Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

Today, I experienced many 'firsts': It was the first time I rode a motorcycle in the month of January; it was my first motorcycle ride of 2010; and it was my first time riding in temperatures in the 20s. The roads were finally clear of snow and ice (although my landlord's driveway still has packed snow, so to be safe, I walked my bike from the garage to the street).

The first cager I passed on my street shook his head at me, as if to say, "Buddy, you're crazy to be riding a motorcycle in 25-degree weather!" I just nodded at him, unfazed, and glad to be able to ride my scoot. Two wheels still move the soul, even in sub-freezing weather. After a gas stop, I rode to a local bank and then back home, less than 10 miles total. A customer outside the bank said he was impressed I was riding around in weather this cold.

I had more errands to run one town away and was initially going to take my van, but the cold really wasn't too bad and it was sunny, so I decided to take my motorcycle instead. Like I did the last time I rode, I wore ski mittens supplemented with HotHands chemical-activated heat packs, and they kept my digits acceptably (but not toasty) warm and functional.

Strategically planning your stops when riding in weather this cold becomes crucial. I stopped at the North Kingstown, R.I. Town Hall to pay some motor vehicle taxes, and plopped my helmet, gloves and semi-raw hands on top of a hallway heater that was blowing nice, hot air. My taxes helped pay for that heat, so I might as well take advantage of it. Then I rode into downtown Wickford, actually found an on-street parking spot and walked into Wickford Diner, where I claimed a seat at the counter directly underneath a heating register in the ceiling. The waitress, spotting my motorcycle helmet on the next chair, promptly gave me a cup of black coffee. I ordered a very reasonably priced and mouth-watering juicy char-broiled 1/2-pound hamburger with fries, and experienced a little taste of heaven on a cold winter day!

After thawing out and filling up my tank with coffee, beef and carbs, I rode to a nearby meeting, where I reconnected with people I had not seen in several months. One woman said I was the second motorcyclist she'd seen that day - and here I thought I was the only one!

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