Thursday, February 09, 2012

Winter Ride—Chapter 1

I left Harker Heights around 8am and budgeted to make stops every 120 miles or every 2 hours. I have found that when I go on long rides, the 2 hour mark is a good time to stop, stretch and recover. I was dressed in layers, with three pairs of long underwear (tops and bottoms), blue jeans, winter sweat jacket, leather jacket, two pairs of wool/nylon socks, and my outer rain gear. The rain gear helps keep your body heat and I am very happy with its performance today.

I “believe” the temperature as I left Harker Heights was in the 40’s. It was cloudy, though, and this probably brought the temps down a bit. As I got my first gas in Brownwood, I noticed that temps had dropped to the mid-30’s. My external temperature gauge on the Harley hadn’t moved past the mid-20’s, so this seemed to make sense.

I didn’t realize I was cold until I stopped….

The areas that seemed most affected were my hands and my feet. The air was just going through my boots. I could feel it go through my boot zipper and through my soles. I continue to be surprised at how little my winter gloves really protect my hands at really cold temps, even with a fairing helping guard them from the cold. I’ve got to get some better gloves.

All in all, the first 120 miles went well. Not too cold, beautiful country, and my first time going through certain places I’ve wanted to visit for years (Zephyr comes to mind). The second 160 miles, though, was a bit more uncomfortable. I had “added” my glove liners into the mix, and they were completely useless. By the time I got to Sweetwater, I was looking for a motorcycle shop to buy some boot covers and hand warmers. Amazingly, the sun came out and things began to warm up “considerably” (into the low-50s).

My original goal was Lubbock, but when I got there it was only 3:30 and it looked like I had plenty of sunlight left. New Mexico was only one hour away, and I knew the closer I got to Albuquerque today, the less of a ride I would have on Thursday. I decided to ride on and made it to Fort Sumner, home of Billy The Kid’s burial site (and not much else).

I now realize that riding with average outside temps in the mid-40s doesn’t bother me. Temps in the 50s are actually pretty wonderful. But riding in truly cold weather can be trying. It didn’t stop me from riding on, but I did question my sanity for a few hours.

Today, I’ll go visit Billy The Kid. This will be the first stop in my “Outlaw Tour” I’ve wanted to do for some time. Later this year, I’ll go visit Bonnie and Clyde, both buried in Dallas (though in separate cemetaries). I’m watching the weather and I must get out of here by 9am if I’m going to beat the rain forecast for today. Luckily, I’m looking at a line of showers. The problem is going to be riding in any weather with cold boots….

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