I think the motorcycle obsession has finally taken hold.
Every time I pass Lenore in the garage, I feel the urge to fire her up. Wet, cold Illinois weather is not always conducive to riding, however, especially for a relative rookie. I can’t tell you how jealous I am right now of friends like Weston Ochse, Nate Southard, and Paul Legerski, who all live in comfortable riding weather year-round. Note I qualified that as comfortable riding weather. If I have to dress up in layers of clothing just to get on two wheels, that’s just not a good trade-off to me because lugging and stowing all that extra gear would be a pain in the ass.
Right now the idea is to explore my limits of comfortable. After an unusually cold Halloween, we’re now getting a bit of an Indian summer. Last weekend the temps crept up to the low 60s, so Saturday morning I zipped up my leather jacket (probably the first time I actually unsnapped and closed the lapels), busted out the leather riding gloves for the first time since my riding class, and rode Lenore out to breakfast and then to karate class.
It was probably around 50 when I took off, and a stiff wind blew across the fields. I thought I’d feel most of it in my legs, but as it turned out the worst was a cold spot along my jawline. The wind came right in under the rim of my helmet, concentrated on that one spot, and after just a few minutes it started to sting. The few minutes of irritation was worth it come that afternoon, though, as temps climbed up to 68 and I spent a little more time on the road.
We should be seeing mid fifties and sunshine this week, so I ordered myself a simple balaclava to keep the wind off my neck and jaw. Another rider friend, Eric Masek, rides all the way down into the 40s, so I’m going to give that a shot as long as it stays dry enough. I spotted a pair of fleece-lined, Kevlar riding jeans that may help keep me on the bike longer, too (I’ve never been a big fan of long johns, but I suppose that’s an option I should consider).
Meanwhile, I’ve got another reason to be jealous of Nate: he just picked up a Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Sportster he’s dubbed The Late Late Show. I wasn’t particularly taken with the Iron 883 after seeing it on TV and in magazines, but then I spotted one in a parking lot in Peoria and it got me drooling. That black denim paint and blacked-out engine looks much sharper in person, and I’ve been eyeballing them ever since. I think Nate also made the right move adding the forward controls, and those ape hangers look damn good on his bike.
Like I said: jealous.
Of course, now I see Honda is putting out the Shadow Phantom for 2010. With its blacked-out engine and $7999 price point, I’m guessing it’s a direct competitor to the Iron 883, and will add to Honda’s “Honda-Davidson” rep. It’s got a smaller engine but already has the forward controls and it has glossy black paint instead of the matte black the Harley sports.
That’s not to say I’m in a hurry to ditch Lenore anytime soon. The last thing I need is another payment right now, and Lenore is a solid, comfortable ride. I have a few more customizations in mind for her, too, including a set of crash bars for that inevitable day she goes down on her side.
In the meantime it’s fun to drool while I get this weather thing figured out.