Last Saturday I was scheduled to attend an information and interview session with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation here in Pennsylvania. I had applied to be a rider coach last spring and of the three sessions scheduled this was the only one I was available to make.
The weather forecast was calling for high winds and a chance of light rain so I planned to check in the morning to decide whether to ride or not. I looked outside and saw clear blue skies. The temperature was in the high 30’s. “Excellent, I can ride today” I thought. I grabbed the heated liner and gloves and headed out to ride the 80 or so miles.
Ten minutes from home the skies started turning black and instead of light rain, light snow started to fall as the winds picked up. Since it appeared to be a decent weather day I hadn’t left myself much extra time so I was faced with a decision: turn around and get the car and show up late to an interview (and obviously ruin my chances) or plow ahead and risk calling for a ride if the snow started to stick. I plowed ahead. No problem, I thought, it’s all highway, not much traffic, I’ll be fine.
By the time I got to the interview I was at that point where I was using the back of my thumb to wipe the rain and snow mixture from my shield so I could see and my feet were wet from road spray. I hadn’t packed my waterproof boot covers.
So now I’m sitting in a room for a three hour interview and information session with cold wet feet. Of the twenty or so who attended only three of us rode our bikes. We were easy to spot. We were the ones with the wide eyed “why did I just do that and what’s the ride home going to be like” looks on our faces. We each exchanged smiles that seemed to say “how much fun was that?”.
By the time the session ended the winds were pushing 40 miles per hour and the owner of the cycle shop we were in was warning people to hold onto the door as they left so it wouldn’t get torn from their hands. I rode home leaning into the wind as the snow stopped and started every few miles. I kept reminding myself to squeeze the tank with my knees and weight the pegs to try and relax my arms. It was a fairly nerve-racking ride.
As stressful as it was, when I finally got home and warm, I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s those rides that are the most memorable. The ones that don’t exactly go as planned, where the weather is the worst and it gets a bit dicey, but you push on because you really have no choice. And even if you did have a choice - you’d ride anyway. The rides where nothing but focus and skill keep you upright.
I’d say I would choose differently next time; but I’d be lying. I’d still ride and add another memory to the list of many.