To many winter motorcycle riding, at least in the northeast, is a conflict of terms. The only riding that most people refer to in the winter is riding in the car (which itself is a conflict of terms) or perhaps the occasional snowmobile(r?) (which seems like a nice way to ruin a winter day…but thats another story) There are some people who find ways to ride bikes anyway, like the enthusiasts I see on the lake and on the canal with Kold Kutter ice screws in their tires. I salute them. But thats just not quite my style. In the winter I have to get out and enjoy the world one of the few ways I know how.
(that’s a frozen parking lot by the way
There are certain questions in which if you have to ask, you’ll never understand. First and most importantly my goal is to spread the word of bike. I’m talking about transportation most importantly. Motorbikes (and cycles of all kinds) are the most ingenious and perfectly suited to move people from one place to another in an incredibly efficient manner. That of course, is not the only reason I ride bikes, but it’s an important message thats been obscured by what I call “toy” culture. Whereby, motorbikes are toys first and utilities second. I don’t subscribe to that school of thought. Though there comes a time in the northeast, when there is enough snow to stop a freight train, there are alot of opportunities in the middle of the winter that aren’t so bad. It’s not that I think everybody should ride their bikes through the winter. I realize that there are alot of perfectly good reasons not to. But I hope to make people consider what actually IS possible. Maybe that cloudy day in the summertime, is actually a great day to scoot or pedal to work. So that’s reason #1, because they still work:) And no, I’m not cold. In another post I’ll explain the preparations necessary to extend the riding season in the northeast, all the way until the spring.
(yeah thats ice)
The second reason and less important but equally as motivating is adventure. Not so much the type of adventure you get from skydiving while slamming a mountain dew, but more like adventure you get from climbing to the top of the mountain only to reach the ridge just as the sun is starting to set, far on the horizon. Admittedly this reason is a bit more touchy-feely, but we are humans after all and there is value in keeping some awe and wonder present in our lives. There is no freedom like flying though a back-country rode while the trees are covered with thick snow, and the ribbon of runway is still dry enough to keep the landing gear up (terrible mixed-metaphor, I know). It’s a unique experience that’s freeing, and beautiful in a way that you just can’t appreciate inside of a cage…
(My buddy Ben and I after an early January ride – Note the lift pass on the borrowed riding pants)
The last reason is challenge. When the roads are truly snowy, I take the car. Look even someone as bike-crazy as me can realize that there is a threshold that shouldn’t be crossed. The challenge however, is taking advantage of every day you DO have that is reasonable. That means alot of preparation and planning. It’s true that this is important in the summer as well, but it is essential in the winter. It also means keeping 110% diligent on the road as well. The roads are generally clear if I’m going to ride but in case there is the occasional splash of snow along the way, I have to be prepared. The challenge enables me to dig deeper and understand more about the science/art of riding and that, above it all, is worth the trouble.
Note: in another post I’ll cover more on the technical side of winter riding, on the who what when whereand how…
(Yes, those are knobbies on a Honda Nighthawk….)