Thursday, April 11, 2013

Because I Enjoy it So Much

It's sunny-ish today, but yesterday was a might different.  I took a cross-state motorcycle trip Wednesday from Yakima to Spokane, utilizing the less-well traveled Othello route.  Was it a good trip?

If I were a teenager, I would report on my trip this way, "LOL WTF windy but YOLO rite ROTFL"  In response, this report would get the following response from any teenage recipients, "k".  At least I think so, as that is the only response needed for 99% of all communications made to teenagers by text or, god forbid, something as antiquated as e-mail.

If I were distinctly British, I might report on my trip this way, "Certainly a rough spot or two I say, but nothing like what we faced when the Germans were bombing us, eh?  Can I bother you for a spot of tea?"

If I were allowed to voice the inner ninny that was continuously squelched throughout my hours on the motorcycle yesterday, I would report thusly, "Oh my god, I'm going to DIE! AHHHHHH!  Another semi - arrrrgghhhhh.  AHHH, why is that wind trying to kill me! Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit Oh SHIT! Another 100 miles of this!  I'm never going to MAKE IT!"  (Yes, my innner ninny likes capitalization and exclamation points - A LOT!)

And, finally, if I were a bit wiser and more prudent, I would reported on my trip by not taking the trip and said something more like, "Hey, it is really, really windy out there today, so I'm just going to spend the night here and will make the trip tomorrow."

But instead of taking the prudent approach to my trip and waiting, I saddled up and left Yakima about 4.30 pm.  You see, I use a patent-pending method for determining whether to embark on a trip.  I call it "Ignorance."  If I don't know how bad the weather is, then it won't stop me, right?  So, check!  Ignorance in place - and I hit the road.

As I left town, I noticed a bit more than the normal amount of buffeting as I headed towards Moxie and beyond on Highway 24; nothing too concerning, but it made me more aware of the various open areas versus obstructions/hills that blocked out the wind.  As I made my way out further, however, the landscape opens up dramatically onto the Hanford Reach and that is when it got a lot more interesting, and when I say interesting, I mean truly crappy.  The speed limit out there is 65 mph and I have seen, but certainly never done it myself, but seen, cars out there regularly doing 75 mph-ish as it is quite open and usually few and far between other vehicles.  Yesterday, however, I found myself going slower and slower, so that most of the way to Othello, I was doing 45-50 mph, because that is the speed that I felt I could maintain and still keep the motorcycle upright and on the road.  In the last few miles into Othello, I came on a line of vehicles moving around 30 mph because the wind was so strong that it wasn't safe for trucks to go any faster.  And I found much the same along H-395 and I-90 from Ritzville into town even though I was able to get up to 55-60 mph.  I didn't realize it, but I read today that there were sustained winds in the 35-45 mph range in places, sustained 50 mph winds in areas and recorded gusts at 59 mph. And really, that is a lot of wind. 

There were times that I was literally leaning into the wind and turning slightly "left" just to keep going relatively straight as the wind was howling into me from that side.  Of course, the stronger the wind, the stronger the correction required, but then any vehicle going by the other way, any tree, houses, hills, orchards, etc. can briefly reduce the wind or cause buffeting so that the "correction" instantly becomes an "over-correction".  Fun stuff.  Add in the sections of H-395 or I-90, with cars still able to zip along at 70 mph plus and semi-tractor trailers fighting against the wind, and all of a sudden you have the recipe for one long, hellish motorcycle trip.

Which brings me to the point of today's intermission.  I am asked regularly why I ride a motorcycle, in light of the inherent dangers and vast collection of idiots on the road.  The answer is simple, because I enjoy it so much.

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