It's Saturday, November 8, and the last couple of hundred kilometres of the 2014 riding season passed 'neath the wheels of the Magna today.
I had planned to put the bike into winter storage today as any day now we could have snow or black ice, which will result in the dreaded salt on the roads. Once the salt residue is on the roads the bike goes into storage...don't want that stuff getting up around the axels, sprockets etc. and making for corrosion issues down the road. It wasn't the most inviting day for a final ride but none-the-less, ride I did. It was just a couple of hundred kms out over the TCH but probably the most challenging of the season due to the wind. The forecast was calling for gusts over 100 kms/h and while I'm not sure if I encountered those, the conditions certainly met my own category 4 standard of "blow your friggin' head off'" ( I talked about my four categories of descriptors for NL wind conditions in a previous blog). Actually, it could be described as a tale of two rides because heading west into the wind was most challenging. There were times I had the throttle at the bar and the most I could get was 120kms/h, when on a typical day the bike is easily capable of 170-180 when fully opened up; Such was the force of the wind. There were also the unforeseen lane changes. I am eternally grateful to the driver of the blue Ford Focus who had the wits to react when the wind blew me across the line into his lane as he was passing me. We rode side by side for a few seconds in the same lane. That same wind did not allow for an immediate correction on my part as I attempted to move back across the line. Sometimes you just have to be lucky. So, I'm not sure if the gust were at the 100+ range but I figure I was riding in consistent 70-80 km/h winds. Now, I realise that sounds imprudent. However, I do like to ride and I was curious as to what it would be like to ride in such high winds. In reality, once you get used to it, it just becomes part of the ride and you carry on. Not that you don't notice it but its just another of the myriad of factors your paying attention to as you focus on keeping 'er shiny side up.
I call it a tale of two rides because heading back into St. John's I had the wind at my back and it wasn't nearly as hairy. Oh, it was still interesting. In NL the wind directions can change on a whim, one moment at your back, next spiralling around and coming at you from the side. Alas, I made into into town without further incident and headed out to my brother's place in Paradise. He has a huge attached garage that has been the Magna's winter home for the past several years. It was a melancholy day for me. I enjoyed the ride but knowing that that would be it, at least for the Magna, until next spring is hard for me. I depend on the bikes to be an escape from the stressors that other areas of my life pose, especially work. The ST is still in my shed here at home and I will ride that as opportunity permits but I know those opportunities are going to become more infrequent in the coming days. The ST is better for these colder days as it does have heated hand grips and a heated seat.
However, it's a taller bike and the farings around the engine enclose the entire frame so that there is no place for wind to pass through. The bike is extremely challenging to ride in high winds, and typically here in good 'ol NL any day with sun that may be suitable to ride is accompanied by wind. I guess it has something to do with the variety of air and ocean currents that encircle this little island in the North Atlantic.
I've come to accept that November is typically the end of the season, which starts in May (often late May, though there have been a couple of years I rode in April). I now need to find new forms of escape. This weekend did bring a couple of such opportunities. I saw, for the second time in the past couple of years, John Fogarty, who can still powerfully belt out the old CCR tunes. That was a great show on Friday night. Last night I took in another concert, this one by Amelia Curran, a NL artist. Her songs are available for streaming on her website and I do encourage you to have a listen. She is a brilliant lyric writer, very much in the style of Leonard Cohen.
So between finding opportunities for nights out, picking up an engaging book
(currently reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), hoping the Leafs put together the odd game actually worth watching, and maybe getting into a series or two on NetFlix, I have to survive another long, dreary NL winter. Until then, there is still, hopefully, a few days left to the season. So I will ride the ST as long as possible.
Until I have something further too share, so long!