Friday, September 22

Windy City Ride...

It’s that time of season when Chicago’s weather is nothing short of schizophrenic. The last few early mornings, the temperature hovered around 40 degrees F! By mid-day things had usually improved by as much as 25 degrees. Still, given that I’ve been coming down with some kind of horrific plague, I’ve not felt highly motivated to throw a leg over the bike. But today I have an excuse for getting out there. At 60 degrees F--around 5:00 a.m.--a heat wave is brewing!

I leave before 5:30 a.m. and head into a dark, windy morning. I mean, really windy! Weather report…wind gust up to 30 mph! As I execute a right turn, I feel the bike’s rear tire slide from a sudden blast. The office is not far away but within seconds, I am cold! I use my left hand to pull up my turtle neck. It is clear that, despite wearing a textile/leather jacket, turtleneck, leather pants, helmet and gloves, I should have worn the ever-ready Firstgear jacket. Still, the quiet beauty of the downtown streets, still aglow with lights, brings solace to this zealous urbanite.

I stall at my first major intersection. I NEVER--almost never-- stall. I blame it on being sick. Really, I think it’s the bike’s payback for not riding her in days. I take my snub in stride and move on. I need to go to the office to complete paperwork before the others arrive—no sense infecting them, well…at least not all of them.

Spent enough time there that I had to return to the bike and feed the meter! Twenty-five cents per five minutes—a sin and a shame, IMHO! I can’t apply the parking receipt to the bike’s tiny windshield because I don’t have anything to stick it with. (Note to self: Always carry the duct tape under the seat). Oh, well. The sign says, “Parking laws strictly enforced.” I decide to take my receipt to court should I get a ticket.

When I leave the office, it is raining but not long enough to have scrubbed away the oil and gunk from the road. I make a mental not to be extra careful. I take off and immediately encounter a puddle at the stoplight. I skirt around it only to end up stopping bull’s eye on the fat white line—those slick spots motorcyclists should avoid. I stop right on it but am easy on the brakes and all is well. I decide to take a small detour back home—I mean, I’m already sick and I’m already out there, so it can’t hurt that much more. Within three blocks, the rain picks up. In spite of my yearning to ride, I decide to play it safe and head home.

At stops, I make that sure my feet are firmly planted, flat-footed on the ground as the bike sways vigorously. At one take off, I struggle to push through what feels like a powerful, yet invisible barricade that forces me to apply more throttle than usual. Once through that headwind, I push onward. I can take the cold. Rain, I can take too. But cold + rain + 30 mph wind gusts require you to be fully functioning. I am not. I ride the rest of the way eager to park my gal-pal and return to my sick bed.