Friday, February 10, 2012

Head Full of Briars

A groan of displeasure in response to the 8F displayed on my iPhone woke poor Junior.  That was a month ago but the memory is fresh.  Not because of any notable event during the ride to work.  It's memorable because of the frustration and anger that can be generated in the preparation for riding in cold weather and how that can affect the ride itself.

The first cue that something was wrong appeared as I was pulling on my Tourmaster Overpants and I realized I had forgotten to put long underwear on.  At 8F you need them.  So a trip back upstairs, take off my boots and pants, pull on the polypropylene underwear, pants back on, socks, boots, and trudge downstairs.

When it's really cold I use more layers.  On goes the sweater, then windbreaker, then jacket liner, and finally my First Gear Kilimanjaro IV riding jacket.  It's a tight fit in the arms due to the thickness of all the layers.  Wrestling, squirming, pushing the jacket on I then have to struggle to get the armor back into place and then zip and button up the jacket.  After pulling on the ski mask I pick the helmet up off the radiator where I've been toasting it and put it on, then reach for my electric gloves toasting as well.

And then I utter a frustrated single word.  I forgot to put the wires inside the jacket.  Grumbling and reciting some well worn mantras I finally get the wires in place, gloves on and push the scooter out into the driveway.  Almost ready to leave I realize I don't have my wallet, iPhone or keys which I took out of my pockets on the first pants change.

The toasty gloves and helmet are cold now.  I've not plugged in the gloves yet.  And I'll realize shortly they aren't working anyway.  And I realize I don't have my camera.  I don't ever ride without a camera.

So there the Vespa sits, in front of the house, nearly 20 minutes to get from the house to this position.  My head's in an angry spin -- it's full of briars.

In a hurry to get to work I didn't think to have breakfast or pack a lunch and was happy to stop at Subway to get both and warm my now frozen hands.  Stepping inside from 8F to 75F and high humidity meant -- you know -- instantly fogged and dripping glasses and helmet.

Then quiet, under-the-breath muttering and questioning the universe asking if I was wrong thinking riding was supposed to be fun.

Still managed to get to work early with one last look back at the scooter before heading to my office.  Or so I thought.  Once inside I realize my shoulder back is still in the topcase.  Back I go only to realize at the Vespa that the key is still in my riding pants -- back in my office.

At this point my frustration is mixing with thoughts about a story I have to edit and a proposal I'm working on.  It's just a damn ugly mental state, that head full of briars.

Eventually everything is as it should be but I realized not every trip is a magical mystery tour.  Some rides leave something to be desired. And often the challenge or frustration is worth pushing through.

Maybe that's a good thing.


bobskoot said...


It just proves one thing . . . as you age you need the pad and pen, to make notes

Riding the Wet Coast

irondad said...

Damn, when did we get old and cranky?

My coldest ride was only 15 degrees before wind chill. Don't you hate not being able to bend over and take hold of the bars? Once you get in that position you can't breathe!

ToadMama said...

Dedication? Or some strange mental state? Eight degrees? All that rigamarole is too much for me. I'll just wait 'til it warms up.

Orin said...

This post perfectly illustrates why I still own a car. My 17-y/o Ford Escort's heater works great! And where I live, 8°F would see freezing fog and nice layer of ice on every outdoor surface, so riding would be out of the question, anyway.

Personally, I'm ready for spring.

Scootin' Old Skool

Bryce said...

Hmm just be thankful your internal system didn't have to either request a number one or a number two when all bundled up!

Think of the young child in a snowsuit with mittens that Mum has just spent half an hour bundling up.

OH, and how was Junior on that cold frosty morning, eh?

Charlie6 said...

Steve....been there, done that....forgot the tshirt.

I've left keys in ignition, rode to work with keys dangling from unlocked topcase and sidecar turnk....wished for more layers at times....rode hot instead of stopping to shed layers.....have had heated grips fail and also had them almost burn my hands...

It's quite the bother, how work life intrudes upon riding at times. My work commute riding has become dull...

I hope you manage to clear away the briars Sir!

Waking up to 10 degrees .....


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Kathy H said...

That's so irritating. The good thing is next week it'll be funny. Getting old ain't for sissies!
Sissies can't find the humor in their own lives!

Steve Williams said...

bobskoot: I always carry blank index cards to take notes! My memory is a pretty leaky vessel.

But I'm not aging.

Steve Williams said...

irondad: Truth be told I have had the cranky skill my whole life. It's been a long challenge to not give in to it.

I know what you mean about getting into position and not wanting to move. It's like you don't want your skin to touch anything new because it will be cold.

Steve Williams said...

ToadMama: Not sure what it is. Mostly though I find it satisfying though not always sure why.

Orin: I'm ready for spring too. I have fantasies about living in the Carolinas or someplace warm -- without alligators.

Steve Williams said...

Bryce: So far so good on not having to go back to the bathroom. But I'm sure that's going to happen too.

Junior got his morning run and ball chasing experience. He is impervious to the cold. I always quit before he does.

Steve Williams said...

KathyH: If not funny it will provide fodder for a blog post.

Getting old is, well, just inevitable. I hope to take is on gracefully on a scooter...