Monday, March 26, 2012

It's all about the gear

I knew that I had to pull all the stops for the ride home.

Minus 1 Celsius, warmer than this morning's commute by three degrees, but the wind that was strong this morning, had picked up considerably.

I zipped the liner into my armored pants, threw my Teknic rain jacket on over my armored jacket, and put my thin wool glove liners on under my winter gauntlets.

So many layers is not comfortable. I felt cumbersome.

When I ride, I feel light and weightless, I swoop over the landscape like a bird in flight. With all that gear on I feel more like an astronaut than a pilot.

As soon as I rolled out of the garage I cranked up the juice to the grips to the max.

I decided on the fastest route. Wide open throttle on the expressway all the way home.

The wind gusts were ferocious. Stronger than I've ever experienced. Actually shoving the bike around in the lane. I focused on riding, tense, alert, constantly ready to counteract the gusts.

A couple of eighteen wheelers added their turbulent after-drafts to the challenge. For the latter half of the ride I followed an off-duty fire truck, peeling off the formation at my exit and decelerating down the ramp as the firemen thundered along the expressway headed further west.

So much speed, so much wind-chill. And yet the one thing I didn't experience was cold. Not a bit. My hands? Usually the weak spot. Tonight? Toasty!

My upper body? With the rain jacket blocking all the airflow, also, well, neutral says it best. Not hot, not cool, just normal.

My legs and lower body? Same as the top half.

Same story was playing out in my Icon Patrol boots.

As many have remarked before me, it's all about the gear.

Over all, this kind of experience is not why I ride. Too much gear to feel like I'm flying.

Tomorrow snow's in the forecast, so I'm trading the Vespa for the Civic.


Keith - Circle Blue said...

Yes, I've experienced feeling more like an astronaut than a pilot before. On really cold days it can still feel that way, but most of the time not so much anymore. Of course, this season has been totally remarkable for its mildness.

Glad the grips are working. Pretty remarkable, yes?

Good ride.

Unknown said...


when did you get the Civic ? I thought you had a Miata ? I also have a Civic, great car

Riding the Wet Coast

SonjaM said...

Dressed up for cold weather I look and feel more like a Michelin (wo)man. What was I thinking? 'Astronaut' is so much more sophisticated.

Canajun said...

Beyond throwing on a couple of sweatshirts under a leather jacket I have no cold weather riding gear. I always resisted riding in very cold temps because of road icing concerns and the fact that I never felt really in control all bundled up like the Michelin man or John Glenn (take your pick).
But this year, when roads are clear of ice and snow, the sun is out,but temperatures are in the -5 degree range I'm regretting that decision and wishing I had some electric undies.

Trobairitz said...

I too really hate the bulk of the cold weather riding, but some days it is worth it just to get out on the bike.

I am looking forward to warmer weather and less bulk to ride.

Glad you were toasty despite the weather.

David Masse said...

Keith: The grips are amazing. The variable control is really nice too because it allows the temperature of the grips (and the load on the electrical system) to be adjusted quite precisely.

Bob: I'll be the first to admit we have too many wheels. Our main vehicle that we have a love/hate relationship with is a BMW 328; Our second car is a Civic. We just traded up from a 2008 to a 2012, and we are really in love with that right now; The third car is my beloved 22 year old Miata which I have to sell because since the Vespa it doesn't get driven. The reason I didn't take the Miata today is that I won't drive it until it gets an oil change and tune-up; Finally there is the 206 Vespa that gets plenty of exercise.

We're spoiled, I know.

Sonja: I would gladly put up with the astronaut mode if the Vespa had maglev and a tiny hydrogen anti-matter drive unit ;)

Canajun: The only part that I really don't enjoy about my gear is putting the rain jacket on over everything else. I'm just too bunched up. All the other gear is fine, though each piece, to Keith's point, took some getting used to in the beginning. The bulk and weight of armored gear is surprising initially. Once you're on the bike, the weight and slight bulk are no longer a factor, as long a movement is unrestricted. There's the rub (literally).

Orin said...

I discovered the combination of medium-height windscreen and wide GTS legshield enabled me to shed a layer in cold weather, so I could avoid the Michelin Man feeling. I don't ride if the temperature is below 35°F because there's always the chance of encountering ice on bridges or in places that are in the shade all day. But I don't have any motorcycle-specific cold-weather clothing either... long thermal underwear for longer rides, REI snowboarding gloves and fleece do the job quite well...

Scootin' Old Skool

Unknown said...


I have a 2007 EX coupe, there isn't much difference between it and the 2012 model. I was thinking of upgrading also, but now that riding season is here, I decided to wait until September as it wouldn't get much use during the Summer anyway.

Riding the Wet Coast

David Masse said...

Orin: I don't mind the occasional ride without all the armor but I won't commute without it. The quest for gear won't be over until I have a real cold weather jacket.

Bob: The 2012 Civic LX has some very neat base features: heated mirrors, rear arm rest, excellent bluetooth and USB interface, remote trunk release, status screen, many more useful controls on the steering wheel, better sound insulation, more comfortable ride, and more.

Dar said...

David - you are right it's all about the gear. I have ridden all winter with my TourMaster jacket & pants. They have quilted liners and are waterproof. I like you feel neutral, not hot and not cold. In fact the heater in my Westfalia doesn't really work and I am actually warmer on the bike than in the car on winter days. I feel like an oompa loompa in my gear.

David Masse said...

Dar: Oompa loompa is too funny! But yes, me too, but an oompa loompa in the spring, who's been cocooning all winter and eating nothing but caramel and chocolate, so my oompa loompa suit's too tight.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.