I open my protesting eyes in my warm bed with everything dark around me, except for that horrendously red-black sound coming from my alarm clock. Rolling out of bed to kick start the old engine just gets more difficult every morning. I check wunderground.com for the weather forecast. Its negative 15 degrees Fahrenheit outside (-15F), and there’s one-day-old snow on the ground. Beautiful morning to commute!
OK, hold on, I feel the need to provide some background, so please bear with me. I rolled a friend’s Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 during math class my Junior year in High School. This resulted in an eight point reckless driving ticket, which got knocked down to a four point careless driving ticket. It was my first driving offense, ever. Two years clean, and this is how I start my driving offense career?! I guess if you have to start something, might as well jump into the deep end, eh? I was 18.
Well, I had one point left on my license, which left me with a still-valid drivers license. Insurance however quadrupled, which left me unable to afford the difference between the rates my parents were paying at the time, for me, and what they were now. Or maybe I was too cheap. What it really boils down to, is that I had a great thing going for me and chose to righteously “screw the pooch”, as it were. OK, fine, I can take responsibility for my actions.
Now, I had always wanted a motorcycle, but my parents were heavily against it, despite the fact that my dad had two motorcycles before I came along (a Kawi 450 and 750). I guess they’ve always known my inner hooligan. However, after doing months and months of research I came to them with the numbers on insurance, running costs and such forth. They wouldn’t have anything of it. Then I signed up and paid for the MSF training course and didn’t tell them until the Thursday before class the next day. At this point, the course was non-refundable, and being that my parents are more frugal than they are irrational, they let me take the course in order not to waste the money. Excellent! First Victory.
Taking the course was just like going on a first date – exciting, exhilarating, slightly nerve-racking and oh so sweet. Returning on Sunday we did some warm-up exercises and proceeded to take the test. I missed one point, for going too slow in the high-speed section. “Are you kidding me?” Whatevs, I had my license. Monday saw the DMV and the license was in the mail. Tuesday saw the local moto dealer and I had a bike picked out. Tuesday night I told my parents, and being that I showed more interest in this than everything up to this point combined, they reluctantly acquiesced. I also think the idea of not having to drive me around was an important factor to them. Dad and I went to the bank for a loan, and Thursday mom dropped me off at the bike shop to ride the bike home. I was 20. Excellent! Second Victory!
History lesson over.
Fast forward five years and 100,000 miles later. It is now 15 minutes after my alarm woke me up. Time to get dressed. My work clothes (I’m a desk jockey, so jeans and a polo shirt), then two layers on my core, and my riding suit. Balaclava, cold weather gloves and handlebar mitts wait to be adorned once outside while the bike is warming up. They used to ask me things like: “What will you do in winter?”, “What about the ice/snow?”, “Are you crazy”, to which I usually had a witty comeback of some sort.
Really, however, what it comes down to is being horribly addicted to riding. I’m not talking about some silly addiction to heroin with the physical withdrawal symptoms and irrational behavior; I’m talking about the equivalent of ripping my heart out and severing the aorta with a blunt spoon to watch the last pulses of blood emanate spastically from my dying self type of addiction. What would I do if I couldn’t ride anymore? Well, I guess there’s only one way to see if I’m strong enough to resist suicide….
I mount the beasty. She’s all warmed up and ready to rock and roll. Beautiful little 250, always ready for more, always attacking the road with as much zest as I do, ready to gobble up a dirt fire road or propel me to ecstasy in a sinuous canyon. Yes, that’s why I throw the wrenches, to make sure my baby always gets the best treatment. No mechanic will miss-fondle her, like they did her first return to the shop. If she thrives, I thrive, in that specific order. If only I could find a woman of the same attitude. What a glorious life that would be. I think I could stop riding for that. Yea… For sure…
Anyway, I digress again. Off we lope at the regular commuting pace dodging bleary eyed cagers bundled up with their Starbucks cups clutched in one hand and hopefully, the steering wheel in the other. The crisp, thick winter air pricks my face, an assault on my lungs of real life being lived. If I wasn’t already awake, I certainly am now! Miss Cherry breaths easy. Her new uber-knobbie sneakers offer much more grip than I’m used to in the snow. We move through the few but well practiced turns on our way to work, still aggressive for the circumstances. While I’m in her seat, there is nothing Miss Cherry and I can’t do.
We are a testament to a healthy relationship of mutual respect and desire to live life to the fullest. People say a 250 is a beginner’s bike. People say that riding on snow/ice is dangerous. People talk a lot. This little 250 has stolen my heart, and riding during the winter, heck, any riding is an absolute joy, as long as we’re moving. I am now 25. Another Victory.