and as I followed them, I wondered if they waved because they rode too and were wishing they were on their bikes instead of working. Then I wondered where the next passing lane was because they were going so slow. Then I realized they were either losing some gravel out of the trucks or kicking it up off the road on me. I could hear occasional pings against my bike windshield and tank, so I wondered if it would scratch the paint. THAT’S when I finally looked down. To my relief the bike was fine, but um, hellooo-oo BOOBIES!! I did have a bra on at least, but STILL! Not exactly a full-coverage style. With the hoodie on and only zipped at the very bottom, the material flapping around my sides led me to believe nothing was wrong.
In actuality, my tank top had been blown up and was now scrunched under my chin like some sort of scarf. This left plenty of room to fall out of the open front. Red-faced and swerving, I clawed at the shirt to yank it back down as I pulled over and zipped the hoodie up to my chin. On rides afterward, friends I shared the story with couldn’t resist teasing and asking if I was “doing a boob check” when they caught me tucking my head and looking down to make sure everything was in place. Consider this your friendly reminder to get another type of boob check.
October, aka Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is on the way. It’s a good time to make sure your yearly breast exams and screenings are up to date. And if you find yourself with a wardrobe malfunction on the road, try not to let it bother you too much. In the grand scheme of things there are more important things to worry about. I’m just glad mine didn’t happen in front of a Superbowl-sized enough audience to prompt a whole new word for flashing!
It’s always fun to watch my niece unwrap presents, especially when the look on her face means the gift was obviously something she really wanted. On a Christmas several years ago, she seemed thrilled as she tore festive paper away from a long metal rod. At first, I thought she was awfully happy about receiving a bicycle handlebar. I wondered whether she was simply customizing the look of her bike or if the part was a necessary replacement because of an accident. As I speculated, she slapped a cell phone on one end of this mysterious bar thingy, held it up high and took a picture of herself. Oh. So THAT’S what a selfie stick looks like. Luckily, I’d figured this out before giving away my lack of gadget expertise. If I’d suddenly asked her if she’d wrecked her bicycle, it wouldn’t have been so easy to slip back under my rock unnoticed.
I’m old enough under there to remember when simply getting pictures of anything was an adventure in itself! You could use a whole roll of film, send it away to be developed, wait a week or two and wind up with…nothing, except disappointment. Photos of blackness because the lens cap was on or there was no flash. In some unlucky cases the result was double prints of pink blobs because a finger was in the way or the people in the shot were out of focus. Those close to my age know what I mean. There are some technological advances that make life a little easier- saving time and money. Taking pictures is a good example, you know instantly if you have the shot you want. If you forget the camera, the cell phone can save you- stick or no stick.
There are other situations where my cell has come to the rescue, especially while riding my motorcycle. When rain develops, I can look at the radar image on a weather app to see if I can get out of it quickly. It makes it easier to decide if I need to find an interesting place to stop and wait for it to end, or I just have to put on rain gear and push through it. Phone navigation apps help to point myself back in the right direction if I take a wrong turn and don’t have the luxury of enough time to stay lost for a while.
Yet I look back on the days of scrawling directions on my arm, no safety net of a phone, and miss that time. In many occasions now, a wireless device puts everyone on the road in more danger- namely when they are in the hands of inattentive drivers.
You’ve seen them, the texters behind the wheel who think they can stare at their phone and drive at the same time. Pretty easy to spot, usually they’re in the car in the passing lane going 10 miles an hour under the speed limit, swerving back and forth or slamming on the brakes every few seconds. They’re also the ones sitting at the light after it has turned green still staring at the cell screen. Distracted driving gets worse all the time and it’s so infuriating when I take note of how many drivers I see looking down at their phone instead of concentrating on operating their vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated- a statistic that doesn’t seem to be taken as seriously as it should. As riders I ask you to please look into supporting the motorcycle rights organization in your state. Get involved with ABATE or other groups in order to help form legislation to stop distracted driving and keep us safer on the road.
As for the tech junkies transfixed with their cell phones at all times, I don’t get it. I’m sure they probably can’t figure out why I want to jump on two wheels to ride every chance I get either. It’s hard to describe to anyone who’s never been on a bike, let alone those who don’t know life before wireless, that feeling of being present in the moment. It’s a joy I hope they’ll one day discover instead of continuing to scroll through messages and images on a flat screen. Experiencing an awareness of all my surroundings and enjoying interaction with other human beings along the way is a blessing in my life. And life under my rock is good!
As motorcycle riders we all love to be “in the wind”. Lately that phrase seems to take on a whole new meaning. Last year around this time, heading out for a ride involved constantly dodging raindrops. Now it seems like every other week I’m trying to stay upright in extremely heavy wind gusts. Unfortunately, this weather usually coincides with the garbage collection schedule once or twice a week, which leads to an annoying round of the how-many-houses-away-will-the-trashcan-be-today game. I don’t remember all these high wind warnings and advisories occurring as frequently or violently in the past. Actually before I got my own bike, I really didn’t consider how much the wind could affect a ride. It didn’t take long to learn that lesson.
I’d only been riding my own for a few months and was still on my first bike, a light little Suzuki Savage 650. When I met up with a buddy for a scenic ride in the country, he mentioned that the forecast for the afternoon was windy. We decided to head out anyway and although I don’t remember what speed the gusts were that day, I do recall feeling like the wind could blast me off the road or into the lane of oncoming traffic. At our first stop my friend asked how I was doing. Trying to keep my voice from shaking, I told him I didn’t mean to be melodramatic but I was truly scared of the wind pushing me into losing control of the bike. It was a huge relief when he reassured me that even with a heavier bike and more riding experience, he wasn’t comfortable either. Luckily, the breezes slowed throughout a lunch break and had gotten much more manageable before it was time to head home.
Several years and another bike later, I was again caught by surprise on a blustery afternoon. This time, the ride to work on my Sportster had been relaxing. The return home however, was quite a different story thanks to unexpected gusts from 45 to 50 mph. I tried to stick to the backroads in the woods where there was a little more shelter. Inevitably, a break in the tree line would send me out into the open again to be walloped with another gale. I weebled and wobbled for a good 30 minutes, wondering part of the time if the driver of the van behind me was going to call the police and report me as a suspected DWI! Laughing about it afterwards at a local bike night, a bunch of friends teased me and said I probably wouldn’t like riding in the plains or flat parts of Texas. One buddy reminisced about a day-long trip he’d taken, spending the whole time leaning into the wind almost sideways to keep from being blown away. I can’t imagine.
Still, I dream of eventually getting the opportunity to take a cross country trip- different weather included as it’s part of the adventure of different sights. This season, to one extreme or another I’m sure we’ll get lots of practice riding in all kinds of conditions here closer to home. Practice makes perfect? I’d say any ride makes for practice that IS perfect!