Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Season For Riding Has Mercifully Resumed


The last day I rode in 2015 was Tuesday, Election Day. I know this because the "I Voted" sticker I affixed to my helmet is still there, undisturbed. It was a cold day, but not unreasonably cold. The real problem was that Election Day was a dark day, with the sun arriving late and leaving early. I don't much care about cold, I'm equipped for that. But my increasingly feeble eyebulbs don't like the dim light of twilight and the astigmatic dazzlement of headlight glare seen through a lexan visor.

I've pretty much made a pact with aging and the seasons and mortality to park the bike once the sun starts rising after 6:45 and setting before 5:15. That translates into roughly mid-November to early March. Of course, there's also inclement weather to consider, and the last few years have given us extraordinarily snowy and icy Marches.

So I am delighted to say that a few days ago, on a mild Sunday afternoon, I roused both Beast and that other bike--which remains essentially nameless--from their winter slumbers. I checked fluid levels and tire pressures, made sure both had spent some quality time with the battery tender, and took them each out for a get-the-cobwebs-off-heat-up-the-pipes ride.

The day was sunny but with a chill in the air; Beast's fairing offered about ten degrees worth of protection from the elements, and we took a nice tour of the local scenic twisties hereabouts. All told, we did about forty miles, out and back, and topped off the nearly empty tank with fresh gas.

By the time we got home, I was chilly, so added a couple layers including the heated jacket when I went back out on the 1150. We did a more straightforward sortie, sticking to the superslab til halfway up the mountain (the part where it starts getting interesting) before u-turning and heading home, also topping off the tank before heading for the barn.

The best part of the whole thing was it meant I was ready to shuck the car and resume commuting on two wheels like a civilized human being once again. It's amazing...a half-hour more relaxing and drinking coffee at home, and I still get to the office earlier thanks to being a Highly Occupied Vehicle. And as a bonus, on my trip home I merged up with two other motorcyclists, and we rode in each other's company most of the way to the boonies. It was like a little spontaneous social gathering of like-minded riders...a flash-ride, as it were. Adventure bike, sport-tourer, sport bike (with two Go-Pros, one on the helmet and one facing rearward from the tailpiece). Good company, al with good riding manners and good lane discipline.

So good to be back in the saddle!

Seek Assistance From A Medical Professional If You Experience An Irruption Lasting More Than Four Months

So sure enough, I was blasting down that same road a couple of days ago, and there, big as life, was the Snowy Owl. In roughly the same tree as where I saw it a few months ago, give or take a tree or two. I slowed down to take a look at it, and it swooped down across the field to the west. As I've noted before elsewhere, raptors don't take kindly to being inspected. It kinda disappeared in the glare of the lowering sun, so I drove a ways further and turned down a side road where I could look back to where I had been.

It appeared to be right on the crest of the little hillock of pasture, tending to something on the grass...probably a morsel of prey it had swooped down on. I watched for a few minutes, but it was too far away to see much other than a small white shape engaged in bird business. So I backtracked down the road a ways, then turned around with a better idea of where to look.

By the time I got parked on the shoulder, the owl was perched high in a bare skeletal tree twenty or thirty feet above the ground. It looked at me for a moment, probably annoyed for the disturbance and attention, then turned to the west and flew away. That's almost four months this bird--not a native to our area--has been in residence. That's quite a treat for us.