Weather or Not to Ride

“And everything would have been fine…if the rain didn’t start coming down. It’s not that it was coming down hard, I mean we’ve all ridden in rain before. No one likes it, but we’ve all done it. And we know how to do in while riding in a pack; spacing is key, staying far enough behind from the brother in front of you and switch to a staggered formation. But it was the trucks that screwed us up. They don’t slow down for anything. They hydroplane like there is no tomorrow. While no one would ever admit, but it was just a matter of time before something went wrong. At a gas up just outside of Mount Laurel, Prez suggested that we not try to make Gettysburg and just get to the other side of Philly and hang it up for the night. It was about another hour of riding and we’d pull in. Mike the MapMan and Bucky huddled and found us a place. It was decided that Pennsville NJ was going to be about as far as we’d go that day. So, after filling up, off we went. And sure as god made little green apples it happened. Jonesy was last in line and I guess that the spray was just too much for him and as we were pulling out of the gas stop, his rear wheel lost traction and the bike just slid out from underneath him. Larry was just a bit surprised to see Jonesy pulling ahead of him, not because he was pulling ahead, but because he was doing it lying down on his back as his scooter was sliding too! When the front wheel of Jonesy’s ride tapped the back of Irishman’s bike, he nearly went down too. Don’t ask me how Moose, and Little Jimmie in the front knew it, but they pulled us all over to the side and we jumped off our machines and ran to help pull Jonesy and his sled off to the side of the road. A guy in a pickup truck pulled off to help too. And within 15 mins, there was an ambulance, a fire truck and NJ State cop to keep us company. The side of Jonesy’s tanks was pushed in, he was missing his left rearview mirror and the clutch lever was bent up. His gear lever was destroyed and his front fender was history. We all decided that the hydroplaning is what saved the bike from going head over heels and sustaining more damage. The same can be said of Jonesy. His leather jacket was scuffed up and he had a fat lip. We thought that was all; until he tried to stand. The paramedics confirmed that his right ankle wasn’t broken, but had a hairline fracture. Of course being the tough guy, Jonesy wasn’t going to the hospital. “I’ll heal just fine” says he. In the meantime, we’re all getting soaked. Prez tells Big Keith and Larry to take the pack to the motel that Mike and Buck have secured and he, Little Jimmie and I stayed with Jonesy and would catch up in a couple of hours.

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be A Weatherman –

Pages 34–38  “Ride To The Wall”

Unpublished manuscript © 2009 Marc Teatum

It snowed today.

They said it would.

But I stopped believing ‘them’ a lifetime ago.

I learned to trust only in myself.

Maybe I should check myself every once in a while.

When I woke this morning, I looked at; checked wind direction, temps to the west, water temp to the east, tracked the storm coming, but after yesterday and seeing two or three other riders out on the pavement, I couldn’t take it anymore.

I went to the garage, and holy shit, the beast started.

It rumbled a bit, (maybe I should have put stabilizer in) before it settled into that familiar throaty sound all Bikers recognize.

And yes it was a bit chilly, but what the hell, I hadn’t been on two wheels in nearly 60 days. It was killing me.

No one at work would believe me, so I never said a word about riding. But they sure as hell saw the stupid-ass grin I wore all day. I was a happy camper.

Around 2:30, I looked up and saw it starting to come down.

Little puffy white flakes.

Floating, lightly falling; it’s not like there was a blanket of white out there. here I come.

The winds had picked up, the barometer was falling as was the temps, but dew points were rising.

Not a good sign.

I didn’t panic and run for the door thinking that I would beat it the hell back to the town where I lived.

Looking at the time, I knew that every school bus and Mommy-Mobile would be clogging the roads in the three towns between here and there anyway, so what’s the point?

So I worked on and on and on. Not really ignoring the precipitation from my fourth floor window, but not sweating it either. It was what it was.

I opted to wait. The snow wasn’t sticking to the pavement yet. Thank god for asphalt holding heat and being within 2 miles of the warming effect of the Atlantic Ocean. (Did I really just say that? Since when has anyone referred to the Atlantic and the words ‘warming’ in the same sentence?)

I waited until 6:30 or so to let whatever commuter traffic there might be, was done, before I shut down and headed to the machine.

I’ve ridden in the rain before and it’s not fun, but it’s doable.
I’ve ridden in the dark before and it’s certainly doable

I’ve ridden in the dark and the rain before and it sucks.

But tonight……tonight was magical.

The air wasn’t too cold, nor too damp.

Riding while snow is falling is not like riding when rain is falling.

Rain pelts you and it’s sort of like having sewing needles thrown at your face.

It stings.

Snow melts when it hits you and you just get wet.

I can handle wet.
In fact, there are times when I love wet.

Riding in the dark when it’s snowing is like living in a Star Wars movie.

When Han Solo says they are going to make the jump to hyperspace and all those stars turn into little streaks of light is exactly what it’s like to ride on a country road at night when it’s snowing.

The single beam of light that is thrown in front of a bike and the pool of illumination that is created makes this little world all your own.

It’s amazing. And for the next 17 miles, I was Han Solo.

As my eyes adjusted to the semi dark around me, I caught glimpses of large houses, the warm glow of inside lights illuminating the snow that sat ever gently on the lawns nearby.

The larger farm fields were covered in a thin blanket of white, the trees and rock walls looked like someone had come by with powdered sugar and sprinkled them.

Then I hit my town.

I had to deal with cagers who couldn’t really see beyond the streaks that their wipers made across their windshields. The metal wire surface of the bridge leading into town was a lot more slick as was the brick crosswalks in downtown. Add brick crosswalks at intersections to right hand turns and the back wheel felt like it really did want to catch up to my handlebars.

When I pulled the machine into the garage, the lady who owns the house came out on the back steps and even though we’ve known each other for come on twenty years now, she couldn’t resist; “Are you fucking crazy?”

But today I’m also happy.

Ride Hard,

Ride Safe,

Ride Often.