TALLADEGA SCENIC HIGHWAY ON MT. CHEAHA ~ ALABAMA ~ photo taken by Dianna Stover
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

TO RIDE... OR NOT TO RIDE? IS THAT EVEN A QUESTION?

There is always a flip side to everything. On one hand you have this... while on the other hand you have that! Do you pick Door Number 1... or Door Number 2? I guess what I'm trying to say is, that there will always be choices, and you have to take the good with the bad.

Four weeks ago, when we found out that we were going to go to Chattanooga, TN to celebrate my MIL's birthday with all of Harley's family, my first thought was... "Woo Hoo! We can ride the motorcycles!" Harley was very much in agreement that it would be fun to ride up on Look Out Mountain and see some pretty scenery while en route to our destination. As soon as we know we are going to take any kind of a trip, we start looking at maps and tour books to see what routes are available, and to choose one that will give us the most enjoyment. This also initiates the weather watching. We realized the week before we were to leave, we were in for some rain and a serious cold front. Harley told me we should reconsider our plan to ride and just take the truck. Hmmm. I could feel the disappointment setting in as I realized our little trip might be sabotaged by Mother Nature.

I need to interject a little inside information here so you'll be able to understand where I'm coming from during the rest of this story. During the summertime, Harley and I look forward to our weekends, so we can ride for longer than our very non eventful 10 minute commute back and forth to work. If we're not running off to some rally or going to visit our pals in Florida, we usually ride on Saturday, and stay home to do our house and yard chores on Sunday. However, if I notice that Saturday is not the best of days because of rain in the forecast, and Sunday promises to be a nicer prettier day, I suggest we stay home to do our chores on Saturday, and ride on Sunday. Makes perfect sense, heh? Well, this has earned me the nickname "fair weather rider" by Harley and some of my friends. Okay, let me continue my story now.

We start daily visits to Accuweather' web site at how the weather is progressing as the weekend draws near. Now, I'm checking weather forecasts for Montgomery all the way up to Chattanooga and a few places in between. Promises of lots of rain for Friday, (the day we plan to leave) and a serious cold front coming in right behind it bringing the Sunday (the day we plan to return) temperatures into the low 30's. Harley gives me his opinion and advice on how uncomfortable it can be to ride for that long (it's about a 5 hour ride) in temps that cold. I have yet to ride in really cold weather, whereas, he has done it enough times to know, it's not that fun. He tried to warn me that I do not realize what I am getting myself into, which gave me the opportunity to ask him if he too, has become a "fair weather rider".

Friday morning came and we looked at the weather one more time on the web site. According to the radar maps, it didn't seem like rain would be a real issue considering the route we planned to take. We would probably dodge most of it and we packed enough clothes to layer if the temperature did indeed plummet on Sunday like it promised to. It was a game time decision. To ride... or not to ride?... ?... ?... WE RIDE!

Woo Hoo! I was happy we were taking the Glides and my excitement was evident. We headed north and didn't get out of Montgomery more than 20 miles when we had to pull over... to don the rain suits. Oops. Fortunately, we did not have to deal with hard rain or lightening. The temperature was about 62 degrees, so even though we had to ride the rain train, it was not cold. Mother Nature kept us in a drizzle off and on with light rain until we were nearly to the Georgia and Tennessee State lines. When we stopped to eat lunch and dry out, Harley tried hiding his smirk as he kidded with me that, "I owe him".

We proceeded into Tennessee, and the rain let up as we started over Look Out Mountain, heading into Chattanooga. All of a sudden, we entered another time... another place... another dimension... we were in the Twilight Zone! The fog was so thick, I could only see three white stripes of the center lines on the road in front of me. We had to slow to 40 mph, which still felt fast, considering how little we could see. It's pretty bad when the mailboxes along the highway startle you because you can't see them until they are literally ten feet away from you. I considered trying to get a picture to demonstrate how foggy it was, but I knew anyone coming up the road would be on us before they could see us, which would not be smart. We stayed in the fog for about 30 miles before it thinned out enough not to be scary any more. It's a good thing, because right about then, we had to slow waaayyy down when we came up on two very large brown cows that were standing right there on the side of the highway. The first one was to the right of us just three feet off the shoulder. He just stood there and did nothing. The other one was on the left, and he started moving quickly. I was afraid at first, he was going to charge, but I think he just wanted to get away from us. Luckily, we passed by without incident. It was really kind of a rush, because as I passed him I looked over again, and we looked at each other, eye to eye! At that moment, it was all about me and that cow. All that came to mind was, "How now Brown Cow?"

