We've had a lot of snow this month and most of it is still piled around. The hemlock trees in the front yard aren't as full as they were when I made this picture last week but snow still hangs in the branches. Work, the dog, and the weather have taken a huge bite out of my riding opportunities and I feel the lack of road time. A nervous energy, an anticipation, a pacing grows in my spirit. This past Friday evening Kissell Motorsports was celebrating the addition of BMW motorcycles to their line of European machines and were unveiling the new BMW S 1000RR. What better opportunity to ride than to an event like this.
Photography was not much on my mind so forgive the incidental images. Attention was directed on the road, the night, and the challenges presented when snow, ice and subfreezing temperatures demand a different sort of rider attention. On the way home from work in the truck I paid close attention to the road surface in a manner that the average cager doesn't need to. Sporatic spots of ice, snow and salt ladden water don't mean the same thing when you are using four wheels.
I stopped on the way to Kissell's to take one more look at the road surface, guage the traffic, and give myself one last opportunity to turn around and go home. Standing under the streetlight I realized what I was doing, I could feel my senses sharpening, eyes scanning for riding dangers, thoughts working out handling plans and contingencies, I was moving into winter rider mode.
I understand the incredulous reactions of other riders to this activity. For those who are nervous about riding at night in good weather they are doubly opposed to it when there is a certainty of slippery stuff. Judged from a perspective of recreational riding this activity is simply nuts. And I have considered it so more than once or twice.
Riding in the winter is special and for me the payoff is in the complete focus it delivers. I suspect it is similar to what accomplished athletes find in their individual sports. Everything not important to the task at hand is stripped away and I find a purity of purpose and spirit. Is it worth the risk (and it does exist)? Each rider has to make their own decision. There is not right or wrong answer here. It's personal.
The Vespa GTS 250ie was the only two wheeled vehicle outside the doors of Kissell Motorsports. Their parking lot still had some big patches of smooth ice. Not the sort of surface you want to come flying into. Definitely the kind of obstacle that a rider must plan for when riding at night in the winter.
Even when all the snow is gone and the roads are dry there are many reasons why you might encounter ice. There always seems to be someone washing their car in the winter who drives off leaving nice icey tire tracks on the road. And now, with so much snow still around I encountered several instances of show piles on the road courtesy of drivers who don't clear their vehicles of snow before leaving home.
At night I have to make a lot of adjustments. Apologies to everyone else on the road. I leave my high beam on. I just need to see the road ahead. Curiously no one ever flashes me. Maybe it is not as bright as I think it is. And the scanning process that takes place during the day is more furious at night. And I anticipate potential problems and make use of lane adjustments, speed and stopping more often. The ride is not about moving from point A to point B as smoothly and quickly as possible. It is about being as careful, prudent and safe as possible. A very different ride.
Events were already underway when I arrived. After grabbing a hot dog I made my way around to a vantage point where I could see the BMW S1000 RR when it would be revealed. A lot of people turned out to see the new line of motorcycles. With the Canon G9 in one hand and a hot dog in the other I waited.
Moments after the box was removed and before people queued up to take a closer look and sit on the bike. I'm amazed at the sophistication of the motorcycles today. The two-stroke dirt bike I road in the 1960s seems like a toy in comparision. A junky toy.
There were new BMWs everywhere in a maze of machinery. I made mental notes of the ones I would fantasize about.
The BMW R1200 GS bikes were very nice. I can see myself with one of those. I've sent away for plans for a new garage.
Dan Leri owns, I think, a BMW RT1200. He's sitting here trying to decide which bike to buy his wife for Valentine's Day. I think that's what he was doing.
My friend Paul Ruby was standing in the corner playing with his iPhone. He's addicted and in search of a 12-step group. The place where people say "I'm powerless over my iPhone and my life has become unmanageable". Paul has a BMW X Moto 800(?). All I know is it seems to be the tallest motorcycle I have ever ridden.
I plan to return to look the new motorcycles over more carefully. When my mind isn't preoccupied with the ride home. The obstacles, the risks. The smart man would return by the same safe route found earlier in the evening right?
It's good to know I'm smart some of the time.