12 months, but not 52 weeks

Posted 29 January 2009 by

Like many other local motorcycle riders, I don’t winterize my Honda VTX. The reason? I am able to ride year ’round. That is, I can ride 12 months per year, but not 52 weeks.

There is a reason for not being able to ride 52 weeks. This year the reason was a little more of that reason than usual.

This was the last half of December in Everett. Since a motorcycle makes a poor substitute for a snowmobile, the motorcycle was parked.

One day the faithful SUV high-centered on snow in the parking lot. This means it wasn’t driven all that much, either.

The last day I rode in 2008 was Sunday, December 7. It started as a leisurely ride north to Arlington. I then rode to Granite Falls over the back roads, stopping briefly at Jordan Bridge County Park.

After arriving at Granite Falls, I had a typical display of biker ADD. Oh, let’s go on to Monroe! Taking the back roads (as if there are any other type from Granite Falls), I go past Lake Roesiger County Park on one of our twisty–but typically well maintained–rural roads in Snohomish County to get to Monroe.

Riding a cruiser, I generally keep it closer to the speed limit on these roads. There are just enough cars to have a surprise waiting for you over the next hill. Today, I am also noting some occasional ice in the shadows.

My caution usually means that at some point there are few crotch rockets riding in a pack that want by. They take their the first opportunity, quickly leaving me behind.

Pilots say that there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are not any old, bold pilots. The same idea is true for bikers.

Speed on, brothers.

Even so, it didn’t take me long to get to Monroe. I didn’t stay long in Monroe. I knew the forecast. I saw the clouds. And, night–with its possibly freezing temperatures–is coming.

The return trip was by the Old Snohomish-Monroe Road. This takes me through old town Snohomish. There were fewer bikes than usual.

Crossing the Snohomish River, I continue home on the Lowell-Snohomish River Road. There was a brief sleet storm as I approach the Everett city limits. My caution was for good reason.

As I get home, I decide not to fill my gas tank even though I know there is probably less than a gallon in it. Being tired-but-happy, it can happen later. After parking my bike, I didn’t ride again until today, January 29, 2009.

The snow storms of December came. Then, the ice and fog of January came. I’m feeling locked and forcibly caged, unable to be free.*

For those of you who don’t know, gasoline goes bad after a time. It starts to separate without stabilizer in it. I didn’t put in gas stabilizer because I hadn’t planned on this long of a break in riding. (Then again, I didn’t plan to high-center an SUV in my parking lot, either.) By not filling my tank, I didn’t have a full tank of questionable gasoline.

Finally, today is the day. I had some errands, so let’s try it.

The battery trickle charger worked. I did my errands. I filled the gas tank. Oh, yea. One more thing.

I was on my bike.

The short set of errands turned into an hour ride around town. I still have bikers ADD. My shoulders loosen. The smile returns. I wasn’t in a cage.

I’ve seen sunsets over Possession Sound before. Today was special. How was it special? Think of how bacon and eggs taste at home for breakfast. Then think of how much better the same breakfast tastes when camping.

That sunset just wouldn’t have been as good seen from a cage.

The sky was already dark on the Cascades Mountain side of Everett. There were stars and crescent moon visible overhead in a deep indigo sky. Then there was the spectacular visual gradient over Possession Sound that ended in a mild pink over the Olympics.

It wasn’t brilliant colors. Instead, it was more like a thin veil being pulled back to reveal night.

The view from the Jackson Home over NavSta Everett had shimmering water with a few small craft sailing.

In a car, I could have seen the sights, but I would have been insulted from them. On a motorcycle, I was a part of it.

The days are getting longer. Summer is coming. Can a long summer day on my bike be far away?

*For the non-bikers, this is a pun. A “cage” is an “automobile.”

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