Top Five Stupid Questions I Hear A Lot While Riding
Okay so, to be fair, they aren’t really stupid questions, ’cause if you don’t know, you don’t know. Mostly people ask out of genuine curiosity, but sometimes it’s just blatant jackassery, so the answer necessarily varies depending on the situation. Naturally, most of these questions are coming from non-riders. Since TopSpeed Motorcycles is geared toward the riding public, this is unlikely to educate many from the cage sector, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway, so here goes.
Continue reading for the top five questions that make me cringe.
Why Are You Out In Weather Like This?
I am fortunate in that my local climate allows for year-round riding. That isn’t to suggest that it’s always comfortable, only that I don’t have to deal with snow or iced-up roads. We will occasionally have frozen bridges/overpasses that can temporarily shut things down, and I’ve been caught out in freezing rain, but these are the exceptions, not the norm. Since icy roads aren’t a problem, riding in the winter comes down to one’s tolerance for cold and damp and willingness to endure the discomfort, and therein lies the rub; once the weather gets relatively chilly, most bikes go into hibernation until spring.
More times than not I will see no other bikes out the entire ride, and it’s on these days I get asked why I’m out. I could tell them that I consider it a sort of fair trade for all the perfect riding days I enjoy, or that it makes me appreciate the pristine days all the more, or that it just is what it is. I could tell ’em that, but I usually just say “If I don’t ride in weather like this, I don’t get to make fun of others as fair-weather riders for not riding in it either.” Honestly, it’s usually some combination of the above. So why do I do it? I’m a RATT (Rides All The Time) no matter the weather, no matter the season.
Aren’t You Hot?
Sometimes a little, but not enough to put me off riding obviously. Part of the tradeoff for the mild winters in the south is we get to look forward to a brutal summer. Black riding leathers aren’t necessarily the coolest thing in the world to wear standing around in the sun, but once you get moving — and let’s face it, most of your time out is probably spent in motion — the airflow through your jacket vents works with evaporative cooling to cool you right down. It works so well, I have had to close vents in the middle of the summer because I started to feel a little chilled. The short answer to “aren’t you hot” is always “only when I stop.”
I see riders out in tank-tops and shorts who are sweating profusely and their skin is sunburned because the sun has been baking them alive while they rode. It’s almost ironic that they will see me in my leathers and ask me if I’m hot. Think about it: people who live in the desert cover themselves from head to foot before they step out in the blazing sun to protect themselves. Wearing a full set of riding gear, I’m a whole lot less hot than they are and my skin won’t be peeling off in a few days.
Aren’t You Cold?
The cold is another story. I’d love to say that I don’t get cold, and to a large extent manage to keep my core warm through the miracle of sheer thermal underlayers that allow one to tune my gear for variable weather conditions and lack the bulk of thermal underwear of years past, but it’s not a matter of if I get cold, just how far I will get before I get cold. Usually it’s just the hands and the feet. The cold air finds every single stitching hole and leaks through. Not much individually, but on a long ride the leaks add up to some cold fingers.
Now, having cold fingers is uncomfortable to be sure, but the real danger starts when you can no longer feel your hands and controls. I’ve been known to lay my hands on my rear-cylinder head at lights to soak up some heat, but you can’t get away with that if you wear synthetic gloves. If I get caught out in my fair-weather gloves, it becomes a game of “how close can I get without actually melting my gloves,” but no matter what, I’m going to have frozen fingers when I get where I’m going, and they are going to ache like Hell when they thaw. So why do I do it? It’s the RATT thing. People jump in their cars to go do what they need to do no matter the weather. I jump on my bike.
Isn’t All That Gear Heavy?
Yes, as a matter of fact it is quite heavy. The full kit with leather boots, chaps, padded jacket, vest, gloves and full-face helmet weighs in right under 40 pounds, and that’s on top (literally) of the underlayers and regular clothes for something closer to 50 pounds on the coldest days. Walking around in it is neither easy nor comfortable, but it isn’t for walking around in, it’s for riding in, and weighs but a pittance when you let the bike carry it for you. If you’re going to be someplace on foot for a while, go ahead and get out of some of that gear; nobody is impressed by chaps inside a heated restaurant or bar. Heavy or not, it’s protective gear and I may never need it, but if the day comes that I do, the people who love me will appreciate that I was wearing it.
Aren’t You Scared Out There?
I wouldn’t call it fear, more like a heightened sense of awareness of the dangers around you. Sort of a super-situational awareness, if you like. Much of the act of riding a motorcycle develops muscle memory that frees the mind to enter an almost Zen state as you take in the information around you and your body automatically reacts to it. Many riders, myself included, find this has a very salubrious effect on their mental state. Of course, this comes with the obvious exceptions for near-miss events and the like, but those are momentary jolts of adrenaline in what can be an otherwise relaxing activity.
Of course, for the fiery-eyed pegdraggers that get their therapy from arguably risky but controlled riding styles, a little thrill from fear is kind of the point. So scared? No. Not exactly, anyway.