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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Final-Year University: Honda Happiness

f you’ve not read the three previous posts, you might want to check them out. It may help you understand a little how I could get to this one. The events recorded there contributed mightily to my sense that I owed it to myself to respond to that brief ad in the newspaper for a red Honda 175CL, used but great condition. The fact that winter had not really left our Montana mountain city didn’t enter my reasoning. A motorcycle was just what I needed…for my morale, if not for transportation.

Straddling the bright red Honda, white helmet secured, my right foot jerked the motorcycle to life. What a fabulous purr that little engine made! With a wave to its former-owner, I rode off, as excited as a kid on Christmas morning.

The freezing, still-winter air made it feel a lot like Christmas might be around the corner, instead of months behind. Brrrr, that wind in my face chilled my cheeks more than I had expected. No problem, I just clicked the clear, plastic bubble-shield into position in front of my face. My head felt so confined, but it was a lot warmer without that biting wind.

By the time the transaction had been completed that glorious day, I didn’t have much light left to ride. I made the most of every minute and was frozen to the bone by the time I climbed back up the apartment stairs. A hot, steaming hot, bath sounded really good, even more than food.

All the while I soaked in the bath, I planned just where I’d ride my motorcycle. It was the sole focus of my thoughts, lasting until I realized that the bathwater was cold. I could hardly wait for morning, when I would mount up again and head for anywhere I wanted to ride. Vroom, vroom! Best of all, it was Saturday. I’d mentally leave all my burdens in my dust, until I was too cold to work the throttle or clutch on the handlebars.

Well, I awoke to find several inches of snow had blanketed the streets overnight. My snow boots made working the gears on the foot pedal too hard. I just let out some slack in the laces of my waffle-stompers and put on an extra pair of socks. I needed to keep my hands flexible, so two pairs of gloves were out of the question, had I another pair of gloves, which I didn’t. So I put on an old sweatshirt, the sleeves of which were long enough to reach my fingers. Of course, there were several layers under that sweatshirt, too. I donned the lower half of my thermal long johns, and tugged my heaviest pair of blue-jeans over the top. Jacket zipped, helmet in hand, out the door I rushed…right into the frigid cold air.

Now, if you think I was one of those kids who loved the snowsuit and hours of fun in the snow, read the post from last year entitled “Snow Business”, noted below. Forever, I’ve hated winter activities; but then, riding motorcycles would not usually be on such a list, would it? Nevertheless, there I was, bundled up like a kid stuffed into one of those moon-suits, sitting atop a motorcycle, and simply beaming with joy.

Not long into my slipping and sliding adventure as I traversed the city streets, ridiculous grin frozen (literally) to my face, it began to snow…huge fluffy, wet flakes. You know the kind, if ever you lived through a Montana winter. Gorgeous, brilliant white, but they cling to any and all surfaces, including plastic, bubble-shields. As you might expect, the shield didn’t come with an automatic wiper for bad weather riding. I had to stop every few yards and swipe my gloved hand across the shield to see a few feet in front of my tire. No, I couldn’t let go of one of the handlebars to brush off the thick, wet flakes while still on-the-go; the road was just too full of deep snow.

Then, it happened. I’d waited too long to clear my face-shield, and found myself heading straight for an on-coming car. I was in the wrong lane of traffic…oops! His blaring horn, followed by a skid-like slide that threatened to propel me right into a parked car, woke up my totally paralyzed cells dedicated to reasoning. What in the world was I thinking of to be out riding in a blizzard? Having narrowly escaped the imminent collisions with both the on-coming car in motion and the parked car half a block down the street, I very carefully took my soaked-to-the-skin self home.

Relaxing and thawing out in a lovely hot bath, I began to laugh. In my mind I pictured a few huge angels in snowsuits and idiot mittens* flanking me. Their shiny, golden snowshoes slipping and sliding on the snow-covered street as I rode and they ran.

It was a one-time experience. After that Saturday, I used better judgment regarding weather conditions for a ride. However, weather conditions weren’t the only factors I learned to consider before jumping on for a ride. The next adventure could have been infinitely more dangerous, had God not been watching out for me.

*Idiot mittens is a commonly used slang for mittens that are connected by a string, usually made of yarn. To help small children keep track of their mittens, one mitten is threaded through each sleeve with the string across the back of the shoulders. This way, when a child takes off his mittens and jacket, the mittens, still attached to the string, stay with the coat…ready for when he dons the jacket for the next trip outside.

Aforementioned post:
Snow Business

****Final-Year University: Honda Happiness, Scene 2…Next Post

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