Gray skies, high winds and the temperature hovering near the freezing point provides the first real opportunity to beginning the winter riding tempering process — the slow introduction of body and outlook to the cold. Do it wrong or too fast and you risk joining the riding masses who put their machines away when the temperature descends below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
There’s nothing wrong with that decision either.
Riding into town via a slight detour allowed a little more time to face the cold weather music. Flecks of snow and ice drifted in the air. It’s time to begin scanning the road differently — identifying potential for ice and other winter hazards.
Eventually, the Vespa scooter and I make our way to Saint’s Cafe. Electric gloves, layers and winter riding gear, balaclava, and chemical heating pads in my boots. Hands were still cold — I held the pot of hot tea longer than normal to restore the blood flow to my fingers.
I’ll have to put the grip muffs on the scooter to keep the wind off my hands. They’re magic in that regard.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Paul and I get together on Sunday mornings to share photographs and talk about photography. The intent that the conversation will keep us working. He just returned from a trip to Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico where he made a photograph at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The print he made was stunning and echoed the paintings by Mark Rothko.
Unfortunately, the clear blue sky in the photo was not available today.
The weather forecast promised snow. Not long after departing from the cozy warmth of Saint’s Cafe the wind started to blow harder and snow arrived — the sticky stuff that requires constant removal from the faceshield on the helmet.
Despite being cold, windy, and having to clear snow off the helmet, the roads stayed only wet without any slippery accumulation of snow. As I made my way home the snow began to fall harder. The Vespa GTS 250 has an ambient temperature indicator on the instrument cluster that’s helpful in monitoring when I need to be concerned with water turning into something more dangerous — especially when there’s no salt on the road.
I’m not sure if I’m ready for winter. As pretty as the world looks in the snow there’s a lot of baggage that comes along with it. I remember how grateful I am to feel warm days in March and dream of putting winter behind me. But it’s only starting now.
This is the first snow. I have no idea what the next few months will bring. I’ll have to go up into the attic over the garage and retrieve my Heidenau snow tires and hope the squirrels haven’t decided to snack on them.
For now, I’ve taken the first step in preparing for winter riding — braving the cold. For me, it’s a mental challenge. A snow flurry and temperatures around the freezing mark will give way to temperatures ten degrees lower and so forth.
Will I make it into the sub-zero realm again?