Joys of Motorcycle Riding or Meeting Nature Face-to-Face
Nothing Beats a Nice, Leisurely Ride on a Warm Sunny Day!
Well, spring is here with summer just around the corner. Motorcyclists that endured the cold, frigid winter, letting their motorcycles hibernate in garages, basements, storage sheds, and even in some living rooms are elated that soon, they will be taking to the roads again!
Road maps are dusted off, motorcycle gear cleaned and inspected, and of course, a thorough examination of your iron horse are necessary tasks to perform before hitting the pavement.
There is nothing like taking a long, relaxing ride on the back roads and highways of our country. The scenery is breathtaking, and nature lovers will be rewarded with treats of all kinds. There are many surprises around almost every turn, so be sure to have a camera handy!
A lot of our nation's history can be learned by exploring the little traveled, less known highways and bi-ways. Many significant events occurred on these less traveled roads, and of course, meeting people along the way can be a lot of fun. You can learn so much and even travel back in time a bit in some areas, where the towns and life there hasn't changed for many years.
But the true joys of riding a motorcycle are usually forgotten and some of the most memorable things are just brushed aside. I would like to share a few of the memorable events that have happened on my numerous trips around Missouri and Illinois. Enjoy!
Fall Colors - Eastern Missouri
And Now for the True Pleasures of Motorcycle Riding.
I think all of you folks out there will agree that taking a motorcyle ride on some of this nation's 2 lane highways offers some breathtaking scenery and is a photography lover's dream. Seeing sites like these pictured here should provide enough motivation to get your buns off of that couch, jump on your bike and enjoy yourself...the TRUE pleasures of riding are yet to come!
Anyone that has spent time on a bike will know that the freedom you enjoy from the openess and that 'wind in your face' feeling is without comparison! No convertible, no matter how wonderful doesn't even come close to that open air feeling......BUT.......
Weather or Not
...there are a few experiences that you will encounter that are not completely welcome. Motorcycle riding will turn you into an expert meteorologist in no time, well, maybe not an expert, but a pretty darn good one. Between keeping your eyes on the road and the sky, you will surely give your eyeballs a good workout. Weather is a sneaky little thing. You can start on your journey with a completely clear sky and 2 hours later you can end up in the middle of a thunderstorm...especially in Missouri.
Riding in the rain is a completely new experience for new riders, and is no picnic for veterans either! Getting soaked to your underwear is a given, even with a windshield and rain gear. People say that water travels downhill and that is the truth! When you are riding, water loves to travel into every nook and cranny your gear doesn't cover. If there is a gap or tiny space anywhere, rain will find it and invade. Having water dripping from the back of your helmet down onto your neck and trickling down your back to your butt cheeks is just wonderful! A true motorcycling experience. If you are lucky, the water won't stop there, but continue its southward journey to the your chubby little butt cheeks, finding the 'natural' canyon through those fleshy cliffs! Then the fun really begins! That little creek flowing down you back begins forming a nice lake in your underwear where you can happily squish your way mile after mile until you can find an overpass or something to get under until the rain stops. Hope you packed some dry undies in your saddlebags unless you like diaper rash.
Now rain, (though some of you might need a good bath), is a motorcyclists' companion on many trips, but the one companion you dread even more is ........HAIL. When you begin to see those innocent, little pieces of ice start to bounce and play on the pavement, you know you are going to pay for this trip...BIG TIME! Now, I ride completely in armored gear, which means it is heavily padded in vital areas, like your arms, elbows, back, chest, etc. So a little hail doesn't bother me too much, except the loud thudding on my helmet. At this point, I am more worried about losing traction on the road due to the rain and ice pellets, and of course, don't want dents on my bike!!
But when the hail doesn't stay small and innocent, but starts to mature into golf ball, baseball, and even grapefruit size boulders, well, let's just say ...it hurts like HAIL! Of course, when caught in hail with a group of bikers, I hear words I never knew existed, but if you got hit by one of those giant snow cone refugees, well, I am sure you might add a few choice words of your own. Now I know what the guy on those golf driving range places feels like when out in that little cart sucking up golf balls, but at least he has a CAGE around him.
I only got caught in hail one time, and that was enough for me. It wasn't like getting pulverized with cannonballs, but I did get many bruises, especially on my arms and legs! Battlescars we call them among other names! I think they were about nickel size if I recall correctly. Of course, after having my head pelted for about 10 minutes, my brain was a little rattled.
Communing With Nature - Part 1
Continuing on to more fun and excitement! Now, don't get me wrong. I love to ride and see the beauty around us, even when drowning in a rainstorm and getting my head pounded with a barrage of bullets from the sky. When traveling the back roads, nature is much more visible than it ever would be on busy interstate highways. The fauna you encounter is stunning, literally, and can be very close up and personal.
What would a nice summer ride be without encountering everyone's friend...insects. From the flying kind to the creepy crawlers, no trip is complete without bugs! Those foolish macho men and women who don't like to wear helmets really get a memorable experience. An occasional bug or two is no bid deal, but when you encounter a swarm of flying ants, or even worse, bees, even the most seasoned, macho man will practically whimper like a baby and have some bladder problems!