Without any further complications, we arrived at the Shawnee Cabin on the Tennessee River, where we would be spending the weekend with Harley's family. We enjoyed visiting with the n & n's and their parents, while we celebrated my MIL's birthday. The kiddos fished in the river, and played with the resident cabin cat. We all had a great time. I have one small niece who has never caught a fish before, and she was quite funny when one got on her line. Throughout the weekend, I endured some light hearted teasing at how crazy we were for riding the Glides, but I know they love me, in spite of it. Sunday delivered the chilling temps as promised, and after we all said our goodbyes and shared some hugs, Harley and I prepared for our chilly ride home.


Even though it was a mere 32 degrees out, the sun was shining and the pavement was dry. I knew I was going to be cold so I started with tights, then jeans, my chaps and finally the rainsuit pants. I was in two shirts and my lined leather jacket. I think wearing the rain pants cut the wind enough to keep me comfortable. Harley was layered just as much, only he didn't wear his rain pants. I put a glove liner under my winter gloves, and decided I was ready.

We took off around 11:00 and it probably started warming up a little bit already, but as soon as I hit the road at speed, it hit me. Damn, it IS cold riding out here! I was getting cold and I decided I needed to do something to distract my thoughts from that fact. I found out, if you sing out loud, at the top of your lungs, especially songs about the sunshine, you can warm yourself up a bit. That and flap your arms around every now and then. Like this...
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey. You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take, my sunshine, away!"
Oh, I came up with several more over the next few miles, and when I couldn't think of any more songs with sunshine in them, I decided to sing about fire.
"I fell in, to a burning ring of fire. I went down, down, down... and the flames went higher. And it burns, burns, burns. The ring of fire.. the ring of fire!" This would be a good time to flap.

I stopped singing at one point, because I saw Harley riding in front of me messing around with his zipper on his chaps. It seems the wind broke his zipper and every few miles or so, they would unzip themselves. I noticed that the leather looked like it was flapping around alot, and it was because they wouldn't stay closed. (Brrrrr!) During one of our rest stops to warm up, we tried to rig them so they would stay closed, but to no avail. Again, I got that mischieveous look from him as he reminded me... "I owe him." Did I mentioned earlier that he had wanted to take the truck?

Well, before long, and after I ran out of songs to sing, we made it home. The closer we got, the warmer we became, and we were rewarded with a balmy 56 degrees in Montgomery. We parked the Glides in the garage and made our way into the warmth of our home, a nice hot shower, and the promise of a big bowl of chili for supper. Later that evening, while we were reflecting on our trip and the weekend's events, Harley posed the question to me, "So, what do you think about riding in the cold now?" I thought for a minute and said, "I really think those other gloves I saw at Sports Authority last week would have been perfect, and I'm going to ask for some 'Under Armor' for Christmas and...." I stopped in mid sentence when I noticed my husbands look of dismay. I couldn't help but smile, "What? Was this supposed to be a lesson?" He responded, "Well, I guess I had hoped it would be," pause, "but I think it backfired!"

My husband loves me, and I know he endured this trip just for me. He has ridden long enough to have experienced, and handled all these kinds of elements, and really doesn't feel the need to prove he can. We could have easily taken the truck and have been much more comfortable. For this, I do owe him. This whole experience was a challenge to myself, to see if I had what it takes to be a true biker, whether the weather is fair or not. At least now he knows what to expect from me, when we plan our next trip. To ride... or not to ride? Is that even a question?

(For my HM - I Love You)
Lady R

11 comments:

fasthair said...

Ms. Lady R: Welcome to my world again. I've been riding in this kind of weather for a few weeks now. Sounds like you've earned your stripes now :)

Smart move with the rain gear. I wear mine everyday now for the same reason, to cut the wind. This is when a full face helmet comes in handy too. One of these days I'm going to get some electrics.

When I see cows while riding I honk at them and say you are my next coat. They just look at me like what is your problem?

