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December 11, 2007

10 Dumb Questions I Get – Part 3

Nick Diaz

Readers may be glad to know that this is the last segment of the series on the 10 dumb questions asked of a motorcyclist; the first six of these questions appeared in the first two parts. Today we’ll round the set with the last four.

Question #7 (asked in mid-July as the noon temp reaches into the 90’s): “You boys must love this hot weather, eh?”

Yeah, all we do is turn on our bikes’ AC and we’re good for the whole day.

(Come on, Nick -- just be nice…)

Since it’s obvious that motorcycle riders in our mid-Atlantic states don’t ride that much during the rather cold and eventful months of January and February, it stands to reason that we love riding in the opposite type of weather – hot, humid, and miserable.

Not so. The month most like January is July, its climactic opposite. We don’t ride that much in July. Just too hot to do so comfortably, regardless of what we wear or don’t wear. I kept track of days I took the Suzuki out of the garage in January as opposed to July. Believe it or not, in January 2007 I did that 14 times and only five times in July.

Sitting at a traffic light when it’s 90 degrees and the sun is beating on a helpless rider is not a pleasant thing. The ideal temperature range for riding is between 55 and 80 degrees. Temps below or above that range will keep us from much extended two-wheeled adventuring.

My personal threshold is 40; if the early morning temp is 40, that’s fine with me; if the early morning temp is 75, I take the Jetta with AC. A rider may don two or more layers of clothes; there’s a limit on how many layers may be removed.

No, folks, no AC on a motorcycle. No one has asked me about AC yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised at the question.

An acquaintance of mine recently bought a motorcycle. The day after bringing it home, the forecast was sunny with a low of 58 and high of 75, and winds 5 to 10. His wife asked him a dumb question that morning as he was readying to go to work, “Are you riding to work today?"

Now that’s a dumb question!

Question #8: “What do you do when it rains?”

We have specially made umbrellas that open up when it starts raining, of course!

(Here we go again – yes, I’ve replied to this dumb question with the above smart-aleck answer. Not nice!)

No special umbrellas available yet. And no, I haven’t heard of any motorcyclist melting in the rain. We ain’t that sweet, and we won’t do a Wicked-Witch-of-the-West thing either.

When it rains, we put rain gear on. Gore-Tex is wonderful stuff, repelling water while allowing perspiration to evaporate. One- and two-piece rain suits with booties and gloves, full-face helmet, and a motorcycle equipped with full protective fairing/windshield/lowers will keep all but the hardest, longest-lasting rain away.

Do we enjoy riding in the rain? Not particularly. When it’s raining in the morning, I’ll usually take the car or stay home. On the other hand, is it the end of the world? Will I melt? No, I don’t think so.

Does it affect traction and force us to ride more conservatively? Of course, but we deal with it.

The worst part about rain is having to clean the bike afterwards.

Question #9: “How does it go in the snow?”

Well, that’s easy! See, we press a button and the front wheel turns into a ski, and the rear tire grows spikes for traction.

(Would you believe I answered this way and it was met with, ‘Really…?’)

Snow is evil. Ice is worse. Not fun when black ice makes one dump a motorcycle. It’s worse yet when one can’t pick it up because there’s just no foot traction on black ice either.

The ice and snow storms we get in this area usually mean lots of junk spread on the roads by road crews. This stuff plays havoc with the aluminum on motorcycles. Snow and/or ice means no riding until rain has washed off most of the cinders from the road surface.

Motorcyclists put up with rain; we hate snow.

I guess we’re pretty much like our golfing brethren after all…

The first nine questions have come from the vast no motorcycling public out there. Once in a while, however, we motorcyclists get dumb questions from “bikers” who should know much better. I suppose dumb questions are universal in nature, as dumbness cuts across the human spectrum. So, for the last question in this dumb essay, I’ll use one from a two-wheel “bikerbro“:

Question #10: This past hot summer, a helmet-less, rear-less-chapped harley dude asked a friend of mine, “Hey, bro, ain‘tcha burnin‘ up in all that heavy gear?”

(Friend lives in Indiana, where helmets are optional.)

Seeing as its mesh and perforated leather... no. And he’s not getting windburn or worse by allowing his flesh to flap in the breeze. It's actually quite nice inside his full-face helmet; it doesn't soak up heat like a black leather do-rag, and it keeps the sun, wind and bugs off his face quite nicely. It's very light and comfy, too...

My Hoosier friend sort of ignores the challenge under the dumb question. (Helmet/safety gear use is very politicized in Indiana – for a lot of "bikers," wearing a helmet is downright un-American!). So he natters on enthusiastically about how comfy and lightweight and cool/warm his gear is, and how it allows him to ride much longer, much more comfortably, etc.

After a few minutes, the challenger sort of glazes over and walks away, but at least he’s made to know there's something besides black leather and do-rags out there. Group-think in action: our two-wheeled “fraternity” engages in it, too, after all…

Women, being the more sensible gender, are far more receptive than the "bikerbro" type to this safety-minded line of thought. Which brings us to question Number 11, about women riding.

Oops, sorry, my 10 questions are up, for now. I guess #11 will have to wait…

Yellow Cab
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