I struggle with few things. But I do struggle with the decision to ride when it is cooler than I like it to be. Call me a wus or whatever you feel applies to the admission, but I have a thing about cold weather and riding. But not anymore than I do with riding in the rain.
….and you know how I feel about riding in rain.
If however I had to pick between riding in the rain or riding in the cold, I would rather ride in the cold. But in either case, I will avoid them both as much as I possibly can.
Whether if you start, from walking out the door, or while you are out there and it starts raining, it is just miserable. You feel miserable and you stay miserable for the duration. Relief only comes when you are off the bike, out of the wet gear, showered and in your jammies. You can't wait to get off the bike, you can't wait to get out of the rain. Oh sure, it “may” stop sometime along the ride but you're still wet. Everything is wet, and it stays that way for hours, perhaps days. And then there is the smell of wet things that don't dry right away. And don't even get me started on the bike and what all that water does to it. UGH.
Now cold is a different thing. It never gets cold while you are out riding, like it's warm and in the 60's and then an hour later it's in the 30's. Well, I suppose that could happen, but usually, if it's cold out when you walk out your door, it's going to stay cold out the remainder of the day…. and get colder as you're moving along. Wind chill and all that. So to combat this, we bundle up and I hate bundling up. Layer upon layer, upon layer, upon layer…ugh. You end up looking and feeling like that kid from Christmas Story. We don't want to feel or look like Randy ever. I don't want to feel or look like Randy, sorry buddy.
While I do have the First Gear one piece thermo-suit and I do like it. It is comfortable and yes, yes… it does keep me warm. It is a pain in the ass to put on and take off. AND, without fail, regardless of how well you secure yourself inside your little cocoon of warmth, there will always be this little needle sized hole somewhere that will allow this super cooled jet of arctic air to chill you to your core. I don't care how well you duct tape every seam, every zipper, button hole or gap, the cold air will find a way to invade your space suit.
Yes even the wonderful space suit has this problem. Regardless of the fact that is it one piece, I always had air creeping in the neck, the cuffs and around my ankles. Even in areas where the wind can get trapped, the armpits for example, they would get chilled. Nothing worse than chilled pits or a chilled crotch.
So you put on the neck gator and pull it down so that it passes the collar of your jacket and pull it up into your helmet. It sort of works until you turn your head and within minutes you have that needle of cold air touching your skin.
So you opt for heated gear to battle this. You get the heated jacket, the heated pants, the heated socks and of course the heated gloves. You install a heated seat and heated grips and when you are all kitted up, you look like the Michelin Man and have a tremendously limited range of motion. It takes you 30 minutes to get dressed and longer to get undressed. I don't have all of that heated gear. I have the gloves and the socks and the heated grips. But I have the space-suit and that works quite well and I look like a black and grey Michelin Man.
So it is 32°F/0°C and I convince myself that I am ready. I get on the bike and head out into the crisp air for little ride of 100 miles that will even take me on some slabs for a short time. All of the heated gear is doing it's job, the space suit is doing it's job. All is well on the back roads, I'm warm except for that little needle of air that is chilling my right side. 45 minutes into the ride…
….I have to pee. UGH.
Normally a 10 minute nature break at a rest area during warm weather is now a 30 minute ordeal in the space suit and all the heated gear. Well, while we're here, let's get some coffee and take a break from the cold, but you dare not take the suit off. No, no, no…. You keep that crypt closed until you get home. So after the coffee/pee break, I get back on the bike and get moving and before you know it I find myself on the highway doing highway speeds. Enter wind chill affects.
Do you see that? At 65 mph with an air temperature of 35°F, it feels like 1°F. That's cold, no, that's stupid cold. Now, here is where I sound like a huge big girly man. Now that I am in North Carolina, my blood has thinned out a little and anything less than 50°F has me whining. Well, not really but, maybe.
But, lately we, and the rest of the eastern part of the country have been seeing some mighty cold temperatures and this morning it was 29°F and it should warm up to a balmy 41°F. As much as I have been wanting to ride, I will not. I refuse to get bundled up and hit the road. Does that make me less of a rider? A less dedicated rider? Less of a passionate rider? No. Just smart. Discomfort is distraction and what do we not want when on a motorcycle? Distraction. Reaction time is slower as well, because you are bundled up, so keep that in mind as you proclaim “I'm not a whimp”.
I have a friend, Author Nick Adams, who lives in Canada. He produces some videos for his YouTube Channel and he will often take out his aging Moto Guzzi's for a ride when there is snow piled on the sides of the road and the temperatures are dancing with the 20's F and minuses for you metric types. And here I am rejecting the idea of a ride because it is only 49°F outside yesterday. This man puts me to shame and I openly admit that I am not worthy.
As I sit here and write this it is 43°F outside and Sunny. It “might” get up to 51°F. Might. I am considering shaking the dust off of the Heritage and putting in some miles, even if only 20. Something or anything to show myself I can do it. I know I can and I know I should. Maybe I will.
And the little needle of cold air says “I'll be waiting”.