Ren and the art of Motorcycles

Thursday, October 05, 2006

You don't really....

Ride in the winter?

As the weather cools here in the northeastern USA, I am beginning to get what I consider my annual question from new acquaintances. With a sure smile, they approach me as I arrive at or leave from work and ask, When do you put the bike away?

I smile and answer, I don't. At that point they look at my riding suit (I ride in a one-piece Aerostich suit) and comment how warm it must be. As is my usual education to them, I answer that the suit itself is not warm. Its purpose is solely to protect me. It has no lining for warmth, which is why it is usually comfortable to wear in the almost all but hottest summer weather (admit it...when it's 100+ degrees and high humidity, being naked isn't even comfortable, much less wearing ANY clothing).

So what do I wear now that the weather is cooling off? I do what all the books recommend...I layer. For fall riding, that usually means my clothing that I will be wearing all day for work. (Small aside here...I don't ride in the skirt I may be wearing that day...I put it on when I arrive at work.) Sweaters usually are quite enough unless it's too cool. If it is, I'll add another layer of a fleece jacket under the 'Stich. That, with warm gloves, works until the temperatures are around freezing, since my morning commute is only about 30 minutes of riding.

When the winter really hits, I go to the electrics. Like many year-round riders in the northern US, I have electric gloves and an electric jacket liner. They plug into the battery on the bike and keep me quite warm in most weathers for the length of time I'm on the bike. My legs are not protected by the electrics, so I usually add tights or nylons, and, if it's really cold, some type of long underwear. I have several types that are quite unobtrusive under slacks.

I love riding, and will ride in most temperatures. Where I draw the line is with ice or snow on the roads, or anticipated during the work hours. If the roads are bad, I will drive to work. If they are REALLY bad, or a severe storm is anticipated, I may even resort to mass transit. But as soon as the roads are clear, I'm back on the bike and on the road again.

(Amusing work I recently changed positions, and it entailed a move to another floor of the building. Most of the people on my previous floor were used to seeing me and the riding suit. Now there are many people who have never seen it, or me, before. I hang the suit near my manager's office, around the corner from my desk. It hangs near a man with a sense of humor. When people see the suit and ask him what it is, he gives a different answer every time. My favorite so far is that it is a space suit. The questioner looked baffled and walked away muttering...)