Have you ever been thoroughly soaked while riding your motorcycle? Not just damp around the edges wet, but the shivering “I’ll never be warm and dry again” kind of wet? Your gloves feel like sponges and your fingertips are numb; every piece of clothing is uncomfortably stuck to your body; your toes are floating in their own little ponds and your face hurts from squinting through the rain splatters?
Why? Why do we do this to ourselves?
I like to imagine that those fortunate souls who live in the sunny south never experience these sorts of character-building inclement conditions. But who needs it? My character can manage quite nicely without the body-numbing cold that comes from riding too long in the rain. Even snow! I’d bet my last dollar that I’m not the only fool living in Canada or the northern U.S. who has arrived at his or her destination encased in ice. Are we collectively crazy? Off the deep end completely?
I suppose that the answer depends on who is doing the asking. I have yet to meet a determined non-rider who had even an inkling of the ‘why’ of motorcycling. You either have it or you don’t! How do you explain the motivations for a spin on a crisp autumn morning with the frost just starting to burn from the grass? It takes ages to gear up, then the bike is a bit cranky about the cold start, and you fog up your face shield even before you leave the driveway. Then part way through the day, the sunshine disappears and you face too many miles of sharp, stinging rain on the homebound leg… but it was heaven! The sun was warm on your back, the breeze smelled almost edible, pungent with autumn; the temperature fluctuated astonishingly with every hill and valley, the engine was music to the ears... You feel alive. Your head is clear, your eyes are sparkling and just for a while, all is right with the world.... Meanwhile, your significant other has only overheard the pre-trip mutterings about fuel prices and overly snug gear and misplaced glasses… And later when you return home, you are damp and smell of wet cowhide. Chilled and hungry, you shed a trail of dripping gear as you head for the shower to thaw out. How could an ‘outsider’ possibly understand? I don’t know myself, and I have been searching the road for the answers for many, many miles.
But I do know that after a good ride, I feel invigorated and less at odds with myself and the rest of the world. Call it meditation if you will, or good karma, or blowing the carbon out of my head... It is good for the soul. The discomforts are part of the price — and worth every penny.
If those who stay behind see only a dishevelled and damp rider with mud stains and cold fingers and a bad hair day, then so be it. We know, and they don’t — and that is their loss! Some things will never change…
Ride safe and keep warm! — Alison Green