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So I'm watching the 9PM news tonight and they have a reporter is live in Bellingham. For those of you that don't know, it's a town right near the Canadian border. It's snowing like crazy, snow everywhere, temps just dipped below freezing, the road surface hasn't frozen yet but it's going to soon and probably is in spots. The talk is all about how bad it's getting and they're interviewing people stocking up on food for the next few days etc. When in the background a motorcycle flashes by. I had to pause and go back. Sure enough, from the bright green it's gotta be a Ninja and it was! I thought he was one tough rider, my wife thought he was crazy.

I found it inspiring and humbling.
 

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When I was in college in the earl 70s I rode home from school many weekends. It was about an hour ride. I had an RD350. Twice I rode it in 18 degree weather and got snowed on a couple of times. That鈥檚 when riding gear really didn鈥檛 exist like it does today, and I could not afford leathers.

If you want to call it 鈥渋nspiring鈥, so be it. But I recall getting off the freeway and wondering, literally, whether I was going to be able to bend my fingers enough to control the clutch and brake lever!
 

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My younger self, too, had ridden deep into Northern winters. The bitter cold is one thing, hitting black ice on a stretch of fwy on Long Island (I forgot where exactly) and feeling the rear end fishtail for a brief yet utterly terrifying moment was quite another.

Thankfully, these days, It's mostly warm weather where I ride. For the infrequent occasions where I do have to brave the cold, I have good equipment - both on the bike and on me - to keep me relatively comfortable.

Snow & ice?! F*** no.
 

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When I was young and stupid I lived in Tulsa and my only form of transportation was a Suzuki GS450. The first year there they set a record for the most consecutive days where the high never got above freezing. I don't remember exactly, but I know it was over a month. There were many a night where is was below 0 fahrenheit. I still don't know how I survived it. Same thing, no good gear existed back then.
 

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My normal riding group has a yearly tradition of a New Year's Day ride. This year everyone else wimped out b/c it was too cold and rainy/sleeting. I said screw you guys and went anyway. Short ride, but it was about 27-30 degrees and freezing rain. I'm glad I can say I did it, but I don't think it'll ever happen again!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So I'm not the only one who was once young and invulnerable. (I find that term preferable to "stupid" :) ) Time for another geezer flashback...

I rode all winter in college in upper Michigan on a little 2 stroke dirt bike. Knobbies on hard packed snow work fine. My epic tale was December 8/9, 1973. I finished my post at Ft. Monnmouth, NJ and had Christmas off. Jan 2nd I was to fly to Italy for a 3 year tour. Had to get the SL-350 home so I hit the road at 6AM in 35F temps and drizzle. Speaking of no gear...I had a 1 piece snomobile suit with a plastic rain suit over that, insulated gloves and boots slathered with Sno Seal. I made it to eastern Pennsylvania & crashed for the night. Next morning I went to stand up the bike and couldn't. The side stand was frozen in a puddle! Finally got that going. The temp kept dropping going west and I ended up following the semi tracks and trucks on the freeway, closely in fact. There's a nice pocket of warmer still air right behind a semi. I got pulled over by an Ohio Stater. He had me sit in his warm car for probably 15-20 minutes. Turned out he owned a Harley, had been in the military (I played the military card, of course) and was very sympathetic. He pulled me over because my tail light wasn't working and I was tailgating. No ticket but he had me follow him to the next offramp with a gas station. Remember when they all had heated repair bays? Turned out the wire to the bulb had broken so I adjusted the rear brake switch until the brake light stayed on and continued on after a warm up and plenty of hot chocolate. I also took the time to stuff a few layers of paper towels around my lower face and neck. By the time I made it home to western Michigan it about midnight was in the mid teens and my body was barely working. I remember dad helping me get my gloves, boots and suit off. My hands just didn't work. A hot shower and about 12 hours of sleep later and I was good to go again...

I never heard of black ice until I got to Western Washington...but I'll save those tales for later. :)
 

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I ride through winter all the time - this one time I remember I thought about putting the Thermal liner in my jacket - but I just waited another half an hour til the sun came up a bit more :)
 

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So I'm not the only one who was once young and invulnerable. (I find that term preferable to "stupid" :) ) Time for another geezer flashback...

I rode all winter in college in upper Michigan on a little 2 stroke dirt bike. Knobbies on hard packed snow work fine. My epic tale was December 8/9, 1973. I finished my post at Ft. Monnmouth, NJ and had Christmas off. Jan 2nd I was to fly to Italy for a 3 year tour. Had to get the SL-350 home so I hit the road at 6AM in 35F temps and drizzle. Speaking of no gear...I had a 1 piece snomobile suit with a plastic rain suit over that, insulated gloves and boots slathered with Sno Seal. I made it to eastern Pennsylvania & crashed for the night. Next morning I went to stand up the bike and couldn't. The side stand was frozen in a puddle! Finally got that going. The temp kept dropping going west and I ended up following the semi tracks and trucks on the freeway, closely in fact. There's a nice pocket of warmer still air right behind a semi. I got pulled over by an Ohio Stater. He had me sit in his warm car for probably 15-20 minutes. Turned out he owned a Harley, had been in the military (I played the military card, of course) and was very sympathetic. He pulled me over because my tail light wasn't working and I was tailgating. No ticket but he had me follow him to the next offramp with a gas station. Remember when they all had heated repair bays? Turned out the wire to the bulb had broken so I adjusted the rear brake switch until the brake light stayed on and continued on after a warm up and plenty of hot chocolate. I also took the time to stuff a few layers of paper towels around my lower face and neck. By the time I made it home to western Michigan it about midnight was in the mid teens and my body was barely working. I remember dad helping me get my gloves, boots and suit off. My hands just didn't work. A hot shower and about 12 hours of sleep later and I was good to go again...

