Wednesday, April 7, 2010
I seem to remember that it was March, could have been late or early in the month but I do remember the temperatures here in Texas had begun to rise above freezing and riding a motorcycle should have been a breeze. I had been shopping around for something large enough and equipped to make two up extended rides as comfortable as I could afford. That is when I came across a bike in decent enough condition, in my price range and seemed capable enough for what I wanted. It was in a suburb of Oklahoma City, just west on I-40, I cant remember which but I assure you it did not matter to me at the time. I had Uncle Dave pick me up from work that day to give me a lift the 200 miles north to get the bike. The weather was nice and I threw my light jacket in the back of the Yukon and hopped in, we were off, I believe the temperature at this point on the trucks rear view mirror read something like 60 degrees. Traffic was slow with rush hour attendees and I was a little giddy on the way to I-35 at the prospect of being back to two wheels again. Once we hit the interstate traffic lightened and we picked up speed, the temperature now showed 55 degrees which I attributed to getting close to and crossing Lake Lewisville with a very stiff breeze.
Things did not start to worry me until we got to Denison, where a brief glance at the temp now showed below 50 and a wind was starting to blow. Now, I have always been notorious for being ill prepared for weather (which I am getting better about) and I began to think that the light jacket resting in the back seat might not cut it. And perhaps I should have brought a pair of gloves. I told Dave that we should probably stop somewhere before we get to OKC and let me find a pair of gloves.
Crossing the Red River I felt a whole new anticipation. A little rain with a few pieces of sleet thrown in for good measure had begun to sprinkle and the temp display was plummeting and now read about 40 degrees. We pulled over at a truck-stop and apparently truckers have very small hands which do not get cold. I settled on the warmest looking work gloves and we picked up the pace into Oklahoma City to try and beat whatever was on its way.
We met up with the seller and his wife at home and both were very nice and it was a pleasure to meet them, they invited us into their home, out of the COLD, to do the paperwork after I looked the bike over thoroughly and took it for the shortest test ride ever. After a few pleasantries we departed and hit the first gas station before the interstate to top off. At this point Dave probably thought that I had finally lost it and would likely eat crayons and play with my poo if I could feel my fingers, the temperature was at freezing, we had about 15 minutes of sunlight left and 200 miles to cross.
We were off, I led the way back through bricktown and made headway south as the last bit of light disappeared. My new ride hat a speedometer issue and the needle just flew in circles at about 3,000rpm so its your best guess how quick we were moving, all I know is that I wanted to get home. The sleet only lasted about half an hour but the damage was done. My light jacket did little to provide warmth for my core, a great fairing kept a nice pocket which helped, the handlebars extended slightly past the fairing leaving my hands and their work gloves at the whim of this merciless winter blast that had waited all week to show up just for me. I made it to Marietta, about 120 miles, before having to stop. I knew I should stop because when I opened my hand to brake a little for slower traffic, my frozen fingers could not apply the front brake.
I parked at a fuel pump and Dave pulled the truck alongside, into which I clambered as a shipwreck victim might climb aboard a Carnival cruise ship. Dave cranked the heat and I removed my gloves and huddled at the air vent. A conversation then took place in that truck that neither of us have forgotten or will likely forget regardless of miles ridden or cold beverages consumed.
'Dave look I cant do this I had no idea this weather would be coming in, its too cold' I explained, 'the gloves aren't cutting it, I couldn't use the front brake and my thighs are so cold that they cramped when I tried to put my feet down and I almost dropped it.'
'What do you want to do' Dave cracked the window to have a smoke as I considered my next move. I had been so concerned with getting off the road after the discovery that my hand was to cold to brake that I hadn't considered what I would have to do from here.
'Look I d-don't know I j-just know I'm too cold r-right now to leave this truck' As heat began to return to my body an uncontrollable shudder like I have never experienced before developed, I assume my bodies attempt to warm itself as quickly as possible. It was almost cartoonish.
'Well' Dave rolled the window back up as he extinguished his cigarette, 'just sit and warm up a bit and we will think of something in a few minutes' We sat in the truck under the floodlights of a roadside gas station with no other customers. It was a Friday night and the local bars and restaurants would be teeming with happy, warm residents that did not have another 80 miles of riding in freezing temperatures, practically naked, to endure.
'I'm leaving it' my body had bound and gagged my brain and would now do anything to not have to get out of this warm seat. 'We will park it over there near the door to the store and we can come back tomorrow to get it, it has to be warmer in the sunlight' I explained 'it will be fine, no one will mess with it.'
'OK' Dave lit another cigarette and cracked the window as he dialed up a number on his cell phone and held it to his ear. 'Hey, we are doing pretty good here. Just stopped to warm up a bit.' Dave paused while his wife conversed on the other end of the line. 'Daniel isn't sure that he can make it, things got pretty cold up here and he just doesn't have the right clothes, we are thinking about leaving it...'
When Dave tried to explain our situation, to a person whose replies I could not hear, the verdict was decided quickly. There was no option, the bike would not be left for any reason short of the second coming. When the story is told at a bar the language is slightly different than typed above but you get the idea. Dave says that the decree on the other end of the cell phone that night was, 'I don't care if you have to get your ass on that f**cking bike and ride it home yourself, you DO NOT LEAVE THAT BIKE' I never asked my aunt why she was so adamant about getting that bike home but I can tell you I appreciate it still today.
Another thing I cant explain is what happened next. Dave said he had his gear with him and would ride for a bit while I warmed up the rest of the way. Shocked I turned around in my seat to find that he had brought his helmet, leather jacket and leather gauntlet riding gloves! We walked around to the back of the truck blocked from the wind and suited up Uncle Dave. He was wearing a shirt with a nice sweater over it, to which we added a leather jacket, and for good measure we squeezed all this into a Chicago Bears jacket. Helmet was next and we shoe horned the hoodie of the Bears jacket over the helmet. After donning the gloves Dave looked like some kind of biker astronaut. Without complaint Dave mounted a bike he had never been on and rode the rest of the way home in pitch black, freezing, windy conditions at about 85 miles per hour (no speedo remember). Instead of going home that night I spent the remainder of the evening in the hot tub drinking rum and coke and trying to forget what cold feels like.
Everything ended well and I had great memories made on that bike. To this day when I am browsing for a good deal I always take a peek at OKC ;)
Posted by Daniel at 10:16 AM