October 9, 2000

as good as it gets in california.
One thing I really miss about Wisconsin is the weather. Not any specific kind of weather, just the fact that a variety of weather exists. One thing I really miss, though, is coming inside from being cold outside and feeling it be warm and cuddling up in big sweatshirts and drinking warm drinks and feeling all right with the world again. I get that from coming in from snowboarding in Tahoe, but then there's boots to remove and snow to brush off and hats to take off and 3 pairs of socks to unpeel and it's sort of a pain in the ass.

Tonight, though, I got it almost for free. It wasn't raining when I left for dinner, so I took the bike. It started raining a little during dinner, just a wee drizzle, nothing horrible, not even enough for my seat to really be uncomfortably wet or anything when I came out. I rode home slower and more cautiously than normal, but the rain was picking up a little, and at 50mph, even a drizzle can get your legs pretty soaked. So, by the time I got home, my shins were utterly soaking and the rest of me, while dry, was pretty damn cold. As soon as I got in the door, I took my boots off, peeled off my cargo pants and socks, tossed the dripping pants and jacket into the shower, and made a beeline for my flannel pants and fuzzy zippered sweatshirt. I nuked some water for tea, but promptly forgot about it and opened a beer instead, and am now sitting here, shins gradually warming up, drinking a beer and snuggled in fuzzies. Life is so damned good.

interesting things about rain.
Things I've learned about riding in the rain:

It's funny. Even though I've ridden in rain less than a handful of times, I've read so many instructional books that talk about it that I already know what to do. I slow down instinctively; I always stop before the white arrow at a stop light; I don't drag my foot at all when I come to a stop (waaay too slippery. Plant it down once.). I stay back further behind cars, since it's harder to stop but also to avoid getting hit with the water and crap that flies off their wheels. I have less traction in turns when the pavement is wet, so I have to *really* make sure that my entry speed is good: braking in a turn is dangerous when the pavement is *dry*; it's practically begging for a slideout if it's raining. Obviously, I'd prefer not to ride in the rain (except for the benefit of the tea and warm fuzzies when I come inside), but if/when it happens, I feel confident in my abilities to judge the situation, and still ride home when it's within my skill level (Drizzle is well within my skill level. Riding in a heavy downpour would not be).

it's just like kenny rogers' the gambler.
Yeah, I know, sorry. It's in my head now, too. But I think he's got a good point. For me, one of the most important to stay safe (and still have a good time!) on my bike isn't saying "I will never ...." . For instance, it seems silly to me to say, "I will never ride in the rain." I feel that if it's within my skill level, if I have some education as to how to handle the situation, riding in the rain can be fun. Riding across a desert could be fun. Crossing rivers on a motocross bike could be fun (or, hell, depending on the situation, on your touring bike). As long as I'm prepared (both mentally and equipment-wise -- I wouldn't intentionally ride in real rain without rain gear), and *know my limitations*, there's nothing I can't do, really.

This might be a good time to mention that my exception to this rule is that I never, ever, *ever* ride if I've even had the slightest bit to drink. That's the only case in which I'd say "never," and heavily encourage others to do the same. This, to me, falls right in that "know your limitations" clause; no one can ride well after drinking.

to each their own obsessions.
Peter was really concerned about my riding home tonight. Rather understandably, he didn't want to be cold and wet on his ride back to work after dinner, so he took his car instead of the bike. For me, I'd *rather* be cold and wet than take my car, and this is where our motorcycling philosophies start to differ a bit. Motorcycling is my obsession like computers are his. To me, computers are a hobby but nothing to work yourself up over; he's the same way about bikes. I don't understand why he can -- and wants to! -- work late night after night and come home from work and relax by playing with his "project" computer. He doesn't understand why I can -- and want to! -- ride my bike at night, in the rain, with a noticeable wobble, just so I won't have to take my car. "You don't *have* to ride your motorcycle every day," he said to me at one point at dinner, when we were discussing the rain. "Yes I do." I replied, and meant it.

When thinking about the upcoming winter/rainy season here in northern California, two things used to pop into my mind: snowboarding, and how to best store my bike so it wouldn't gum itself up over the winter. Now, three things that pop into my mind: snowboarding, rain gear for myself and the bike for the rain, and the concession that I'll have to drive the car one day a week (motorcycling might be one love of mine, but the viola is another, and I won't strap it to the back of the bike if it's raining.). So, when the Posse goes shopping in a couple weeks, I'll have to pick up some rain pants, at least. This wet-shin thing is going to have to stop.

Oooh, I've never mentioned the Pixie Power Posse. That's me and Kim and Ann, all short dyed-hair biker grrrls, we are. See? That would be, left to right, Ann, Kim, and yours truly. We kick ass, oh yes we do.

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