I never heard of black ice until I got to Western Washington...but I'll save those tales for later. :)
Yes, many of us...um..."invulnerable" riders have silly tales. One of mine was flying up to Seattle in late Dec to buy a Sprint ST and ride it 850 miles home the same day. Not the best idea I've ever had but I'm "invulnerable"! The seller was kind enough to pick me up at the airport, feed me breakfast and then talk my ears off for hours. I left Seattle at around 2:00pm! Going through Oregon I felt like the Omega Man. I think the only person I saw the entire time was the gas station attendant who thought I was completely out of mind for not only being out on the road but on a motorcycle! He actually tried to talk me out of continuing for fear of my safety. I saw a dead deer on the freeway every couple of miles! I don't recall how cold it was but I could not feel my heated gear on MAX under 4 layers of serious gear. I just made it through Grants Pass before they closed it due to ice and I followed in the wheel track of a Godsend semi for many painful hours at 20 mph praying I didn't fall down. I have NEVER felt that level of cold. When the ice finally let up coming down into California I went around the semi, waved, got a honk back and then put my head down and averaged 100 mph for the next 3 hours. I got up at 4am and made it back home at 3am the next day. I would not recommend this to anyone! lol

This past weekend we hit ice and snow coming back over Mt Hamilton near my house.

Sky Cloud Mountain Natural landscape Slope
 

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So I'm not the only one who was once young and invulnerable. (I find that term preferable to "stupid" :) ) Time for another geezer flashback...

I rode all winter in college in upper Michigan on a little 2 stroke dirt bike. Knobbies on hard packed snow work fine. My epic tale was December 8/9, 1973. I finished my post at Ft. Monnmouth, NJ and had Christmas off. Jan 2nd I was to fly to Italy for a 3 year tour. Had to get the SL-350 home so I hit the road at 6AM in 35F temps and drizzle. Speaking of no gear...I had a 1 piece snomobile suit with a plastic rain suit over that, insulated gloves and boots slathered with Sno Seal. I made it to eastern Pennsylvania & crashed for the night. Next morning I went to stand up the bike and couldn't. The side stand was frozen in a puddle! Finally got that going. The temp kept dropping going west and I ended up following the semi tracks and trucks on the freeway, closely in fact. There's a nice pocket of warmer still air right behind a semi. I got pulled over by an Ohio Stater. He had me sit in his warm car for probably 15-20 minutes. Turned out he owned a Harley, had been in the military (I played the military card, of course) and was very sympathetic. He pulled me over because my tail light wasn't working and I was tailgating. No ticket but he had me follow him to the next offramp with a gas station. Remember when they all had heated repair bays? Turned out the wire to the bulb had broken so I adjusted the rear brake switch until the brake light stayed on and continued on after a warm up and plenty of hot chocolate. I also took the time to stuff a few layers of paper towels around my lower face and neck. By the time I made it home to western Michigan it about midnight was in the mid teens and my body was barely working. I remember dad helping me get my gloves, boots and suit off. My hands just didn't work. A hot shower and about 12 hours of sleep later and I was good to go again...

I never heard of black ice until I got to Western Washington...but I'll save those tales for later. :)
Ken, I went to high school in Midland, MI. That鈥檚 where I learned to drive. My dad had a VW Beetle that was a blast to drive in the snow. He also had a Pontiac Bonneville with a 428 in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ken, I went to high school in Midland, MI. That鈥檚 where I learned to drive. My dad had a VW Beetle that was a blast to drive in the snow. He also had a Pontiac Bonneville with a 428 in it.
You know all about winters then! I was born in Benton Harbor (SW corner right on Lake Michigan) but spent 8 years (with a 4 year military "vacation" in the middle) going to school in Houghton (U.P.) and loved that area. I had a roomate from Bay City so I know your general area a little. Practically neighbors for a while.
 
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You know all about winters then! I was born in Benton Harbor (SW corner right on Lake Michigan) but spent 8 years (with a 4 year military "vacation" in the middle) going to school in Houghton (U.P.) and loved that area. I had a roomate from Bay City so I know your general area a little. Practically neighbors for a while.
I have a sister who lives in Bay City.

From Midland we moved to Cincinnati, then my first job was in Chicago. Lived a few other places too.
 

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I gotta sack up. I've been riding a long time, have ridden in the cold, but I find myself not wanting to ride when it's cold or wet.

Yeah, I live in so cal where you can ride all year. I've gotten soft
 

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Did you guys ever push to the point where you were not cold, anymore? I was in a rainstorm near Ft Bridger, Wyoming. The temp wasn't much below 35, but the rain was heavy.

