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As Long as We Remember...

September 30, 2008

The Rites of Autumn on Two Wheels

Nick Diaz

Readers of may remember one of my earlier columns, written late last Fall, in which I listed the 10 dumb questions people ask of motorcycle riders. Since it’s the last day of September, several days past the equinox, one of the 10 dumb questions deserves reiteration, to wit:


“Ain’tcha cold riding that thing these days?” Mornings are becoming nice and cool, as the day temperatures struggle to reach the 70’s, and sometimes they barely exceed the 60’s. Folks, this is the best time of year for motorcycle touring and commuting.


Many people erroneously think of motorcycle road riding as a warm-weather activity. Well, I hate heat. Riding in weather much above the mid-80’s is not a pleasant thing to do. A full-face protective helmet, gloves, and protective clothing make summer riding less of a pleasure than one may think. In addition, most serious touring riders have full fairings and windshields installed on our machines, for protection against rain, wind, cold, bugs, birds – you name it. No bugs in my teeth!


Therefore, when the weather begins to change in September and October, it marks a new stage in our riding habits and style. It’s actually pleasant to ride in 50-degree weather. All the protective gear and equipment works best at this time of year, as it shields us from the elements and helps us concentrate on maximizing our riding pleasure for mile after mile.


So, please, when you see a motorcyclist pull up to the fuel pumps on a 50-degree morning, in full riding gear, riding an obviously fully functional motorcycle, save your dumb question about how cold it is.


Chances are you’re much colder as you get out of your car, and operate the nozzle, than he or she is. The motorcyclist is prepared for the cool weather, actually relishes it, and purposely starts up the two-wheeler in order to enjoy the rites of autumn. Do not feel sorry for him. Feel sorry, instead, for yourself because you didn’t pick up motorcycling when you had a chance to do so in your younger years.


Another benefit of cool-weather riding is that the marginal motorcycle riders, the nuts with salad-bowl helmets and do-rags, ape-hanger handlebars, loud exhausts – the typical “individualist” rider out there, who makes it a point to look like everyone else – has most probably hung up the so-called motorcycle for the year, thus choosing to visit biker bars on four wheels instead of two. I certainly won’t miss this type as I traverse the beautiful invisible roads in our mid-Atlantic region.


So, as the weather cools off, say hello to the well-equipped motorcyclist on a restaurant parking lot, or a nearby Sheetz, or as you wait at a stoplight next to him (or her, because sometimes one can’t tell).


Don’t ask him dumb questions about feeling cold on a beautiful 45-degree morning that ushers in a 60-degree afternoon. Do remark, instead, that a cool and crisp morning deserves a spirited ride. And wish him good riding.


Yellow Cab
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