Jan 31, 2007

"Are You Sure It Wasn't A Girly Scream?"

There are a lot of terrible sensations in the world, but there is one that I am particularly attuned to, and therefore hate with every microgram of my being.

When you ride a motorcycle for any length of time, when you are a serious rider and not a weekend play-about, when you ride beyond riding you will at some time and place be riding in the cold. And by cold I don't mean 65 degrees and you need your long-sleeved T-shirt, I mean the nether regions of 35. And if you're smart, you're bundled up, layered, thermal underweared and otherwise comfortable. If you've done it really right, you're warm.

And then, one day in all that cold, with you all bundled up against the worst that a Louisiana winter can throw at you, this chill green bayou air throws you a curve.


And it's not pouring down rain. It's not a frog-strangler. It's not pouring like a blind cow pissing on a flat rock. It's not rain so thick you have to get off and walk, and it's certainly not rain of a Biblical proportion that surviving it gives you such motorcycle cred that when you arrive at your destination squadrons of archangels sing you into the garage and waft you on golden wings to your rest. No, it's just enough drizzle to make you unhappy. Enough to make it hard to see out of your visor. Enough to make the road surface untrustworthy, enough to make you take in a gear more than your used to getting through your favourite curve. And even if everything you're wearing is waterproof, even if you've spent as much as humanly possible on keeping the two hydrogen and one oxygen off of you, there's always one place that water will find:

The back of your neck.

It'll do so in the middle of that evening that you happened to get caught in 35 degree temps. You'll be driving home, idling along being safe, high-beam on, every nerve taut and alert for danger. The years of rubbing lanolin and neet's foot oil into your favourite leather jacket has paid off, the overpants are beading and repelling water like they've just been Turtle Waxed, the rubber covers are keeping the damp away from zippers and other openings, you've closed every vent on your helmet and you're just starting to realise that this time, this freak rain-storm in the middle of winter, This Time you're Going To Be Dry.

And then the unthinkable happens.

That first frozen drop has been imbued by all that is chill and unholy with the very essence of cold. That drop holds within itself endless Russian hinterlands, mammoth glaciers lurking just under frigid waters, the very frost upon a penguin's arse. That icicle-cold finger slips sensually around the curve of your helmet, slithers it's frostbite way past your layers of collars and leather and lanolin and scarves and thermal underwear, squirms skinward with all the boneless effort of quicksilver on a sheet of glass until it falls with the finality of a funeral bell's toll upon the back of your bare, innocent, and very warm neck.

I don't think I've ever squealed loud enough to deafen myself before today.


Stucco said...

I bet you sounded more like Ethel Merman.

Scott from Oregon said...


Two things.

One, that is nowhere near as bad as scuba diving off the Pacific coast and having water leak in the back of your wetsuit.

Two, they make a velcro attached thing called an "apple warmer" that is like a turtle neck in reverse.

Get one, man. The best thing EVER for cold weather ctcling...

Irrelephant said...

Stucco, I don't know HOW I sounded. After the initial half second I was deafened, so the rest was just a ringing sound. For three hours.

Scott, I'm gonna have to take your word re the whole scuba/water/butt thing. And I've actually got a couple of neck warmers, balaclavas and even a neoprene mask for deep winter but somehow there's always that one droplet that finds it's way through.