Glad you had a nice time with the inlaws and a safe adventure.

Big Daddy said...

Back in the early 90's i was heading into Knoxville in a dark foggy haze.
I came up behind a plymouth scamp riding the white line between the lanes.
I could not get around the vehicle for at least five miles as he was tapping the brakes and wandering all over the road.
He finally got over in the right lane and stopped. I pulled in behind him and walked up to his car to see if he needed any help.
It was a gray haired couple,
He replied 'Son I have been running these roads thirty years before you weree born and I am fine'
I asked him if he was gonna wait out the fog and he replied yes.
I then advised him to pull way off the road and turn off his lights so someone wouldn't follow into them.
Or he could follow my lights out of the fog.
He got extremely indignant and basically told me to go f''k myself.
I got back in my rig and radio'ed back to anybody within range and called on channel 9 that there was a car on the side of the road and to be careful of it.
My truck sitting on the shoulder was a danger so I pulled out and continued on through the fog.
2 hours later I arrived at the truck stop and sat down for a coffee.
A bulettin came on the news about a 75 vehicle pile up out on the highway.
On the news they described what happened about a hour after I had left, the old man must have decided he didn't need to wait and about twenty miles later he was back driving in the center of the road.

For years after that, whenever I would get caught in Tenessee fog I often wondered if there had been anything thing else I could have done.
I look back and realize I had done everything I could have.
I love Tenessee
But I damn sure don't miss that damn fog.

Ann said...

What a great post! And what a great hubby you have! :) Love the slideshow!

Dean "D-Day" said...

Great post and love the pics.

You had me smiling when you got to the part about singing. I've actually done this myself before.

Mr. Motorcycle said...

Brrrr, It made me feel warm reading this. Glad you are not a popsickle!

Great pics, and slideshow.

I've never been to Tennessee. Looks beautiful though.

Lady Ridesalot said...

fasthair... The rain suit pants really did the trick. I wasn't that uncomfortable with the exception of my hands. Electrics may be just the thing for that. I hate to think I really need them this far south, but better to be prepared, than not.

Big D... this fog was treacherous! Thick as pea soup, and I don't even eat pea soup! I was glad when we were clear of it. I worried about dogs I couldn't see or people coming up from behind and not seeing me! I'm sorry to hear the story about the old couple. You tried to help, that's all you could do.

Ann... I do have a great hubby, I think I'll keep him around for a few more years anyway! He has learned to humor me over the years, but I think he may put his foot down next time. ;]

dean... You should have seen some of the looks I was getting. I sounded really good inside that 3/4 helmet with the face shield down. It's kind of like singing in the shower. I had great acoustics!

mr. m... It's funny how I was just bragging about 70 degrees in November, and the very next weekend, I'm freezing my ass off! That's okay though, you'll have that. We'll just say that's payback for my getting to ride while your busy shoveling. LOL!

BTW... I see what you and Dean are saying up there, about all us lucky stiffs in the warmer climates. Your right about summer time comfort. Your summers ARE more comfortable to ride in, BUT... it's not summer now, is it? Muwahhahahahahaha!

Dean "D-Day" said...

That's it!

Mr. M-
Put her on the hit list for next summer!

KT Did said...

I think the rainsuit is the coolest! Don't see much of those around here. As a matter of fact, I think I will take a copy of this pic and put it in my rainsuit pac so I know how to wear it when/if it comes time....just joking.
Its so beautiful there. You are very lucky!

Peek a Boo said...

I can just see his expression looking at you and saying in that deep voice..."YOU OWE ME". You're a trooper and I'm glad ya'll had a good trip and made it home safe.

We miss you both!!!!

Camron said...

Thanks, Now I know I should man up & ride to work. I haven't been riding because I'm working out of town & would have to cross an area with an average temp of 44 degrees at 5 AM.
However, when I get there I don't get to warm up with a Shower & Chilli... Maybe I'll have to give that some more thought.
Glad you enjoyed your trip & thanks for sharing!

Lady Ridesalot said...

kt... if I never have to wear my rain suit again, that would be okay by me, but it will always be on the bike! I never leave home without it!

peek a boo... you know it girl! He did his best to make me feel guilty, but he didn't have much luck! LOL!

camron... a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate would do just as well! Just be ready and it's not so bad.