Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: A smooth sea never did make a seasoned sailor.

10.28.2012

A smooth sea never did make a seasoned sailor.

I saw that quote posted on a friend's Facebook page and felt that this quote was quite appropriate for a good summary of what's probably my last ride back down to Columbus for 2012.

The last several rides up and down I-71 have been pretty uneventful. Some days, it could be very warm and my heated gear isn't even plugged in. Other days may involve extra layers and my heated gear set to the "super toasty" setting. This most recent ride was the most challenging yet, with 160 miles of nothing but downpour, temps dropping to the mid-40s, and several cars downright refusing to yield on a merge despite turn signals and outstretched hands pointing into the lane I needed to merge into. I can say, that my years of riding, thousands of miles traveled, and choices/investments in gear have paid off for days like this. And even though this wasn't my most favorite riding conditions by any means, I am still proud to say that still I'm powering through on a motorcycle.

Considering that Eleanor has been my only source of transportation up in Northeast Ohio since I moved in September, I have managed to stretch out my riding time as far as I could take it without risking my personal safety due to road conditions. As I know that I will admit defeat this weekend and switch out for the car, thanks to the impending "Frankenstorm" and potential early snowdrifts off of Lake Erie among other things, the fact that I have been the only motorcycle out in this area for the past few weeks has been nothing but disappointing, yet unsurprising.

Living up in the Cleveland area in the past month and a half has definitely allowed me to see the variety of motorcyclists in that area of the state. It has seemed like clockwork that as September had dwindled and October has cruised on by, the number of two-wheeled vehicles has plummeted to the "die-hard" few that have donned the beanie and hoodie to make the short jaunts down the street. Blame it on the weather dropping to 40°F (that's still above freezing for these keeping score) or the fact that some riders only insure their bikes for half the year, the sharp decline has been pretty obvious. Since using the motorcycle has been my only choice until arrangements have been made for my car (located 160 miles away to the south) has been prepped for snow, I have had to ride many days in non-ideal weather conditions and have done just fine.

I know what some might be thinking, "Why don't you guys get a second car?" Thanks to our limited income and many financial barriers that we're still recovering from, a second, reliable car for both me and my husband to use has not been a feasible option. So I have had to make the most of the resources that we have, and that means turning whatever functioning vehicles we have into urban warfare machines.

Adding to that, the Southern Californian in me has pre-programmed this notion in my head that one rides every day at every possible opportunity. It has been difficult to appeal to this idea up here, but I do what I can to be the stubborn one that refuses to put the motorcycle away. And for goodness sakes, it's Ohio, not Minnesota. Three months maximum for a snow/ice-related layover here is acceptable, but SIX months? There's motorcycle gear for those kinds of spring conditions!

The motorcycle in Ohio is truly a luxury vehicle. If the day isn't pretty, the bike doesn't come out. Up in the Mentor area, there are at least two bike nights I know of. And they both involve bars. I didn't suit up in all my gear to ride two blocks for a Budweiser. Just not my scene. It also impresses me how proud NE Ohioans are of the places they live. When the first thoughts uttered in conversations about me being a fresh transplant here start with "I'm sorry," "Don't like the weather up here? Just wait five minutes, it'll get worse," and "Hope you like to drink because you're going to have to do a lot of it up here," I'm pretty enthusiastic myself! But wait, you're still here. You and me will have to deal with it. And I thought Columbus residents were quite emo.

We all have our own tolerances for what conditions we can ride in. I'm not saying that what I do is ideal for anyone, and for those who have ridden with me, you know that I have very few reasons why I won't put my helmet on and get out there. This part of the year is a frustrating time for me, nevertheless. I will do what I can to cope with it.

Now that I think about it, "A smooth sea never did make a seasoned sailor" doesn't just apply to riding in this scenario. It applies to life. As I'm frustrated at these times with what has been thrown at me (and the multitude of unnecessary barriers put on by biological family members who have nothing else to do but hate me), they just add up to the amusing stories I can tell when I'm on my motorcycle somewhere at a random gas station somewhere in [insert state here].