I had written a little something before the trip to get me in the writing mode and send it to a few mags.. But did not!!
I thought I would share this.
Just a thought on riding in cold conditions.
I was looking at my father’s 1970’s Suzuki Rover 125 while he was gone for the week end and I was scared to start it because A) I knew I was not allowed, and 2) I had searched him room and found the key. He sure would ground me till the age of 50. After pondering the idea for a long time, I hit the starter. The ride that followed ended on the barn door after an unwanted wheelie. But! And there always is a “But” this led to a life long addiction…Motorcycling.
From then, it grew into what is now a 35 year, 1.6 million miles addiction covering more land than most people would care to calculate. This addiction took different approaches at attacking my comfort zone.
From riding my 1981 Honda CB900 Custom on the gravel shoulder at 130 M.P.H, then riding my cousin’s YZ450 up a sand pit at speeds that were 5 times too fast (They did not mention it) and saw the bike’s handlebars hook on two very large pines lining the edge of a tobacco plantation and yours truly land, unhurt-well my pride was-in the tobacco field with his ass leaving a 3 inch deep, twenty feet long trench. With many, many more events taking place along these, the rider I was grew into someone, some say “Something” who can push the envelope more than most would dare, and discover limits that I often did not know I had. This comfort zone is always there, lurking in the dark, keeping us from growing into what we can be.
From the rain falling down, to the thermometer looking a bit too much south of where we believe it HAS to be.
“Naah! I do not feel like washing my bike!”
“Crap! I will have to put twenty layers on, just to go have a coffee!”
“This road just does not feel right or look right for my own liking”
“Ahh! Too far, and not enough time. (Read-lazy)
Not pushing it has kept a lot of us riders from finding this perfect little coffee shop in the fall with a fireplace roaring, and the perfect ass hugging couch to plop ourselves in sipping on whatever hard to pronounce coffee we order these days; and watch the rain fall on your steed as you say to yourself “Yeah! That was a great ride!”
It might also have kept you form honing those skills that keeps eluding you. You know the one? The one that makes your rear end look mummified as the rear wheel squiggles on this non traction-providing surface. And Lord do I know it has kept so many from taking off for a few days because the weather forecast was not quite up to their liking. And for what? To end waking up Monday, going to work after the long week end and hear a few of your now not so funny friends tell you how they just spent the greatest 3-day long week end on some roads that make your brain cells and senses feel like they have been hit by an howitzer.
For me the realization that I now enjoy pushing the envelope more than ever, came in the heart of summer 2010 at Mosport International raceway in Bowmanville Ontario.
This realization came in the form of a rider who came to me after listening to my presentations about my “Could be just a birth defect that makes him want to do this sh…” winter treks.
Mark approached me with a smile only a motorcyclist can relate to. A smile that says so much, and yet; can’t be put into words. As he took two of my books and asked me to sign them, he proceeded to tell me how late last fall, on a dark cold day, he put a week permit on his 1984 R100RT and rode on a road he had never done in bad weather. One of these roads that most likely get covered with road debris, branches and everything else that can be thrown on the tarmac. He told me that even though he had ridden it many times in summer, he had always wanted to ride it during the off-season. (His off-season) I still see the twinkle in his eyes, as he told me about the many rear wheel squiggles, and how he is now comfortable with them. The way the road somehow now looks new, and the scenery so different. The lack of bikes on the road normally buzzing with them. The feeling he had as he sat (Yep! By a fireplace) sipping on a hot cup of coffee as the wind howled and the skies kept trying to scare him away. He also discovered that dirt would not kill his bike, or his ride; and that the layers of dirt you put on only add to this sense you have conquered Mr. Cold! Or Ms.Cold? (I don’t feel like getting nasty Emails from over the top feminists)
He told me about this peace, this comfort that took over him as the warmth in that coffee shop made him realize that his comfort zone had kept him from this for so many years. The same peace, emotion and comfort I have been preaching about for so many years now. I am told that somewhere in Northern Ontario there is a place where he and only he; shows up in the cold season on a bike. I think he will give it his best shot to change that!
It was while I listened to Mark that I felt this realization.
Push yourself a bit more than you normally do, and you will learn something every time. Something you did not know; and most likely would have never known you could learn. Push yourself, push a friend, and together (It feels even better this way) you will see what I mean. If you don’t? Well, to you, I will only be the crazy Iceman who rides in -60 C and writes about it. But if you do, you might be the one who I will meet at this coffee shop with a fireplace and who will succeed at teaching me (I am French Canadian) how to pronounce “One large Macchiato- Caramel- low fat-decaffeinated Americano with no foam please. For here!