Friday 17 October 2008

Getting old - or - Not a "real" biker any more?

Took a look out the window this morning. The sun was shining in a deep blue cloudless sky, and across the lake the bright reds and yellows of the maples stood in stark contrast to the dark green evergreen forest.

Took a look at my schedule - clear. “Aha”, I thought, “perfect day for a fall ride”.

Then I actually went outside – and froze my ass off. Temperature was only slightly above freezing. The car windows were covered in frost. And there was a steady, stiff northern wind blowing. No way was I going to add a 60mph wind chill factor to already hypothermic riding conditions, so off came the jacket and the helmet went back on the shelf for another day.

It wasn’t always thus. There was a time when I used to look forward to riding any day there wasn’t ice or snow on the roads, and did, on occasion, manage to get a ride in every month of the year, even in the depths of a Canadian winter. I always figured that if those sonsabitches at the insurance company were going to make me pay 12 months a year like I lived in Florida or something, I’d damn well ride 12 months of the year. Yeah, that’ll show ‘em. And then they can pay to have the frostbite damage fixed too. Now we’re really showing ‘em!

But that was then and this is now – a few decades later. I still like to ride, but not under any conditions. Beating the insurance company doesn’t seem so important any more. I avoid the rain like the plague – and snow, doubly so. I avoid driving as much at night as I used too – I say it’s because of all the deer on the roads out here, which is true, but it’s also because my night-time vision isn’t quite as good as it used to be. And memories of being so cold after one long ride that I, the bike, and the missus would have done Laugh-In's Arte Johnson proud the way we came to a stop and then simply, slowly, toppled over in a parking lot, are no longer just more incentive to get out there and do it again.

Nope. I have now reached the stage of maturity where comfort and safety trump “What the hell. Go for it.” I may not put as many miles (kilometres up here) on a year as I used to, but when I do ride I get home feeling relaxed, happy, and ready to go again – when the conditions are just right.