Sunday, November 30, 2008


They call many custom and show bikes "Trailer Queens" because they ride everywhere on a trailer behind a car or truck and aren't ridden very often, if at all. You see them all summer long, being towed down the freeway, enroute to some rally or bike show somewhere. Some of those creations, in fact, are virtually unrideable anway, due to extreme fork rake angles, ultra-low ground clearance, wild exhaust systems that would tend to fry a rider's right leg, and the fact that so many of them have old-style hardtail frames (no rear suspension, otherwords). Hit a pothole while you're leaned over in a turn with one of those puppies and you'll likely end up riding the pavement on your butt!!

Well, my first two-wheeled love, Miss Velvet, is definitely of the very rideable category, but only for one short trip on this long holiday weekend, unfortunately. The reason for that is that the weather here sucks. I had every intention of taking a longer excursion yesterday, but when I raised my garage door, the 48 degree temperature, coupled with a cold-ass rain made me rethink those plans. I got into my 4-wheeler when I went out and Velvet became a Garage Queen for the rest of this weekend. Ah, yes -- it is that season again! Late fall/early winter, and the weather is going to continue to suck quite a bit until spring gets sprung next April or thereabouts. A downtime for bikes and bikers, except for what few milder, sunny spells might come our way in these parts between now and then. What we call "Cage Weather" is upon us.

The vast majority of bikers tend to hibernate in winter. Not that we're asleep, like some animals are, it's just that we resort to 4-wheeled vehicles, which are warmer, drier, and safer to operate in sucky weather conditions. Not many bikes on the roads at all. Just a scattered handful of the hardcore types and the high-mileage H.O.G. touring fanatics, who I think would try to ride in a blizzard, if they thought they might set a new record of some sort.

Not this Dawg. I won't ride in even rain, if I have a choice. Getting caught out in it is one thing; every motorcyclist goes through that many times over. But deliberately riding out of the garage into a rainstorm? Nope. I may be a little crazy -- I do drive a truck for a living, y'know -- but I'm not totally insane!! I prefer to stay dry and pneumonia-free as much as possible. If I want to take a shower, I want warm water, not soaking rain in 40-degree temperatures, with a self-generated wind chill that feels like about 20 degrees. A polar bear I most definitely ain't!!

The biker hangouts are quieter, too. Coyote Joe's bike lot was empty this afternoon, when I stopped there to down a burger, fries, and a couple of brewskies. Not a single bike was present; everyone was in a cage. Same place, of course; same friendly barmaids, posters and signs on the walls, TVs on four different channels at the same time, and jukebox blaring, as always. The crowd was smaller than it typically is in warmer weather; half the tables and booths sat vacant. I paid my tab and left after my meal and two beers. No one there that I knew at all. There will still be some parties, particularly around Christmas and New Year's. I might attend one, or both of those, if I have the opportunity and enough extra bucks to spare. But it's not like it is in the summer, during those big weekend blowouts, when everyone shows up, at least for a beer or three.

"If you can't ride, polish." That's my motto, but I haven't started on that yearly winter ritual yet. Saving that for the really cold weather that will come next month, and in January. Something to do on a cold and gloomy Sunday afternoon. By next spring, I'll have Velvet gleaming, with her yearly makeover beauty treatment. I gotta put money back to take her in for her first 1,000 mile service, too. That's required, under the terms of my warranty. After that, I'll likely do my own oil changes, but I'll pay for the intial service, to keep the warranty active. Gonna set me back over $200, but it's a thorough servicing; they go over the whole bike, tighten and adjust everything. A nice tax refund would help with that -- ya hear me, Uncle Sam??

The winter biker's blues are upon us now. But I prefer to think of it this way: every day that goes by is one day closer to spring, when we can all hit the road again!


Wil said...

Back in the good ol' days when i was just a young pup going to college in Vermont, there was a diehard biker that road his BMW with sidecar everyday of the year. Made no difference if the weather was clear or a blizzard - that damn fool would come toodling in about the same time I did in the morning and we'd be in competition for parking against each other. It might be -27° and he'd be all dressed in Mickey Mouse Boots and Arctic Attack gear (we weren't all that far from the US Army's Arctic Research Station over at Dartmouth College) while I'd be making do with jeans, some Sorel pacs and an original Eddie Bauer Karakoram goose down parka - the same kind that Sir Edmund Hilary wore to climb Mt.Everest! This guy swore he couldn't afford to drive a car - gas was all of .49cents a gallon in those days - but I think he just liked out-machoing the rest of us. He was ex-Green Beret and half crazy, anyway.

So yeah, there are crazier winter riders than the HOGS but not many...

Woody said...

Stopped by for a view, "Nice Ride", used to ride a 3 wheel back in the 60's when working traffic details, no bikes out here, 3 feet of snow and we got 11 inches more last night, temp now is 28.

Take care!