Here we are just about half way through the winter and I trust you are about as sick of cold weather riding as I am. Well, at least here in the Southeast we get to run ‘em all year round. I tell my boys who ride about six or seven months (tops) up in New York that we can’t ride every day here in Georgia, but we can ride every week. I remember as a younger man living in the Northeast when a bike was all I had, and a few inches of snow sure made my current complaints about cold weather seem trivial. Just in case you are wondering, a 1978 Honda CB 750 does not perform well in six inches of snow. Those were the days.. Ahhh, the blissful ignorance of youth. There is just no substitute. Although I have outlived my youth, some of its ignorance has remained with me over the years.
Back in those years, just owning a bike felt like a privilege. I met my wife Yvonne in 1988 while in law school up near Boston. It was around Thanksgiving and the only thing that separated me from the hitchhikers was an old Suzuki. I guess she didn’t marry me for my money nor my brains, as I seemingly had neither at the time. Current stock in both is debatable. Well, I still got the girl, and she still puts up with me. Now as a baby boomer, I am not as resilient in the cold weather as I used to be. Yes, I have long underwear and a heated vest, etc… However, riding in the cold is like smacking a wasp nest with a bat. You can cover up, but those suckers are going to find their way into your britches somehow. FYI, ‘britches’ are those clothing items covering your bottom half, most notably worn on “The Waltons,” a favorite childhood show.
Nonetheless, a biker is a biker. You gotta get out there. For better or worse, hot or cold. I rode from Atlanta today to go to Court up in Canton, the county seat in Cherokee County. I had a conference on a case before a great Judge named Judge N. Jackson Harris. I wore the obligatory tie, but otherwise had chaps, leather jacket, black boots, etc… It wasn’t a trial, just a conference day for lawyers, so I thought ‘what the heck.’ The thirty or so Mercedes driving lawyers just about crapped their pants when I came into the courtroom all leathered up. These old fart lawyers all looked in disapproval with brows furrowed, while the young guys smiled and elbowed each other pointing at me in silence. My lawyer buddy Dan Prout, who is my adversary in this case, was utterly amused. Seeing his face alone was worth the chills cruising up 1-75. As for the rest of the lawyers, you know what they all thought. Same thing that guy thinks when you pull up at the pump next to his SUV full of rug rats: “Damn vinyl siding, I should have bought a Harley.” Trust me, you made the right decision, even if the siding is falling off your house.
About ten years ago, I met an old coot in a truck stop on my way home from Bike Week in Daytona. He donned a leathery face, with an unfiltered Camel cigarette hanging out of the corner of his toothless mouth. He approached me with that envious curiosity you all have gotten from strangers when you’re out on the road. I was tired and he seemed as he had nowhere else to be, so we spoke for a while over a cup of black syrupy coffee. He told me something that I will never forget. He said he lived a good life. Fought a world war, had four daughters and all gave him cute grandkids, and he kept the same wife for 50 years, since deceased, God rest her soul. But he had one regret: “I never rode a Harley.” Let me tell you something brother. When I throttled back out onto the interstate, I just about cried for that guy. Obviously, if you are reading this, you’ve got some type of bike and you won’t have that regret. However, who among us is not guilty of the sin of letting your bike just sit in the garage? Week after week. I know, it’s winter. So what. Don’t be a regretter, if thats a word. Get off your can and ride. Hot or cold. Leather up and make the most of this life. If you’re a biker you already plunked the dough down on the bike. That’s the hard part. Now ride the damn thing. A little cold air up your britches can’t kill ya’, and if it doesn’t kill ya’, it’s got to make you stronger.
Well, signing off for now. Remember, ride strong, ride safe, and in the end, make sure you ride home.