It’s been getting colder the past few mornings. The cars are coated with frost, subtle reminders of the ice and snow to come. It’s been cold enough that my body and mind strive against each in consideration of a chilly ride to work.
If you’ve ever wondered how a decision is made to climb aboard the Vespa when the thermometer nears the freezing mark, here’s a short reflection of my own rationalizations.
I starts almost the moment I wake. Eyes open, body slowly unwinding in slow stretches and groans, a physical coming back to life that leads to a dim assessment of, “How do I feel?”.
From there the mental ramp up begins. My knee-jerk thought is, “I want to ride.”. It’s mindless and without evidence to support it and perhaps similar to a lot of behaviors that are automated but shouldn’t be. It’s at this point that research begins to support or deny a conclusion on whether I will ride or now.
Almost simultaneously I’ll be thumbing the iPhone to my weather app while running costume choices for the ride. Long underwear? Sweater, or perhaps some extra layers? These considerations happen quickly, almost subconsciously.
The show plays a strong role in the process with the steamy water driving away the chill which speaks loudly to choose the car. Aside from serious illness, a hot shower in the morning can almost convince me that anything is possible. It’s a vastly under-appreciated pleasure.
Dog number one joins me in bed as I struggle to pull on polypropylene long underwear and heavy socks. It’s not long before dog number two arrives to nose and nudge me toward decidedly non-riding priorities.
Kim is thrilled we have finally established non-invasive, native bittersweet in our garden, the fiery red berries warm the eyes on a cold morning.
Out the back door and into the morning air for the first time it would not be uncommon to think how nice it would be to drive to work.
The dogs force a morning march to embrace their desire to breathe in the day, send messages to other creatures capable of reading their signs, and celebrate the physicality of being canine. This march is comprised of laps around the yard along a series of walkways and paths of both human and dog construction. One lap comprises an eight of a mile. In a short time I’ll gain a half-mile of walking in the yard. I wonder how often others pace their properties. Our turf turned woodland provides a walk in the woods.
By the time Lily decides to take a break during the walk and ball throwing, I’ve come closer to a decision on whether to ride. I’ve either become invigorated by the cold or beaten down by it. On this morning I’m already on the road in my head.
Cold weather riding, scooter or motorcycle, is always made easier by bright sunlight. On the way to work I stopped along the freeway to soak up some sunshine. A vitamin D stop. These stops also afford the opportunity to make adjustments to gear to more effectively manage the cold. Heavier gloves, tightening sleeves to minimize air flow and other weak spots that allow cold air to get to tender skin.
I’m almost always glad I’m riding on a cold day. The challenge of overcoming the environmental conditions sharpens my senses and imbues a feeling of being in control of my destiny. If only for a short time.
While I counsel a lot of people to not ride in the cold, especially when the temperature is near or below the freezing mark, I have to admit it is a satisfying experience to overcome the weather.
It won’t be long now until the snow tires go on the Vespa…