The flying bugs, in my opinion, are the worst! A windshield definitely deflects a lot of our friends, but of course, you can't see a blasted thing with all the bug guts and blood plastered on it. You have no wipers on a bike windshield, so you are on your own. That is a problem, but if you have no helmet, well, get ready for the open buffet at the bug cafe! If you can tolerate the bug gore that is splattering all over your face and bike, just open your mouth for a free 'bug' smorgasbord, complete with the trimmings! If that doesn't appeal and give you an appetite, you can just try to shut your mouth between the screams of pain when those hard exoskeletons start piercing your rosy cheeks. Do you have pretty teeth? Well, in short order your pearly whites will be covered with legs, wings, and gore galore, but it is free protein! Even with a helmet, you don't get off the hook, though your face will still have human features, not like your friend's whose face looks like something out of a B rated horror flick! Did you ever wonder where Hollywood comes up with some of their creepy monsters...now you know! Getting back to our main theme here...Now you have gore, not only on your windshield, if you even have one, but bug body parts and fluids all over your helmet visor! Talk about riding blind as a bat! If you survive the mess, you are going to have a big mess to cleanup when done...your entire bike, your clothes, your helmet, and your body! What fun!!! But wait, bugs don't always fly...
Of course, how could I forget my crawly critters, that prefer hiking rather than go through Bug Airport and getting scanned! When these creepy crawlers swarm and cross a road, it looks like the road turned into a living horror. Hitting a bunch of squishy, slimy bugs on a highway is like hitting ice. The sound of smashing bugs, thank goodness, is drowned out by your screams of terror and your skidding tires, but our bugs are determined to cross the road no matter what! It is do or die for them, and maybe for the bikers! Following another biker when he/she hits an army of beetles, like that assassin bug in the photo, is even worse. Now add to the mix, the dead bodies spewing from under the back wheel of your friend and flying up into the air to clog your radiator and cover you in even more bug components.
Communing with Nature - Part 2
Okay...we survived the 'Bug Wars' and now we graduate to our larger friends. I never realized until I began riding how many critters lurk just out of sight on our nation's highways. So many different varieties and sizes. Possums, squirrels, skunks, rabbits, turtles (now these are a load of laughs), dogs, cats, bats, eagles, you name it. Most of these are not too bad unless you come across them unexpectantly sitting in the middle of the road having a nice chat or cup of tea. You can often avoid them entirely if you keep your eyes peeled, but it never fails that you come over a hill and BINGO...mammal or some other type of flesh is standing or doing something in the road! Now, the critters I have had problems with are the more bulky of our furry friends...deer, cows, and even a horse, but even small victims, er animals like a squirrel can really cause some problems! Coming over a hill about 60 mph and seeing a wall of hamburger straddling the center line is very unpleasant! You talk about making a possible milk shake! Most cows will just stand there since they are scared and the sound of a big motorcycle or a group of riders roaring up the highway will kind of stun them. But, there is always the exception...deer are the worse. Some will just bolt like someone shot them in the butt with a bazooka. And deer can do anything and go almost in any direction. Hitting Bambi at 60 mph is like hitting a brick wall at 60 mph. the cows and horses are worse. But hitting anything that size is going to spell "BIG TROUBLE". Thank God that I, nor any of my buddies have hit one of these monsters! We have come close a few times, especially with deer, and me of course, gets the grand trophy of just missing a cow by about 3 feet when it got across the owner's cattle guard and just stood there looking at me like I was some kind of idiot. Luckily I had a change of underwear!
Last but not least, are our flying friends! Now birds, bats, and nature's air corps usually don't cause many problems, but once in a while you get some nearsighted knucklehead that lost its glasses deciding you are something to eat. I was riding with 3 friends and on a very twisty part of Highway 94, just out of Augusta, Missouri. My friend was leading and had a very bright red helmet and an orange safety vest since this highway can be a little dangerous if you aren't careful.
Well, we were coming down a hill and I spotted a hawk, fairly large sitting on this pole. It was a nice specimen and looked like it was fully grown. It fluttered its wings and I got a good view of the wingspan...impressive. The hawk launched itself off of this pole and headed straight for us! It happened so fast and didn't have any idea a hawk could move that fast from a dead stop. Well, it went straight for my friend's red helmet. I thought it would realize its mistake as it got close, but it was either stupid, blind, or both! The hawk hit him dead on in the helmet. Of course, my buddy didn't know what happened and lost control. He told me later it felt like someone took a swing at his head with a baseball bat. He went down and got a good case of road rash. Luckily his bike nor he were out of commission. Naturally, he was shaken up and the road rash wasn't as bad as we first thought...thank the Lord for safety gear!!
But that wasn't the end. That stupid bird, after recovering from its collision, swung around and made another attack. We didn't see it since we were helping my friend, but the dumb bird smashed into my shoulder and it felt like Rocky Balboa just clubbed me with a good right hook! What is wrong with this stupid bird?? When it hit me, it was stunned for a bit, so we moved away. I swear that bird had no birdbrains or it was drunk as a skunk! Someone suggested we go back and see if it was okay, but I said, 'Not me!' LOL
Our nearsighted hawk recovered and flew into a nearby tree and just sat there, at least that is what one of our braver souls risked life and limb to see! We beat the feet out of there before the lunatic bird decided to make another run at us. Sheesh, what a stupid bird!!!! When someone coined the phrase, 'Dumb Animal', I am sure this bird or some of its ancestors were the inspiration!
As you can see, many exciting adventures await you if you are man/woman enough! LOL I didn't cover all the wonders of a day in the country. Didn't even mention road kills, alligators, skunks, a porcupine. and of course, some backwoods boys in an old pickup truck out looking for a little fun and games on the highway! Deliverance 2 or Easy Rider 2??? NO THANKS!
Ride Safe ...Be Safe!!!