Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Own Private Insanity

Riding in the winter is my own private insanity. I do it over and over again with the same results.

In more serious moments, like this evening, standing in the parking lot at work, looking at the darkening sky, wondering how dry the road would be, asking myself which route to take to minimize automotive pressure to rush and I'm left wondering (again) if I'm not being just a bit foolish.

This morning I almost left the Vespa in the garage; a quick look out the window revealed some dusting of snow from the previous night.  Walking through the driveway I realized how much ice might remain on untreated surfaces.  For those of you in warm climates read that surfaces without metal eating salt.

I don't remember the decision making process.  The 29F temperature didn't matter so I must have assumed (rightly) that the roads would be clear and remain so throughout the day.  What I didn't count on was being at work late and riding home in the dark.

Mental calculations are quick in the cold -- gear in place, road surface acceptable, traffic thinning, visibility good.  But there are things I forget. Aggravations at night, in the cold, with visor constantly fogging and the glare of headlights making it hard to assess the road ahead for deer, living or dead, chunks of firewood, on an unfortunate instance of ice, I asked myself again, "What the hell?"

With a smile.

The ride home was uneventful save for some beautiful instances of a landscape under a dying light.  And of course, there is always, every time, a rather potent feeling of accomplishment that doesn't show itself in warm air.

Is it worth the trouble, discomfort and risk?  Maybe only in my own private insanity.


Rogier said...

It simply makes you feel a live :-)

Bryce said...

Insanity is dealing with publishing deadlines.

In your case insanity takes a different bi-wheeled form.

Perhaps as long as you're aware of the downfalls (on black ice or snow)
of such a practice we the reader shall understand if you mangle yourself.

qwadro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie6 said...

Of course it's worth it! But then again, I share your insanity. ;)

I do cheat by having the sidecar though.


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Sulu said...

Insanity is always taking the easy road. Insanity to staying on the couch wondering why life passed by.

We definitely don't have your decision process even 10 days during the winter in Southern New Mexico. Though, riding through the mountains last weekend sure made me wonder when the temps were just falling to freezing and the flurries were hitting the ground.



Paul said...

Night riding in the winter is surreal. Some of us are still adventurous enough to do it. I'll be riding my scooter to work tonight, then home again.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve Williams:

Insanity is a relative condition. It can serve as the mask that lets so many of us get away with things that others would prohibit or eschew.

I have no idea how long your commute is, but I can appreciate how cold it can get on a short run without electric gear.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Steve Williams said...

Rogier: It does energize me despite the discomfort or frustration. It's part of the reason I keep doing it.

Bryce: I'm all about publishing deadlines at the moment. Another week and the magazine will be at the printer and I can start work on the next issue.

I recognize the risk of black ice and the rest of the family of slippery. I hope not to every report serious manglement here.

Steve Williams said...

Charlie6: You are more insane than I am even with a sidecar. I measure my regular travels in tens of miles. You do it in hundreds of miles.

I bow to your superior lack of sanity.

Steve Williams said...

Sulu: I try and resist the lure of the couch and other activities that I suspect I'll regret down the road. And I agree it is insanity.

Southern New Mexico strikes me as a wonderful place to ride. Someday I hope to visit and see for myself.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Steve Williams said...

Paul: You're right about the surreal nature of night riding in winter, especially if there is a blanket of snow on the fields (not the road). It's like being in another world...

Ride safe!

Steve Williams said...

Dear Mr. Riepe: Are you implying I get away with stuff? I am one straight arrow, diligent, friendly, courteous, kind, brave, clean and reverent.

My commute is only 182 feet but the cold is stifling. Someday I hope to make a trip of one quarter of a mile. I think I will need a bigger machine for that.

Perhaps a BMW K bike.

roland said...

I just need better gear. Making do with my vented summer stuff and layering is not working. I feel like a wimp opting for the Cherokee when it hits 40f...

Btw - longtime lurker 1st time poster - love your site, it inspired me to start my scoot related blog....ty ty ty

Steve Williams said...

roland: Glad you finally commented. I always feel the input from readers is where the real energy and stories come from. I appreciate the kind words too about Scooter in the Sticks.

As far as riding in the cold goes there have been plenty of times when 40F seemed like more than I could bear. I think a lot of cold weather riding is a mental process. I've made the decision to take the van on plenty of days when it was 40F or higher!