I remember being cold, and then I wasn't cold, anymore. I made it into a gas station, in Ft Bridger. I filled my bike and went in to pay. I felt great. I wasn't cold. That idea felt strange since the weather didn't change so how could I feel warm? It was like my junk rain gear started heating me up....I still swear it did.

The charge was 3.00 or 4.00. I tried to pay the attendant, but could not remember how to count.

I handed her a few bills and waited for her to react like we were squared up. She did. Apparently she had some sort of emt training and recognized that I was in trouble. She told me I was not allowed to leave, and made me go sit by a furnace vent. I was angry thinking she had to right to make me stay there, but she was pretty. I didn't want to fight with her, I think? I remember not fighting because I owed her money. I didn't want her to think I drove the 185 miles just so I could steal gasoline, so I had to do what she said.

She gave me a few mini bottles (legal in Wyoming, not Utah). She gave me some blankets. At some point, I started shivering and was in pain that I didn't recognize. It just hurt. No idea how long this lasted. She made me stay there until I was dry and the rain had stopped.
 

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Even if my wife told me a lot that I am crazy and too risky, I'm always trying to be in the yellow zone of safety, and never move to red. Maybe/ when I will be older and my kids will be older and don't depend on me, then I will be able to move borders a little bit, but for now, safety first. I don't have a lot of EXP (Ninja 400 first bike and after a few months I jump into N1K), but I think/hope I have a brain and understanding of how everything works. My most risky/stupid case was to fly to Milwaukee, WI to buy my K1N, and ride it back to Ohio, all in the same day. It was around 500 miles, with good warm weather and an excellent bike, riding between lanes in Chicago, and other fun things. Stay safe guys!
 

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Did you guys ever push to the point where you were not cold, anymore? I was in a rainstorm near Ft Bridger, Wyoming. The temp wasn't much below 35, but the rain was heavy.

I remember being cold, and then I wasn't cold, anymore. I made it into a gas station, in Ft Bridger. I filled my bike and went in to pay. I felt great. I wasn't cold. That idea felt strange since the weather didn't change so how could I feel warm? It was like my junk rain gear started heating me up....I still swear it did.

The charge was 3.00 or 4.00. I tried to pay the attendant, but could not remember how to count.

I handed her a few bills and waited for her to react like we were squared up. She did. Apparently she had some sort of emt training and recognized that I was in trouble. She told me I was not allowed to leave, and made me go sit by a furnace vent. I was angry thinking she had to right to make me stay there, but she was pretty. I didn't want to fight with her, I think? I remember not fighting because I owed her money. I didn't want her to think I drove the 185 miles just so I could steal gasoline, so I had to do what she said.

She gave me a few mini bottles (legal in Wyoming, not Utah). She gave me some blankets. At some point, I started shivering and was in pain that I didn't recognize. It just hurt. No idea how long this lasted. She made me stay there until I was dry and the rain had stopped.
When you stop feeling cold you KNOW you're in trouble!


I gotta sack up. I've been riding a long time, have ridden in the cold, but I find myself not wanting to ride when it's cold or wet.

Yeah, I live in so cal where you can ride all year. I've gotten soft
I still to this day DO NOT like riding in rain!
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The closest I've come to hypothermia was not in the freezing cold but in 40 degree rain. I'd done a day ride north east from Ft. Monmouth into the mountains on a beautiful summer day and a cold front pushed down and brought rain. Surprise. Caught me in a tshirt & denim jacket and jeans. I spent 2-3 hours getting back to the barracks. Then I was in the shower with all my clothes on. A buddy of mine said he saw me in the parking lot sitting on the curb staring at my bike laying on the ground. He brought me in and figured it was the cold so he put me in the shower room and turned on all the showers and steamed me back to life. My first clear memories were something like "I'm already soaking wet, why am I in the shower?" Then the shivering and aching everything set in.

I learned that mountain riding can bring drastic weather changes very quickly and been prepped for that almost every time since.
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
When you stop feeling cold you KNOW you're in trouble!
The worse problem is that when you stop feeling cold you DON'T know you're in trouble...

I still to this day DO NOT like riding in rain!
There's a big difference between not LIKING riding in the rain and NEVER riding in the rain. When I was daily commuting I rarely let rain stop me from riding to work. When I'm on a trip I've NEVER let rain interrupt the trip, although, I've altered routes a couple of times. But now that I'm retired and only head out for fun I'll hold off on heading out if it's raining. There's always tomorrow.

We ran into a guy once in Canada heading east back to Newfoundland. He and a friend had planned an epic coast to coast Canadian trip. Where was the "friend?" Holed up in a motel waiting for better weather. This guy was a teacher and had to get back for work so he was pushing on. My long time riding buddy and I later talked about it and agreed we wouldn't be riding buddies if a little rain stopped one of us in our tracks. When we were both working stiffs you planned your vacations and took them when you said you were gonna. As a consequence we've had some epic trips!

My buddy and his Connie with my VFR (a long way from San Jose!)
Tire Wheel Land vehicle Plant Vehicle
 
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